mortar and spices

Herbal Remedies for the Cold & Flu Season

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It’s THAT time of year again, where everyone around me starts coughing, sniffling, and spreading their germs all over the place. With a 2 year old, it’s just that much worse. Kids are like petri dishes waiting to excrete their bacteria all over the place. I ALWAYS seem to get sick, every single year. It’s like my body has a clock on it that chimes, “It’s time to get sick!” Well, not this year I say! I, on my path to hippidom, am on a mission to keep my entire family as free from illness as possible this year. I know! That’s a very giant undertaking, but I WILL do everything in my power to try and combat these illnesses before they ever become full blown.

I felt a bit overwhelmed at first. This year is my first year delving into the fray of naturopathic medicine. Last year, and every year before that, I was raised and taught to utilize the medications that big pharmaceutical companies have told us are the most effective choices to fight our illnesses. I popped Advil like it was hot, and guzzled Nyquil without ever even measuring it out. I had read the warning labels, but just like EVERY medication I have ever been prescribed (they ALL have health warnings listed on the bottles), I didn’t listen. I am not sure what woke me from my sheeple type slumber this last year, but I am ever grateful to be learning much healthier ways to combat these germ parties.

Most forms of the cold or flu that you contract, antibiotics are really not going to do anything for. By using herbal remedies you can more effectively wave off illness as you work towards prevention through treating your health. Nothing combats any illness like a good amount of sleep and lots of fluid intake. The key to preventing illness is to keep your body in pristine shape. Eat and drink things that are good for you, exercise your body regularly, and meditate. Studies have shown that a regular meditation practice can lower the risk of getting sick. Not only does it put you into a deep state of rest, but it elevates your mood raising your serotonin levels. Happy people are shown to be sick much less than their depressed counter parts. The father of medicine, Hippocrates, once said “Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.” I just LOVE that statement because through a healthy diet you can pretty much heal just about anything, even many things that doctor’s say aren’t curable…like narcolepsy (if you don’t know what I am referring to, then you should read my series called “A Little Further Down The Rabbit Hole”. It’s very enlightening on how changing my diet helped save me from a lifetime of medications for a disease that is not supposed to be curable).

GENERAL COLD PREVENTION REMEDIES

sambucus

1)Sambucus AKA Elderberry, is the number one proven way to help fight off a cold or the flu faster, and with regular use, can keep one healthy enough not to get sick during the winter months. For centuries Europeans have been using the elderberry fruit to boost the immune system and to cure sickness. It is known to work so well that doctors even used it in 1995 to treat the flu epidemic in Panama. The best one I have found to buy is Nature’s Way Sambucus. They have a sugar free version, a children’s version, and even lozenges.
2)Echinacea has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine, to help cure the common cold, other upper respiratory infections, and even the flu. Studies done on it today show that though it can not prevent you from getting sick, it does in fact make your illness less severe, and leaves your body much quicker than it would if you didn’t take a regular dosage of it while being sick.

SORE THROAT REMEDIES

1) Sage Salt Sore Throat Gargle; 1 cup boiling water, 2 tsp. fresh or dried sage, 1 1/2 tsp. salt. Let the sage steep for 20 minutes and then filter out. Add the salt and gargle. Sage is a the classic choice but other herbs such as Marjoram, Thyme or Hyssop can replace it. Opera singers once used Marjoram to ease a strained throat.
2) Herbal tea (Throat coat is a great one.) w/honey.
3)Lemon antiseptic Spray; 15 drops lemon essential oil, 5 drops peppermint essential oil, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup lemon juice. Mix all the ingredients together in a small travel sized spray bottle and spray onto the back of your throat every couple of hours. You can also add lavender and/or Eucalyptus essential oils to this as well.

COUGH REMEDIES

1)Apple Cider Vinegar; 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar, 2 tsp Lemon Juice, 1 tsp Honey in a cup of Green Tea. I have heard many things about the miracles of ACV for coughs. Most of the cough suppressant recipes that I have found, didn’t include the green tea, but being as ACV tastes like…well vinegar, I add the green tea. Besides, they have done studies on school children in Japan and found that Green Tea is very effective in preventing illnesses.
2)Vapor rub on your feet. Rub your homemade vapor rub on the bottom of your feet, put your socks on, and go to bed. This old school remedy sounds crazy, but I have used it on my son before and it has worked miracles. It instantly made his constant cough go away and he slept like a baby the rest of the night.
3)Chamomile tea with honey. Always make sure that you get raw unfiltered honey as that is the good kind with antibacterial properties. Do no heat the honey up as it loses all of its antibacterial properties and acts as sugar once it reaches 108 degrees. Chamomile tea is wonderful at relieve the sore itchy throat that commonly causes the wet cough.

