We are deep in the throes of winter…how are you holding up? While we dream of sunny skies, blooming flowers, and tank tops we can also fortify our natural medicine tool box to keep illness at bay! Here are a few easy, nourishing, effective, and all-natural suggestions to keep your whole family healthy and happy the rest of this wacky Missouri winter:
- Gargle with salt water
Do this as soon as you start feeling sick! Not only can it help relieve a sore, scratchy throat, but if you go back to your middle school science days, water follows salt (osmosis), so the idea is that gargling salt water actually pulls viral fluids out of the throat area. About 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water can be gargled a few times a day.
- Honey and Lemon
Honey not only helps soothe a sore throat it also works as a cough suppressant. Honey can soothe irritated mucous membranes which helps remove the irritation that is fueling the cough reflex. Both contain vitamin C, which has been shown to help support your immune system. Lemon also supports digestion and pH balance to further boost the body for fighting viral infections. Add both to your favorite herbal tea!
- Take a Ginger Shot
Ginger is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. It has been known to help with congestion, nausea, colds, and fevers. Either pick some up from a local juice store or juice a knob of ginger yourself. Eating ginger can also help; add it to meals or chew on a piece raw! You can also make ginger honey: roughly chop raw ginger and steep in honey in a closed container for about 4-6 weeks.
Elderberry is a fruit grown from the elder tree that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties making it a powerhouse when it comes to fighting colds. Studies have shown taking elderberry syrup or tincture can deactivate viruses, shorten colds and the flu, and also relieve sinus infections. Elderberry grows all over Missouri, so be sure to gather some this fall for next winter!
Did you know that bees produce more than just honey? Yep, they make propolis too. Propolis is the substance bees use to seal in their hives so it’s super anti-viral and antibacterial. It’s great at fighting the common cold or sore throats. Add it to smoothies or hot tea in place of honey!
- Essential oils
Power to the plants! There are many powerful essential oils for cold and flu treatment, but here are a couple that are easily accessible: Eucalyptus oil has antiviral and antimicrobial properties which have historically been used to treat the common cold. Peppermint oil is used as a natural decongestant and fever-reducer. It’s like a natural VapoRub. Just make sure when applying topically that you dilute well with a carrier oil (such as coconut oil)!
Garlic is a powerful antioxidant with antimicrobial, antiviral and antibiotic properties. Garlic is packed with minerals, enzymes, vitamin C, sulfur, and selenium which all help bust colds and the flu. Enjoy garlic in your meals or eat a clove whole – raw is most powerful! (Added bonus: no vampires!) You can also make garlic honey: roughly chop raw garlic cloves and steep in honey in a closed container for about 4-6 weeks.
If you have a healthy gut, probiotics can help give your immune system a boost. Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut are the best way to naturally realign your gut bacteria for better digestion, energy, mood, and immune defense capabilities.
- Bone Broth
Homemade bone broth can be effective in nourishing the body and helping to fight colds and the flu. Bone broth contains healthy fats, anti-inflammatory amino acids, and a full spectrum of immune supporting vitamins and minerals that are extra easy for your body to digest. Don’t reach for those bouillon cubes though; you have to use the real stuff to get the benefits! Add veggies and a little apple cider vinegar to your broth base to enhance the vitamin and mineral content. [Recipe]
- Epsom salt bath
Add Epsom salt to a hot bath along with some essential oils if you’d like to have a relaxing, detoxifying evening. Again with the osmosis thing, the minerals in the bath cause the toxins in your body to be released in the bath so not only is it relaxing, but it’s good for you too.
Give your body the rest it needs. I’ve learned this lesson many times over, but to really help your body heal you need to sleep as much as your body needs. Don’t just try to push through illness. Your body is working extra hard to fight something, so rest and allow it to recover. If you’re having trouble sleeping, some useful herbs for bedtime are Valerian, lemon balm, passionflower, and lavender.
For more information about natural home remedies, please Contact Us. And remember, please seek the advise of a doctor if your symptoms persist.
Article and research compiled by Cara Ahern.