GAPS™ Diet · Healthy Environment · Natural Healing

Stay Healthy This Flu Season – Naturally!

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When it comes to discussing natural solutions and treatments to common ailments like the cold and the flu (and general wellness and illness prevention), there are many differing opinions: some supporting modern medicine with its frequent antibiotic use, over-the-counter medications, and other treatments; some who avoid conventional medicine at all cost and instead turn to natural remedies and traditional healing; and many in the middle, who will use modern medicine as needed but who are looking for a more natural solution (with less side effects!) to keep their family healthy.

Regardless of what your beliefs in this regard are, I hope that you enjoy the information presented here and take away something new that you can implement to help your family stay healthier naturally! Many of the things that I will discuss are age-old remedies that were once used by our great-grandparents, before the invention of Walgreens, cough syrup, and walk-in clinics.

This information was presented in an online class that I offered last month, and I have compiled it here for future reference. You will find many tips that you can easily implement in your daily life and products that you can make at home to help support your immune system and make this your healthiest winter ever!

 

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A History of How I Ended Up Here

Six years ago, I was a very typical person living in America. I ate fast food when I wanted to, I shopped on a budget (meaning I looked at the price and never at the ingredients), I slept here and there around my busy schedule and drank lots of coffee to survive, I had two toddlers who were picky eaters and frequently sick … and I had a cabinet stocked full of over-the-counter medications, my favorite being the purple grape-flavored Tylenol (and of course, the jumbo sized economy tub of Tylenol tablets for us adults). I bought canned Campbell’s chicken soup (well, the generic form of it) when we were sick and bought Jello, Sprite and saltine crackers for those cases of the stomach flu.

And then my oldest son was diagnosed with autism in April of 2010. This changed EVERYTHING about how I looked at everything. As we started to “clean up” his diet and saw huge improvements in his behavior and speech, I became a pro at reading labels and researching ingredients. And as my boys continued to develop new food and chemical sensitivities, I had to learn how to avoid more and more things. The Jello we used to eat on occasion? Now food dyes caused my son to break out in hives and eczema. Giving him Benadryl would cause him to have absence seizures, so I didn’t even have that to fall back on. That Tylenol that was our go-to staple for fevers and after vaccinations? I learned the truth about Tylenol and how it depletes the glutathione in us, one of our body’s key antioxidants (learn more about Tylenol and glutathione here: www.yourhealthyhomebody.com/2014/07/22/essential-oils-transitioning-toward-health/ ).

While we were definitely eating and living healthier than we had been before the autism diagnosis, the boys were still frequently sick. Their diet may have been gluten and dairy free, but it was filled with processed sugars and starches, lots of sweets, and other things that were not very healthy for them (I continued to use some dye-free versions of over-the-counter medications and I had not done anything to change our cleaning supplies. Most of our personal care products were gluten free but still filled with chemicals). After my oldest son required surgery and then started spiraling downward again, and we had one of the worst winters for sickness the boys had ever experienced (they were sick from September to May, with the flu, croup, and one cold or illness after another), I decided it was time to look for an alternative to what we were currently doing. Because obviously it was not working.

We started the GAPS Diet, which emphasized healing, healthy foods and removing toxic chemicals from our diets and our home. Illness were supported naturally. This led me to look more deeply into the power of food, herbs, essential oils, and other remedies to help support our immune systems. This helped to PREVENT illnesses as our bodies were stronger and able to fight them off easier, and it also helped to support us if we did become ill.
The result? A much healthier family! And so, I want to share some of the tips and strategies we use with you.

PREVENTION IS KEY

One of THE MOST important things when it comes to illness is to THINK PREVENTION FIRST. So many of us just live our lives, not paying much attention to our health, until we’re down and sick and then we’re looking for something that will give us relief at any cost.
The thing is, if we support our health daily, our body and our immune system will be stronger, able to fight off any invader in our body and help to KEEP us healthy. And when we do become sick, we are able to recover much more quickly and avoid severe complications.

