With cold and flu season fast approaching, I thought I’d share some of our family favorite “non-drug” remedies.
Starting in October, I start the kids and myself on immune enhancers. The boys take Echinacea, which is a homeopathic herb that is excellent at strengthening the immune system. You can find it at any drugstore or Walmart, in formulas for both kids and adults. Mandie and I take elderberry syrup. There are several brands, the main one being Sambucol. You can find it at Whole Foods, Seeds of Change, and Body and Soul (or any health food store). It also comes in different formulas for kids and adults, and some kids versions also contain Echinacea. Mandie is so severely allergic to the ragweed family (Aster/Composite) that we can’t use the Echinacea since it is a member of that family.
If you do get the misfortune of coming down with a cold or flu, there are a few non-drug things you can do. We like to sprinkle a few drops of Eucalyptus essential oil (found in health food stores and Whole Foods) on our pillowcases before bed, and also in a warm bath. It is a wonderful decongestant. Chamomile tea is an excellent decongestant, and has a calming, mellowing effect. It is safe for newborn babies through adults. After one year of age, a couple of teaspoons of honey added to the tea will help stop the symptoms. (Honey is naturally antiseptic and antibacterial. Raw honey is excellent at healing wounds.) Chamomile is a member of the Aster/Composite family however, so if you have severe allergies to any other members of the family you need to avoid it. Honey is excellent for sore throats, either a spoonful alone, or with a bit of fresh lemon juice (for the vitamin C). For stomach issues of all kinds, Peppermint tea is the first remedy of choice. Sip it hot or cold, with the addition of honey if you like, throughout the day. Sucking on peppermint candies often helps a bit as well. Also excellent for stomach issues is ginger. You can take it in capsule form (from Walmart, etc.), candied crystallized from the grocery store (eat 1-2 pieces as needed), or cut a thin slice off of a fresh root, pour boiling water over it, and steep for 5 minutes. Remove the root, sweeten with honey, and drink as needed. Ginger is 100% safe during all stages of pregnancy, and works wonders for the associated nausea and vomiting.
My absolute favorite natural antibiotic is garlic. It is antiviral and antibiotic. I take it either fresh (in pieces), or in liquid capsule form for anything that would need an antibiotic. I’ve successfully cured severe mastitis, strep throat, and sinus infections using garlic. It works quicker than drugs, without all of the side effects. Www.kellymom.com has some wonderful information about using garlic to cure mastitis and other ailments.
With three very active children, my medicine cabinet is not complete without a few remedies for cuts, scrapes, bug bites, and bruises. In the medicine bag next to the Benadryl I keep a bottle of Lavender essential oil by NOW Foods (www.nowfoods.com). Lavender is antibiotic, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral. I use it on all three kids on any bug bites, cuts, scrapes, or burns. The Immediate Care doctor used it on Mandie’s foot after her thorn removal. Tea Tree oil (found at Walmart, etc.) is also antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antibiotic. We use it the same way we use lavender oil. Calendula Cream (by Weleda – www.weleda.com), which is found at Whole Foods, is also excellent for wounds and burns. Calendula knits the skin back together, and is extremely gentle. It is a member of the Aster/Composite family, so proceed with caution with severe ragweed allergies. The best remedy for bruising or sore muscles is Arnica Gel. It is made by NOW Foods and Boiron (www.boironusa.com). Simply rub some gel on at the first sign of bruising, and soon the pain, swelling, and discoloration will be gone. Arnica is also a member of the Aster/Composite family, so use appropriate cautions.
If you would like to learn more about herbal remedies, check out “Herbal Remedies for Dummies” by Christopher Hobbs, L.Ac., "the Naturally Clean Home" by Karyn Siegel-Maier, www.boironusa.com, www.weleda.com, or visit your local health food store or Whole Foods, where you can get all of your questions answered.