Well friends, here it is. My favorite home remedies. I didn’t happen upon these by accident- I’ve actually been fortunate in the fact that my family and I are very rarely sick. The only downside is that when we do get sick, it’s almost always with the same thing that gets us (usually allergies for the kids, and some reproductive stuff for me), and our doctor is very hesitant to repeatedly prescribe antibiotics when it’s clear that our systems are not responding to them. In the midst of my fussing that we were going home with nothing to do and no way for me to help them get past being sick, and after him reminding me that sometimes life isn’t fun and we do get sick, he steered me toward some pretty cool ways to knock out symptoms at home, where we don’t have to share our germs with the outside world and where we can recover (hopefully) in peace.
There’s a lot of work being done in the scientific community to understand the effects of using broad-range antibiotics, especially in children, over time. Here is an excellent article detailing one specific study looking at the long-term affects of antibiotics on gut bacteria, but there are a zillion more out there. (You know that HORRIBLE diaper rash that comes with antibiotics for babies? Gut bacteria = out of balance.) In reading through a lot of these articles, I’ve come to agree with my doctor- if we don’t know that their current ailment can be treated with antibiotics (like viral infections, or bacteria that don’t respond to currently available antibiotics), then my children aren’t getting antibiotics. So here are a few of the illnesses that regularly hit our household, along with the usual treatments we go for, when a trip to the doc confirms we have to “wait it out:”
First rule of thumb: LIMIT SUGAR BY ALL MEANS POSSIBLE. Sugar feeds yeast and bacteria, which will essentially undo everything your (or your baby’s) immune system is trying to do. Ever wonder why your kid can’t get well after you’ve been feeding them antibiotics and keeping them hydrated with all the Gatorade he or she can stand? Look at that label. There’s your answer. Now on to more specific illness/remedy pairings:
- Sinus infection: this one is miserable. Green snot everywhere, lots of crying, and usually accompanied by a cough. Everyone hates life when they have these. Remedy: I empty out a capsule of probiotics into a smoothie with lots of greens and local honey (a must for dealing with allergies/sinus attacks). If it’s one of my wee ones that’s suffering, I add the probiotics to a bottle of Ella’s Kitchen Coconut Water with a tablespoon of local honey and a little squirt of lemon juice. I do these twice a day, and we’re better in 24-48 hours. I also use goldenseal, which is an herbal remedy and the world’s oldest and most effective decongestant. 1 drop for every 2 lbs of body weight in water or tea (or breast milk/formula), but a word of caution: it tastes like Golden Grain. Or paint thinner. Because they’re basically the same thing.
- Bad cough: For a dry cough, a vaporizer is a must. But a loose, wet cough, we opt for a diffuser: we use this one, and diffuse doTerra OnGuard and Breathe blends. Remedy: Our doctor introduced us to the herbal tincture ALJ, which is absolutely amazing. For an infant, it can go in a bottle of formula or breastmilk, and for kids and adults, it mixes in with a drink. It tastes like maple syrup, so it may not taste great mixed with your favorite electrolyte beverage. We add ours to a cup of hot cocoa and the kids take it like champs.
- Stomach bug: My children have rarely gotten these. (My boys have actually never had a stomach bug.) But occasionally my girls catch what goes around, or eat something they ought not to, and they are either nauseous or actually throwing up. Not fun. Remedy: Stop all foods and go for liquids. We do NOT do the sports drink thing. Ever. Have you seen how much sugar is in those? We go for coconut water instead, and as they feel better, work in the options for a smoothie. Once we can keep down a smoothie, I’m willing to go for toast with peanut butter, and then we work our way toward their regular foods. They’ve never been down for more than 48 hours, and we’ve never had to have prescribed antibiotics for a tummy situation.
- UTI: These ones are frequent for me- almost entirely around my periods. Once I broke up with tampons (and opted for the menstrual cup instead), I saw drastic improvements (because tampons seriously disrupt the micro biome). But even still, I always fall back on this tried and true course of action. Remedy: 1/2 tsp. baking soda in 6 oz. water. This is absolutely positively the most disgusting thing I have ever drunk. But it works every single time, within a few hours. Aside from the cranberry juice, peeing after sex, and drinking plenty of fluids (all of which are great for prevention but not great for curing a current infection), the baking soda actually helps regulate the pH in your bladder, which ultimately is what allows bad bacteria to thrive or die. And you want them to die and die in a big way.
- Yeast infection: **TMI DISCLAIMER**While we’re on the subject of seriously uncomfortable lady-parts, the yeast infection is another absolute misery. Since we started eating clean I have not really dealt with these, but before, when I ate a lot of processed yuck and TONS of sugar, these were a very unwelcome part of my life. Remedy: Yes. This is gross. Get ready: Probiotics, inserted vaginally at bedtime. You know how monistat has those little ovules that go on an applicator? Same premise, but better for you. Use a sterilized needle to poke a whole in the probiotic capsule (so the probiotic can escape) and insert as far as you can. This usually works overnight the first night, but may have to be repeated a second time. Trust me when I say you absolutely want to do this only at night, and when you will be in your bed all night. It is a tremendous mess if you are up and about at work. Not that I learned that from experience.
- Intestinal drama: Yeah…I couldn’t even bring myself to type the words that go with this one. They’re numerous and all gross. As if hearing about my reproductive stuff wasn’t enough. But whether it’s going too much or not enough, intestinal drama hits most homes pretty hard, and it’s never fun when it does. Remedy: I know you’re tired of hearing it, but…probiotics. Seriously, the gut is one of the largest parts of the micro biome and is absolutely dependent on a healthy balance of bacteria. Cut out sugar, eat lots of greens (which are delicious on a turkey or BBQ sandwich if you are feeling too yucky for a salad), and take 2 probiotics at lunch and dinner to get everything straightened out. Never fails.
So you can see, I really don’t keep a giant medicine cabinet full of essential oils and tincture bottles. It’s just a few things with an overall aim of getting the body back in balance (and not the proverbial balance, but the actual, good-for-you bacterial balance). I’m not insane about sterilizing the hell out of everything and mopping my house down with clorox when someone is sick either- we are helping each other by sharing germs. Not like licking-each-other’s spoons sharing, but breathing-the-same-air and touching-the-same-doorknobs sharing. I count on my children’s immune systems learning from their surroundings, and I’ve been extraordinarily pleased with how that’s turned out.
Here’s the short list of what you’ll ALWAYS find in my medicine cabinet in terms of being prepared for what hits us:
- Probiotics (the Target Up&Up brand works fine for us, and I go for at least 10 Billion CFUs)
- Ella’s Kitchen Organic Coconut Water Electrolyte drink (for the littles)
- Simply Balanced Organic Coconut Water, with pineapple (for the big kids and us)
- Baking soda
- ALJ (Nature’s Sunshine brand- I buy it on Amazon, but you can find it at most health food stores)
- doTerra OnGuard and Breathe
- My asthma medication (because there are always certain things that you absolutely have to have drugs for. And for us, this is one of those thing.)
Not too complicated, right? I’ll add that we stick to clean-eating more so than ever when one of us is sick, because nutrient-dense foods replenish and strengthen an otherwise weakened body, and we try our best to let the sick person rest undisturbed (which is relative in a house like ours). See how these work for you- and if I missed anything (like ear infections), chances are, it’s because we’ve never experienced those and I’ve never had to find a remedy (true story).