So, first of all, let’s talk some strategies for KEEPING HEALTHY and DAILY PREVENTION:

• Getting enough sleep and managing stress
• Watching what we eat
• Daily probiotic and fermented foods
• Vitamin D and the sun
• Mushrooms
• Garlic
• Elderberry syrup
• Apple cider vinegar
• Vitamin C
• Zinc
• Green Tea
• Coconut oil
• Essential oils

Some of these interventions will overlap a little with what we can do when we are sick, as many of them are also good to increase while sick. So I’ll add additional tips in some sections for sick care. Also, this is by no means an exhaustive list, just some suggestions for things to look into!

 

Getting enough sleep and managing stress

When you first read this, did you laugh out loud? (You probably did if you’re a mom … admit it!) On a more serious note, as a society we are extremely sleep deprived and extremely stressed out.

This is HORRIBLE for our body, as evidenced by the growing number of people with chronic illness, obesity, and general health concerns.

Sleep is important on so many different levels, as our body uses that time to repair itself, detoxify, sort and file information in our brain, and so much more. When we are sleep deprived, we also tend to be more stressed out, as our body is able to tolerate less stimulus and cannot think as clearly or as quickly as it would fully rested.

Lack of sleep and stress in our lives cause an increase in the level of cortisol in our body, also known as our “stress hormone” or our “death hormone” (cortisol accelerates aging … Have you ever said after a stressful situation, “That gave me grey hair”?) This also causes us to gain weight around our waist, raises our blood pressure and other negative impacts on our body … and suppresses our immune system. A suppressed immune system cannot fight invaders that it faces daily as well as an immune system that is fully functioning and flourishing. And so we become ill more frequently and stay ill longer. We are also more susceptible to complications of common illnesses.

So, how can we change this?

• Get more sleep. (There’s just no way around this one.) I tried for years to survive on very little sleep, and eventually it catches up to you. Now, I work very hard to try to get to sleep by 10pm (11pm at the latest) and wake up around 7am in the morning. Taking naps if possible instead of just refueling with caffeine is also very helpful for your health and your immune system.

• Stress less. Now, you may be thinking: “My life is stressful!! And it’s completely out of my hands!!” It’s true, there are some things (like health concerns in the family, financial concerns, family situations, etc.) that may be out of our control. However, we can control our REACTION to stressful situations. When we tend to stress less and have more positive coping mechanisms, we can actually control our body’s physical response to stress. (For more information on the effect of stress on the body, see www.adrenalfatiguesolution.com/stress-immune-system/ )

• Another tool that I’ve added to help with my body’s response to stress is Idaho balsam fir essential oil. This essential oil helps to reduce the level of cortisol in our body, which can be very helpful for when we cannot control a stressful situation or our response to it. It also can be helpful for children with special needs who may live in a chronic “fight or flight” state and have high cortisol levels as a result of this. There are also other essential oils that can help promote a calm and relaxed state (like lavender, spruce, and cedarwood, among others). (Here is a PubMed study showing the positive effects of bergamot essential oil on cortisol levels and mood: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25824404 ) (They have also done studies on orange essential oil and stress levels during dental procedures: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23930255 )

• I added EXERCISE to this section because it is not only a wonderful way to manage stress but it is also great for boosting the immune system. Looking for ways to get moderate exercise on a daily basis (or most days) is an important tool to use for wellness. Its importance cannot be overemphasized. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007165.htm

 

Watching what we eat

This is another tricky one, especially in our modern society where our diet is one of convenience, not nutrition. However, our body is what is paying for our fast food lifestyle. Processed carbs, trans fats, and the multitude of chemicals present in our food all wreak havoc on our immune system. Around 80% of our immune system is within our gut wall: hence, what we eat plays a direct role in the health of our immune system.

