By Fredrica Syren:
I love winter with one exception…. it’s prime cold and flu season. In our house, it seems as if one little runny nose turns into three or four runny noses along with fevers, aching bodies and earaches in a heartbeat. This winter has been no exception and we have been dealing with the flu, bronchitis, ear infection and strep. Ugh! I try the whole washing hands a lot routine and eating super healthy, but still those yucky bugs and viruses seem to find their way into my life.
Sleep — Nothing beats rest and sleep when it comes to healing one’s body. When it comes to my kids, well, I just let them sleep when they can and when their little bodies let them. Even if they have been up all night with fevers or coughing, then crash midday, I just let them. When it comes to myself, to sleep as much as needed can be trickier since I have an entire family to care for. When I’m really sick, I will have the kids join me on the bed, and let them watch a movie on my computer. In general we have very little screen time, but times like these are when I do what is best for me — and that’s rest. I also will ignore household chores and go for lighter, easy meals that do not require lots of cooking.
Fluids — Drink lots of water, and load up on hot herbal teas and hot lemon water. I like herbals like chamomile, Echinacea and rosehip tea that will help boost the immune system. Chamomile is a staple herb in our family, and my kids drink it almost every day. It helps you sleep better and reduces inflammation or fever. (It’s great for treating pinkeye by placing a soaked, warm chamomile tea bag over an eye for 15 minutes every 2 hours.)
Neti pot — My husband’s best friend turned me on to the neti pot. It’s a perfect tool for removing mucus from the nasal cavity. To learn how to use neti pots, check out this link. Now I do not use the neti pot for my kids.
Garlic — This very powerful and healing herb is an antifungal and antibacterial. Garlic can tackle almost any illness and help boost the immune system also. If any of my kids or I have an ear infection, I make a garlic oil that I will use to treat the infection. I will blend some minced raw garlic with raw honey and eat it just like that to help with coughs and to help boost my immune system. You also can take a garlic supplement or add lots of garlic to food.
Honey — Raw organic honey is a lifesaver. I grew up with my grandfather’s brother, who was a bee farmer, so whenever we got sick, they would hand us a jar of raw honey and a spoon. My kids, after the age of 1, have been taking raw honey whenever they feel an illness coming on. It’s great for treating coughs and sore throats because it contains antioxidant, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that fight against viruses, bacteria and fungus. My friend Laura Plumb from Food: A Love Story has a great cough syrup recipe that I use on my kids and swear by it. It also contains cinnamon, a healing spice I recommend.
- Put three to four spoons of honey into a small bowl, and set that in a larger bowl filled with hot water.
- As the honey softens, remove the bowl from the water.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves, a shake of ground ginger and a shake of cayenne powder.
- Squeeze in about a tablespoon of lemon juice, and stir well.
Take half a spoonful every hour, or to coat your throat whenever it feels dry, itchy or sore. You also can stir it into very warm water with the juice of the rest of that lemon to make a tea.
Other remedies I use:
Elderberry syrup — My friend Corri gave me a bottle of her homemade syrup last year when my kids were sick. Not only did it heal their persistent coughs, but they also absolutely love the taste of it, so now I make my own.
Spruce Syrup–Spruce syrup is made from spruce tips that grow in the spring. They contain great amount of A- and C- vitamins and antioxidants and is very very antibacterial. It tastes great and can be used as a natural cough syrup. When lived in Sweden and I had access to fresh spruce tips I used to make my own syrup using this recipe.
Probiotic — A healthy gut means a healthy immune system. Adding probiotics is the key to building your immune system and creating an environment where the beneficial bacteria thrive. Good bacteria prevent infection as well as compete with the bad bacteria, and help prevent bad bacteria from forming while producing vitamins (such as Vitamin B) required for a healthy immune system.
Astragalus — An herb that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, it boosts the body’s immune system and helps fight viruses, bacteria and inflammation. It can be made into a tea or tonic.
Thieves Oil —An amazing smelling oil blend of five different therapeutic grade essential oils, including cinnamon, clove, lemon, eucalyptus, and rosemary is a wonderful. I like to rub Thieves Oil diluted with coconut oil onto the bottoms of my or my kids’ feet to support the immune system. The therapeutic nature of essential oils can assist also in lessening symptoms of a cold or flu. I drink a drop of thieves oil in water for sore throat.