There is a myriad of illnesses going around right now. This invariably occurs each year as we move towards Spring, when the weather and temperatures keep fluctuating. . . .flu, congestion, stomach virus, sore throat, fever.
In my family, two of us had a stomach bug recently. The good news is that we both recovered from the worst of it in about 24 hours – using natural remedies. I wanted to share some of the things we typically do when we get “under the weather” in the hopes that it will help you.
First, I want to remind you that the key to staying healthy and having a quick recovery is keeping the immune system strong on a regular basis. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest, eating the foods that optimize your health, making time to exercise to keep stress in check, getting outdoor time for fresh air and sunshine, drinking plenty of quality water, taking your daily nutrients, etc. One of the best things you can do for your immune system is reduce or eliminate sugars from your diet. For more ideas about boosting your immune system using foods, read this previous post.
When you are not feeling well, giving the immune system extra support is critical. It helps you to recover quicker. Below is a list of some of the things we typically do in our family or have tried over the years. It includes food remedies, herbal and homeopathic remedies, and essential oils. The information is divided into categories for general immune support and more specific types of illnesses.
Extra Immune Support
It is best to incorporate as many things as possible at the first signs of feeling unwell so that you can help the body to knock it out. If we catch it early enough, it is not unusual for us to pass through an illness much faster than usual or to by-pass it altogether.
The top two items are our main go-to remedies. They are both considered comprehensive antimicrobials, meaning they help to fight off viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites, so they can be very beneficial for many types of ailments. Over time you learn what combination of the following works best for you.
- Thieves Oil* on feet – a great overall immune booster and antimicrobial. Rub a drop or two of thieves oil directly on the bottom of each foot, twice a day if necessary. If you need to cover the feet, use white socks so that the oil does not leach any dye out of the socks. Thieves oil is also a great preventative; if you know there is sickness circulating at school or work, put it on your feet before you leave the house. (“Thieves oil” can be found by other names as well; just make sure it is a good quality. I carry a brand called “Four Bandits.”)
- Garlic cloves – a great natural antimicrobial. Mince a small clove of fresh raw garlic into a spoon and swallow with water (or put it in raw honey) twice per day.
- Probiotics* – take an extra dose of probiotics to build up the good gut bacteria, which also boosts your immune system. Fermented vegetables are beneficial too.
- Olive Leaf* – another good antimicrobial. A herbal remedy available in liquid and capsules. It can be taken multiple times per day when necessary.
- Echinacea* – another herbal remedy but better for viruses. If you know your illness is more viral in nature, it is often a good fit. Echinacea, however, should not be taken continuously for more than two weeks.
- Broth – drink 1/4 cup of bone broth a couple of times a day. It provides many nutrients such as collagen, gelatin, glucosamine, and a variety of minerals that help boost the immune system. If bone broth is not convenient or you are vegetarian, you can use the Vital Veggie Broth recipe found here.
- Fermented Cod Liver Oil* – take an extra dose for the day. Considered nature’s super food by some, it contains inflammation reducing omega-3 fatty acids and healing fat soluble vitamins D3 and A. (Note the most store brands contain synthetic vitamins and may not be as effective.)
- Vitamin D3* – if you don’t have cod liver oil, you can take a supplement. Make sure it is the natural version (D3), not the synthetic type (D2). A quality D3 supplement should also include vitamin K2, which is necessary for your body to utilize the D3.
Intestinal and Stomach Support
If you have stomach upset or an intestinal bug, some other things specifically for the digestive system include:
- Drinking mint tea – mint is known to calm the stomach and aid in digestion. If you have a mint essential oil, you can rub it on the belly instead using a carrier oil.
- Oregano oil* – another comprehensive antimicrobial which can be used topically. However, some oregano oils can also be used internally in very small amounts. (Be sure to read the label.)
- Colo-Tox* – a homeopathic remedy formulated specifically for your typical upset stomach ailments. This remedy is great to have on hand for when stomach issues arise.
Lung and Congestion Support
If you have lung (or any other type of) congestion, one of the best things to do is stop eating dairy, even temporarily. Dairy can be mucus producing for many people, so eliminating it will help lower the congestion.