I am not advocating that you go out tonight and make a complete 180 degree change in your diet (but if you’d like to, feel free!) What is important is taking small steps in the right direction. Here are a couple of things to look at in terms of keeping healthy:

• SUGAR: In 2012, more than 50% of all Americans consumed ½ pound of sugar a day – that equals 180 pounds of sugar a year! Refined white sugar is so processed and nutritional devoid that it should be referred to as an industrial product instead of food. While sugar has been referred to as “white death” and has many ill effects on our body in general, we want to consider the part sugar plays in our keeping healthy this winter or not: sugar leaves us nutritionally deprived, takes molecules of such minerals as magnesium to process it (leaving us deficient and at risk), and has a direct suppressing effect on the cells in our immune system that attack bacteria and viruses. (www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/family-nutrition/sugar/harmful-effects-excess-sugar )

• PROCESSED FOODS: When a food is processed, it often loses much of its nutritional value in the process, leaving it tasteless, colorless, and ugly. To make processed foods more appealing, supplemental vitamins and minerals are added back to the finished product, along with artificial flavor enhancers and artificial dyes and colors. While the finished product may look and taste good enough that we continue to buy it (plus the added chemicals and loads of sugar that are added to the product which are designed to make us crave it), our body does not recognize these artificial vitamins. Our body is designed to absorb nutrients from whole, real foods; so, processed foods not only add to the toxic burden in our body, but they also leave us malnourished. (“Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride)

DAILY PROBIOTIC AND FERMENTED FOODS

We just discussed how closely the immune system and digestive system are connected. Some refer to the digestive system as the “cradle” of the immune system. The beneficial flora (microorganisms) in our digestive system play a DIRECT role in our immune health. Here are some tips for keeping your digestive system (and thus your immune system) healthy:

• Take a daily probiotic. If you are taking an antibiotic, take a probiotic at least two hours away from the time you take the antibiotic. This helps to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system, which play a very important role in your overall health. To learn more about the importance of probiotics and for some recommendations on which probiotic to choose, please visit: www.yourhealthyhomebody.com/2014/08/13/why-probiotics/

• Eat fermented foods. While taking a daily probiotic is important, it does have limitations. For one, it usually can only travel through the stomach and at most, reach the very beginning of the large intestine or colon. On the other hand, fermented foods have the ability to travel throughout the entire digestive tract, providing health benefits along the way. Also, while the average probiotic may contain 1-2 billion cells per serving, fermented foods may contain several TRILLION cells per serving. An example of this is sauerkraut, which can contain ten trillion bacteria in a 4-6 oz. serving!)

Here are some recipes for fermented foods that you can easily make at home:

Sauerkraut
How to ferment
Beet kvass
Kimchi
Water kefir

There are also several Facebook groups, like Wild Fermentation, that are wonderful for finding new recipes for fermented foods. I also recommend the book by Sandor Katz entitled “Wild Fermentation”, which is good for beginners and fermentation pros alike.

VITAMIN D and the SUN

For those of us in the northern part of the world right now, we probably aren’t getting a lot of this lately, and it will only get worse as winter progresses. Vitamin D is very important for maintaining our health and the health of our immune system. (See this study “Vitamin D and the Immune System” www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/#!po=0.649351 )

So, since vitamin D is so important to staying healthy, but one of the best sources of vitamin D is from the sun, how do we get enough vitamin D in the wintertime? Here are a few ways:

• Vitamin D sources from food, from highest to least: cod liver oil, herring, oysters, catfish, sardines, mackerel, salmon, caviar, shrimp, butter, and egg yolks. Beef liver and cheese also contain vitamin D.

• Get some sunshine on bright sunny winter days. Bundling up but leaving some skin exposed while enjoying winter activities is another way to boost your vitamin D intake a little. (At some latitudes and for some people, it is very difficult if not impossible to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight due to the lack of UV-B rays). In any case, it’s a great way to fight winter blues (and get some fresh air)!

• Take a vitamin D supplement (you are looking for vitamin D3, NOT vitamin D2). Taking your supplement along with a meal containing fat may help your body to absorb and process it better.

• Take cod liver oil. Cod liver oil contains high amounts of vitamin D along with vitamin A (a wonderful antioxidant) in the right proportions so that we do not overdose on either. Plus, cod liver oil is a fat, so it helps to assist our body in converting vitamin D to a useable form. There are two types of cod liver oil recommended by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, founder of the GAPS Diet: Green Pastures fermented cod liver oil (www.greenpastures.org) and Rosita’s extra virgin cod liver oil (www.evclo.com)

• We also use Vitamin D during the winter that our body has stored up during the summer months.

