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Abortion Home Remedies: Know Your Options

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If you’re experiencing an unintended pregnancy, know that you’re not alone, and you have options. You can safely and legally end your pregnancy if you want to.

This is still true, even after the United States Supreme Court voted in June 2022 to overturn Roe vs. Wade — the 1973 case that guaranteed the legal right to abortion.

However, in the wake of Roe‘s fall, many social media users concerned about increased restrictions around legal abortion have shared “advice” on how to self-manage your own.

While some tips are evidence-based — for example, many folks point out that self-managing an abortion via approved medication is safe, effective, and legal nationwide — many alleged “abortion home remedies” are under-researched.

They may be ineffective at best and life threatening at worst.

Some common “abortion home remedies” that people try include:

  • herbs and teas, including pennyroyal, mugwort, black cohosh, and parsley
  • physical exercises
  • self-injury
  • over-the-counter medications like vitamin C, caffeine pills, and birth control pills
  • alcohol and criminalized drugs

Read on to learn more about why attempting abortion via these “home remedies” can be harmful — and how to access safe alternatives, no matter where you live.

It’s difficult to quantify how many abortions take place globally. Estimates range from 56 million to 73 million abortions per year.

Of those, about 25 million are considered unsafe abortions. Unsafe abortion may lead to about 70,000 deaths and 5 million serious complications yearly.

Some of these abortions involve visiting traditional medicine practitioners or other community members who perform surgical procedures outside of a clinical setting.

Others are SMAs that may involve using ethnobotanical and folk remedies, including herbs and teas, or attempting self-injury.

This is nothing new: People have long used traditional medicine and other methods to induce abortions. But many of these practices are under-researched, and those studied are often found to be ineffective, unsafe, or both.

For example, one study found that people with uteruses who are not cisgender — including transgender men, genderqueer folks, and other gender-expansive people — reported high interest in SMA.

Of the people surveyed, 19% said they attempted an SMA without aid. Methods included taking herbs, causing physical trauma, using vitamin C, and using drugs or alcohol.

In a 2018 U.S. study, 55% of people who reported past attempts to self-abort said they used herbs or vitamins, while 36% said they used alcohol or non-pharmaceutical rugs.

A 2021 study found that U.S. youth experiencing homelessness often default to SMA using harmful methods like physical trauma, substance misuse, or intentional starvation.

Youth participants reported feeling that other abortion methods were too expensive or otherwise inaccessible due to their age or location.

One 2019 study among women across Mexico who had abortions found that it wasn’t uncommon for people to use traditional medicines like herbs alone or alongside pharmaceutical abortion medication, especially in abortion-hostile areas.

Many vitamins and herbs are touted as abortifacients (abortion-causing substances) when taken orally in high doses, brewed into teas, or inserted into the vagina. However, there is little evidence to support their use.

In one 2021 study, about half of participants who attempted SMAs used vitamin C, parsley, Dong Quai, rose hips, ginger root, chamomile, and black cohosh. Others took analgesics, antibiotics, birth control pills, and caffeine pills.

None of these substances are approved or recommended for inducing abortion, and some can cause serious harm — even in small amounts.

Some of the most commonly attempted “home remedies” include pennyroyal, black cohosh, mugwort, parsley, and vitamin C.

Pennyroyal oil and pennyroyal tea

Pennyroyal is the name given to a herbal extract or oil derived from a few plants that belong to the mint family: Mentha pulegium or Hedeoma pulegoides. It’s long been used in folk medicine to induce periods and abortions.

However, pennyroyal oil can cause serious side effects, even at doses as low as one tablespoon (15 mL). Side effects of ingesting pennyroyal oil — or tea made with pennyroyal oil — may include:

  • fainting
  • seizures
  • coma
  • cardiopulmonary collapse (sudden failure of the heart and lungs)
  • liver injury, liver necrosis, or liver failure
  • renal insufficiency
  • multi-organ failure
  • death

In addition to its potential to harm you, some research suggests that pennyroyal oil does not have the ability to induce an abortion or affect contractions of the uterus.

Therefore, consuming pennyroyal to attempt an SMA is not a good idea.

