Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to get ready for sick season by stocking a few ingredients for fighting infection.
A few years ago during the 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.
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
- 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
- Elderberry syrup should not be used by people with certain conditions – be sure to look it up!
- 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 (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!) – also a natural antibiotic food, the healing properties of coconut oil are many and diverse! We use it all the time in cooking…
- 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.
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. These can be very different! A one-day trial to Probiotic Advisor might help you get up on current research quickly if you’re really digging in; otherwise, here are some to narrow down the thousands of brands out there:
- Miessence Liquid Probiotic – notes: this is the easiest for kids to take because it’s liquid on a spoon, no powder to hide in smoothies and no capsules to swallow. If you’re on a no-sweetener diet of any kind, it does have agave so could be a no-no. Gluten-free.
- Miessence Powder Probiotic – notes: must be hidden in a smoothie but is less expensive than the above. Not gluten-free. Helped me beat a candida rash when nothing else could.
- 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. 😮
- RightBioticsRX – the top recommended probiotic of all soil-based options by an expert I’ve been working with. Read more here. Use Subscribe and Save to save more!
- 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 this one in addition to any other you choose (except the 2 above which include this strain). Saccharomyces Boulardii is research-proven to get through the digestive tract without being killed, which is rare.
- Biokult – highly recommended by many, including the GAPS diet
- Klaire Labs Pro-biotic complex V-caps or Ther-Biotic Complete (25 billion CFU)
- Probiophage DF (7 dairy-free strains)
- Transformation Enzymes (5 billion CFUs by may get through digestive tract…)
- Primal Blueprint (6 strains, 10 billion CFUs)
- Pharmax high potency (4 strains + FOS) or long-term HLC maintenance (2 strains)
- Pro-Bio from Enzymedica (8 strains)
- Syntol from Arthur Andrew Medical (13.6 billion CFUs with prebiotic, spore germinating blend, yeast cleanse)
- ProBio 5 from Plexus has been recommended many times, but it’s also, I think, an MLM so it’s possible the recs weren’t so authentic…?
- Dr. Mercola’s probiotics
- Healthy Trinity by Natren
- Nature’s Way Primadophilus Bifidus (the one I happened upon that I took for a while)
- NOW brand
- Dr. Ohhira’s Professional
For Little Ones:
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:
- Oregano Essential Oil – infuse into air, rub onto feet WITH a carrier oil, but don’t take my word for it. Read this from a reader…
- Read my 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…
- We successfully use KidSafe Germ Destroyer essential oil blend. I prefer to source my essential oils from Plant Therapy and love their KidSafe blends!
- Here’s a post with more personal experience and lots of information on how to fight infections naturally without antibiotics
- probiotics – take during and after
- For pain relief from an ear infection, gently warm olive oil (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!) 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.
Do you know how to properly dilute essential oils?
Katie here, popping in to tell you how important it is to be sure you’re diluting those essential oils properly. Knowing you’re supposed to dilute essential oils for use on the skin is a good start – but as usual, I did it wrong for a few years before I got smart enough to find some resources and do the math.
I took a moment to make a one-page printable for you so you can snip an easy-to-read chart and tape it right onto your medicine cabinet door – wherever you keep your essential oils – so it’s always handy. It includes all the dilutions in drops of EO + tsp. or Tbs. of carrier oil for babies, toddlers, younger and older children, and adults. You shouldn’t have to do any math when you need a remedy now (you’re welcome).
To Ease Congestion
- Lots of brands and small businesses have chest rubs with eucalyptus, menthol, camphor, and more. These are a great alternative to Vick’s because they have safe carrier oils like olive oil, shea butter, coconut oil (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!), beeswax, etc. There’s also a recipe in Herbal Nurturing.
- A vaporizer
- To put in your vaporizer:
- eucalyptus oil (Note: not for kids under 10!)
- Kid-Safe alternative to eucalyptus: Cedarwood Virginian
- camphor oil (Note: not Kid-Safe)
- lavender oil (very safe for even young children when diffused!)
- Kid-Safe Sniffle Stopper synergy – Professionally blended “synergies” (i.e. mixtures of multiple oils) are usually more effective than single oils, and Robert Tisserand blended all Plant Therapy‘s Kid-Safe synergies!
- You can also put the garlic and oregano oils in the vaporizer to fight infection – smells like a pizza joint!
- eucalyptus oil (Note: not for kids under 10!)
- 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, 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.
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-nausea remedies.
When they’re throwing up anyway, here are my 3 quick tips for throw-up clean-up, along with the real food B.R.A.T.Y. diet.
For General Pain
I am always grateful for the community at Kitchen Stewardship – it’s like having the smartest natural moms in the world all living right next door. I’ve compiled the best natural remedies for 12 of the most commonly discussed ailments here at KS, and am making this resource available for free to all my readers!
Imagine this ebook as a virtual chat over the backyard fence with your own neighbor, a wise older mom who raised a bunch of kids with intention, trying to avoid unnecessary medication and being kind to the earth.
Other Natural Health Posts:
- 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
- This is an 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.
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.
Disclaimer: 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.
Need More Baby Steps?
Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.
That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.
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