MUSHROOMS

OK, this one I must admit I’m still slowly working on. I attended a seminar last May on the benefits of mushrooms for medicinal use, and while I found it fascinating, the biggest change so far that I’ve done is adding some shiitake mushrooms into our diet. This is still a huge improvement from the girl I used to be who loved those canned mushrooms that you’d buy from Aldi’s. (Mmm … they were great on an omelet with lots of processed American “cheese”!!)

Seriously, though, adding mushrooms into your diet is a wonderful idea, not only for the immune system benefits, but for so many other reasons, including cancer prevention. Try googling it! For the sake of time and staying on track, though, we will just discuss the benefits that mushrooms can offer to our health, wellbeing and our immune system.

Here are some mushrooms and the benefits they offer:

• Shiitake: used to treat stomach and other cancers, protects the liver, relieves stomach ailments like hyperacidity, gallstones, and ulcers, and has strong antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It can also help to stabilize blood sugar and lower cholesterol.

• Reishi: nicknamed the “mushroom of immortality”; antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and helps with immune system up-regulation.

• Cordyceps, turkey tail, and himematsutake: Less commonly known, but with amazing benefits.

** I highly recommend looking into Dr. Mercola’s article on mushrooms here: www.articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/12/31/organic-mushrooms-for-immune-support.aspx and researching mushrooms further. It’s definitely on my to-do list! They hold amazing health benefits.

GARLIC

Garlic is AMAZING!!! It helps to prevent and reduces the severity of the common cold and flu, and is known to boost the function of the immune system.

One large study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% compared with placebo. (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11697022) The average length of cold symptoms was also reduced by 70%, from 5 days in the placebo group to just 1.5 days in the garlic group.

Another study found that a high dose of garlic extract can reduce the number of days sick with cold or flu by 61%. (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22280901)

The minimum effective dose for therapeutic effects is one clove eaten with meals, two to three times a day. The best way to eat garlic is raw, or to crush it/cut it and leave it out for a while before you add it to recipes. I love to dice garlic and add it to butter for homemade garlic bread. Also, adding garlic to every dish I make has become natural.

Here are a couple more ways to add garlic into your daily routine:

Honey Infused Garlic
Pickled Garlic

ELDERBERRY SYRUP

This is one of the key tools in my natural medicine cabinet to help us stay well throughout the winter. Elderberries have a long use throughout history for their immune supportive properties and health benefits. One of my favorite natural bloggers (and I have several) is Wellness Mama. You can check out her article about the benefits of elderberries and her recipe for elderberry syrup at this link: www.wellnessmama.com/5913/elderberries-herb-profile/

The recipe that I use for elderberry syrup is very similar to the one that Wellness Mama makes. I add in essential oils like cinnamon, clove, rosemary, lemon, eucalyptus, and frankincense for the additional health benefits that they offer.

We take a spoon of elderberry syrup daily for the boost it provides our immune system (the boys take 1 tsp. each and I take 1 Tbs. daily). If I start to feel a sore throat or sniffles coming on, then I will take my daily dose every 2-3 hours until I feel the symptoms starting to pass. I will also give the boys this extra dose as needed.

You can watch the video below for an explanation of how I make my elderberry syrup. 😀

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

Taking apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning can have many health benefits. The unique acids in apple cider vinegar can bind to toxins and help to eliminate them from the body; it can also aid in detoxification of the liver. Apple cider vinegar helps to break up mucous throughout the body and cleanse the lymph nodes allowing for better lymph circulation. This can help the body to remove toxins from cells better and improve immune system response. Apple cider vinegar can help with indigestion, GI discomfort, and promote digestion as well.

Many claim that apple cider vinegar helps them to stay healthy. This may have to do with the blend of vitamins, minerals and enzymes in apple cider vinegar, and the antimicrobial and antiseptic properties it possesses.

Apple cider vinegar can be taken first thing in the morning and/or before meals, 1-3 tsp. in a glass of water. It can also be added to hot water with honey as a tea.

