Can you believe it’s NOVEMBER? October blew by in flash! Now things will really start to get hairy with the holidays coming up.
And with all the busyness, shorter days, wind, rain, and stress, our immune systems are working over time. It’s more important now than ever that we take time for daily self care practices, eat well, and stay hydrated.
But, even when we do our best to stay healthy by eating healthy, getting adequate sleep, and staying hydrated, sometimes sickness gets the best of us. When that happens I go all out to support my immune system and that is what I wanted to share with you today – how I handle colds at home, using all natural herbs and foods to support my body back to health. Let’s dive right in, I’ve got a lot to share!
Staying hydrated is key to good health no matter the season, but it is especially important when we are sick. These are my favorite herbal teas that I always have a stash of at home (and sometimes in my purse!).
My favorite herbal tea blends for cold support is by Traditional Medicinals. They have a “Seasonal Sampler” box of their best cold care teas that is a great place to start if you are unfamiliar with herbal teas. They really do work! Not only that, but my favorite, Gypsy Cold Care, tastes great too. I often put a bag of Gypsy with a bag of Throat Coat or Breathe Easy for my personal perfect blend.
I also make my own fresh ginger root tea that works wonders for warming us up from the inside out. Here’s how to make it…
- 3-4 cups filtered water
- 2 inch long knob of fresh ginger, sliced
- Raw Honey (optional)
Place water & sliced ginger into a pot and bring up to a fast boil. Reduce heat to simmer and let simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes. This tea can be quite strong so you may wish to add a bit of cool water and honey to make it more palatable for you. I used to dilute and sweeten a bit when I first started drinking it, but now I’ve grown accustomed to the strength and flavor.
This ginger tea is actually great to drink all through fall and winter, even when feeling well. Ginger is a very powerful root that helps to warm the body and tonify the liver (a TCM perspective).
Fun Fact: The liver gives our body a lot of heat. If our livers are sluggish that means we aren’t detoxing as well as we could be and it’s not creating as much heat as it could otherwise.
The last winter we spent in Washington I drank ginger tea religiously and it made a huge difference for me. I used to have a very hard time with being cold constantly, despite my nightly soups and tea drinking, the ginger tea was a lifesaver. I can’t recommend it enough.
Lastly, fresh pressed juice is also a great idea. Just make sure to go easy on the sweet fruits like red apples (opt for Granny Smith instead) or sweet veggies like carrots. Instead of carrots I prefer beets (also great for the liver), and make sure to add in fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, or wheatgrass for an extra kick of nutrients and anti-inflammatory power.
My other go-to tools for sickness are elderberry glycerite, raw apple cider vinegar, and colloidal silver. While colloidal silver isn’t exactly an immune booster, it does kill harmful bacteria and viruses very well. I’ve used it with great success to heal UTIs, yeast infections, and ear infections in my daughter (post coming soon). Hands down my favorite brand for silver is Sovereign Silver. I used to just by the small 4 oz. bottle, but now I swing for the large family size as it doesn’t really go bad and in the long run it’s cheaper to buy the big bottle.
I also really love to use the silver as a nasal mist. You can buy the special bottle for it filled with silver here, or you can just get an empty nasal sprayer bottle (check at your local vitamin/health food store) and fill it up yourself (which I do). I never travel without a small bottle of silver. It’s great for food poisoning too!
Elderberry is well known for it’s immune boosting properties, helping to shorten the duration of sickness. I usually mix in the elderberry and ACV into a juice/water blend for my daughter. I really like Herb Pharm’s Elderberry glycerite. I usually get mine at our local health food store, but Amazon also carries it, and if you have more time to think ahead and restock your cabinet, I would suggest buying from a small business run by an amazing human being, Dan De Lion. His Elderberry Elixir can be found here, and if you have some time, read about him and his classes while you’re there. I found him on Instagram and love his content.
Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is a great idea pretty much any time. I use it for indigestion and immune boosting. The raw enzymes in the vinegar are little powerhouses of wellness. I love the brand Bragg and always have a bottle in my cabinet. If you can’t find Bragg, any type of raw (unpasteurized), unfiltered, organic ACV will do. I believe Trader Joe’s has their own brand that meets that criteria. Go for 1-3 teaspoons in 16 oz (1 pint) of water 2-3 times per day. Add a bit of honey if you must, or just simply cut down the vinegar to 1 tsp per pint of water.