Black cohosh

Also known as snakeroot, black bugbane, or rattleweed, black cohosh (Actaea racemosa or Cimicifuga racemosa) has been used in traditional Indigenous medicine for centuries.

It’s been suggested that black cohosh may treat pain, fever, cough, pneumonia, and menstrual irregularities, induce labor and support reproductive health.

Some people take black cohosh supplements to treat menstrual cramps and menopause symptoms.

However, there isn’t much evidence supporting any of these claims. Plus, research into the side effects of black cohosh is limited.

There are some weak associations between black cohosh supplements and gastrointestinal upset, breast pain, infection, abnormal vaginal bleeding, liver damage, cramps, headaches, and rashes.

There is no evidence that black cohosh at any dosage can induce an abortion, but there is evidence that taking it can cause side effects. Black cohosh is not a reliable or recommended method of SMA.

Mugwort

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) also has a storied history as an Indigenous medicine, with some suggesting that it can treat digestive problems, menstruation irregularities, high blood pressure, and stress.

However, little scientific research supports using mugwort for any of these conditions.

Some people take mugwort to attempt abortions, as it’s been found to potentially influence miscarriage and affect animals’ pregnancy outcomes. That doesn’t mean it’s effective at causing abortions in humans, though.

The herb is generally recognized as safe when taken as an over-the-counter supplement, but large doses of some variations of mugwort may cause side effects.

These include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • nervous system damage
  • high blood pressure
  • stomach cramps
  • brain injury
  • vertigo
  • insomnia and restlessness
  • urine retention
  • seizures
  • tremors

Mugwort is also said to have high allergen potential and may cause allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock. It’s not a safe or effective method of SMA.

Parsley

Parsley — and oils that are drawn from it — have been used in SMA attempts for many years. However, taking concentrated parsley oils has been associated with hemorrhage (severe bleeding), neurotoxicity, and death.

That’s because oils derived from parsley’s leaves or seeds contain high levels of a compound called parsley apiole, which can cause poisoning in large doses.

Research has found that parsley apiole poisoning can lead to miscarriage, but it comes with other side effects that can be fatal, such as:

  • fever
  • severe abdominal pain
  • vaginal bleeding
  • convulsions
  • vomiting and diarrhea

In one 2021 study, taking parsley apiole caused fatal liver and kidney toxicity in every mouse that took it. While results of animal trials don’t always apply to humans, liver and kidney damage may still be reasonable concerns.

Parsley also contains a compound called myristicin. Like apiole, myristicin can cause uterine contractions and may be associated with miscarriage.

However, parsley-based treatments are not recommended or proven to be safe methods for SMA due to the risk of side effects. It is also not clear how effective parsley is in inducing abortion.

(Remember that most studies involve concentrated oils derived from parsley’s leaves or seeds — not parsley itself.)

Over-the-counter and prescription medications

It’s never a good idea to take more than the recommended dose of any over-the-counter or prescription medication. Even vitamins and supplements can pose risks when taken in excess.

Those that don’t cause direct harm may just be ineffective. For example, despite some myths, vitamin C cannot cause an abortion.

You should also never use alcohol or criminalized drugs to try and induce abortion, nor should you engage in self-injury. You deserve safe, compassionate, judgment-free abortion care — and options are available.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest risks associated with common abortion “home remedies.”

Incomplete abortion

An incomplete abortion is an abortion that didn’t completely work. This means that products of the pregnancy remain in your body, so you’ll likely need medical treatment to complete the abortion.

Untreated, an incomplete abortion can lead to heavy bleeding and potentially life-threatening infections.

Infection

All surgeries involve a risk of infection, which is why medical facilities work hard to keep their environments as sterile as possible.

Some abortion home remedies call for inserting an instrument through your cervix to reach your uterus. This is extremely dangerous, even if you think you’ve properly sterilized the instrument.

An infection in your vagina, cervix, or uterus can cause permanent damage, including infertility. An infection in this area can also spread to your bloodstream, causing life threatening blood poisoning.

Hemorrhage

Hemorrhage refers to any sort of major blood loss. If you or someone without medical training tries to perform a surgical abortion on you, you run the risk of accidentally severing a major blood vessel, causing internal bleeding.

Keep in mind that internal bleeding may not be visible until it’s too late.

