We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Most Common Alternatives to Corticosteroids?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Corticosteroids are synthetic forms of a naturally occurring hormone known as cortisol and are used to treat pain and inflammation. Potential side effects of these drugs, such as high blood pressure, weight gain, and diabetes, lead many people to consider alternatives to corticosteroids. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen are frequently used as substitutes for corticosteroids. Herbal supplements such as calendula, dong quai, and witch hazel may be used in the place of corticosteroids in many cases. Physical therapy, cold compresses, or heat therapy may also be used instead of corticosteroids.

Non-prescription pain medications may be used as short-term alternatives to corticosteroids in some situations. Medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen contain anti-inflammatory properties and may be particularly useful for those with conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Excessive or prolonged use of these drugs may lead to kidney damage or circulatory system disorders. Acetaminophen is easier on the kidneys but may cause liver damage when used for extended periods of time.

Calendula and witch hazel may be used as alternatives to corticosteroids when topical medications are needed. Witch hazel can be used full strength to treat inflammatory conditions such as eczema and hemorrhoids, while calendula is often added to skin creams and may be used to treat inflammation caused by insect bites, bee stings, or other skin disorders. While witch hazel is considered safe for most people, minor skin irritation may occur at the application site. Calendula side effects are rare but may include allergic reactions among those sensitive to this herb.

Dong quai is among the most popular oral alternatives to corticosteroids. This supplement is thought to reduce inflammation in the blood and digestive tract and may be used to treat circulatory disorders or inflammatory bowel disease. Increased sensitivity to the sun or hormonal fluctuations may occur when taking dong quai, especially in high doses. Blood clotting disorders have also been reported among some people who use this herbal remedy.

Ice packs or warm compresses may be used to treat pain and inflammation in some cases, depending on instructions given by the supervising physician. Physical therapy may also be recommended so that an individualized exercise program can be developed based on specific needs. While alternatives to corticosteroids can be beneficial for many people, these methods of treatment should not be used as substitutes for proper medical care. A doctor or other health care professional should be consulted before beginning any new treatment program.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Rotergirl — On Aug 16, 2014

I'm diabetic so I have to be super careful about taking steroids. They run my blood sugar into the stratosphere. I don't know why they have that effect, but they do.

The bad part about that is I feel great when I'm taking them. My hair and skin just glow when I'm on prednisone. Isn't that the way it goes?

I'm glad I can take Naproxen. It works very, very well for me, and is my pain reliever of choice for just about everything. I'm glad it's available over the counter now.

By Pippinwhite — On Aug 15, 2014

My pastor's wife developed asthma as an adult, and she's on steroids. She's tried to come off them any number of times, without luck. She has gained a lot of weight because of them, and also has had skin problems.

She takes ibuprofen whenever she can, but that's tough on her stomach too, so she has to be really careful. She said she's glad steroids exist, because they help her breathe, but she wishes there were other alternatives that worked as well. So far, none have for her. She's hopeful some non-steroidal, effective asthma medications will come on the market in the near future.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.