Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Time to Start Preparing for the Winter Illnesses

It's a hot, lovely summer, here in SoCal; hard to even think about winter time right now.  But, this is a good time to start to think and plan ahead for what remedies you would like to have on hand to be prepared for the winter colds and flu bugs.

Herbs are such gentle healers and are easy to prepare and use.  Our bodies are complex and have many needs, and this is often met by the complexity of herbs.  There is a time and place for antibiotics, but did you know that in most clinical outpatient settings, antibiotics are rarely needed?  I am concerned by the trend I have seen when I was a practicing nurse and what I observe in the general public now, of taking an antibiotic almost anytime a cold or flu comes around. 

While popping a pill may seem like the quick and easy method of dealing with an illness, more and more evidence is showing the damaging effects of antibiotics, especially on gut health.  This is critical information, as our gut holds 80% of our immune system.  Diseases like Crohn's and irritable bowel, often stemming from gut damage, are on the rise and antibiotic resistant bugs are multiplying.  

If we are not careful about working to decrease the use of antibiotics, we will soon have no antibiotics left to use.  I have personally witnessed antibiotic resistance bacteria as a nurse, and it is scary.  I find it very sad, that our continued over use of antibiotics could leave our children the heritage of no antibiotics.  

All that being said, what are some things that can be used to help fight off colds and flu bugs?

1)  I love to have elderberry syrup on hand.  I give it to our family the day before, day of, and day after we are in public places during the winter season.  For an active cold and flu, this can be taken a few times a day.  Mountain Rose Herbs, (where I buy most of my herbal supplies),  has a lovely syrup recipe you can find HERE.  Be sure to buy your berries now or within a month or two, as these are becoming more and more popular and will be difficult to come by in the winter time.  If you are using raw honey, do not give to children under 2.

2) Fermented Cod Liver Oil is another stand by in our home.  We take less during the spring and summer months, but in the fall and winter, this is a daily must have.  You can find this product at Green Pastures.  This is a superior form of cod liver oil and we notice a difference when we consistently take this product.  

3) Two herbs I always have on hand that are helpful for fever support are yarrow and elder flowers.  For very young children, starting at the age of one, Herbs for Kids, as has a great remedy called Temp Assure that can be found HERE, that contains these herbs and is a good support to take when a child is feverish.  Though this is a topic that could be a post in and of itself, low grade fevers should not be lowered, but rather give herbs to support the body during this process, as it is the body's way of killing off bacteria and viruses.  It is high grade fevers that will need to be lowered to protect the body. 

4) Raw honey and cinnamon are a great combination that has been known to help get rid of a cold if taken at the first sign of symptoms.  If you are using this for children, be sure to use "sweet" cinnamon also know as true cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum).  Most cinnamon found in stores is cassia cinnamon and not tolerated well by children.  You can find true cinnamon, HERE, and a recipe HERE.  Do not give raw honey to children under the age of two.

5) Reduce your sugar intake, as sugar kills the immune system.

6) Get some good probiotics, either buying them, or making your own.  You can try your hand at water kefir or kombucha for some yummy probiotic drinks.  If you are buying, I recommend Udo's, especially for children.  Summer is a great time to learn how to make either one of these drinks.  I will be purchasing a continuous brew kombucha system this month, and am excited to add this probiotic rich drink to our regular diet.
Making fermented vegetables is another way to get probiotics and build the immune system.  Here are two recipes to get you started:  Spiced Cultured Carrots and Sauerkraut.

7)  Dried sage tea is another fabulous remedy for those nasty colds.  Stir in a spoonful of raw honey for a delicious treat.  (Breastfeeding moms should not use this, though, as sage can dry up milk supply).  

8) Eucalyptus essential oil is a great oil to have on hand for inhalation and can be inhaled out of the bottle, placed on a cotton ball, or in a carrier oil.  Eucalyptus globulus is the most common one sold, but it is best not to use this one on children, rather, use Eucalyptus radiata.  HERE is a recipe for a sinus rub that I make up for cold and flu season.

9) A fun drink you can give your kids is Garlic Lemonade or "Citrus-Aide".  Here is the recipe. 

These are just a few simple ideas to help you as you prepare for cold and flu season.  Spread the word that there are alternatives to antibiotics and beautiful, gentle ways to heal your body naturally.

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  1. Thank you for all these tips! As an elementary school teacher, I need all the help I can get!
    ~~Cheryl Ann~~

  2. Good ideas! I need to start making up some of my own remedies for the winter. Here in CT it seems obvious (even with the heat and humidity right now) but it's needed in a lot of places.