It's that time of year!
No, sorry..... while it IS the season of pretty autumn leaves (if you live in the part of the country that has the pretty autumn leaves), pumpkin recipes, and hay rides, it is also the beginning of Cold & Flu Season. ICK.
This is my third year of blogging about the Cold and Flu season. Most of what you find here are repeats of my earlier posts from 2013 and 2014, but is revised and updated. All are methods I truly believe in and what I use in my household. Just as my Disclosure Page states, " I am not a medical doctor nor do I hold a medical license of any kind. I am simply sharing with you my food and health story and the information I have found in my research using a variety of sources."
In addition to researching and learning a great deal about horrible ingredients in our food
a number of years ago, my family learned a great deal about conventional medicine vs. natural medicine. We learned how to build our immune system with the natural ingredients we use in our daily meals. We learned about wholesome natural supplements. We learned about homeopathy.
We are no longer supporters of vaccines and other conventional means of preventing or treating illness. I firmly believe, after doing my own extensive research including reading various books and articles as well as speaking with others with various degrees and experiences, that the conventional 'preventatives' and 'treatments' cause more harm than good. Now that doesn't mean we don't support conventional medicine at all. It has its place, especially in emergent situations. But my main point is this: There are natural methods to prevent and treat illness that do not contain the harmful chemicals laden in conventional methods . These chemicals actually harm our immune systems and cause disease. Therefore, this post is about natural remedies for treatment of colds, flu and other seasonal or viral illnesses.* The first thing,of course, is to remember that food plays an integral role in your health. If you are eating junk, your body will act like you are eating junk. If you are eating good quality whole foods, your body will thank you and your chances of getting sick are greatly lessened (NOT impossible, but greatly lessened). If you do get sick, chances are the illness will be much shorter in duration and less severe. I, myself, can boast that though I was constantly ill with strep throat and ear infections through most of my childhood and early adulthood, I have not dealt with these illnesses for the past 9 years! Strep was something I would often contract at least 4 times each fall and winter and several times during the rest of the year. This dramatic change in my immune system is not short of amazing.
The second thing to remember is that while food does play an integral role, other factors such as being tired and run down, spending time in areas where people are sick, or working in an environment harmful to your immune system causes a depletion in your immune system and you will need to do some extra things to help your body prevent illness. You must learn how to manage your stress. You must sleep well. Sleep is vital. Washing your hands when coming into contact with the public is important. Boosting your immunity with extra supplements when you know you'll be around others with viral illnesses is a good idea. Some of these supplements such as probiotics, vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and Elderberry Syrup used throughout the season can give your immune system an extra boost. Avoiding environmental situations (polluted air, use of chemicals on surfaces - even harmful cleaning chemicals, etc.) that are harmful would be a good idea as well - though not always possible - but certainly a good idea.
But what can you do if you do get the flu?? Or a cold or other virus??
- First and foremost: REST as much as possible. I know all too well that sometimes life just doesn't give us this option but it is the most important thing to do if you can. Taking one day off work may prevent you from missing an entire week later. Sleep as much as you are able and resist doing any work that you can avoid (It's okay to let the laundry go one more day and no, you don't HAVE to stay up and watch Criminal Minds with your kids....oh, wait....sorry...a little self-talk there...)
- Wash your hands OFTEN. Avoid using antibacterial soaps as there is no real evidence that these products are any better at killing germs than regular soap and warm water. Some of these chemicals are actually harmful to health. In fact, these products contain one such chemical called triclosan which actually has caused an alteration in hormone regulation in animal studies and is a known endocrine disruptor (it is actually supposed to be removed from soaps by 2016....we'll see!)
- Eliminate sugar from your diet. Sugar wreaks havoc on the immune system! This includes fruit juice too! It is best to get your vitamin C from food in it's natural form or a very good supplement.
- Eliminate Dairy while you are sick. Dairy promotes the formation of mucous. Therefore, it is beneficial to avoid during illness, especially, for those children or adults who get a lot of ear infections (or sinus issues) due to blocked eustachian tubes from the congestion.
- Eliminate caffeine while you are sick. Stimulants suppress your immune system.
- Avoid omega 6 vegetable oils which also suppress the immune system(canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil and soybean oils). These oils are not beneficial to your health at any time but especially when ill. Your best oils to use are coconut, olive, avocado and palm oils. Coconut oil is my primary oil I use in cooking and baking .
- Vitamin C! Make sure the vitamin C you select contains a large supply of bioflavanoids. This indicates the vitamin is coming from natural sources. Large doses are a must for treatment. The vitamin C protocol given to me by a naturopath was to take 1-2 grams (1000-2000 mgs). Follow this with 1000 more after an hour. Continue this until your bowels have reached intolerance level(meaning loose stools) because only then will you know that you have enough vitamin C in your body to fight the illness. The following day you are to take two less than what it took you to reach intolerance level. Continue for as many days as you have symptoms. For example, if it takes you 5 grams to reach intolerance, then for the next few days you would take 3 grams. Each person is different and each occasion of illness will be different for the amount needed. You can easily Google "Vitamin C Tolerance" online and read more about it.
- Vitamin D3 - Vitamin D3 is essential for your immune system. Our family takes this all through the fall and winter months into early spring(adults take about 2-4 grams a day). We take extra when experiencing any symptoms of illness.
