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“Mommy, I Hurt!” Natural Remedies to be “Dr. Mom” and Keep Your Family Feeling Well

Ever had an out of body “mom” experience?

Not the kind where you look at yourself and think, “Uh oh, that’s a little more pudge than I used to have…and that part is getting pretty saggy…and is that a gray hair??!!”

No, the kind where you hear your own voice through the ears of someone else and realize you aren’t quite like the rest of the world.

We had an exceptionally healthy winter last year, praise be to God, but there was a week when a few kids started getting their first dripping noses and coughs, and I had one of those moments. I stepped out of myself and looked at the scene and thought: “This is not how colds go in most American households.”

I guarantee my “mom phrases” aren’t average!

sick child

I’ve talked about all sorts of natural home remedies over the years on KS, and some of my most popular posts in the search engines are specific topics like croup, pneumonia, ear infections, parasites, warts, candida and natural antibiotic options.

There are so many very specific resources packed in there that I thought you might like a little peek at our natural remedies to have on hand when someone is just “getting sick” with a minor cold, tummy ache or flu-ish symptoms.

It’s vital in my opinion to feel like we have agency, to feel like we can HELP our family when they don’t feel well. 

That’s the best feeling in the world

And as society goes more and more toward a modern medical model, I want to retain my own Health Agency as much as possible. I don’t need a doctor for every little…

“Mommy, My _______ Hurts!”

That phrase is one of my least favorite to hear, don’t you agree?

(I suppose, “There’s a fire in the kitchen,” “I see poop on the floor,” and “My brother just threw up!” are all up there pretty high too, now that I start thinking of things I don’t want to hear my kids say!)

  • My throat hurts…
  • My tummy hurts…
  • My head hurts…
  • And the sounds of that dreaded ominous cough or drippy nose — a cold just entered your house through the little ones who are bound to spread it far and wide…
sick child

What’s the first line of defense?

Pretty much no matter what is wrong with a child, I do these 3 things first:

  1. Let’s get a drink of water. (Helps if there are any psychological aspect to the “hurt” – I watch them carefully for demeanor. If they smile or speak brightly and happily at all, it’s probably nothing much.)
  2. Mommy snuggles. All sorts of physical and psychological ills show improvement after a long hug, especially if the adult, regardless of gender, breathes slowly and uses a soothing voice. The child’s mirror neurons will feel your calm and become calmer from brain to body!
  3. Take some probiotics. For whatever ails you, getting some “good guys” in there right away to fight off any possible infection is a great idea. 

You can’t really “overdose” on probiotics, so kids or adults get a second helping even if they’ve already had some that morning. Here’s my guide for choosing the best probiotics for you!

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, M.D. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Next Step: Get to the Root of the Problem

Once we’ve done the drink/snuggles/probie treatment (my 3yo coined that term since “probiotics” isn’t the easiest word to say!), then it’s time to think about cause and prevention.  

If you say something like, “Well, maybe you need to lie down for a while and rest and see how you feel,” and the child bounces up and asks to play with a friend…diagnosis: needed a hug. 

If you make that offer and the child looks grateful and shuffles off to their room, you may have an actual illness on your hands

Let’s make sure your “natural remedies medicine cabinet,” so to speak, is stocked for all the normal kid ailments. 

Natural Remedies To Ease Congestion

man blowing nose

Although plenty of people will ease congestion by thickening up the mucus with an OTC like Dimetapp, my wise mother realized decades ago that thickening mucus to stop coughs may impact the fluid in the ears

She was right, as a newsletter from our family pediatrician revealed a few years later. Research showed a correlation between recurring ear infections and use of OTC decongestants. Dimetapp may work differently now, as its main function is to dilate blood vessels in nasal passages, but I always want to allow the body to clear the virus rather than simply covering up the symptoms

When kids are congested, rest and methods to help clear the mucus are my go to, such as a vaporizer in the bedroom, often with breathe-easy essential oils like: 

If you don’t have a vaporizer or don’t want the moisture in your air, perhaps because of a mold issue or fear, rubbing diluted essential oils on the chest and neck is a wonderful way to deliver aromatherapy

Lots of brands and small businesses have chest rubs with eucalyptus, menthol, camphor, and more. To be safe, I prefer to order from brands I trust to use clean ingredients. Earthley is my most affordable choice, and they sell a Breathe Well Salve with unique essential oils for congestion specifically chosen to be safe for kids under 10.

