Welcome back for the finale on our natural remedies miniseries! In last week’s post, I wrote about ways to boost the immune system to help prevent colds and flues. If you missed it, click here to get caught up.
All right. Now that you’re up to speed on preventative measures, it’s time to discuss what to do when illnesses do inevitably rear their ugly heads. But before we start, I just want to reiterate our little disclaimer from last week: We are not doctors, nor do we claim to be. Always check with your doctor before embarking on a new health routine, regimen, or before starting or stopping any medications, conventional or holistic.
Four Natural Remedies to Help Ease Cold and Flu Symptoms
Cool Mist Humidifier
The single best investment we bought when Kat was a baby and had her first cold. We have a Vicks® brand humidifier that allows us to put a VapoPad® in it to also help with breathing. If your child is old enough, you can use eucalyptus essential oil (the oil that makes Vicks® smell the way that it does) in a diffuser or do what we’ve done and add a few drops to a VapoPad® that has lost its scent. As we expand our knowledge in essential oils, one of the things I want to try is making my own vapour rub. If you have a good recipe, let me know!
I’ll be the first to admit that it does not feel good when you spray saline solution in your nasal cavity. But it’s amazing how much it helps when your sinuses are clogged! There’s a few different techniques, you can use a bought saline spray, like HydraSense®, or a neti pot.
Katrina was about a month old when had her first stuffy nose. Like a good mom, I was prepared, and brought out the bulb syringe. It did bupkis! The poor little girl! The next day, at the advice of my cousin, I went out and purchased a HydraSense® Nasal Aspirator. What a difference! Now, this isn’t for the faint of heart – the babies and toddlers for the most part hate having this done. My kids, so much so, that I would need to pin them down to do it. But, they felt so much better afterwards when they could breathe through their little noses.
If you prefer to go the homemade route, saline solution is very easy to make. Take one cup of distilled water (or boiled tap water that’s been cooled to lukewarm), and mix in a ½ teaspoon of salt and a ½ teaspoon of baking soda. This solution can be stored at room temperature for up to three days. To use, simply drip a couple drops into each nostril using a syringe or neti pot. Wait a minute or two, and either blow your nose, or use a bulb syringe or nasal aspirator for young children to remove the mucus.
I’ve always known that honey and lemon were good for a sore throat, but was surprised to learn that doctors are now “prescribing” it to help with cold symptoms.
I was at the doctor one time with Hunter who had a cold, and after she had finished checking his ears, and confirming that they were clear of infection, she told me to give him a teaspoon of honey up to twice a day to help fight the cold. She went on to say that as long as the child was over one year of age (honey shouldn’t be given to children younger than a year) honey, which has amazing antibacterial and antioxidant properties, can help to lessen the severity and duration of colds. We always keep a large jar of raw, local honey in our pantry. Not only is it super tasty, it’s readily available when we need it to soothe sore and scratchy throats.
Also known as mustard packs, mustard plasters are an old folk remedy that has been around for centuries to help relieve chest congestion. It’s believed that the heat from the mustard helps to stimulate blood circulation, releasing toxins and promoting healing. Having used this natural remedy since childhood, I can personally attest to the fact that they really do help to loosen chest congestion.
To make a mustard plaster you’ll need 1 tbsp dry mustard, 4 tablespoons flour, and a small amount of warm water to make a paste. Spread onto a thin cotton rag (or a piece of material that can be thrown away afterwards) and place the mustard pack on your chest. Leave the plaster on for up to 20 minutes (10 minutes for children), checking the skin for deep reddening or irritation. (Some reddening is normal in response to the heat and circulation being produced by the mustard.) If the skin becomes irritated, remove the plaster. After you remove the plaster, you can place it on the upper back for the same amount of time. Afterwards, gently wipe the skin with a warm wet cloth to remove any residue.
I’ve always found that the best time to apply a mustard plaster is in the evening. After an evening application and a good night’s sleep, come morning the mucus is much easier to dislodge. Though one application usually does the trick, you can repeat the application daily until the congestion has lifted.
Other Natural Remedies
This is no where near an exhaustive list of natural remedies, and as we continue our homestead journey, and as well our quest to lessen toxins, I hope to learn more ways of keeping my family healthy. I’ve already started exploring essential oils and am excited to see how they can benefit my family. (If nothing else, they will be a great natural alternative to candles and fragrance oils!) I’ve also been seeing a lot of posts regarding elderberry syrup, which has now peaked my interest. I love to learn and am passionate about living a natural and sustainable lifestyle. Alternative medicines naturally fall into this way of life, and I can’t wait to learn more about what I can do to keep my family healthy.
How do you keep your family hale and hearty? Feel free to drop us a line using the comment section below. I’d love to hear what old time remedies you use, both in helping to prevent illness, as well as easing the symptoms when sicknesses do strike.