Scarring

In addition to hemorrhaging, a surgical abortion provided by someone without medical training can result in scarring.

This scarring can affect your external and internal genitalia, resulting in infertility and other health conditions.

Toxicity

Herbal remedies may seem harmless because they’re “natural.” But even common herbs can have powerful effects and quickly become toxic.

Not to mention, most herbal abortion methods require consuming much more than the recommended dosage.

If you ingest more than the amount known to be safe for humans, your liver has to work overtime to filter out extra toxins and other compounds from the herbs. This can lead to liver damage or failure.

Many people who attempt to self-manage an abortion via a home remedy do so because abortion is illegal or restricted where they live. And since it’s difficult to research illegal activities, we don’t have much data about the effectiveness of abortion home remedies.

One small 2020 study based in Texas, where abortion access is limited for many, surveyed people who attempted abortions on their own.

Many of them tried home remedies — primarily herbs and vitamins (43%), birth control pills or other medications, certain foods, and alcohol or drugs — instead of or alongside abortion medication.

None of the people who reported using home remedies alone said they were successful in ending their pregnancies.

Those who used home remedies often tried several methods over weeks without success before visiting an abortion provider in person.

Older research from rural Tanzania asked women who presented to medical facilities with incomplete abortions about what abortion methods they’d tried.

Two-thirds reported they had attempted an abortion outside of a clinical setting or without pharmaceutical medications. More than a third said they had used plants.

The researchers found that of 21 plant species participants reported using, 16 did have some ability to encourage uterine contractions. However, using plants for abortion runs a high risk of complications, including incomplete abortions that require follow-up medical care.

Overall, most abortion home remedies appear not only dangerous but ineffective as well.

If you’ve decided that an abortion is right for you, there are safe, legal alternatives to herbs, self-injury, and out-of-clinic procedures — and you can still self-manage your abortion at home.

There are two main types of abortion:

  • Medical abortion. A medical abortion involves taking pills or dissolving medication in your vagina or inner cheek. Medication abortions can be safely self-managed at home.
  • Surgical abortion. A surgical abortion is a medical procedure involving suction. It’s done by a provider in a medical facility, and you can usually go home after the procedure so long as you bring someone to drive you.

When considering your options, remember that medical abortions are usually only recommended up until week 12 of pregnancy.

Most states don’t allow surgical abortions after 20–24 weeks or the end of the second trimester. They’re usually only done after this point if the pregnancy poses a serious health risk.

Learn more about the different types of abortion, including timeline and cost information.

If you’ve already taken steps to have an abortion using a method that may pose risk, make sure to listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Go to the emergency room if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • bleeding that soaks through a maxi pad in under one hour
  • bloody vomit, stool, or urine
  • fever or chills
  • yellowing of your skin or eyes
  • severe pain in your abdomen or pelvis
  • vomiting and loss of appetite
  • loss of consciousness
  • inability to wake up or stay awake
  • sweaty, cold, bluish, or pale skin
  • confusion

Several U.S. organizations can offer guidance on your options, help you find a provider, and assist with covering the costs of an abortion.

Information and services

If you’re unsure where to start, consider reaching out to the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic, which you can find here.

Clinic staff can counsel you on your options and help you weigh the pros and cons of each.

Once you’ve decided, they can provide you with discreet, lower-cost services, including medical and surgical abortions.

Other options include INeedAnA.com and the National Abortion Federation’s U.S. Abortion Clinic Locator.

The National Abortion Federation also operates a hotline that can help you find an abortion provider or financial support for your abortion.

Financial assistance

Abortion funds are organizations that help people pay for abortion care. They can help you find abortion providers and arrange appointments, too.

Some abortion funds you can contact for help include:

The above list is far from complete, as many local and regional communities have abortion funds. The National Network of Abortion Funds can connect you with local organizations serving your area.

Telemedicine

Depending on where you live, a physician or abortion provider may be able to prescribe you abortion medication, and you can take it in their office or at home. You can also order pills online.

Pills ordered online appear just as safe as those administered in person.

One US-based study analyzed pills sent from 16 websites that provide medication abortion. The websites all mailed safe, legitimate medicines as advertised, and they usually arrived in a timely manner.