These are a great alternative to Vick’s because they have safe carrier oils like olive oil, shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, etc. instead of pore-clogging non-renewable petroleum jelly. 

I tend to reach for Plant Therapy’s KidSafe pre-diluted roll-on for simplicity (less messy, too). The bottom of the feet is another option for application, especially under socks, if kids don’t love the smell for whatever reason. 

Xlear nasal spray is highly recommended by my friend, holistic pediatrician Dr. Elisa Song, both for clearing congestion and preventing it. We use a few squirts in the nose if environmental allergies are acting up, after travel or any known exposure to an illness, and when starting to come down with congestion. Each family member has their own (name in permanent marker on the bottle). 

No vaporizer, no oils, no nasal spray, and your child can’t breathe well NOW? You have two items in your house to help, no matter what:

  1. Shower steam: Use hot steam by running the shower and holding your baby in the bathroom, up high, near where the most steam is created. Or use the sink and tent the head with a towel to catch the most steam. Use caution of course with hot water/steam, but this is an extremely effective and quick solution. (If you do have the essential oils, put a drop at the back of the shower where it won’t wash down right away but will contribute to the steam.)
  2. Salt water: For a simple and effective nostril-flusher-outer, buy some saline water at your local pharmacy or order a super clean formula from Genexa (Get 20% off your first order with the code KITCHENSTEWARDSHIP!) OR just make some at home: dissolve 1/4 tsp. salt in a cup of water (preferably distilled, but filtered works in a pinch). This doesn’t require a fancy sprayer or syringe; you can simply hold a tiny one on your lap, lying down, and drip a bit into each nostril with a quarter teaspoon. Health doesn’t always look put together; sometimes you do what works! After each nostril, let the child blow their nose, or suction some out gently if baby can’t blow yet. 

The steam treatment described in this how to treat pneumonia naturally at home post is another step up for serious chest congestion.

If you buy ONE thing for natural congestion relief:

The salve from Earthley is easy to use and easy to travel with. A vaporizer would be my next purchase.

Natural Remedies For Coughs, Colds, and Sore Throats

B. Soothed cough syrup

Keeping Coughs Away Naturally

My mom used to give me whiskey and honey for coughs at night, 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 nearly 100% of the times we’ve tried it. Amazing.

Take 20% off your first order at TriLight Health with this special referral link.

That remedy can’t be used on the throat for children younger than six years old, and if you’re not comfortable with essential oils internally, you’ll want to choose something else.

Beekeeper’s Naturals honey and propolis-based cough syrup (10% off with code Katie15) is an answer to a parent’s prayer if you don’t want the artificial colors or alcohol (ETC!) often found in over-the-counter cough meds. 

Try making your own cough syrup in the Instant Pot with my friend Wardee’s DIY recipe.

Sore Throat or “The Ominous Tickle?”

And for that tickle in your throat?

Lots of options! You can:

  • Gargle things in your kitchen
  • Squirt antipathogenic natural products on your throat
  • Take herbal tinctures
  • Try essential oils
  • Experiment with homeopathy (learn how to use homeopathy here!)
homeopathic remedy

Try gargling with diluted apple cider vinegar, or better yet, do this: “shoot” 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.

If that’s more than you can handle, try 2 capfuls of ACV in a glass of water with ice and a few drops of liquid stevia to smooth out the process, and sip on that while you work or read.

Ahem. 

That one still isn’t very kid-friendly! 