As apples are one of the most pesticide-laden fruits, it is important to buy organic apple cider vinegar and ensure that it is unfiltered so that it contains all of the necessary nutritional value. We like to use Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, as it is raw, organic, unfiltered, and includes the “mother” (the hazy, floating particles within the vinegar or what settles to the bottom).

VITAMIN C

When I used to start getting a cold, I started hitting the Tropicana orange juice hard … as in, a gallon or more of it. While I felt that drinking it was helping because I was getting loads of vitamin C, I was also counteracting any immune supportive benefits from the vitamin C by the massive dose of sugar I was taking in. Sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria.

So, how to get the vitamin C then? Here are some ideas:

• Remember the sauerkraut we talked about earlier? Not only is it loaded with probiotics that can help to activate our immune system, sauerkraut is also high in vitamin C. While a cup of cabbage contains 30mg of vitamin C, a cup of sauerkraut can contain as much as 700mg of vitamin C (compared to a cup of orange juice which contains 124mg of vitamin C).

• There are also several foods that are high in vitamin C, like certain berries, broccoli, greens like kale, and peppers.

• There are also several vitamin C supplements available that can help to boost immunity. We like to take buffered vitamin C powder as it is gentler on the digestive system.

ZINC

Healthy blood levels of zinc have been shown to be important to the normal functioning of the immune system. People who are deficient in zinc may experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens. Even a mild zinc deficiency adversely effects immune cell functions in the body. (A study linked here showed that zinc deficiency caused an imbalance between TH1 and TH2 functions. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9823012)

Making sure to have adequate amounts of zinc throughout the winter months can help keep the immune system functioning at an optimal level. Here are ways to increase your zinc intake:

• Foods rich in zinc, top ten from highest to lowest: seafood (oysters, followed by crab and lobster), beef and lamb, toasted wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin and squash seeds, nuts (cashews), cocoa and chocolate, pork and chicken, cooked mung beans, and white mushrooms.

• Zinc supplement

• Check out this article for more information about how to obtain zinc from our food, the importance of maintaining healthy levels of zinc in the body, and how to choose a zinc supplement: www.products.mercola.com/zinc-supplements/

GREEN TEA

Green tea has many health-promoting benefits, including helping decrease inflammation in the body, providing antibacterial and antioxidative support, and strengthening the immune system. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855614/

Drinking a cup of green tea daily can help to support general health and wellbeing. When feeling ill, having green tea with a little added lemon and raw honey is very soothing and also helps to support the body’s defenses.

One way that I like to enjoy green tea is in this recipe for bulletproof spiced green tea, which also includes other immune-boosting ingredients like coconut oil (see next slide) and raw honey. I had to taste test this again today, because I realized that the recipe on my website was for ICED bulletproof spiced green tea that I had made this summer; I needed to make a warm winter version! If you are interested in the iced version of this recipe (which would still be soothing on a sore throat), you can find it here: www.yourhealthyhomebody.com/2015/09/09/iced-bulletproof-spiced-tea/

Feel free to “tweak” the recipe based on your tastes. You may prefer it spicier or with more honey to taste.

BULLETPROOF SPICED GREEN TEA
3 organic green tea bags
2 Tbs. grassfed butter
2 Tbs. organic virgin coconut oil
1 Tbs. organic raw milk or heavy cream (skip this ingredient if you are sick: dairy increases mucus production)
About 3 Tbs. raw honey to taste
½ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Brew the tea by placing all three bags in a large mug with boiling water. Steep for about 3-5 minutes. Remove tea bags.

2. Place all ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth.

COCONUT OIL

Coconut oil has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties that can help to keep you healthy and support you if you are sick. It is high in lauric acid (over 40% lauric acid content) which is also found in large amounts in breast milk and has been shown to increase immunity and fight viruses and disease. (For more benefits of coconut oil, see this article here entitled “The Many Benefits of Coconut Oil” www.wellnessmama.com/2072/benefits-of-coconut-oil/)

To get more coconut oil in our diet, we:

• Saute and cook meat and veggies in coconut oil

• Make little candies out of coconut oil: half coconut oil, half raw honey, and place in candy molds in the fridge

• Add coconut oil to coffee or tea (try to avoid coffee when sick as it is dehydrating)

• Add coconut oil to smoothies

• Rub coconut oil on the skin as a moisturizer; it is very soothing to the skin but also will absorb into your body. I also like to make body butters and a lot of my skin care products using coconut oil, including lip balm.