Plus, a 2017 study involving 1,000 Irish women found that medical abortions done with the help of an organization called Women on Web were highly effective.

Those who did have complications were well-equipped to recognize them, and nearly all participants who had complications reported seeking medical treatment.

Abortion access varies widely by country.

The Center for Reproductive Rights offers more information on abortion laws worldwide, along with a map you can use to check the abortion laws in your country.

If you live in Canada, you can call the National Abortion Federation hotline at 877-257-0012 for a referral to a clinic near you.

British Pregnancy Advisory Services can offer more information about your abortion options if you live in the United Kingdom. They also provide abortion services and support to international patients.

Humans have used ethnobotanical practices and other methods to end their pregnancies for centuries. Today, marginalized communities and people living in areas that criminalize abortion are most likely to try methods like these.

Since the fall of the right to legal abortion in the US, well-meaning folks have increasingly shared advice on “abortion home remedies” via social media.

However, few of these methods — including herbs, injury, alcohol, or drugs that have not been FDA-approved — have been studied for safety or effectiveness. Those that have been studied have generally proven risky and could harm you.

That means it’s best to avoid them. However, this doesn’t mean that you are out of options.

If you need an abortion, you can access safe alternatives like FDA-approved medication (either obtained from an in-person or telehealth provider or ordered online) or a procedure at a verified clinic.

Regardless of the laws and regulations in your area, you deserve the right to make decisions about what happens to your body.


Rose Thorne is an associate editor at Healthline Nutrition. A 2021 graduate of Mercer University with a degree in journalism and women’s & gender studies, Rose has bylines for Business Insider, The Washington Post, The Lily, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and more. Rose’s proudest professional accomplishments include being a college newspaper editor-in-chief and working at Fair Fight Action, the national voting rights organization. Rose covers the intersections of gender, sexuality, and health, and is a member of The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists and the Trans Journalists Association. You can find Rose on Twitter.



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Examples of the Effects of Mental Health Stigma

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Over the past few decades, we’ve come a long way in how we view and talk about mental health.

And that should come as no surprise, because 1 in 5 adults in the United States lives with a mental health condition. Many people are also becoming more open to the idea of sharing their personal experiences.

But there’s still a stigma surrounding mental health. It’s a stigma, in fact, that affects millions of people around the world who live with mental health conditions. It affects everything from their social relationships and professional opportunities to the way they view themselves.

We’ll explore more about what mental health stigma is, and how we can all work to address this and improve the lives of people living with mental health conditions.

Mental health is often stigmatized because of a lack of understanding about what mental health conditions are and what it’s like to live with a mental health condition. Stigma can also arise from personal thoughts or religious beliefs about people who have mental health conditions.

Generally, the lack of understanding about mental health — as well as the harmful assumptions about people living with mental health conditions — is at the heart of a bias or stigma. This can result in avoidance, rejection, infantilization, and other discriminations against people who are neurodivergent or have a mental health condition.

We often use the word “stigma” to describe the overarching experience that people have. However, there are actually three types of stigma: public stigma, self-stigma, and institutional stigma.

  • Public stigma: This refers to the negative attitudes around mental health from people in society.
  • Self-stigma: This describes the internalized stigma that people with mental health conditions feel about themselves.
  • Institutional stigma: This is a type of systemic stigma that arises from corporations, governments, and other institutions.

While there are many examples of mental health stigma in society, here are some of the more common instances you might notice:

  • When people are viewed as attention-seeking or weak when they try to reach out and get professional help.
  • When others use harmful language, such as “crazy” or “insane”, to judge or trivialize people who have mental health conditions.
  • When people make jokes about mental health or certain conditions.
  • When people avoid others with certain mental health conditions, like schizophrenia, because of fear or misunderstanding.
  • When family or friends tell someone with depression that they can get better if they just “work out and get more sun,” or make other unhelpful judgments.
  • When someone living with a mental health condition views themselves as worthless or talks down to themselves because of their condition.
  • When companies refuse to hire someone or provide them with adequate accommodations because of their mental health.
  • When people view examples of neurodivergence as illnesses or something to be cured.

A 2021 study explored the trends of mental health stigma in the United States over a period of more than 20 years, between 1996 and 2018. In the study, researchers reviewed surveys from across the country on attitudes toward various mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, depression, and alcohol dependence.