The moment one of my kiddos says their throat hurts (or “my neck hurts” as the kindergartner sees it), I give them 2-3 squirts of Beekeeper’s Naturals propolis spray. In fact, we use this spray often when we travel and when anything is “going around” the school. I gave some to all my kids’ teachers when they were talking all.day.long on Zoom school, which was blessedly only a week for our two elementary kids. 

Propolis is a natural bee product with no side effects (as long as you’re not allergic to bee products), and it’s very soothing on the throat. It tastes great, and my kids ask me for “a squirt” often! See my full review of Beekeeper’s Naturals propolis for more info, like how propolis also kills warts and many other uses! Take 10% off with the code Katie15. 🙂

For a bit more potent throat spray, Biocidin doesn’t taste quite as good, but it’s what I alternate with propolis if someone is definitely sick

Scout Out by TriLight Health is an herbal tincture with antibacterial properties that is the next go-to after the throat spray. If you use the “probie treatment,” wait at least 30 minutes and then have some Scout Out (so the antibacterial properties don’t kill the probiotics right away). This goes for everyone in the house as a preventative measure for spreading!

Sometimes I’ll use kid-safe antibacterial/antiviral essential oils in a carrier oil on the feet or diffused into the air, such as: 

Diffusing oils is great if anyone in the house is coming down with something, because then others have some protection as well by breathing them in, and germs in the air should be neutralized. The diffuser my daughter uses every night is this one from Plant Therapy, super simple to use and a cute design!

RELATED: Possible side effects of essential oils

Homeopathic remedies for colds and sore throats include:

  • Aconitum 200c + Bryonia 200c together right at the onset of a cold that seems to come out of nowhere; take again every 6 hours until symptoms are heading in the right direction
  • Hepar Sulph 30c every 3 hours (for sore throat only) until symptoms begin to abate
  • If symptoms feel like the flu at all Oscillococcinum is the winner. (Pro tip: you don’t have to take the whole vial like the directions say – 6-12 little balls will be enough for a dose!)
  • Genexa’s Cold Crush blend is the easiest to use because you don’t need any special knowledge or skills – chewable and safe for babies through adults. Get 20% off your first order with the code KITCHENSTEWARDSHIP

And if you don’t have any remedies on hand (yet!) but need something for a sore throat/ominous tickle, gargling with warm salt water is a great sore throat aid. Your kitchen can often provide a wealth of healing! 

Unrefined Salt
If you buy ONE thing for coughs and sore throats:

TriLight Health Lympha Rub for coughs all day long, and Beekeeper’s Naturals propolis spray (coupon Katie15 for 10% off) for sore throats and tickles. (While you’re at TriLight Health, my #3 would be Scout Out for just about any sickie bug so you can get free shipping, and don’t forget to use this special referral link for 20% off your first order.)

Natural Remedies For Stomachaches and Throwing Up

lemon and ginger

I’ll share my first line of defense for stomachaches in an upcoming post because there are some nuances to that situation that parents must know beyond just “grab a drink and a hug!” 

Natural remedies to have on hand for tummy aches of unknown causes include: 

“Nothing by mouth” is the best advice while a child is vomiting regularly. 

Drinking and eating often causes more problems, but once vomiting is subsiding, try a small sip of water, then set a timer for 5 minutes, then another sip. 

READ MORE: Natural Remedies for Vomiting and Stomachaches & My Favorite Remedy for Constipation

Earthley feel better fast tincture

And if they’re throwing up anyway and you just have to get through it, stronger on the other side? Learn from the wisdom of a mom who’s been covered in it with tips to clean up the throw-up and shorten the recovery with a real food B.R.A.T.Y. diet.

And call me weird, but I always took the opportunity of a stomach virus to coach my kids (after the fact):

“Now you know what it feels like right before you’re going to throw up. I know it’s yucky, but try to remember those feelings. Remember how your mouth felt, how your throat felt, where your tummy ache sat. Next time if you have to throw up again, it’s an awesome big-kid skill to be ready for it and hit the bucket instead of all over yourself…”

I’ve had VERY few nasty clean-up incidents after my kids are about 3 years old, so please steal that strategy! It works! 

