We were quite lucky so far this flu season, we dodged the bullet many times. While many other families around us would get hit with the flu bug, or colds, etc, we managed to stay healthy. But this week, my little girl caught this bug that's been going around. Fever and nasty, nasty cough. I kept her from school the first day, just to make sure she wouldn't spread the bug, gave her extra vitamin C and hoped her immune would kick it. After all, she wasn't all that sick.
Until she woke the next day.
She couldn't stop coughing, had a fever, stuffed sinuses with a headache and was sneezing every 2 minutes.
Time to get serious on the medicine! Natural medicine that is!
For a few years, essential oils have been a go to for many things in our house. From colds and flu's, to boosting moods in the dead of winter to using them as an aid to calm the kids down when extra cranky or hyper before bedtime. No matter what the reason, it always works.
(These are my top 4 go-to oils.)
Yesterday, eucalyptus was mainly the oil of choice. While my daughter was resting on the couch, I lit the burner and used about 4 drops of eucalyptus and about 3 of peppermint in a bit of carrier oil (you can put more if needed). If you're new to burning essential oils, here's a little trick: Burning essential oils straight up will cause your oils to evaporate very quickly, and they will burn. Carrier oils mean some kind of oil, such as sweet almond, grape seed oil or even olive oil. You just want to make sure it's a good quality oil, as pure and organic as possible (aka, not vegetable oil from the grocery store). The oil will prevent your essential oils from burning, which will help diffuse them slowly into the air.
The other way I use oils when we are sick, is by rubbing a concoction of carrier oil and eucalyptus essential oil, on my kid's chest, upper back and under their feet. (Think natural version of Vicks vaporub if you will.) It really helps to open up their air ways when they are congested, as well as calming their cough if it's in their lungs.
Echinacea is another wonderful tool I use to help us get over whatever is ailing us, as it is great to help boost the immune system.
Echinacea does not exactly taste delicious (it has a strong flower/wild herb taste), but there are brands out there that have added flavour (look for ones with natural flavours), which makes it more palatable for children. I also make sure I get echinacea that is combined with goldenseal. Goldenseal helps the echinacea be more effective. Follow dosages on your bottle, but I give it to the kids about twice a day, when they are sick, and the same for a couple days after they are getting better.
Ever heard the saying "Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food"? It's a quote by Hippocrates, the founding father of medicine. Of course, when we are sick, we don't always have much of an appetite. Sometimes smaller children will refuse somethings they normally love. When they are sick, I try to push fresh fruits and veggies as much as I can. My kids don't get crackers, or plain toast as their main food when they are sick. They get fruit salads, or smoothies if they will drink them. Fresh produce has so much nutrients, it is the perfect medicine!
Also, soup is a must, as it is for most families. I do homemade soup, and make sure I add onions and garlic to the base, which helps fight those germs.
What about fever, you might ask? What do I do with fever? Well, before this health journey, I used to just give my kids acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Often, alternating between the two, to keep them comfortable. Because fever made ME uncomfortable. It took me a long time to realize that fever is not an illness, but a way for the body to fight the germs that are attacking us. Treating fever, is not treating the illness.
Nowadays, I just monitor the fever and if it's really high, then I'll give them something. But I always try the cool cloths first, make sure they are not dressed too hot, and if the fever starts peaking, we might even do a bath (not with hot nor cold water) to cool down their body temp. Luckily, we haven't had to deal with very high fevers in a few years. So the cool cloth has always been enough.
Now, coughs can be tricky. Sometimes it's caused by a dry throat, sometimes, it comes from deep down in the chest. Sometimes it irritates our throats, sometimes it sounds like we are going to cough up a lung. One of the best things to do for a cough, is moisture. A humidifier is a great thing to use in those situations. Especially at night, it can make the difference between coughing and waking all night, and having a much needed restful sleep. Another thing we might do sometimes, is doing a hot water bath in a bowl and put a towel over our heads, and inhale for a few minutes. Helps with both opening up the air ways, and calm the cough down.
A regular bath is another way of doing this for the same purpose. I'll usually add a few drops of Lavender essential oil to the bath in this case. I used to think Lavender was just good for calming, but lavender has anti-viral, anti fungal and antibacterial properties, which makes it a great addition for fighting just about anything.
Lastly, syrup is our friend. But I'm not talking about those syrups that are full of sugar, food dyes and chemicals. I'm talking about good ol' homemade syrup, made from just a few natural ingredients. The kind of syrup that can both calm down a cough AND boost your immune.
(blogged about it here)
Yes, treating illnesses naturally can sometimes seem like a lot of work. But it really isn't. Like any changes we make in life, there's an adjustment period and next thing we know, we are in a new routine that just feels right and it becomes our new normal.
And in case you are wondering about my daughter, well, after 2 days of being sick (yesterday being the one she was really run down), I am happy to report that she is SO much better today already! She didn't cough all night, and only once or twice today so far. Her appetite is back, hasn't had a fever since yesterday afternoon and she's been playful since she woke up :)
We will continue for a few days with the elderberry syrup and echinacea drops to help boost her immune and continue to fight the germs until it's completely gone.
Natural remedies can not only be effective, but I also have the piece of mind that their little bodies (and mine too when I'm sick) is not overloaded with chemicals and that it helps their own anti-bodies be stronger for next time.
Do you use natural remedies? I'd love to hear what you use in your home!