According to the study results, from roughly 1996 to 2006, people became more knowledgeable about mental health — including acknowledging differences between daily experiences and symptoms of diagnosable conditions.

And from around 2006 to 2018, there was a significant decrease in social stigma against depression — specifically, less desire to be socially distanced from people with depression. However, when it came to schizophrenia and alcohol dependence, not only did social stigma increase but so did negative perceptions of these conditions.

Another earlier study from 2018 took a slightly different approach in analyzing the social perception of mental and physical health conditions. In this study, researchers used automated software to track over a million tweets related to mental health and physical health over a 50-day period.

According to the results of the study, mental health conditions were more likely to be stigmatized and trivialized than physical health conditions. And the results varied by condition — with schizophrenia being the most stigmatized, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) being the most trivialized.

Intersectionality refers to how someone’s intersecting identities — such as race, gender, sexuality, or class — contribute to their own unique experience with discrimination and oppression.

When it comes to mental health, intersectionality can play a huge role not only in someone’s overall mental health, but also in how mental health stigma affects them.

For example, research suggests that Black and Latino people experience mental health conditions more severely and persistently than other racial or ethnic groups. Much of this imbalance stems from factors like institutionalized racism, prejudice, and other outside circumstances.

Another study from 2021 looked into the use of mental health services by young Black gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men in HIV care.

According to the researchers, less than 20% of the men who were referred to mental healthcare from the clinic continued to receive the recommended care — often as a result of increased social and professional stigma for men to go without mental healthcare of any kind.

Mental health stigma can have a hugely negative impact on the lives of people living with mental health conditions. In fact, stigma can often lead to mental, social, or even professional consequences for the people who are stigmatized.

Mental

People living with mental health conditions are more likely to experience low self-esteem and lower self-confidence if they’re stigmatized.

Stigma may lead to difficulty seeking treatment or even following through with treatment. And some people may experience increased symptoms of their condition, or even develop new ones — like anxiety or depression — because of experiencing stigma.

Self-stigma may even hinder someone’s ability to recover from a mental health condition. In one smaller study from 2018, researchers found that higher levels of self-stigma were associated with a decrease in recovery from mental health conditions.

Social

Social mental health stigma may lead to isolation from friends or family. People with mental health conditions may experience bullying or harassment from others — or possibly even physical violence.

And when others have a judgmental view of mental health, it can be difficult for people living with these conditions to build relationships with them.

Research has shown that perceived and experienced social stigma may also play a role in suicidality among people with mental health conditions. According to the literature, people who experience discrimination (even anticipated discrimination), social stigma, and self-stigma may be more likely to experience suicidal ideation.

Professional

Stigma in the professional world can lead to fewer opportunities to excel at school and fewer opportunities to advance at work. People living with mental health conditions may have difficulty fulfilling school or work obligations — especially if they have trouble with classmates, teachers, coworkers, or bosses.

It’s not just classmates or colleagues who contribute to mental health stigma in a professional setting, either. Research suggests that when healthcare professionals exhibit negativity toward people with mental health conditions, or have a lack of understanding about these conditions, it can prevent people from accessing high quality care.

Stigma comes from everywhere — institutions, society, and even ourselves. But we can all take steps to address and reduce the stigma of mental health:

  • Learn about mental health: One of the most important steps toward reducing mental health stigma is to learn more about it. Learning what mental health conditions look like and who they can affect can help reduce some of the fear, misunderstanding, and judgment around them.
  • Use words carefully: When we use words with negative associations, like “insane” or “crazy”, we contribute to the judgment and stigmatization of others. It may take some effort to change the way we speak, but it can help reduce the stigma that people with mental health conditions face.
  • Take part in campaigns: Many mental health organizations, like NAMI, create fundraising campaigns to help bring awareness and provide funding for mental healthcare. Even if you can’t get directly involved, these campaigns are a great way to learn more about people living with mental health conditions.
  • Share your story: If you’re someone living with a mental health condition, one of the most powerful tools for reducing stigma is to share your story. By educating people on what it’s like to live with a mental health condition, we can help reduce the misunderstanding and judgment that people feel.

