Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Natural Cold Remedies and Care

Out of everyone in my family, I am the only one that ever gets knocked off my feet kind of sick.  It is almost guaranteed that at some point in time when the weather starts cooling down that Mom will get deathly ill.  Okay, not really DEATHLY ill (although, it feels like it to me in a very dramatic way), but in a way that surely keeps me from my true potential.  It could be that I am pregnant right now, which means my immune system is already weakened.  Whatever the case, I feel terrible. 

So, what do you do…  besides complain about it, of course.  Well, I am of the mindset that jumping to the doctor and reaching for the antibiotics are not the solution.  I feel that antibiotics have their place, but when they can be avoided they should be at all cost.  Using them too often builds up a resistance in the body which can in the future when you REALLY need them hurt you very badly.  And it is not just avoiding antibiotic pills for my family, but we do our best to limit the antibiotic exposure in what we eat as well. 

I came to a point in my life about a year ago, when I realized that everything humankind could possibly need was sitting right here among us already available.  The science lab is not the answer.  Does it have its place?  Yes.  But not the default solution.  If you believe in a God that is all powerful, then he would have had the foresight to give us provisions when we get sick, and if you believe in evolution then we have had millions and billions of years and should be at the top of perfection.  So, what can you do when the Autumn blues got you down?  Very simple things that will make a big impact. 

First and foremost, be proactive.  It is much easier to maintain health than to try and fight off sickness you already have.  Eat healthy by limiting sugar (any corn syrup should be the first thing to go), eat lots of fruits and vegetables, limit the intake of grains, and don’t overdo any of it.  Essentially, eat in moderation.  A cheese burger isn’t going to kill you, but don’t get one every day on the way home from work for the sake of expediency.  DITCH THE DIET SODA.  If you are going to drink something sweet, at least drink something that hasn’t been modified in science lab.  Exercise.  The body that is most able to fight off sickness is the one that is strong.  Take your muscles for a bike ride or a walk.  Rake the front yard instead of paying the neighbor kid to do it (unless they are saving for college, then you get a pass).  I recommend that everyone take a multivitamin every day, especially if you know you run generally low on something.  Even a simple imbalance in the body can have a big impact.  And last, always make sure you stay hydrated.  Your body simply cannot perform at its best when it is even a little dry.

Herbal treatments are available for any ailment.  I have listed the symptoms that people generally have during a cold and the herb that goes along with them that helps.
General cold- ginger, cinnamon, Echinacea, elderberry…  try sprinkling ginger or cinnamon over your food.  Ginger is also good in tea with a little honey (which is also very good for you, more on that in a minute).  The elderberry is a diaphoretic and can help induce sweating…  which if you have a fever, is very helpful with pushing whatever it is causing that fever straight out of you through your sweat glands.  Echinacea is a naturally found antibiotic which is why it is so good for you during sickness.  The flower is a beautiful purple or white that comes back every year.  It’s also easy to grow…  hint, hint  Any of these can be taken by tea, but they can also be taken by capsule. 

Headaches- lavender…  try this for aromatherapy to ease tension.  Try it in small doses first, then increase as needed.  A lot of this scent can be overwhelming. 

Migraine- feverfew…  if you have a history of migraines, you can take this on a daily in a capsule by mouth.  Follow the instructions.  It will take several months for it to build up in your system.  Then, when you start to feel a migraine coming on, take some feverfew immediately.  If you have had a migraine before or have history of them, you know that the longer it takes you to take the medications to make it stop, the less likely they are to work. 

Earaches- garlic, lavender…  with each of these the treatment is put right onto the ear that hurts.  Most ear aches are NOT caused by a bacteria…  so antibiotics are ineffective anyways.  These two can help soothe the ear pain.  Simply, crush up a bit of garlic and drop it into the ear.  Apply a warm moist compress over the ear and lay on your side with the affected ear pointing up.  It’s the same with lavender, only apply the lavender by way of essential oil.  One or two drops should be sufficient, then apply warm compress. 

Sore throat- ginger, lemon balm, Echinacea…  any of these in any combination by way of tea or any tea that has them in it.  There are several herbal teas that are carried at grocery stores across the United States.  Traditional Medicines is one of them.  We drink a lot of their tea.  Add honey for taste. 

Trouble sleeping- valerian, lemon balm…  valerian is a natural sedative.  It works great helping a body to just relax so that it can just fall asleep.  Lemon balm is another herb that is good for relaxing and I recommend this in tea with some honey. 

Infection (ears, sinus, nose)- Echinacea can help reduce infection and destroy the bacteria causing it.  Take by capsule as directed.

