I used to be someone that often bragged about how infrequently I got sick, but then this winter hit. It is already deemed one of the worst cold/flu winters on record, and between my 1-year-old, 7 nieces and nephews, family events, church family, and a job at the local YMCA, I have been subjected to it all and seriously humbled. I’ve finally realized that while I may be able to protect myself, there is just no way to to fully quarantine my little one (although, I still try).
We have gotten our fair share of illnesses this year, but I am glad to say that through our healthy lifestyles and natural remedies, I believe we have lessened the severity and shortened the duration, quite effectively. There are a million natural-remedies-for-when-you’re-sick blogs, and I will be the first to admit, I peruse them EVERY year to remind myself how to best aid my immune system. Even though, I am always on the lookout for something new, or something I may have forgotten about, my tried and true list of home-remedies has not changed much over the last few years. I am settling in to a proven routine for myself and my family, when it comes to fighting sickness and bolstering immunity…
…And I want to share it with you!!
I believe that our bodies were designed to fight against intruders, and because of the perfect design, my philosophy behind fighting off these viruses/diseases is built upon building our natural immunities. All of the natural remedies you will find below are meant to increase blood flow, get your body in an alkaline environment, decrease outside and inside stressors, increase the creation of white blood cells, and boost your body’s cellular functions and immune responses.
In no particular order of importance (In fact, the most important is LAST on the list ;)):
Elderberry has long been used for its immune boosting effects. We hope to make our own elderberry syrup one day, but until then, we buy it in different forms… A Gummy form like this. A natural elderberry drink, we usually buy from a local co-op or natural grocery store. A concentrated version that we can put into tea, like this, or a child-friendly syrup like this. or throat candies like this. (Great for helping to soothe a cough).
Our go to immunity drink is a cup of tea (chamomile, rooibos, lavender, herbal) with a Tablespoon of local honey, 1 garlic clove, crushed and chopped, 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper, and 1 Tablespoon organic lemon juice or Apple Cider Vinegar.
Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C)
High doses of quality vitamin C are always good for the immune system. We use this brand, and mix it into a cup of water. It is also an easy vitamin (in powder form) for children.
Zinc, a trace essential metal, is a great way to boost our health, but can sometimes make our stomachs’ upset. Zinc is included in a multivitamin I take, but you can also get a more specific dosage in a vitamin like this. Or eat foods rich in Zinc, like Pumpkin seeds, Cashews, Salmon, Cocoa Powder, Chickpeas, Spinach, or Mushrooms.
Vitamin D (Sunlight)
Sunlight and Vitamin D are amazing for our health. In fact, one of the reasons cold/flu season takes place every winter is because of the LACK of sunlight we are all getting, and therefore, a lack of vitamin D. Obviously, getting out into the natural sunlight is the best way to create Vitamin D in our bodies, but if you live in a cold region (like me) you may need to supplement. We take Vitamin D in a couple different forms, a gummy, like this; a pill, like this, or through an oil dropper like this.
Essential Oils are such a huge part of our natural remedy cabinet, there are literally SO MANY ways they help us in fighting off the severity and duration of sickness. OnGuard (protective blend), Lemon, Ginger, Oregano and Melaleuca are great to keep on hand for the “sick” season. IN fact, here is a super awesome video that explains how Melaleuca and Oregano work together to purify our system!
Essential Oils have SO MANY roles in helping to boost our immunity, soothe our anxieties, and generally aid in rapid recovery, but here are my go-to concoctions when I am feeling taken out by sickness.
Epsom Salt Bath
Start the bath water running at the FIRST sign of sickness. A hot bath with Epsom salts, baking soda, and some essential oils (I use 3 drops lavender, 2 drops Frankincense and 2 drops Roman Chamomile) can help to soothe achy muscles and heighten our bodies’ immune response. Note: If you are fighting a fever, make sure the bath water is lukewarm.
Hot Cold Shower
Hydrotherapy, is one of the most powerful tools for heightening our white blood cell count, and our white blood cells are responsible for fighting off intruder organisms and creating antibodies.
- When you step into the shower, you turn your shower to the warmest level, to get your body comfortable. Stay under the warm water for about 2-3 minutes. Then switch the knob to the VERY coldest level possible, and stay in the direct line of the (hopefully, ice cold) water for at least 30 seconds. Then, switch the water back to hot for 2 minutes. Repeat this process for 3-5 rounds, and here is the most important part….
END ON COLD. 2 min hot/30 sec cold/2 min hot/30 sec cold/2 min hot/30 sec cold…turn off water!
– Ending on cold leaves your body invigorated and in prime readiness for mental and physical acuity.