Mental health stigma plays a significant role in the lives of people with mental health conditions — from the way that they’re treated to the way they feel about themselves. But we can take steps to reduce this stigma.

By being more mindful about how we speak to others, learning more about what it’s like to live with a mental health condition, and sharing our stories when we’re living with these conditions, we can help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

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Can People with Diabetes Eat Candy?

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Eating candy can be a controversial topic for people with diabetes.

Misconceptions about sugar and candy being off-limits for people with diabetes can be found in the public mindset, in media and entertainment, and within the medical community itself.

With the Halloween season upon us, both kids and adults with diabetes as well as their loved ones and friends may face this issue even more often than at other times of the year.

This article will explore if people with diabetes can actually eat (and enjoy) candy, how much may be allowed, and whether sugar-free candy is worth considering.

Short answer: Yes, people with diabetes can eat candy.

Adults and children with diabetes (no matter the type) are just as entitled to a sweet treat occasionally as anyone else. Like everything else, details and context matter most, and moderation is key for anyone living with diabetes when it comes to food choices. High sugar foods and drinks can impact glucose levels more quickly and dramatically, so understanding how those influence your diabetes management is important.

People with diabetes must consider extra planning if they want to eat candy. They need to be cognizant about counting carbohydrates and dosing insulin correctly if they happen to use that hormone to help manage their condition.

It’s important to remember, too, that people with diabetes are typically watching the total carbohydrate count of food and drink, and not necessarily honing in on the sugar content.

While candy can make blood sugars rise more quickly, it’s that carb count that needs to be watched when consuming a piece of candy. The same applies to sugar-free candy, which also contains a certain amount of carbohydrates and that needs to be considered when factoring that food choice into your diabetes management.

Certain candies, such as those containing peanut butter or nuts, can take longer to impact blood sugars and won’t lead to as dramatic spikes immediately after eating them. However, other regular candies with sugar can cause quick spikes in blood sugar, and some medical professionals suggest eating a piece of candy closer to mealtime in order to “soften the blow” of a sudden spike in blood sugar.

Of course, you’ll still need to account for the calories and carbs contained within the candy.

While sugar-free candy certainly doesn’t get an award for being “healthy” per se, many people with diabetes (especially children) turn to it as an alternative to regular candy. The thought is that sugar-free candy may be healthier for blood sugar levels.

Sugar-free candy is made with artificial sweeteners, meaning that it can have a lighter impact on blood sugar levels.

However, a common misconception is that sugar-free candy does not impact blood sugar. It does, in fact, contain carbohydrates and calories. That means you still need to dose insulin or take glucose-lowering diabetes medications for those sugar-free candies.

If someone with non-insulin dependent diabetes is being mindful of their weight, eating sugar-free candy is not a free pass for sweets. These sugar-free options may sabotage weight loss efforts due to their high calorie content.

A non-diabetes-related benefit of sugar-free candy is that it’s kinder to teeth. Absent of the higher sugar contents, these sugar-free treats don’t lead to as much tooth decay or cavities often linked to frequent sugar consumption.

Additionally, there’s usually not a very big difference in terms of total fat or protein content in sugar-free versus regular candy.

Examples of artificial sweeteners used in sugar-free candy include:

  • stevia
  • sucralose
  • aspartame
  • saccharin

The big issue with sugar-free candy comes down to sugar alcohols in those treats, which can have some negative effects depending on how much you eat.

In this older study, researchers gave study participants either sugar or one of two kinds of sugar alcohol (erythritol and xylitol).

Side effects included:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea and upset stomach
  • bloating
  • excess gas

The study participants who were given sugar experienced no such side effects.

Sugar alcohols are considered fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, or a type of FODMAP. These are food molecules that some people cannot digest easily, especially when eaten in large quantities.

Sugar alcohols can also cause a laxative effect, especially if you’re prone to stomach issues.

While they contain fewer calories than sugar, they’re not calorie-free. Eating any treat in excess can inhibit weight loss or cause weight gain.

Eating sugar-free candy made with artificial sweeteners can also cause side effects, including interrupting the gut microbiome that is important to your health.

A 2019 study and older research show that saccharin, sucralose, and Stevia change the composition of gut microbiota. In one study, people who had disrupted gut bacteria also showed worse blood sugar control 5 days after eating the artificial sweetener.