FEVERS

1)Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. Pour 1 cup of vinegar into a warm/cool water bath and soak in the bath for awhile. Your skin absorbs anything it touches, so this is a great way to get your child to “take their medicine”. You can also fill a bowl with 1 part ACV to 2 parts water and dip a washcloth in this mixture. Place one washcloth on the forehead and one on the stomach. It can take about an hour for the fever to drop, but ACV has been proven time and again by mothers all over the world, to aid in fever reduction.
2)Drink LOTS of water. This is the number one naturopathic doctor’s remedy for fevers. Fevers are usually a sign of something else wrong, so stopping a fever with Advil or Tylenol is not doing anything for the real problem.
3)Ginger Tea is a great one because ginger not only helps reduce fevers but it eases a nauseated stomach and is antiviral so it aids in killing the virus like an antibiotic.

EAR INFECTIONS

1)Warmed extra virgin olive oil heated slightly and dropped into the ear. Heat up a teaspoon or two of extra virgin olive oil and then test it on the inside of your wrist before using in your ear. Make sure that it is luke warm and NOT HOT. There are compounds in the olive oil that helps to bring the swelling down and relieve pressure inside the ear.
2)Garlic steeped in warmed olive or coconut oil dropped into the ear. Just like the warmed olive oil make sure it is not hot before droppering into the ear. Finely mince a clove of garlic and heat it with the oil, making sure not to burn the garlic. Strain the garlic pieces out of the oil and drop a couple drops into the hurting ear. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and will help to draw out the infection within the ear. If you use any method where you insert wrap garlic anywhere onto your body, always make sure there is something between your skin and the actual clove of garlic. If garlic is held against the skin for long enough it will irritate the skin and burn it over time.
3)50/50 solution of white vinegar and alcohol dropped into the ear. This is a great solution for those ear pains brought on by water left in the ear after submersion. People used to utilize hydrogen peroxide for this purpose but after numerous studies were done, they came to find that after working its magic water was what was left behind causing more bacteria to grow.
4)Colloidal Silver drops into the ear. Just last winter, this is all that I had on hand and used it several times to relieve suspected ear infections. Colloidal silver is a natural antibiotic that I have pretty much put on any infected body part, even my dogs eyes. It’s also a great immune booster. Either drop a few drops under your tongue throughout the day or put it in juice or water. The best part is it tastes just like water so the kiddo doesn’t mind taking it by itself.

ALLERGIES AND SINUS INFECTIONS

1)Andrographis Extract is the number one choice for Sinusitis (Sinus infection). It helps to boost the immune system’s response to the infection. It was used often in India (for Ayurvedic treatments), long before antibiotics were introduced and now studies have shown it to reduce symptoms of headaches and nasal/throat symptoms because it reduces inflammation, fights viral infections, and dries up the sinus membranes.
2)Raw, unfiltered, organic, local honey for allergies is what we use in this household. 1-2 teaspoons of honey a day, during the biggest allergy times can help to alleviate allergy symptoms greatly. Don’t heat the honey up past 108 degrees though, because it loses all its antibacterial properties when it gets that hot.

INHALANTS AND HERBAL STEAMS

All of these following combinations can be used in an herbal steam or inhalant. Most of these are a combination of cough and congestion relief, expectorants, antiviral, and antibacterial; so experiencing any one of these combinations will be therapeutic for you while sick. To utilize these as an herbal steam, just boil 3 cups of water and add it along with the essential oils to a large bowl, mixing them together. Take a towel and cover your head over the steaming bowl and breathe in the wonderful healing scents that rise from the water. To make any of these mixtures into an inhalant that you can take with you on the go, just pour a couple of drops over chunky rock salt and keep it in a tightly sealed container. Open and take a whiff whenever you are in need of relieving some congestion. DO NOT USE FOR CHILDREN UNDER 10 – You can find a homemade vapor rub for children here.

1) 5 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops bergamot essential oil
5 drops rosemary essential oil

2) 5 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops eucalyptus essential oil

3) 5 drops lemon essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops eucalyptus essential oil

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Where to purchase high quality essential oils for a great price?

Mountain Rose Herbs - These are high quality essential oils that are appropriately priced. All of their essential oils are certified organic or wildcrafted and they strive to be a highly sustainable company. This is my favorite place to purchase essential oils.

I am learning all about herbalism online and you can too!

I have been on an on-going educational journey to keep my family healthy. Most recently though, through my studies at the Herbal Academy of New England, I have learned that health doesn’t come from plastic bottles, vitality grows naturally from the way you live your life. You can learn all about herbs and how to use them as food and as medicine, online at your own pace. Join ME and thousands of others around the world, in this convenient and comprehensive online herbal course provided by the Herbal Academy of New England.

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