- The first cold experience is the worst…but after the first round, it gets increasingly easier! You can learn more about contrast showers and hydrotherapy here.
Hot Foot Bath
Same concept as a hot bath, but this is another way of creating a healing environment in the body. Put your feet in a hot bucket of water (with Epsom salts & Essential oils) and wrap the rest of the body in towels and blankets. (Hopefully to induce some sweating). Then put a cold wash cloth on the forehead. This is a easy way to heat up the body and get circulation moving, while also getting Epsom salts and essential oils into the body. Learn more about how to do a hot foot bath here.
This is the easiest one, but a little more difficult if you live in a cold environment! GET OUTSIDE! Just walk out the door and breathe that fresh air. Even if you live in the city and even if it is cold outside, the air is ALWAYS better outside than inside.
At the first sign of a tickle in the back of your throat or the feeling of heaviness coming, I put a little bit of Hydrogen Peroxide in my ears. Let is sit for about 30 seconds and then tip it out. You can read more about this, here. And you can get Hydrogen Peroxide like this.
Onion Ear muffs
These are the BOMB for earaches, but since our ears are very closely linked to our overall health and our nose/mouth areas of congestion, taking care of the ears can often end up igniting healing for the entire system.
How to: Slice an onion in half. Take out 2-4 of the inner rings (I like to have 2-3 rings for the “muff”). Then heat in the oven for about 15 minutes at 300 degrees (so it is warm and slightly steaming). Then take out and check heat level carefully on your own ears/skin, wrap in a cloth and place over the ears. The onion draws out bacteria and toxins, and the heat soothes an earache. 🙂 You can learn more about how to help an earache from this blog by the Kula Mama, or this blog by Aviva Rom.
Charcoal is great for pulling toxins out of the body. You will probably not want to use charcoal if you are fighting a cold, because charcoal will typically pull the good minerals and vitamins out with the bad, and when you are fighting a cold, you want as many immune boosting vitamins in your system as possible. However, this is a very great tool if you think you may have the flu bug (chills, fever, vomiting, etc) as it will help to draw any organisms out, that should not be there. We use charcoal in a pill form like this, or activated powdered charcoal like this.
Homeopathy & Cold Care
Just some natural options for reducing the severity and duration…especially in kiddos! Oscillococcinum and Umckalaobo were great for us. We used these brands…Fresh Thyme Oscillococcinum and Umcka Coldcare.
From one of my favorite doctors, Elisa Song, wrote “By now you’ve probably seen Oscilloccinum lining the shelves at Whole Foods. This is the homeopathic flu remedy, and a MUST at the very beginning of a flu or flu-like illness. Studies have shown that taking Oscillococcinum at the onset of flu significantly reduces symptoms and shortens the duration of illness.”
Drink MORE Water
Your body needs more H2O to flush out bad bugs! Hydration is so important, and sometimes when we are sick we forget to drink lots of quality water.
Call your chiropractor and make an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t have a chiropractor, I recommend asking friends and family for names, and/or seeking out an “Upper Cervical” or “Sports Chiropractor”.
Plant-based foods. Green smoothies. Lots of healthy soups with onions and garlic. More garlic than you typically use…Use the old saying, “feed a cold and starve a flu.”
Getting enough sleep is CRUCIAL to our healing process! Our body heals when it is sleeping! Let me introduce you to our friend, human growth hormone (HGH), which is only released while you sleep. Having trouble sleeping? Don’t worry, there are LOTS of ways to help get into a better sleep pattern, you can check out this blog, by the Wellness Mama, or this blog by Shawn Stevenson (Author of Sleep Smarter).
We not only need sleep at night, but we also need to practice “resting”. I keep the seventh-day Sabbath, so I rest on Saturdays. (no work, no cleaning, no “to-do”list), but especially while you are recovering, you should not be taxing your body with a hard work day or a hard work out!
Seriously. CUT IT ALL OUT. If you are fighting any sort of bacteria or organism, the sugars (even most healthy sugars) have got to go. Think on this, when you eat processed or refined sugar, your immune system is completely shut down for at least 2-4 hours after eating that sugar.
God created our bodies. I have the faulty tendency to believe that if I study how our system works and the science, I can “work” my way into perfect health. This is a pharisaical way of thinking. You, nor I are able to WORK our way into perfect health, the same way we cannot WORK our way into heaven. God is the creator and perfecter of our health. I do believe He gives us knowledge and abilities to have abundant health, and of course He wants us to walk in the knowledge and wisdom He has given, but if we are not living in a state of prayerfulness, I believe we are missing the key ingredient. So, in your natural health arsenal journey, I recommend that you start and end your battle with prayer.