While it may not be the healthiest low snack, treating any low blood sugar with fast-acting sugar can be helpful.

Some candies that contain sugar are very fast-acting. However, some others (including those with chocolate or peanut butter) have higher fat content and are slower to digest and take longer to impact blood sugars, so they may not be appropriate to treat severe hypoglycemia quickly enough.

Another con of eating candy to treat low blood sugars is that it can react quickly and if you eat too much, it may cause higher blood sugars (rebound highs).

Make sure to consult your diabetes care team about any concerns or questions relating to candy and treating low blood sugars.

Yes, children and adults with diabetes can and do eat candy. The key is moderation and making sure to track the number of carbohydrates and calories eaten. Sugar-free candies can be better for blood sugar levels, but they still contain carbs and calories. The sugar-alcohols in these treats can also cause upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, and excess gas.

Candy can be used to treat hypoglycemia, but it may not always be appropriate for urgent low blood sugars requiring glucagon or emergency medical assistance.

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Where Can I Go for Medical Care Without Insurance?

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Finding affordable healthcare without insurance may seem daunting, but there are more options than you may think. Here are more than 18 resources that can provide assistance.

It’s no secret that accessing healthcare can be very expensive. If you don’t have insurance, those costs are even higher. In fact, 85% of uninsured people in the United States reported that paying for healthcare was difficult in 2022.

Fortunately, there are resources that can help you find and pay for medical care without insurance. You can find care at low or no cost with a variety of programs designed to help people without health insurance get the care they need.

Yes, you can get medical care if you don’t have health insurance.

In the United States, hospital emergency rooms are required to provide treatment regardless of insurance or ability to pay.

Additionally, there are many medical facilities that provide routine care to people who don’t have insurance. You will be asked to pay for any care you receive, but there are ways to find healthcare at a lower cost.

There are a variety of options for seeking care if you don’t have insurance. Many of these options are designed to be affordable. In some cases, you might be able to get certain healthcare services for free.

You can find low cost or free care in several locations:

Community health centers

Community health centers are nonprofit health clinics that offer low cost or free care. Often, fees are set on an income-based sliding scale, and staff will work with you to determine your costs.

The exact services offered by a community health center depend on the location but generally include:

  • preventive healthcare
  • basic healthcare
  • family planning services
  • vaccinations
  • chronic condition management

Some community health centers also offer prescription medications and dental care. You can search for community health centers near you by checking here.

State or county departments of health

Your state or county department of health might cover certain healthcare services for eligible residents. Often, this includes access to preventive care, such as vaccines or screenings.

You might need to register in advance and prove that you reside in the county or state to receive free care.

You can search for your local department of health here.

Urgent care and walk-in clinics

Urgent care centers and walk-in clinics offer care without an appointment. Often, these facilities offer reduced cost care for people who don’t have insurance. Some urgent care centers list costs for standard services on their websites.

You can also call ahead to talk with a representative about fees and possible cost reductions for people without insurance.

Pharmacy care clinics

Pharmacies, including the pharmacies inside major national chains such as Walmart, often provide preventive care services for free. These services are normally provided during health clinics held on specific days.

Services offered can vary but typically include:

You can check with your local pharmacy about any upcoming clinics, or search online for pharmacy clinics in your area.

Teaching hospitals

If you have a teaching hospital in your area, you might be able to receive care at a reduced rate. The exact care you can access at a reduced rate depends on the hospital and the needs of the medical students.

You can call the teaching hospital and ask whether they offer any reduced cost care.

Employer-sponsored wellness programs

Some employers offer wellness programs to their employees. In many cases, this includes preventive healthcare, such as annual vaccines and healthcare screenings.

You can check in with your human resources department if you’re not sure what healthcare benefits are part of your employer’s wellness program.

The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics

You can use the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics website to search for health clinics and pharmacies in your area that offer free or low cost services.

The association is dedicated to caring for people who are uninsured or underinsured. There are more than 1,400 clinics and pharmacies in the association.

If you need assistance paying for care, you have a handful of options:

Charity care

Some states offer charity care that reduces the cost of medical care for people who meet income requirements. If you qualify, you can receive low cost or free medical care.

