To keep us from missing school, church, and all the parties this time of year, there are a few things I keep in my arsenal. They are easy, affordable and way better than waiting at a doctor's office only to be prescribed antibiotics. We have found our home remedies to be very effective for us. We're a big family and thus far we have never been to the doctor for a cold, flu, cough, strep throat, pink-eye, stomach bug, sinus infection, etc. The only time we've been the doctor for treatment was for overly-adventurous children who do things like break bones and get concussions. None of these remedies appear to improve my children's judgement.
We have also found them to be affordable. We don't carry health insurance. We can't be running to the doctor every time we feel under the weather.
Our remedies are also easy. Learning the basics of home remedies does not take a medical degree. The most effective things are likely to be found in your kitchen already. And the things that aren't, we pick up seasonally at the health food store, farmer's market or grocery store. A few things we order online.
This post is not the end-all of herbal home remedies. This post just highlights the most important ones for this time of year.
[Note: I am not a doctor. I'm a mom. I use these remedies to treat my family. You need to judge for yourself their safety and effectiveness. Consult with your doctor if you have questions. My personal experiences are not a substitute for medical care.]
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle,
and herb for the service of man.
At first sign of illness we go to two things:
1. Super Tonic. Super tonic is a mixture of five herbs: capsicum, horseradish, ginger, onion, and garlic in apple cider vinegar. We take up to 15 Tablespoons a day when needed. It usually kills whatever is ailing us in a single day.
Here's how you do it:
Place equal parts of the five herbs in a blender or food processor.
|It's not rocket science. When I say "equal parts" just guess and throw them in.|
You can use any variety of capsicum you can find, but the hotter the better. They go in with seeds, ribs and all. No need to "clean" them. The rest of the herbs need to be peeled. If you cannot find raw, whole horseradish, I have (in a pinch) used the dehydrated version found in Asian markets. Look for powdered or dehydrated wasabi. Do not substitute elephant garlic for regular garlic. It does not have the same properties.
Cover the herbs with apple cider vinegar. Process until the chunks are very small.
Place in a clean jar and put a lid on it. Allow it to sit in a cool, dark place for two weeks. At that point you may strain out all the chunks and then use just the juice. Usually, however, I leave the chunks in. Call it X-treme salsa.
If you are pregnant take large amounts of ginger with great caution, as they can stimulate the uterus. When I am pregnant I make this tonic without the ginger.
2. My second go-to when people around here start complaining about a cold coming on is Grapefruit Seed Extract or GSE. It tastes terrible. You have been warned. But, it works better than anything over-the-counter we've ever tried.
For adults take 20 drops in a small amount of orange juice 4 times a day. Stir well and throw it back! This should kick the cold, fever, flu in a day, or two at the most. Adjust the dosage accordingly for kids.
It can also be used as a throat gargle, ear rinse, vaginal rinse, nasal rinse, facial cleanser, and produce wash. Always dilute and follow the instructions on the label. It will really burn if used full strength. I have used it safely in several of my pregnancies to treat various ailments.
Other immune boosting things we keep on hand:
Elderberry Syrup. We use this for colds and flus and especially when one of the kids has a fever. It tastes pleasant so it's easy to get down. It is, however, not safe for pregnancy.
Eyebright. This appropriately named herb is what we go to for any kind of sickness that manifests with eye symptoms. Goopy eyes, green discharge, pink-eye. We take it in tincture form in juice or water. Also for conjunctivitis or pink-eye, you can make a chamomile infusion. While still a little warm soak a clean white cloth and press on eyes. Do not use chamomile if you have ragweed allergy. If you are lucky enough to be lactating, a few squirts of breastmilk in the eye several times throughout the day works really well, too. (Did that cross the earthy-crunchy line?)
Echinacea. This herb got a lot of hype a few years back and started appearing in everything--teas, throat lozenges, and all sorts of beauty products. The trouble is that most of those products use aerial parts of the plant--which do not have the same medicinal value. They are cheaper though, so manufacturers can afford to add it to shampoo and lip balm. However, if you want to use echinacea to treat your immune system, you must take the root. Usually for us this is in tincture form.
Goldenseal. This is what I use when I feel something has moved from being viral to being bacterial or from acute to chronic. You know that cough that nothing will touch, that congestion that turned into a sinus infection, the clear snot that turned to a pukish green color. Then comes the goldenseal. We take this in a tincture form in combination with other herbs specific to the problem--such as echinacea, turmeric, eyebright, etc. Goldenseal is not safe for pregnancy.
I haven't really covered any homeopathics, because using homeopathics merits a post of its own. But, I do love using homeopathics for all sorts of things. For this post, though, I'll just mention one:
Chestal. This comes in an adult and a children's version and it quiets a cough so well. If you or your little one can't sleep because of a persistent cough, a spoonful of this will have you resting in no time.
Lifestyle. Of course staying well involves a lot more than just treating symptoms with herbs. Staying well is often a series of lifestyle choices.
Get plenty of rest. This time of year we are so busy that often we just don't get the kind of rest we need. This goes for Mommies and Daddies, too! So, take naps and periods of rest!
Sugar is everywhere and in everything from Thanksgiving until after the New Year. You can hardly avoid it. Did you know that a spoonful of sugar can lower your immune system up to 30% for up to four hours? So, if you will be enjoying all the holiday treats, you really need to do whatever you can to boost your immune system.
Now this may sound odd, but I really feel that it works: place a bowl of unpeeled onions in every room of the house, especially bedrooms. Onions act as a natural air filter, catching the viruses that are floating about. Every month or so, throw the onions out and replace them with new ones. If you are actually sick, cut an onion in half and place it in a jar next to your bed at night. In the morning throw it out and repeat each night until you are well.
Get fresh air every day. Again, this time of year, we tend to spend more time indoors. Even if the weather is chilly, try to get some fresh air everyday. Go for a brisk walk or just sit on the porch breathing deeply.
Reduce stress. But, there's a thousand things to do and not enough time in which to do them, you say. All the more reason to take some time out each day to reflect on your blessings and do something that makes you laugh.
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person's strength.
Pray. Sometimes we forget in trying to attack a cold or flu that the most important thing to remember is that the Lord is our healer. When you feel yourself getting sick, don't be afraid to take a moment and ask other believers to pray for you. (James 5:14-15)
Have a healthy and happy Christmas season!