This kind of goes without saying, but any food that you find inflammatory should be avoided during periods of sickness (ideally always). In addition to avoiding inflammatory foods, a high quality probiotic is also a great way to increase your body’s capacity to heal. Approximately 80% of our immune system lies in our gut so a healthy gut is essential to a healthy you.
Digestive enzymes are also a great idea. These are found in raw ACV, kombucha, and fermented foods. There are also some great enzyme/probiotic beverages that you can buy at your local health food store. I love ACV for it’s effectiveness and affordability, but I’ve also been drinking the beet & ginger version of “Gut Shot”, pictured.
This is something I’ve been using for sinus relief since college. Back then I didn’t know about essential oils so I just used hot water, but the essential oils really give it a boost. If you don’t have any EO’s I encourage you to try it anyway, as it does provide relief. You’ll need…
- a large bowl, preferably glass or porcelain and oven safe
- a pot or kettle of boiling water
- eucalyptus, rosemary, or lemon EO (one or all)
- large size bath or beach towel to cover your head
First, gather all your supplies. You don’t want to pour your water into the bowl and then have to run off to get the oils or a towel as you’ll miss out on some of the steam and the water starts to cool as soon as it leaves the pot/kettle. Boil enough water to fill up your bowl about 3/4 of the way full then pour into chosen bowl. Immediately add in 1-4 drops of your chosen essential oil(s). Sit down, cover the back of your head with the towel and lean over the bowl. Make sure to use the towel to trap the steam inside the towel tent you’ve made so you can breathe in all the vapors. You’ll also probably want to keep your eyes closed, especially if using EOs. If you’re using only water this isn’t as important.
Breathe as deeply as you can through your nose, or if you’re really congested, breathe through your mouth letting the heat and oils break up the mucous in your sinuses until you can take a breath through your nose. You should start to experience some drainage pretty quickly. Stay and breathe for 5-10 minutes, making sure to blow your nose very well after your session.
The recipe below is actually kid strength. I’ve been using it on my daughter since she was 2. You can bump up the amount of essential oils in it for adult strength if you wish, but I think the listed amounts are great for adults too. You’ll need…
- 1/2 cup lightly packed beeswax (grated from a block or in pellets)
- 1/2 cup scant coconut oil (refined is fine for this)
- 30-40 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
- 8 drops lavender essential oil
- 4 drops rosemary essential oil
- 4 or 6 oz glass jar
- stainless steel pot used only for beeswax
First let me address the pot. Once you have put beeswax into a pot and melted it, you’ll want to use that pot only for this type of thing. I highly recommend hitting up a thrift store for this purpose. There is no reason to buy a brand new pot for this if you can get one for 1/2 or 1/3 of the price. I like stainless steel because you don’t have to worry about scratching a non-stick coating and dealing with the health hazards that brings.
To make the chest rub…
- Place beeswax and coconut oil in the pot and heat over medium-low heat.
- Keep a close eye on it, stirring with a utensil you don’t mind giving over to the cause, or a chopstick or baking dowel works great too.
- Once both have melted thoroughly, remove pot from heat and let cool for just about 3-5 minutes.
- Pour mixture into your glass jar and immediately add your essential oils, stirring with a chopstick or baking dowel.
- Set aside in a place where it won’t get knocked over and let cool completely before placing the lid on.
If you live in a very cold climate, you might want to cut back the beeswax by ~2 tablespoons. This will help it stay softer and easier to apply. If you live in a warm climate, leave it as is. If you’d rather not risk changing the recipe, it does work just fine as is for cold climates, just rub a finger or two around the top to get it to soften up a bit before applying.
This jar should last for quite a while! If you have more than one child it will go faster, of course, but I’ve been using the same jar of chest rub on my daughter for years and it’s just now running out. I did add a few more drops of EO over time since the mix is so old, but it works great!
- Humidifier – especially if you live in a cold climate, indoor air tends to get very dry in the winter. Cold mist is recommended for children’s rooms.
- Rest, rest, and more rest.
- Stay warm – especially when you’re out and about it’s important to cover your throat and neck. Keep the warmth and energy in with a scarf.
That’s all I have for you today 🙂 I know there are many, many home remedies for colds and the flu, but these are what work for us. I hope you’ve found something useful here today. If you have, please share it for others to enjoy as well.
Wishing you all a very blessed and very healthy holiday season. ♥
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