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Use Double-Duty Meds to Clear Med Chest Clutter

What does your medicine cabinet look like?

It might be a little cluttered -- lots of pills, lotions and other things you don't use.

But it doesn't have to be.

On "The Early Show," CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton pointed to several items that are effective in numerous ways, so you can clear out and tidy up your medicine chest with an easy makeover!

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Baking soda is used for cooking and keeping our fridges smelling clean. But there are more things you can use it for, Baking soda is an all-purpose helper. Many dentists recommend we brush our teeth with it to prevent plaque build-up and as a tooth whitener. It can also take the sting out of insect bites and soothe skin irritated from conditions such as eczema, poison ivy, prickly heat, etc. The active ingredient is sodium bicarbonate - it acts to neutralize the PH balance of your skin and reduces the inflammation that causes discomfort. To use: Dissolve three parts baking soda to one part water and soak the affected area for about 30 minutes.


Believe it or not, nasal sprays can stop nosebleeds. The decongestants in nasal spray that shrink the blood vessels and swollen mucous membranes, making it easier to breathe, can also help to stem a bloody nose. Most nosebleeds can be stopped by pinching the nose for 10 to 20 minutes, but if that doesn't stop it and the nose starts to bleed again, you can spray the nostril four times with a common drugstore nasal spray such as Afrin, Neo-Synephrine or Mucinex.

It's known for sunburn relief, but has other uses. Aloe Vera comes from the leaves of the plant. It can speed the healing of burns, and can help heal those very annoying and painful canker sores in your mouth and cold sores outside the mouth. Add one teaspoon of Aloe Vera juice in a glass of water, rinse your mouth and spit it out to quell canker sores. Aloe Vera gel can also be applied to cold sores outside the mouth. Read the label carefully on Aloe Vera container -- some is NOT for internal use. And if that's not enough, the green part of the aloe leaf can used, in some cases, as a laxative.


Less can be more -- and it can be SAFER, too. By disposing of old medicines or leftover prescriptions, you can lower the risk of others accidentally or intentionally using them when they're not supposed to. The FDA recommends giving your medicine cabinet a yearly check-up. You want to check the expiration date, do a quick smell test for "off" odors and look for discoloration -- sometimes we can keep medicines way past their prime. If you are throwing away expired or unused medicines, unless noted, DO NOT flush the prescription drugs down the toilet. What you want to do is mix it with coffee grounds or kitty litter and then throw it away in the garbage -- mixing it with something else is meant to deter kids or pets from getting to them in the trash. There are also community drug take-back programs that will dispose of them for you.

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