Other things specifically for the lungs include:
- Eucalyptus oil* on chest – use pure essential oil, put 2-3 drops in the palm of your hand along with a quarter size dollop of organic olive oil, rub your hands together to mix, and then rub on the front and back of the chest. (This is an easy and natural version of Vick’s Vapor Rub, which you don’t want to use because it contains petroleum.) It is especially helpful when trying to go to sleep.
- Drinking ginger tea – cut fresh ginger and steep in boiled water. Can also add lemon and honey for taste.
- Drink plenty of good quality water – in Traditional Chinese Medicine the lung and the kidneys meridians are closely related, so drinking extra water to flush out the kidneys and bladder helps the lungs. (Stay away from fruit juices due to their sugar content, which will further compromise your immune system.)
- Temple Warrior* tincture – a Chinese herbal remedy specially prepared for lung support. Among other things, it includes the herb fenugreek, which is known to reduce congestion.
- Sambucus* – another herbal known to reduce congestion.
Sore Throat Support
The tonsils in our throat are an important part of our immune system and one of our first defenses for airborne microbes. When we let ourselves get run down, illness can settle in the throat. Sometimes it needs a little extra help.
- Garlic – not for the faint of heart, but very effective. Mince a small clove of fresh raw garlic and hold it in your mouth as long as you can to allow the juice to trickle down your throat. If you rather be less aggressive, slice a large clove in half and stick the clove in the opening of the ear (not too far in) for a half hour or so. (Or, rub the cut end of the raw garlic on the skin behind the ear.)
- Salt water gargle – salt water in the mouth is very healing. Use about 1/4 tsp. of quality Himalayan or sea salt in 1/2 cup warm purified water. Gargle as far back in the throat as possible and spit out.
- Lemon and honey – both soothing for the throat. Make a tea with hot water, fresh squeezed lemon, and a spoon full of raw organic honey. Raw honey is best since it still contains many healing properties including antimicrobials and good bacteria. For children (over one year old), a small spoon full of raw honey is often helpful to sooth the throat enough for them to fall sleep.
- Throat Spray* – a herbal/homeopathic combination especially prepared to soothe and heal the throat.
I am a big fan of letting a fever ride itself out. It is our body’s natural way to “burn away” the offending germ (microorganism) and often the quickest way to recovery. In fact, we rarely take a temperature in our house. Instead, for my son, I have learned the signs of a temperature that may be getting too high: the feel of his skin, the listlessness, etc. In the mean time, small sips of water, sucking on ice chips, and/or a cool washcloth on the neck or forehead is often helpful.
If you feel that the fever is getting too high, below are some suggestions to naturally bring it down. (For extremely high fevers you should contact your health care provider.)
- Apple cider vinegar on feet – one of the quickest ways to get a fever down is to rub apple cider vinegar on the bottom of the feet. Use a good quality one like this one. It may not be long lasting, but it gives the body time to self regulate.
- Lemon socks – this works best if feet are already warm. Soak two washcloths in hot water and the juice of one lemon. Wring and apply to feet, putting a large pair of wool socks over the washcloths, and go to sleep. This will help to reduce the fever by drawing the heat down and out of the body. Lemon socks are especially good for children who are restless and uncomfortable due to the fever.
It is worth mentioning here that Tylenol should be avoided if at all possible. If you have not already heard, recent studies have shown that products that contain acetaminophen actually harm the body long term. Tylenol is not only full of unhealthy ingredients and preservatives, but it is also known to be toxic to the liver and deplete the body of the antioxidant CoQ10. Because of their smaller size, Tylenol affects children even more.
(An added benefit of letting a fever run its course, at least for kids, is that there is often a developmental burst of some sort after the fever has naturally run its course. I have witnesses this multiple times and it is an amazing thing to observe.)
If you are sick now, hopefully the above information helps you. I encourage you to read through the lists above and stock up on some basic remedies for future use. There are many natural ways to get through an illness, but being prepared is key.
* The asterisked items shown above can be purchased from Life Design for Health. For many, comparable items can also be found in your local health food store or vitamin shop. Other homeopathic combinations specifically for viruses, bacteria, and even the flu are also available from Life Design for Health
This article was written by Sharon Harmon, founder of Life Design for Health. She has a passion for helping people find their way back to optimum health. Please contact her if you would like to know more. There is a great deal of health-related information in her blog articles and on her website.