Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to get ready for sick season by stocking a few ingredients for fighting infection.
Level of Commitment: Making Strides
Last spring I came home from a doctor’s appointment with my child carrying two bags: one with a super-strength prescription antibiotics from the pharmacy, and the other holding two tiny bottles clinking together from the health food store.
My husband and I had to pray together (and consult Dr. Google) about whether to give our son the drugs – which had complications like diarrhea, and we were traveling on a plane in four days – or the garlic and oregano oils.
He had just battled a case of strep throat, finishing his 10-day regimen of antibiotics the day before he got sick again. (And yes, I’m convinced that the antibiotics wiped out his system and made him prone to the next infection.)
We were also testing him out on a gluten-free diet, but we couldn’t tell if the poor kid was having any positive effects because of the sickness and medication!
It was touch and go all day, watching his fever, his mood, his pain threshold.
The garlic and oregano are pretty nasty little buggers to drink, even in a shot glass of orange juice. I can tell you which option my son would have chosen if given his say.
We decided to hold off on the antibiotics until morning, and finally in the middle of the night he turned the corner. He was feeling much better in the morning and in great health the following day.
I felt a little guilty tossing out the antibiotics, but I’d rather feed the trash than my little guy.
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Do I Know What I’m Doing?
I feel like I’m still a total rookie at the natural health gig, but over the last year since this first foray into treating ear infections naturally, I’ve realized I’ve picked up quite a few tips and tricks and added a good deal to my natural medicine cabinet.
Most of my knowledge comes from helpful people on Twitter and Facebook, with the remainder straight from Google searches. You know, this social media thing is like having the best of the village elders right at my fingertips. Literally.
If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that it’s much better to be prepared for the sicknesses and pains before they arrive rather than consulting Twitter and visiting the store when your child is already in pain.
Allow me to help. Here’s what I wish I would have had on hand have stocked now in preparation for whatever may come along this winter. Or summer.
Preventative Measures to Stay Healthy
- fermented cod liver oil from Green Pasture, one of my awesome sponsors this month – one of the best foods out their for general health
- dried elderberries to make elderberry syrup (or buy the syrup) – an immunity booster
- You can find a recipe to make the syrup in Herbal Nurturing, along with a treasure trove of other natural healing ways to save money by doing it yourself
- This stuff, by the way, tastes MUCH better than cod liver oil. Just so you know.
- Elderberry syrup should not be used by people with certain conditions – be sure to look it up!
- probiotics – the adults in our family take probiotic powder regularly; the children take the liquid version daily as well, and we all have more when we get sick or someone else in the family is sick.
- homemade chicken stock – always a good food to include in your meal plan at least once a week, especially in the fall/winter.
- fresh garlic – one of the top foods with natural antibiotic properties, another good habit is definitely to include garlic as often as possible.
- coconut oil – also a natural antibiotic food, the healing properties of coconut oil are many and diverse! We use it all the time in cooking…
To Fight Infections
Natural antibiotics are still quite potent and can also unbalance your natural flora, but not as recklessly as drug antibiotics, and without many of the iffy side effects. Worth buying for your medicine cabinet:
- garlic oil
- oil of oregano – infuse into air, rub onto feet WITH a carrier oil, but don’t take my word for it. Read this from a reader…
- Update: My 2014 post on the potential dangers of essential oils. They can be great if used correctly, but you need to know enough to know what you don’t yet know…
- probiotics – take during and after
- For pain relief from an ear infection, gently warm olive oil on the stovetop and carefully pour into the affected ear, then tip out. You can infuse it with crushed garlic, too, but take care not to get any garlic actually inside the ear.
- I haven’t stocked them yet, but folks recommend goldenseal and Echinacea; see the comments at this post for lots of advice. Like I said, social media is the best way to pass on age-old information these days.
- Shop for essential oils at Amazon or Mountain Rose Herbs
- UPDATE: Here’s a new post with more personal experience and lots of information on how to fight infections naturally without antibiotics
To Ease Congestion
- Lots of brands and small businesses have chest rubs with eucalyptus, menthol, camphor, and more – our newest September sponsor, SweetBottoms Baby, carries two of them – these are a great alternative to Vick’s because they have safe carrier oils like olive oil, shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, etc. There’s also a recipe in Herbal Nurturing.
- A vaporizer
- To put in your vaporizer:
- Use hot steam by running the shower or sink and tenting the head with a towel
- Saline water, either purchased or homemade, is a simple and effective nostril-flusher-outer (I believe you can just dissolve 1/4 tsp. salt in a cup of water and drip into little one’s noses)
My mom used to give me whiskey and honey as I mentioned HERE, but my new favorite is TriLight Health‘s Lympha Rub – we rub it on the throat and temples before bed, but if a cough is really keeping someone awake, one drop right at the back of the throat has knocked out the cough within 5-10 minutes 100% of the times we’ve tried it. Amazing.
And for that tickle in your throat? Try gargling with apple cider vinegar, or better yet, do this: drink a splash of ACV mixed with as much cayenne pepper as you can stand, crushed garlic, honey and lemon juice. Nasty, but effective on a sore throat or impending cold.
UPDATE: The steam treatment described in this home remedies for pneumonia symptoms is great for any chest congestion.
For Throwing Up
Other than avoiding putting anything IN the victim, activated charcoal is the only thing I know of that works as a natural anti-vomit solution.
Ginger (in tea or gum) or peppermint (tea, in vaporizer) are good anti-nauseal remedies.
When they’re throwing up anyway, here are my 3 quick tips for throw-up clean-up.
For General Pain
I’m still working on this one naturally, but especially after reading Erin’s great post on the dangers of children’s medications, I’d like to seek out better solutions. UPDATE: Here’s a new post I wrote on natural remedies for pain relief.
Other Natural Health Posts:
- Fighting Infection without Antibiotics
- Are Hand Sanitizers Safe?
- Get Rid of Warts Naturally
- Natural Remedies for Ear Infections
- Real Food BRATY Diet
- How We Kicked Whooping Cough
- You Probably Need a Parasite Cleanse
- Natural Pneumonia Treatments For Toddlers
- Natural Remedies for Croup
- 10 Reasons I Drink Bone Broth
UPDATE: I forgot to include this amazing post on natural remedies from a country doctor’s daughter, Sarah Pope of The Healthy Home Economist. Read it for everything on how to handle a fever to how long to wait after vomiting before giving liquids. Truly insightful; I loved every word. You may also want to look at how essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs can help keep your family healthy. The Practical Guide to Children’s Health and Common Sense Health are great resources as well for becoming your family’s first line of defense.
Got It Covered?
If you’re an over-achiever and already have tools to battle the sick bugs, you can branch out further by making your own skin care products. Stock your apothecary with the tips in this post from Renee of MadeOn Hard Lotion.
Disclosure: Not only am I not a doctor, nurse, or naturopath, I know very little to nothing about natural healing. If you trust Google, you can trust me. But don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Your decisions about medical care must of course be your own with a real doctor helping.
Amazon Mountain Rose Herbs, Practical Guide to Children’s Health, Common Sense Health and Herbal Nurturing have affiliate programs that give commission if you shop there starting here. SweetBottoms is a September sponsor receiving their complementary mention. Any other mentions are simply because I actually use the products myself, and not via advertising. As of 10/24/11, I am an affiliate of NaturoKits and receive commission. See my full disclosure statement here.