Someone recently asked for how I treat the usual cold/flu that goes around this time of year. Below are some of the things that have worked for us.
- Stay away from sugar and refined carbs: This may seem obvious, but germs will thrive if you feed them simple sugars.
- Eat healing foods: Fresh citrus in the form of lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit provides lots of vitamin C. Garlic is a "miracle cure" for most infections. Ginger reduces fever, and calms nauseous stomachs. Cayenne pepper "turns up the heat" on the germs that are causing the illness. Try to think of fresh foods that combine some of these ingredients, such as guacamole made with fresh garlic, a bit of lime juice, and cayenne pepper.
- Soup made from scratch: Not just chicken soup, although that is always a great option. The warm, salty broth is both soothing to the throat, and gentle on upset stomachs.
- Garlic/ginger lemonade: In a blender or food processor, mix a couple of cloves of garlic, or a 1-inch piece of ginger, with half of a peeled lemon, about a quarter cup of honey, and a half cup of water. Blend until smooth. Pretty strong stuff, but very effective.
- Honey: Local, raw honey can both soothe sore throats, as well as help fight the illness. Raw honey is usually crystallized, and can be a bit hard to find. Beekeepers often sell their honey at local farmer's markets or through craigslist.
- Cough syrup: I make a very simple, yet highly effective cough syrup by slicing a large onion, and heating it in a little pot with an equal amount (by volume) of honey over the lowest heat on my stove. The syrup is ready after a couple of hours, but becomes more potent the longer it simmers. Usually, I give a tablespoon every hour or two. Surprisingly, this syrup is actually quite tasty, and our kids have never complained about taking it. After a few hours on the stove, I refrigerate the syrup to keep it from spoiling, and use it over the next couple of days, if necessary. It usually works very quickly.
- Vick's vapor rub: I love using this at night for coughs that are making it impossible to sleep. I rub it on the chest and back, and then bundle my "patient" under warm covers to enhance its effectiveness. If you are using it on a child, be sure to explain to him/her that they should not touch the ointment, as they may otherwise accidentally rub it on their face or eyes.
- Ricola cough drops: While sugars are really something to be avoided, these particular cough drops are very effective at quieting coughs and soothing throats.
- Elderberry Zinc lozenges: These are pretty tasty, and very effective. During cold season, our health food store regularly sells out of them, so others must find them helpful, too.
- Super Lysine Plus Extract: Directions are given on the bottle. A very potent immune booster, I consider this one of the "big guns" of my natural medicine cabinet, and use it only for more severe illnesses, such as the flu, a sinus infection, strep throat, etc. The extract also contains other highly effective supplements, such as echinacea, goldenseal, and propolis.
- Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE): Another highly potent natural supplement. Use as directed on the bottle, or research suggested treatment online.
- Garlic Mullein oil: A great remedy for ear infections! There are several brands on the market, but my favorite is the one made by Herb Pharm. Directions are given on the bottle.
Remember, I am not a medical professional. Educate yourself about any treatments you read about online, or are suggested by your physician. None of the above mentioned remedies are appropriate for infants and babies.
Personally, when our kids get a cold or flu, I observe and treat them at home for about 24 to 48 hours. If they are not significantly improving by that point, I take them to the doctor to make sure they dont't have something more serious than a bad cold or flu. Thankfully, none of our children has ever had anything more serious than that, but I was still glad to have taken them in the couple of times that these remedies didn't heal them right away.