If you buy ONE thing for tummy issues:

For me right now, I’d go with homeopathic arsenicum album.

Natural Remedies For General Pain

After reading Erin’s great post on the dangers of children’s medications, I seek out better solutions for pain relief.

Here’s a post I wrote on natural remedies for pain relief, but a quick rundown includes:

Definitely check out that post for more headache remedies, carpal tunnel, ear pain, and more! 

UPDATE 2021: Natural Remedies for Sore Muscles 

Natural Remedies if You Suspect an Infection

Even a doctor typically can’t tell you right away whether you have a bacterial infection, a viral infection, or something that’s not even pathogenic (like indigestion). 

That’s one HUGE reason I’m grateful for natural remedies, which don’t come with as many (or any) side effects like antibiotics, and I’m always a proponent of building the body’s natural immune system to fight the bad bugs

If you buy ONE thing for infections:

Make it Plant Therapy‘s KidSafe Germ Destroyer and a diffuser if you don’t already have one.

Natural Remedies for Scrapes and Bruises of Childhood

I have 3 boys, and around here, we call it “summer legs.” 

Know what I mean? 

Summer legs have at least one Band-Aid, multiple bruises, scrapes that have no origin in the child’s memory, and desperately need to be washed at the end of every day. 

They’re marvelous. 

bandages on knees

And for someone retaining Health Agency, they’re easy to manage. 

Here’s what our “natural remedies medicine cabinet” — the one closest to the door to the outside for quick access — has stocked for bumps, bruises, scrapes, bites, and stings:

  • Lots of natural salve! In many homes, moms reach for antibiotic ointment (aka “Neosporin”), but I prefer to let nature do the work around here. We have salves from all sorts of companies, to be honest, but Earthley’s all purpose salve is one of the most affordable with super clean ingredients. TriLight Health also has a tiny bottle of “Soothing Salve” to switch that up a bit, and I admit it’s nice that you use a drop of liquid rather than a salve if a child is freaking out and won’t let anyone touch the owie. 😉 
  • Nutrisporin, a silver-based natural alternative to the other one. 😉 Take 20% off with the code KITCHENSTEW!
  • All sizes of bandages! 
  • Redmond clay in a pre-hydrated tube for bug bites as well as dry for big bad road rash issues. (Hydrate your own clay at about a 1:1 ratio with water, apply to road rash, and remove before it dries.)
  • Propolis has many skin benefits and is often used for warts, scratches, and more, and it’s soothing on any skin inflammation. (source source) We use a spray from Beekeeper’s Naturals that you can try for 10% off with the code Katie15. Just think – when traveling, you could pack this one item for immune support, sore throats, AND skin issues! 
  • Homeopathic apis for bee stings
  • Homeopathic arnica for bruises or tweaked ankles 
  • Homeopathic ledum for the “3 Bs and a P” — Bleeding, Bruising, Bites/Bee Stings, Puncture Wounds including tick bites

RELATED: See how we dealt with a tick bite to naturally avoid Lyme Disease

If you buy ONE thing for “summer legs”…

Nutrisporin is our go-to, use the coupon above — and Redmond Clay would be second place for those bug bites. Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase!

We started with probiotics, so I thought you might want to know what we currently use in the Kimball house

