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Cold season is upon us and Kate has asked me to put together a comprehensive list of my favorite natural remedies and preventative measures for the occasion. I have picked up these tips from a myriad of places like natural health magazine, books, friends, our holistic doctor and pediatrician, etc.
I got started on this more natural way of living beginning when my son Trooper came down with croup a couple years ago. The ER physician put him on a steroid that made him act completely unlike himself. Out of desperation for another alternative, I started calling around and doing research for a natural solution and a friend of mine recommended the homeopath Spongea, which completely eliminated his symptoms without the dangerous side effects of the steroid.
There is so much that could be written about boosting your immune system so if you’d like more information or have something else to add, we’d love to hear about it!
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The best way to avoid getting sick is to be cautious and do some of these tips on a daily basis, especially during cold season:
70 percent of our immune system comes from our gut, so it’s important to help support the microflora which exists in the small and large intestines. It promotes proper digestion and provides relief from occasional intestinal discomfort. It’s especially important if you have had to take an antibiotic which kills both the bad and the good bacteria which can leave you with stomach issues. PRO-BIO means “for life” while ANTI-BIO means “against life.” Antibiotics are necessary at times for extreme infection, of course, but need to be avoided if possible.
Also important is a multi-vitamin. It’s estimated we’re getting 50 percent less nutrients from our soil than ever before due to overuse and pesticides so a supplement is needed. Both probiotics and multi-vitamins are recommended for children as well.
Fish oil and vitamin D3
My pediatrician also recommends supplementing with fish oil and vitamin D3, especially when you aren’t able to spend time in the sun which gives you the vitamin D we need for immune support.
Thieves oil is great to put under your feet before going on a plane, putting your child in nursery at church or just leaving the house during cold season. You can even use it to clean your house from viruses!
Fruits and vegetables
And of course, wash your hands as much as possible and eat as many organic fruits and vegetables as you can.
Natural cold remedies
If you are starting to get sick or already are, here are some tips:
This is the number one most effective thing our body needs to recover. Go to bed earlier than normal and take a day off if you can. It can shorten the length of your virus by several days if you will do this.
Remove sugar, alcohol, artificial flavors and MSG
At the onset of cold or sickness, immediately remove sugar, alcohol, artificial flavors and MSG from your diet. Your white blood cells recognize these as toxins and attack them so they aren’t attacking the virus and it’s left to increase faster and more quickly.
Eliminate dairy, citrus, peanuts, bananas and grains
If you already have congestion, eliminate dairy, citrus, peanuts, bananas and if possible, most grains. These are mucus producing, so it will take you longer to recover.
Expose 80 percent of your body to sunlight for 20 minutes to help stimulate Vitamin D production. If not possible, make sure you are definitely supplementing with D3.
Stimulate the spleen
Your spleen is the organ that helps your immune system and usually becomes enlarged if you are fighting a virus. Lay flat and put your hand under your rib (or lay the child flat who is sick) and rub your hand back and forth quickly as if you’re wiping up a stain. There is also a supplement called Spleen PMG which helps support your spleen as well.
Allow a fever to run its course
Speaking of raised temperature, although a fever brings fear to our minds, it is our body’s natural way of fighting viruses. It is a great indicator that your immune system is working properly and tylenol or other fever reducing medicines should be avoided. Fevers below 103 are completely normal and can often last 3-4 days. Recent research has shown that fever related seizures are just as common with taking a fever reducer then if not and are more rare then we think. A fever that is allowed to run its course will also shorten the length of your cold.
For at least one meal a day, try and eat homemade chicken broth or soup.
Take garlic cloves. Best immune fighter there is and it’s more effective than antibiotics without the nasty consequences. Chewing, chopping and crushing the garlic releases the important anti-bacterial compound called allicin that boost immunity and stop cold from progressing. I crush a clove in a teaspoon of honey and swallow, chew it really quickly and shoot back with water, roast it in oven, or throw a clove in a smoothie or juicer. Trooper, my son, will drink it in a smoothie no problem because the frozen berries and coconut milk or water cover the flavor.
Make your own vapor rub
- 1-2 tablespoons of coconut, almond or olive oil
- 2-3 drops of Eucalyptus and Rosemary oil
Rub on chest, feet, and back to open up airways, or drop a few eucalyptus oil drops at the bottom of your shower and turn water as hot as it will go. Close the door to create a steam shower. This is great especially in the morning or before bed or nap to remove excess mucus.
It slightly raises your body temperature which helps it fight off viruses. It is also anti-inflammatory which boosts defenses. Packaged ginger teas are effective but a cheaper and possibly more effective route are to either juice an inch of raw ginger or seep one tablespoon of the chopped root in hot water for 10 minutes. Strain, then add a little lemon and honey. If you have a persistent cough, peel, chop and boil ginger root, let cool in the pot and then add that to a bath to help draw out toxins.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has many benefits and is a favorite in the natural community. A friend of mine called me who didn’t have health insurance and she was almost positive she had strep. I researched some natural home remedies and found out that ACV seemed to be cure for tons of things including sore throats and strep. It also helps with digestion with tummy issues. After gargling and then ingesting the ACV, she was better within 48 hours.
If the taste is too strong raw, try a cup of hot water with 2 spoonfuls of honey and 2 spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar. Drink it three times a day to thin mucus and kill bacteria.
Immunoplus contains pretty much every immune fighter there is — including garlic, cats claw, Echinacea, cayenne and much more. Use 5-20 drops 3 times a day.
And, of course, the old classic vitamin c is helpful in increments of 1,000 milligrams at the first sign of symptoms.
Elderberry has many antiviral properties and is a kids favorite because it tastes great.
People often don’t use enough Echinacea to get the effects. Five droppers or two capsules is appropriate every 4-8 hours for 24 hrs.
Licorice soothes sore throats and is also has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. Organic throat coat tea is helpful to ease a sore throat.
Another helpful supplement is pulsatilla. This is a homeopath that is good for congestion. Remember the rule on homeopaths is to never touch the tablets. Shake the recommended amount (usually 4-5 pellets) into the cap and then pour directly into the mouth. And try not to eat or drink for 30 minutes after if possible. Also, if you are using a vapor rub or homemade eucalyptus rub on the chest or feet, refrain from using it at the same time as the homeopath because for some reason, eucalyptus weakens it’s effects. Follow the directions closely.
Instead of using a decongestant, try a neti pot. It uses a saline solution to clear your sinuses. The first try it might feel like you jumped in a pool and got water up your nose, but once you figure out the correct head position, this can offer a lot of relief without taking a pill. Here’s how you do it:
- Combine two cups of distilled or boiled water (cooled to lukewarm) with one teaspoon of kosher salt.
- Fill the pot halfway.
- Turn your head to one side over the sink.
- Gently insert the spout in the upper nostril. Raise the neti pot so the saline solution flows out the lower nostril.
- Repeat on the other side.
I usually use whatever I have on hand. For instance, if I feel something coming on I always try to rest, get sunshine, and eliminate the sugar, dairy, etc., as those are things that are accessible to me. If I have garlic or thieves or the makings for chicken soup, I will do those as well. I usually hold off on the echinacea and elderberry and eucalyptus for when the symptoms have progressed.
I hope this isn’t too lengthy but I wanted to type this up for my own benefit so I didn’t have to repeat research, and Kate thought it might be handy for you too. Hope it helps!