With the stress of my recent move, and this being the season for it, I’ve just been hit really hard with a massive head and chest cold. I thought I would share with you some of the many natural remedies I use when myself or a family member gets sick, as this has been the persistent theme of my last two weeks!
Let me start by saying these recommendations are by no means a replacement for, or to be taken as, professional medical advice. These are simply the methods I have researched, applied, and found to be useful in my family. I recommend doing your own research for anything that you are not completely comfortable trying. That being said, however, most of these remedies are pretty benign, and unless you are pregnant or breastfeeding (if so, you should really research ANYTHING novel you attempt trying with your body) they should be fairly innocent!
So let’s start off the list with my first recommendation:
The best, and most effective time to hit viruses and bacteria with natural remedies is at the initial onset of symptoms.. As soon as you feel that first throat tickle, that early sniffle, or any symptom that you suspect to be the beginning of something, hit it with all you’ve got.. Once something really has a hold of your body, it is much harder to boot it out, and often times you end up in for the long haul. I’m not saying you shouldn’t bother with herbal and natural remedies if you’re right in the thick of it, only that it will work better next time if you kick it out before it gets in the door :). Some of these remedies will prevent flus or colds from catching hold altogether if used early and effectively.
Herbal / Homeopathic Supplements I have used and found helpful (You can find these at your local health food store):
1). Oil of Oregano: This tastes awful, but it works. This herb has caught on like wildfire, so there are a lot of sub-par versions floating around. Make sure to buy organic, “wild” oregano. If it is super cheap, beware. You generally get what you pay for. Follow the directions on the label. Take this at first onset of symptoms. If you are right in the middle of a cold or flu, I personally wouldn’t bother much with it. There are some alternatives below.
2). Elderberry syrup: This remedy can be taken at onset of symptoms (for best results), or if you are fully ill. This is a powerful natural antioxidant and source of vitamin C that boosts your immune system’s ability to fight off infection. Plus, unlike oregano oil, it doesn’t taste nasty and is sold in dilutions safe for kids. Have fresh elderberries around? Eat ’em up, yum! They will work even better 🙂
3). “Respiractin”: For ANY respiratory concerns, including those brought on by colds and flu, such as coughs, wheezing, asthma related symptoms, this supplement is amazing. Filled with a mix of herbs that are natural respiratory tonics, they support your lungs in healing and expelling mucous. I have used this for myself, my husband, and my son. It can be used acutely to give fairly quick relief, or preventatively. Follow directions on the label.
4). “Stodal” by Boiron (Homeopathic): I used this homeopathic preparation for treating my toddler’s cough. It actually seemed to help quite a bit. I don’t claim to truly (other than surface level) understand how homeopathy works, but it definitely does for our family. I have used several of Boiron’s remedies on my son with success. Try this one out. I even found it at Walmart.
Food based remedies and relief:
1). Immune Boosting, Sore Throat & Tummy Tea: I make my own immune boosting, sore throat, cough, and tummy trouble treating tea for my family when we are sick. You can also include any of these (organic, please) ingredients in your cooking, in as close to raw form as possible, to achieve their immune boosting benefits. The ingredients and what they benefit are: peppermint (tummy), a few cloves (tummy, throat), a few slices of lemon with peel on (throat, immunity), raw honey (throat, immunity), sliced raw garlic (immunity), sliced, raw ginger root (tummy, immunity), fair trade, cracked apart cinnamon stick (respiratory tract).
My son won’t drink this tea, he is extremely picky about beverages. But I sneak a lot of the ingredients into other food dishes that i make, especially honey, cinnamon and garlic. If you aren’t into the garlic taste, you can skip it, but it is really beneficial for your immune system, so I highly recommend keeping it in if you can handle it.
2). Avoiding milk, cream, yogurt, and cheese as much as possible.. These dairy products are known to increase mucous production, which is not something you need during a cold or flu. It is best to avoid them when you are sick for that reason, unless you have a kid that you just really need to get some food in and one of these is the only thing he will take. Otherwise, best to steer clear until that mucous dies down!
3). Aloe vera inner filet gel:. This is a great remedy for sore throats, and upset stomachs. Also works great for heartburn, FYI. I like “Lily of the Desert” products the best. Do make sure it is the inner filet and not the whole leaf, as the whole leaf tends to purge your bowels.
4). Oil Pulling with Coconut oil: This is a traditional technique used for generations, involving swishing in the mouth, for about 15 minutes (yes, minutes, get comfortable), about a tablespoon of oil. I put some extra virgin coconut oil on a spoon, let it melt in my mouth, and swish. If you are really stuffed up, this is a bit uncomfortable as you have to keep opening your mouth to take a breath. BUT, that being said, this can be a excellent reliever of congestion and toxin build-up in your lymphatic system, so it is believed. Do not swallow the oil afterwards – although it can be beneficial to also eat raw coconut oil, spit it out this time. Supposedly it is “pulling” toxins from your system, so you would not be benefitting in swallowing them.
5). Making Vitamin C and Antioxidant Filled Smoothies: I love blending up a bunch of fruit and nutritious goodies into a smoothie for myself and sick family members. Load it up with fresh berries, apples, oranges, and leafy greens (you can’t even taste them with the fruit). Add some honey, a bit of lemon juice, cinnamon, coconut oil, and chia seeds for extra benefits such as immune boosting power, omega fatty acids, and protein to name a few. Plus, your little ones should love it, and it’s a great way to get some yummy, vitamin rich fluids in. I love my electric hand blender for this!
1). Breathe deeply during a hot shower, or using a hot steam humidifier: Inhaling steam has powerful benefits for congestion, both in your head, and chest. Stand or have your sick kiddos stand in the shower, or if too little, busy them with an activity in the hot bathroom. Try and engage in this for at least ten minutes, and consider purchasing a humidifier for nighttime and nap time use. They are relatively inexpensive, and I found mine to be supremely helpful in reducing my son’s nighttime coughing episodes.
2). Add some eucalyptus oil to your steamy experience by adding some in a sink or bowl of hot water and breathing it in, or buying a therapeutic aromatherapy diffuser and filling a room with it that way. Eucalyptus is amazing for clearing congestion. For my toddler, I used a diffuser, and put a few drops of the oil on his bedtime snuggle buddies. For adults, you can also add peppermint oil, although this is not recommended for young children, as in some rare cases it can actually work backwards and increase mucous production. If you find this is the case for you, just go back to straight eucalyptus.
3). Make your own vapour rub: See my article on making your own vapour rub HERE.. Put it on the chest and on the feet.
4). Engage in some lymphatic massage to drain your sinuses and ear canals. Watch THIS video for a thorough explanation of an amazing massage technique that truly works to relieve congestion. Have a little one with an ear infection? Try this lymphatic drainage technique several times a day before trying antibiotics if you are comfortable doing so. Some parents swear by this method for naturally treating ear issues in little ones. Make sure to oil up your hands to make the procedure more comfortable for sensitive skin.
So there you have it, a look into my repertoire of sick tricks. What do you use in your home as natural remedies for colds, flu, and allergies? Do you prefer natural remedies, or do you feel safer with drugstore remedies? To my displeasure, I know I had to cave and rely on some Benylin for some nighttime relief this time around, as this head cold has been particularly nasty. If you do prefer natural remedies, when do you throw in the towel and run to the pharmacy? I hope some of these remedies work for you, and that you stay relatively healthy during this cold and flu season.