Some Quality Probiotics

Some of these I’ve used, some I’m planning to use, and some have been recommended by friends and professionals alike. It’s good to remember a few things about probiotics: 1. People should get different colonies of probiotics, so switching brands/strains every so often (6 weeks?) is good practice. 2. What works great for one person’s needs doesn’t always work for another. I’ve personally tried:
  • Just Thrive Probiotics – this one can be taken during antibiotics and not be rendered ineffective, which almost all other probiotics are! It’s the top-recommended probiotic overall by Paleo Mom Sarah Ballantyne. 😮 (Be sure to use the code Katie15 for 15% off; also found on Amazon and from Perfect Supplements where you can use the coupon KS10 for 10% off!)
  • Seed Daily Synbiotic – the new player in the field but recommended by superstars like Chris Kresser for its unique probiotic/prebiotic synergy. Here’s my full review including a number of surprises for my thinking and a 15% off code!
  • Note: If you’re struggling with digestion, especially constipation, or you feel like you really need to populate your gut with healthy probiotics, I would recommend Saccharomyces Boulardii in addition to any other you choose (except any above which include this strain). Saccharomyces Boulardii is research-proven to get through the digestive tract without being killed, which is rare. 
  • Balance One probiotics with a unique time-release formula (use the code KITCHENS15 at either Balance One’s site or even Amazon to save 15% either place! Wow! Use the code at checkout on Amazon btw.)

For Little Ones (we use all of these):

  • Mary Ruth’s liquid probiotic is a liquid probiotic that doesn’t need to be refrigerated and tastes like…nothing! It’s my new favorite for administering to kids! (Use code KCRF15 for 15% off!)
  • WellBelly by WellFuture (9 strains of probiotics in apple and banana carrier – it’s a powder)
  • Buddies in my Belly probiotic powder (2 strains of probiotics + potato starch carrier and prebiotics) or chewable tablets
Recommended by experts I trust:

Bottom Line: Health Agency Feels Good for Everyone

It’s kind of amazing to me the number of resources at my disposal, the tools I can pull out to help my family feel better and fight sick bugs, and how different my “medicine cabinet” looks compared to that of my childhood (and most other homes in America).

Honestly?

I think it’s kind of cool, and it’s very empowering to feel like I at least have a handle on initially helping my kids through their ickies (although I am the first to admit that my natural remedies don’t work 100% of the time and I may need to rely on professional medical help for bigger issues).

But most of the time, they feel better fast, I feel like I can help, and everyone is building the habit of taking care of themselves, of having Health Agency and making choices that are good for us, AND we avoid all sort of doctor’s offices, side effects, and pokes and prods when “Dr. Mom” is on call. 

What are your “must-have” natural remedies to stock your medicine cabinet?

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

7 thoughts on ““Mommy, I Hurt!” Natural Remedies to be “Dr. Mom” and Keep Your Family Feeling Well”

  1. Love this post.

    The best remedy I have found is black elderberry. It is sold in the natural sections of many stores as a flu remedy. But it helps a ton cutting the severity of other colds as well.

  2. KimCathMomof7

    My go-to for yucky tummies is a flannel rice bag heated up in the microwave. The warmth on their bellies really seems to help.

  3. I, too, use apple cider vinegar as my first response when people around me are sick and when I feel the first sign of “blick” and I haven’t been sick in years. It amazes me that people will turn up their nose at something they think tastes bad (holding your nose to drink it and then rinsing with mouthwash while still holding your nose helps A LOT) but could keep them from having days of throwing up, having diarrhea, and feeling horrible.

  4. I found thyme tea is good for sore throats. There was one time when I was really sick with a bad sore throat that wouldn’t let me sleep. I simmered some fresh thyme in water for a while. Then I mixed it with honey, put it in a thermos and put it on my nightstand. After sipping it I was able to sleep for a few hours. Then I would wake up and take a few more sips, sore throat would go away and I could go back to sleep.
    While this is not a cure for sore throats, it was definitely a welcome relief.

  5. How do you get a drop of the Lympha rub in the back of a kids throat? We love the stuff to rub on but I cannot manage to get it back there! Thanks!

    1. It’s tricky Candie – they lay flat on their backs, look up, and open their mouth, then do that big “Ahhhhhhhh” like a dentist or when a doc looks at the throat and you aim and fire! I miss about 1/3 of the time but don’t redo b/c it’s still “in” their body and I don’t want them to have too much. 🙂 Katie

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