- Keep your sinuses clean! You can do this with a neti pot or you can put some sea salt and baking soda(no more than an 1/8 tsp each) in your hand mixed with a bit of water and sniff through your nostrils. The neti pot is easier. A Xylitol nasal wash is anti-bacterial and can fight bacteria in the sinus cavities and prevent secondary infections.
- Take a hot bath for 20-30 minutes with 1-2 cups of Epsom Salt. This pulls out inflammation and will decrease muscle soreness and joint pain. Do not let yourself get chilled.
- Drink PLENTY of water!! Make sure you are drinking at least half your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 100 lbs., you'd drink at least 50 ounces.
- Add lemon to your water. See last year's post on lemons!
- Tea - Traditional Medicinals makes great teas for boosting your immune system and easing symptoms when ill as does the Yogi Tea brand (herbal teas have antibacterial and antiviral action).
- Make your own yummy 'tea' to have on hand. Fill a mason jar (any size) with sliced lemons and ginger. Layer the lemons so that they are at an angle, allowing there to be space in the jar. Slice up some fresh ginger, placing nice thin pieces among the lemon slices. Now pour some nice RAW honey over the lemons and ginger until the jar is full. Place in refrigerator for safe keeping. When needed for sore throats or to soothe a cough, place 2 heaping spoonfuls (you may vary the amount) in a cup of hot water, stir to dissolve and drink. I try to keep a jar or two of this in the back of the fridge through the late fall and winter so I have it already on hand when feeling under the weather.
- Drink HOMEMADE chicken broth, beef broth, turkey broth, onion soup or miso soup.(the store bought variety has neorotoxins added and other artificial ingredients that create havoc in your body - not something you need anytime let alone when you are sick). Store some bones from leftover chicken in the freezer. You don't need a super great recipe for emergency chicken broth. Just throw the bones in with some water and let simmer on the stove for a few hours. There are plenty of great recipes out there though. I usually put 3 lbs worth of chicken bones in a crock pot or Instant Pot with some other things and freeze whatever I don't use to have on hand for soups and illness. We actually drink our broth on a regular basis throughout the season and other times of the year.
- Eat lightly. Heavy meals slow your digestion and interferes with the body's ability to fight off illness.
- Add onion and garlic to your foods! These are wonderful for the immune system!! (throwing an onion into that chicken broth would be great!)
- Elderberries....in whatever form you can find them 😉 See last year's post on this!
- Put on clean pajamas every day.
- Change the sheets on your bed when you are better. If you know someone that will do this for you while you are sick, that would be great too - but don't over assert yourself to do it.
- Brush your teeth....OFTEN!! It is recommended to brush 5-10 times a day. Your mouth is where the bacteria like to hang out and this is a good way to get them out of there! Change your toothbrush as soon as you are better! This is not something I ever thought of before seeing a homeopath that recommended it. It makes a LOT of sense though, doesn't it?
- Keep a window open slightly to allow fresh air in or at least run a ceiling fan to circulate the stale air.
- Use a Humidifier.
- Gargle with raw apple cider vinegar. You can just use vinegar or you can add it to warm salt water.
- Remember there is a purpose for a fever. As long as your fever is under 103 degrees, there is no need for alarm or to treat it. A fever is the body's way of fighting the illness. Even for my child, I do not instantly treat a fever unless it seems to be causing distress (and is under 103). Sometimes I will give something for fever at night only to ease sleep. Rest is important!
- Probiotics can also reduce cold symptoms when used as a preventative, so if you do not take in probiotics on a regular basis, now is a good time start. There are probiotics in supplement form, of course, but can also be gotten through foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha.
- Continue taking extra rest and doing extra things to boost your immune system for at least three days after symptoms fade.
Homeopathic Remedies: (I LOVE homeopathy!!)
- Oscillococcinum - We keep Oscillo around the house all the time. My DH even takes it in his bag to work with him because it works best if you take it at the absolute moment you start experiencing symptoms. Just follow the instructions on the label. Try not to have anything in your mouth for 5-10 minutes before or after as that could interfere with the remedy's ability to perform well. If you miss the first symptoms or don't get a chance to take the Oscillo within a few hours of onset, it most likely will not work as well.
- Ferrum Phos 6x - This is for feverish flu symptoms that make you feel run down and cranky. Most likely you have sniffles and a snore throat. Follow the instructions on the label.
- Please note that homeopathy works best for these illnesses when taken as soon as the symptoms are noticed. There are a lot more homeopathic remedies that work for cold and flu symptoms. However, homeopathy works best when you have a practitioner that knows you and how your body reacts to particular stressors and illnesses to find the perfect remedy for you. I urge you to find a homeopath or naturopathic doctor if you are able. If not, the two remedies mentioned above are the best for general symptoms.
Other Products for Immunity
- Wellness Formula by Source Natural
- Holy Basil Capsules
- Elderberry Syrup
- Planetary Herbals Three Spice Complex - great for sinus treatment!!
- Yogi Echinacea Immune Support Tea
Have a few of these products on hand so that you have something when needed and can figure out what works for you. Remember everyone is different and your body may not respond as well to something that works really well for someone else.
Do you have other natural remedies to share?
Hopefully this flu season finds you healthy and smiling!!
* I am not claiming to be a health practitioner. I am not a medical doctor, conventional, homeopathic or naturopathic. I am simply sharing with you what I have learned in my research from various sources.