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils are a wonderful tool to have in your natural medicine cabinet! Not only do they help with the prevention of illness (staying healthy and well!) but they can also support your body when you are sick.

In the wintertime months, we make sure to diffuse daily some blend containing essential oils that help to kill bacteria and other germs in the air, such as cinnamon, cloves, and citrus oils. We also apply oils topically on our skin, usually on the bottoms of our feet where the pores are large and the oils are absorbed quickly into the body. I also like to use oils like eucalyptus in coconut oil and apply them to the chest for respiratory support.

While there are so many essential oils that I use on a regular basis, here are some of my favorites for immune support, both in prevention and if we are sick:

• Cinnamon – This oil fights viral and infectious diseases, and testing has yet to find a virus, bacteria, or fungus that can survive in its presence.

• Clove – VERY high in antioxidants (it has an ORAC value of over 1,000,000, the most concentrated antioxidant known; by comparison, the ORAC score for blueberries is only 2,400), it also is antiviral. {Information on the ORAC value of clove EO can be found in “The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple”, by Dr. David Stewart}

• Eucalyptus – Promotes health, wellbeing, purification and healing; Antibacterial, anti-infectious, antiviral, and wonderful for promoting respiratory health.

• Lemon or orange – Antiseptic, antioxidant, antiviral, and detoxifying. Supportive of the immune system.

• Rosemary – A wonderful oil for respiratory support and fighting infections (particularly staph and strep). Antibacterial, antioxidant, and an expectorant.

• Frankincense – An immune stimulant, it increases the activity of leukocytes in defense of the body against infection. It also helps to promote a more positive attitude, which may help to strengthen the immune system.

• Tea tree – Antibacterial, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, and a strong antiseptic oil. It has twelve times the antiseptic power of phenol, with strong immune-building properties. The leaves of the melaleuca tree (tea tree) have been used for centuries to heal cuts, wounds, and skin infections.

• Ravintsara – Antibacterial, anti-infectious, antiseptic, a power antiviral oil, and an expectorant. Very helpful when sick with the common cold.

• Peppermint – Peppermint has both antiviral and antibacterial properties, but when ill, I like to use it specifically for digestive support and to help promote normal body temperature in case of fevers.

For more information on the health benefits of essential oils and where to find essential oils of the best quality, please email me at yourhealthyhomebody@gmail.com.

WHAT TO DO WHEN ILLNESS STRIKES

Even when we support our immune system with every method we can think of, there are times when we will get sick. What we’ve experienced, though, is that illnesses are less severe and do not last as long. While a few years ago my youngest son would get croup very severely, which required steaming multiple times and almost had us in the ER after 24+ hours of repetitive steaming and treatment, last winter he started to develop the croupy bark but never even required steaming (we simply added a vaporizer to his room along with essential oils diffused and across his chest).

So, what are some things that we can do to help support our body when we are sick?

• Allow a fever to run its course
• Allow a cold to run its course
• Ginger and peppermint tea
• Garlic, elderberry syrup, apple cider vinegar, vitamin C
• Chicken soup & immune soup
• Essential oils (see the previous slide)
• Lemon and honey tea
• Herbs, spices & Echinacea tea

ALLOW A FEVER TO RUN ITS COURSE

With the ease that we can obtain over-the-counter fever reducers these days, we are quick to pop a Tylenol or take some Motrin for any slight increase in temperature that we may experience. However, a fever is actually a mechanism that our body uses in order to destroy pathogens that are trying to cause illness, as many bacteria/viruses cannot survive at higher temperatures. When we artificially lower a low-grade fever, we can prolong the length of the illness.