For a cough, there are several things that we do when someone starts coughing that I take very seriously and I have seen the impact they have when done consistently.  First, get a humidifier.  I suggest having on hand one for each bedroom.  Warm mist, cool mist, I don’t think it really matters and more depends on preference.  I think ours are warm mist.  There are some you can put oils into so that when they are on, while they are humidifying, they are also using aromatherapy.  The reason that humidifiers are so great is because if the lungs are dry, they will cough in a reaction to the dryness.  Drinking water can help keep them moist, but sometimes we are just working against the elements.  If the air is dry (and a lot of times in the winter, the air is just perpetually dry) then you are just constantly breathing in dry air.  A humidifier will help maintain moisture in the air in a bedroom which is where most people spend roughly a third of their lives because that is where they sleep.  Oils that can help in the humidifiers that are also effective aromatherapy treatments are rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, and lemon.  Use these, especially eucalyptus, only as you need them and limit prolonged exposure.  Even Walmart carries the things you need for aromatherapy nowadays. 

Chest rubs-  Okay, to be totally honest with you…  I have no idea how natural chest rubs like Vicks are.  But I think they are effective.  The way I use them is that I apply it to the front and back of the neck, chest, and back.  I also put some on the kids’ feet and cover their feet with socks.  It seems to be helpful and they love the way it feels.

**Since writing this (which technically was only a couple days ago), I have since researched chest rubs like Vicks Vapor Rub and come to the conclusion that they are, in fact, a good natural remedy.  However, the DIYer in myself would not just let that little piece of information by without trying to figure out how to actually MAKE it myself.  So, I did just that.  Here is the recipe.  

For fevers, take 1 cup of dried peppermint and 1 cup of dried elderberries and boil them in about six cups of water.  After about 10 to 15 minutes, strain out the peppermint and elderberry, then drink as tolerated.  Add honey for taste.  After that, get into bed and wrap up with warm blankets and just stay there.  This combination will help you sweat, which will in turn push out the nasty causing the fever.

Make an ice pack to use for fevers.  Use two parts water, one part rubbing alcohol.  Then put into a ziploc bag and seal.  Put into a second ziploc bag (but upside down) and seal again.  If you have a Foodsaver, now would be the time to use it.  Wrap in a towel before using just to keep from getting an area too cold too fast.  More instructions can be found here

I have mentioned honey A LOT.  Honey is SO GOOD for you!  Skip the sugar!  Use honey!  On a side note and just for clarification, use LOCAL honey.  Not that store bought stuff.  Raw, local honey.  Find a beekeeper and stock up.  Honey is great for so many different things.  It is good when you have a cough (it works BETTER than the over the counter cough medications) and it is good at keeping away the runny noses because it is an anti-inflammatory, an anti-biotic, and an anti-histamine.  The reason local is so important is because the honey itself with be naturally in tune with the environment you live in…  making it more effective.  Caution: never give an infant under 12 months old honey.  Their bodies are not ready for it and it can cause serious problems. 

Where do you get all this stuff that you may have only heard of for the first time today?  I buy our herbs online in bulk.  I keep a supply of some on hand on a regular basis for those just-in-case moments.  But I get them from Mountain Rose Herbs which I have found that they have the best prices in herbs hands down.  They also have a lot of other things like teas, oils, etc.  You can also get them from EarthFare if you live here locally in Columbia, South Carolina which is down on Devine Street.  Their prices are not as good, but if you are in a pinch you do what you got to do.  

Final word, know when it is time to actually see a doctor.  In December of 2008, my son, Remy, when he was less than two weeks old developed a cough which very quickly turned into RSV and he almost died.  Know when it is time to seek professional medical help.  Two years later in January of 2011, my daughter Bella when she was about six months old developed pneumonia.  Fortunately we caught it so early that she didn’t even have to go to the hospital, and I think that was because I was still very concerned over even the slightest sniffle after almost losing Remy and very cautious.  When you have multiple small children, sickness can get out of control very quickly.  Then, we lost our health insurance and I knew that IF we had to go to the hospital for any reason that the bill was going to be very, very high.  So, I started doing A LOT of research into things that I could do to prevent that.  These things were what I found.  When Bella got a cough again less than six months after going through pneumonia, I applied what I had learned and it worked.  Never once did she develop an infection, and I have been using these ever since.  So, read, read, read, and then read some more.  Read not only on treatments, but also on the signs and symptoms of sickness.  You can't know how to properly treat something, if you don't even know how to identify what you are dealing with.  Be armed with information!!!  That is one thing you will never regret in this life. 

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