Got the stomach virus? How about a nasty cold or scary flu? The fact of the matter is that “flu season” in general sucks and we have to be in full alert, supermom mode keeping our and our kiddies’ immune systems in tip top shape to prevent illness from spreading throughout the house. Most of the time, unless you keep yourself locked away from the rest of humanity all winter, that nasty, sneaky bug will reach your family inevitably. But here is my ultimate guide to making sure its stay is short and as painless as possible:
1. The Most important thing is SLEEP
Even a couple nights of interrupted or not enough sleep can leave the body worn down and unable to resist illness. Make sure everyone in your family is getting enough sound sleep to keep up the production of healthy infection-fighting antibodies and cells (which is drastically reduced when you don’t get enough sleep). The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is 7-8 hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need 9-10 hours of sleep. School-aged children need 10 or more hours of sleep.
2. Clean Your Ears
As crazy as it sounds, the ear canals are the most susceptible to germ attacks (more so than the mouth and nose). So at the first signs of a cold (or flu, earache, etc.) put a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ears while lying down. If you hear it bubbling, you know that something is being disinfected! I do this for myself and my husband, but just gently wipe the inside of the ear canals clean with a hydrogen peroxide soaked Q-tip for my kids and SWEAR by it.
3. Oregano Yourself Like a Pizza Pie.
The next best thing is Oregano tablets or rubbing the bottoms of your feet with (properly diluted) Oregano Essential Oil before applying socks to kill any bacteria/virus in your body. Oregano oil is a potent natural antibiotic and antiviral. When 5-6 drops are put in a glass of water and gargled, it can stop a sore throat in its tracks (but do not ingest!). When rubbed on the skin, it can be absorbed and will help the body fight infection immediately. The most effective way, however is to inhale either through diffusing the oil, using a netipot or even adding a few drops (along with Eucalyptus, Cinnamon, Rosemary and Lemon Essential Oils [you may hear of the popular essential oil blend named “Thieves” thrown around as well]) to a hot steamy shower or humidifier.
4. Supplements Really Do Work.
A boost of infection-fighting supplements will help you out when paired with healthy diet and sleep practices. For example, Vitamin D is an amazingly effective antimicrobial agent, producing 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Studies show that zinc reduces the duration of a cold by 50% because of its antibody production and antimicrobial action in your gut. We all know the benefits of Echinacea, Vitamin C and other high antioxidants for our immune system, and don’t forget about the revered Elderberry Syrup and Cod Liver Oils as well. We want to reduce oxidative stress and assist our bodies in fighting off the viruses and bacteria with it’s own defenses.
5. Clean Out Your Gut.
At the first sign of any illness, completely remove all hard to digest foods from your diet. This includes anything inflammatory–sugar, juices, sodas, white flour, processed foods, milk, cheeses, dairy products, etc. These foods suppress your immune system because your body is working hard to digest junk instead of working hard fighting off the bug. This may sound nuts, but sometimes the best antidote to any illness (cold, flu, virus… and especially a fever!) is a coffee enema. This literally is like hitting a reset button for your intestinal tract, flushing the illness causing bacteria, yeast, etc. out of your gut. We all want to make sure our bodies are functioning at peak performance if they do encounter a virus or bacteria, so taking extra probiotics would also facilitate max gut immunity as well.
So What Can You Eat?
- Lots of quality Water!! Hydration is key so stay away from diuretics at this time
- Bone broths (Grandma was right, after all: Chicken soup is good for a cold, not just the soul; it’s known as Jewish Penicillin for a reason)
- Fresh Brewed Teas are okay, just make sure there is no sugar added– steeped fresh ginger or peppermint, stinging nettle, chamomile and elderflower)
- Homemade Elixir of Ginger, Honey, Lemon + hot water
- Another Homemade Elixir of Cinnamon and Honey + hot water
- This awesome alkalizing apple cider drink from the OrganicMomma.com
- Cook light foods with lots of Onions, Garlic, Oregano, Thyme (which are naturally antibacterial)
- Shiitake Mushrooms are actually VERY naturally antibacterial as well
- Green juice that’s easily digested and with as many nutrient-dense combinations as possible
- If you are nursing wee little ones, the best thing you can do for them is keep on breastfeeding
6. DIY Decongestants to Help Fight the Cold:
Like I said, sometimes you can’t help but fall victim to the bug. Here are my favorite ways to help the family heal quickly:
- Homemade Saline Drops: Dissolve ¼ teaspoon of sea salt into 4 ounces of water. Put a few drops into each nostril as needed to break up a stuffy nose.
- Saltwater Gargle: Dissolve 1 teaspoon salt into a glass of very warm water and gargle to help a soar throat.
- Homemade Vicks Vapor Rub: Whip ½ cup of warm coconut oil and ¼ cup of shea butter (or melted beeswax pastilles– this part just thickens it) with 25 drops each of eucalyptus essential oil and peppermint essential oil. Cool in an airtight jar until it hardens. Rub on chest as needed. NOTE: For children 3 and under, only use eucalyptus and lavender oils in this vapor rub, and use only half the amount of drops of essential oils (dilution rate for young kids is usually .5% solution (meaning, one drop of essential oil per 2 teaspoons of carrier). Peppermint is not recommended for children under the age of 3 as a safety precaution.
- Neti Pot/Face Steam: I like to take hot steamy showers for the full effect of inhaling steam, as well as a humidifier in the kids rooms. However you can also use a neti pot like this one or drape a towel over your head as you lean over a pot of warmed liquid. Infusing the water with infection fighting herbs like thyme, rosemary and oregano boost its effectiveness. Breathe in the steam as long as you can, aim for 15 minutes, to loosen congestion and kill viruses and bacteria in the lungs, bronchials or sinuses. Note: It won’t smell good, but you can use 1/2 cup vinegar in the steam to help fight off illness as well.
- Colloidal Silver Nasal spray: Created using electrolysis to suspend pure, metallic elemental silver in distilled water, this substance has been used for hundreds of years to treat infections
I’m not even exaggerating when I say that I swear by each and every one of these methods. Hope these methods help you prevent or fight off a cold or flu ASAP this winter. Be well, mamas!
*Disclaimer: The post is meant to provide the best possible information regarding my personal experience with natural health practices. I am not a doctor or M.D. so this information should not replace professional advice by a qualified medical or herbal practitioner. Always use your own discretion or visit your doctor for diagnosis/treatment of any serious illness. *