Treating a fever based on symptoms versus the number on the thermometer is helpful in terms of knowing when to bring a fever down. When my kids have a fever but are running around, playing like normal and acting typically, I generally let the fever run its course. However, when they are cuddling with me on the couch, not much energy, and are acting sick, I usually will start working to bring down their fever. (And while the number on a thermometer is not as important as how they are acting, the nurse in me still has to check it every once in a while 😉 ).

Here is an article explaining how to treat fevers and when to let a fever run its course:
www.yourhealthyhomebody.com/2014/07/22/why-fevers-are-not-your-enemy/

Some of the things that I like to use to reduce a fever are:

• Peppermint essential oil (diluted) across the forehead and over the spine

• Lukewarm bath with baking soda and a few drops of lemon essential oil

• Socks soaked with apple cider vinegar. Rewet the socks when they become dry.

• Rest and plenty of fluids, such as water and homemade chicken broth (no caffeinated beverages).

ALLOW A COLD TO RUN ITS COURSE

I love this article, as it helps to explain why we shouldn’t suppress cold symptoms with over-the-counter medications and instead support our body naturally and allow it to work through an illness like the common cold. It would also explain why after recovering from a cold, I feel more energized and clearer than I did before I had the cold.
www.realfarmacy.com/what-most-doctors-wont-tell-you-about-colds-and-flus/

GINGER AND PEPPERMINT TEA

There are many uncomfortable symptoms that come along with being sick, but one I hate the most is nausea. When I was growing up, we treated nausea, vomiting, and the stomach flu with Sprite or 7-Up and saltine crackers. However, as I mentioned above, sugar suppresses the immune system, which is a good reason to avoid sodas.

Some natural remedies that can be helpful for nausea are ginger and peppermint tea (or using essential oils of peppermint and/or ginger). Peppermint tea can be made using organic peppermint tea bags or by adding a drop or two of peppermint essential oil to hot water with a little bit of raw honey.

Ginger tea can be made by grating some raw ginger root (about ½ Tbs. or so) into the bottom of a mug, pouring boiling water over top, and allowing it to steep for 3-5 minutes. Strain the ginger out, add raw honey to taste, and enjoy. The ginger tea can be diluted more if too strong initially, but gradually you will find that you will be able to tolerate more and more ginger. This is a wonderful tea for promoting healthy digestion and calming the stomach.

Here is a video showing the simple process of making ginger tea:

GARLIC, ELDERBERRY SYRUP, APPLE CIDER VINEGAR, VITAMIN C, ZINC

We learned earlier about different techniques to stay healthy during the winter season, and these same techniques can be used to help support our bodies when we are sick. Adding in extra garlic during times of illness, taking a spoon of elderberry syrup every 2-3 hours as needed, adding in extra apple cider vinegar, and increasing or taking a dose of vitamin C and/or zinc can be helpful!

HOMEMADE CHICKEN SOUP & IMMUNE SOUP

Grandma wasn’t wrong! Chicken soup has wonderful nourishing and healing properties. When we make it at home instead of purchasing pasteurized and dead soup stock from the store, it has the ability to help boost our immune and digestive systems. (Read this article to learn more about the health benefits of chicken soup, plus find a recipe for homemade bone broth. To make chicken stock, simply make the same recipe and only cook for 2-3 hours instead of 24 hours. www.articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/16/bone-broth-benefits.aspx)

Here is how I make my homemade chicken stock/broth:

1 whole chicken
About 4-5 liters of water
Chicken feet (optional)
4 or more carrots, broken in half
3-4 stalks of celery, broken in half
4-5 pieces of turmeric root, chopped
4-5 pieces of ginger root, chopped
1-2 bay leaves
Sea salt to taste

1. Add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook on low to low-medium for 2-3 hours.

2. Allow soup to cool to a warm temperature; remove chicken and use meat in other recipes. Pour chicken stock through strainer into glass Mason jars to be drank warm in a mug or added to soup recipes.

To make chicken soup, I will use these broth and then add different vegetables, pieces of chicken, herbs to taste, and any other desired ingredients. I usually change it every time I make it to include different things based on our needs at the time. This would also be a great place to add some of those healing mushrooms. There is a recipe that I love to make for an egg drop soup which includes ginger and shiitake mushrooms.