In certain states, people are screened automatically. In other states, you will need to apply for the program.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a federal program that provides healthcare for people who meet income requirements. Each state oversees its own Medicaid program. Income limits and exact coverage vary by state.

You can find your state’s Medicaid website here.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a federal program that provides healthcare for children. Just like Medicaid, qualifying for the program depends on income level. Each state sets its own income limits and coverage varies.

You can read about CHIP in your state here.

The Hill-Burton program

The Hill-Burton program provides funds to participating hospitals and healthcare facilities in exchange for offering a set amount of free or low cost care to people who meet income requirements.

You will need to apply for the Hill-Burton program with the admissions or business department of the healthcare facility. You can find a directory of Hill-Burton facilities here.

Aunt Bertha

Aunt Bertha is a social and human services database you can search to find programs in your area. This includes programs that can help you pay for healthcare.

You can enter your ZIP code and a category to find programs that will meet your needs.

Keeping prescription costs low is a great way to lower your overall healthcare costs. Here are some options:

Prescription drug manufacturer programs

The makers of many prescription drugs offer programs to help people afford their medications. You can often join these programs to get your medication at low or no cost. You might need to meet certain income requirements to qualify.

You can use RXAssist to search a database of manufacturer programs.

GoodRx

GoodRx is a website that will show you the prices of your medication at stores in your local area. It can also show prices at online and mail-order pharmacies. By comparing pharmacies, you can find the lowest price.

Plus, GoodRx will even help you find coupons and manufacturer discounts.

Pharmacy memberships

Walmart, CVS, and other pharmacies have membership programs that can save you money. By signing up for these programs, you can get access to discounts on your medication. You can also earn discounts to use on other pharmacy purchases.

Grants for charitable organizations can cover your medical costs. Some examples include:

The PAN Foundation

The PAN Foundation helps uninsured people who have received a diagnosis of a life threatening, chronic, or rare disease pay for their medical care. You can see a list of conditions the foundation currently provides assistance for on its website.

If you have a condition listed on the site, you can instantly check your eligibility and can then apply online for a grant.

The HealthWell Foundation

The HealthWell Foundation helps uninsured people with certain medical conditions pay for their medical expenses. You can see their list of covered conditions on its website.

If you have a condition covered on the site, you can apply for a grant that will cover your medical expenses.

Good Days

Good Days is an organization that can help people with chronic and acute conditions pay for their medical treatments. You can check out the list of covered conditions here.

Applications for assistance are available in both English and Spanish.

There are a few additional options you can explore to get access to lower cost or free healthcare. If you haven’t already, consider doing the following:

  • Ask the hospital or doctor’s office about installment payment programs.
  • Search for programs specific to a health condition you have.
  • Apply for low cost health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • If you’re a veteran, apply for VA benefits.
  • Sign up for clinical trials in your area to help researchers study new treatments.
  • Consider telehealth for conditions that don’t need in-person care.

You can learn more about accessing medical care without insurance by reading answers to common questions.

When can I enroll in Medicaid?

If you qualify for Medicaid, you can enroll at any time. Check out your state’s Medicaid website for income limits and other details.

What if I can’t pay an emergency room bill?

In an emergency, getting care is your No. 1 priority. But this can leave you with a bill that is outside of your budget, especially if you don’t have insurance.

However, medical bills are often negotiable. In many cases, you can call the hospital’s billing department to work out a plan.

If you’re unable to work out a plan with the hospital, there are nonprofit organizations that can help you apply for debt forgiveness.

Will healthcare professionals treat me if I don’t have insurance?

It’s illegal for healthcare professionals to refuse care in an emergency.

This isn’t the case for nonemergency care. Most healthcare professionals will list payments they accept on their websites.

If private pay is listed, you can get treatment without insurance. If it’s not, it’s best to call in advance to make sure the healthcare professional accepts patients who don’t have insurance.

You have options for receiving medical care even when you don’t have health insurance. There are several sources you can turn to for care, prescriptions, payment help, and more. Some programs are limited to certain states or certain health conditions.

Additionally, you will need to meet income requirements to qualify for some of these programs. If you don’t, options like telehealth and urgent care can help you cut costs.

You can also look into getting affordable insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

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