This month we'll talk about what natural remedies you may want in your medicine closet in anticipation of winter, cold and flu season.
There are two months out of the year when sickness is most prevalent. One is in September when children go back to school and begin to interact. In the growth of their immune systems, their bodies take new and varied bacterias that each one uniquely carries and "share" it in their interactions together. There are good reasons to have this take place. Most importantly is that as they begin to contract viruses and add it to their onboard antibodies, they build up immunity so that they are less susceptible in the future. If we don't get panicky and fearful about these viruses running their course but treat for sustaining their bodies through the process, we help them to be strengthened healthwise naturally. If we choose to over vaccinate so that our children no longer get an opportunity to build their own immunity, we potentially make them weaker healthwise. A great book to use as a reference if you have young children is The Vaccine Friendly Plan by Paul Thomas M.D. and Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D. They present a science based strategy for keeping children healthy and helping strengthen their immune systems while navigating the new viruses that are appearing on the horizon.
The other time of year that sickness is more prevalent is right after the Christmas/New Year holidays. This, along with Thanksgiving are the times when we spend time eating with friends and family and bring along our best baked and sugary treats of the season. The consistent and added sugars for a month's time adds to the vulnerability of our immune systems because sugar is truly a toxic substance - processed with 6 or 8 of the most toxic compounds in the world, like bleach, newspaper bluing, etc. Better to find substitutes for the sugar sweeteners in our baked products with honey, maple syrup, monk fruit, stevia, coconut sugars …. And stay away from sugar substitutes and additives like aspartame. Their chemical structure is just as bad as processed sugar. Even diabetics would do well to stay away from the side effects of these not so good substitutes. Aspartame even makes you more thirsty as in sugar free soda sweeteners causing you to want to drink more.
So what kinds of natural medicines do we want to have available to us when the need arises without running to the Pharmacy? There are many over the counter products that are available that are recognized therapies for common viral and cold symptoms. Take elderberry syrup for example. First produced in Israel and brought to the world as Sambuca, it is scientifically proven to be more effective for the flu than Tamiflu, a commonly prescribed flu therapy. It is easily made if you have access to elderberries and most pharmacies as well as health food stores have it. It is high in vitamin C so we keep a gallon jar of homemade syrup in our frig all winter; and take a shot of it each day as preventative maintenance. It is yummy and appealing to kids' tastebuds.
There are numerous tinctures that I would recommend to have on hand. Because they are mostly infused in alcohol, they have a long shelf life and will sustain you through the winter, and if not used up, continue to sustain you up to 2 years. I always recommend that you get 2 oz or larger bottles. During a season of sickness it is better to have more than you need than not enough. Depending on your household and what you can anticipate, I would recommend some of the following tinctures:
Echinacea - a blood cleaner and immune booster, as well as a strep killer. Use preventatively in elderly or compromised folks once a day, 2 weeks on and 1 week off from September to May. At the first sign of scratchy throat or sniffles, take a double dose and take 3x a day until symptoms subside. If you are needing to use other cold remedies like mullein or elder, continue with the echinacea and they work well together. Mixed in water in a spritzer bottle, you can spritz the back of the throat each hour until strep throat symptoms are gone.
Mullein - A mild expectorant that soothes lungs and helps cough up phlegm.
Goldenseal or Gold Thread - They both contain berberine which is one of our best herbal anti-bacterials. You can use topically (be careful it stains) or take internally for infection, stomach ulcers or bugs, and virus symptoms.
Astragalus - immune, antiaging, antiinflammatory, fatigue, allergies, colds, diabetes, strengthens heart Can be taken as tincture or in soup as described below
Tea: Bitter herb teas - they will help your liver detox and filter out toxic substances
Kloss's Linament - an age old herbal remedy that is antibacterial, both topically & internally,
Good for scrapes, sore muscles, open wounds, internal infections, bug bites, swellings, bruises, gum disease, canker sores, poison ivy and much more. (I have included a recipe below in the newsletter)
Elderberry syrup - great antiviral and preventative, keep a large bottle in your frig
Zinc losenges - often a good way to arrest a cold as it begins. Zinc helps strengthen ability to fight off colds and when contacting the back of the throat will sooth and heal soreness
Tumeric - anti-inflammatory
Ginger, Cinnamon, cloves - the "warming" spices that increase body heat and are immune boosters
Garlic & onion - Anti-bacterials, the stronger the better
Apple Cider Vinegar - detoxifier, immune booster, enzyme enhancer, combined with honey and/or cayenne (Fire Cider) Another daily tonic blend to keep in your frig
Honey, Pollen & Propolis - anti viral and allergy deterent as well as immune enhancers
Sage - create a strong tea out of dried leaves and gargle with it for sore throats and tooth pain
Thyme - Simmer on a stovetop and breath to break up a sinus infection. Include in cold remedies and meals along with rosemary for immune boosting
Astragalus - Simmer strips of bark in your soups and stews and then take them out before serving. An extraordinary boost to immune and nervous system
Mushrooms - turkey tails, reishi, shitake, chaga can be tinctures or brewed into tea to increase immune resistance and help the stress response
Eucalyptus, camphor, thyme, rosemary for clearing sinus congestion and bronchitus
Lavender - antibacterial, antiviral, stops bleeding
Geranium - applied topically over sorethroat area, will stop soreness in about 15 minutes
These are just a few of the first response items you can have ready in your home. Know your family's specific issues and purchase products that will address those issues to have ready. Winter is the time when sickness is most common. Plan ahead. Especially now when items are hard to get, stock up or make your own. AND find some holiday recipes that are low on sugar or can be made with natural products. You will be glad you did come January when others are battling colds and flus and your family is staying healthy.
3 John 2: “I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”
Over 40 years of Herbal and nutritional experience.