As I mentioned before, we started school last week! I now have a kindergartner and a third grader. This is always a stressful time. We’re trying to get everything they need for school, we’re worried about who will or won’t be in their classes, we’re hoping they like their teacher and vice versa, and we’re all trying to adjust to a new schedule. So as it so happens every year… I get sick. Why? Because stress lowers our immune system’s ability to fight off germs and infections.
Beyond stress, I feel like going back to school is like sending my kids into cesspool of the Black Plague. Seriously!! Have you ever spent a day in a Kindergarten class room? I don’t think so many germs have been passed since Woodstock!
So between all these factors, I doubt I’m the only mom who gets sick when school starts. And I’m sure there are a lot of kids who get sick the first few weeks of school as well.
Because I’m not a huge fan of pumping myself and my kids full of drugs every time they have a stuffy nose, we’ve done a lot of experimentation with natural remedies for colds. The results have been great. We rarely get sick and when we do, it’s rare it stays around for too long. We all know the basic things like wash your hands, drink water, and take vitamin C, but there may be some things you haven’t thought of.
This stuff really works! It’s packed with vitamins, echinacea and zinc, all of which have been shown to help prevent and shorten colds. My kids aren’t big fans of the fizzy drink so if your kids are like mine, Airborne comes in a gummy version. In fact, my kids often pretend sickness to get an Airborne vitamin. Or if my daughter falls and scrapes her knee, I can make out the words, “Airborne!” amid sobs of pure agony. But if you can convince them to drink it, this is preferable. One; the vitamins have a lot more sugar than the drink, and two; the more liquid you can get down them (or you), the better.
2. Emergen-C Immune +
Like Airborne, this fizzy drink is packed with Vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc. Plus, it gives you energy which helps when you’re feeling a bit sick. This comes in several flavors and even a hot apple cider version. I like the taste of Emergen-C better than Airborne, but it has more sugar (which is probably why I like the taste better…) They also have a kid’s version. I can get my daughter to drink this, but not my son (but I can’t get him to eat chicken so…).
3. Essential oils
I personally use DoTerra oils because I feel I can trust where they came from but there are a lot of oil options out there. I’m not going to try to sell you DoTerra because I’m not so much into that, but I do love several of the oils. When we’re sick, we make a capsule with oregano, OnGuard (similar to Thieves in Young Living and has things like clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary), lemon and Melaluca (tea tree oil). A warning, if you don’t know much about where your oils came from, I wouldn’t take them internally. You can pretty much trust DoTerra and Young Living, but I can’t vouch for any other brands. My kids are a bit young to swallow a capsule so I blend this with a little coconut oil and rub it on their feet and spine. This blend is great to knock out colds if you catch it early. If not, it helps you get over it more quickly. If we are sick, I also rub some Mentholatum on our chests and feet with some peppermint and eucalyptus oil mixed in. This is also great to add to an oil diffuser at night by your bed.
4. Epsom Salt Baths
Fill a tub with hot water and let 2 cups epsom salt dissolve. Soak for at least 20 minutes. This helps rid your body of toxins and pollution. Plus, when you feel horrible a bath always helps. I highly recommend reading while in the tub for maximum detoxification. Okay, not really. But reading in the tub is fun whether it helps you get over your cold or not.
5. Avoid sugar!
I know I constantly preach about how sugar is the devil and needs to be avoided, but this is extra true when you have a cold. Sugar hurts your already weakened immune system, which we definitely don’t want. This is hard because a lot of “cold remedies” like juice, cough drops, etc are packed with sugar so read your labels.
6. Speaking of juice, pick a smoothie over juice.
My rule with smoothies is, only add as much fruit as you would eat whole in one sitting. So if a smoothie boasts that it contains the juice of 12 oranges… it’s probably not a good choice unless you’re the kind of person who sits down and eats 12 oranges. If you are; stop it. The great thing about smoothies is they can mask other tastes. I’ll make my kids smoothies with half a banana and a few strawberries, and add in nut butter, spinach, collagen protein, echinacea and whatever other veggies or herbs I feel so inclined to at the moment. This also gives them fat, protein and carbohydrate at a time when they may not feel up to eating solid food. It’s also much easier on a sore throat.
This can sound strange since I just told you to avoid sugar, but honey is like a magical food. It’s seriously so versitile and, here’s a plus, DELICOUS! When we’re sick, we eat a spoonful of raw honey. Not that lame stuff that comes in the bear, but real, raw, honey. It’s creamy, thick and sweet. Honey is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and feels amazing on a sore throat. It also works great as a cough suppressant. Plus, my kids jump at the chance for a spoonful of honey. I’m pretty sure that’s what Mary Poppins was singing about when she sang “a spoonful of sugar.”
8. Lemon water
We all know we need to drink a ton of water when we’re sick, but boost the benefits of water by squeezing in some lemon juice. Lemon juice helps detox the body. And when you’re sick, you’re full of toxins. Some people drink it hot, but I like it cold. When you’re sick, you should drink as much water as you can stand. Heck, I’m on day one of this cold and I think I’ve already gone to the bathroom more today than I did all of last week. Day 1: success.
9. Lemon herbal tea with honey
Here we combine the benefits of lemon water and honey. This combination always soothes my sore throat. Plus, it’s another form of liquid.
Elderberry, also referred to as Sambucol, is known to shorten the length of colds and flu. I usually buy it in throat drops, which taste amazing and help soothe my throat. As a plus side, all the elderberry drops I find also contain Zinc, which can also shorten colds.
This may sound strange, but it’s amazing how many of our problems originate in our gut. If your gut is healthy, the rest of your body is likely to be as well. So if you treat the gut well, the rest of the body will follow.
Now for my customary disclaimer. I know I said I don’t like to pump my kids full of drugs, but I’m not dumb. If my kid has a fever of 103, I’m going to give them acetaminophen or ibuprofen. I remember being a part of an essential oil chat group once and a mom posted the question, “My son cut his arm and is bleeding severely. What oil can I use for that?” REALLY? GET OFF THE COMPUTER AND TAKE HIM TO THE HOSPITAL! So while I always try to go the natural route first, I’m going to turn to modern medicine if things get too bad.
Hopefully the next time you or your kids feel a cold coming on (okay and your spouse. Especially if your spouse is a man because… man colds. Enough said), this will help you out. And please, if you have any additional remedies post them below. I’m always looking for new ideas.