I have never tried making this Immune Soup, but it sounded interesting and is packed full of healthy, immune-boosting ingredients. Try it and let me know what you think!
www.yaletownnaturopathic.com/immune-boosting-soup-recipe

LEMON AND HONEY TEA

Under the section discussing essential oils, we learned about the wonderful detoxifying and immune-supportive properties that lemon possesses. Making a tea from lemon and honey can be very soothing on the throat when ill, and also helps to support the body on the road to recovery.

There are a couple of ways that you can make a lemon tea:

• Boil water, then as it starts to cool, add 2-3 drops of lemon essential oil and a spoon or so of raw honey to taste

• Boil water, steep green tea for 2-3 minutes, remove tea bags, add a drop or two of lemon essential oil and raw honey to taste

• You can use either of these methods, but instead of lemon essential oil, add a squeeze or two of lemon juice

• Something else that is very soothing for the throat or a dry cough is taking a drop of lemon essential oil and a drop of frankincense essential oil with a spoonful of honey.

BETTER THAN COUGH SYRUP!

Many cough syrups are full of toxic ingredients and chemicals that actually do not support our health or our immune system, but merely suppress a cough that our body is using to expel toxins.

It is so much better to take something that will help to support our body and our healing. At the link below is a recipe for a wonderful healing tea:

http://complete-health-and-happiness.com/homemade-cough-and-lung-inflammation-recipe-more-powerful-than-any-cough-syrup-and-faster-acting/?+=JERF

HERBS, SPICES, & ECHINACEA TEA

There are various herbs and spices can also help to support our body to stay healthy and help us through an illness:

• Turmeric – This spice is receiving more and more attention for its multiple health benefits, including its ability to modulate the immune system. (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17211725) I like to add turmeric into dishes when I cook. It adds a yellow color to food, but does not change the flavor. I also take turmeric supplements for the anti-inflammatory benefits, and there are wonderful recipes for adding turmeric to teas, including the one mentioned above and the recipe listed below.

• Ginseng – Ginseng helps to “maintain homeostasis of the immune system” and helps to “enhance the resistance to illness or microbial attacks through the regulation of the immune system”. It can be taken via supplement. (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659612/)

• Astragalus – Astragalus is an adaptogen, meaning that it helps to balance the body and protect it against various stresses. It is used to protect and support the immune system, preventing colds and upper respiratory infections. (www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/astragalus)

• Echinacea tea – Studies show that Echinacea may shorten the duration and severity of colds and other upper respiratory infections when given as soon as symptoms become evident. (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15035888)

Turmeric tea

1 can coconut milk plus 1 cup water
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. raw honey or maple syrup to taste
Pinch of black pepper
Tiny piece of fresh peeled ginger root or ¼ tsp. ginger powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.

2. Pour into a small saucepan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until hot but not boiling.

3. Drink immediately.

** The original recipe and the benefits that turmeric provides can be found here: www.wellnessmama.com/223/turmeric-tea-recipe/

** It should also be noted that some herbs can cause upregulation of different parts of the immune system. If you have an autoimmune disorder, research the particular herb first to make sure that it is appropriate to take with your condition and consult your health care professional.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY – NATURALLY!

One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to colds and flus is that we are so quick to jump on suppressing our symptoms so that we can get back to work, back to school, and live our lives. While I agree that it is important that we work and go to school, it is also important to take care of our bodies. One of the best things that we can do when sick is to REST and DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS. This is something that I’ve learned the hard way!

LET THE ILLNESS RUN ITS COURSE!!!

When we allow our body to fight the infection, our immune system becomes stronger, and the next time we are faced with an invader, it knows what to do and we are healthier for it. When we continuously artificially stop our body from doing what it is meant to do, we fail to strengthen our immune system, and we find that we continue to get sick … over and over, all winter long. Use the time that you are sick to rest and allow your body to gain strength back.

By using some of the techniques that you learned here, you CAN stay healthy and treat winter illnesses – naturally!

~ Alicia

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