Once upon a time, or actually twice upon a time now, we’ve met up with several families for a week of vacation. With 20+ kids in one house for a week, what could possibly go wrong?
Turns out, lots of things, but one in particular:
All the kids getting sick. In a row. All week long.
It was super fun… or not so much.
They had many of the common symptoms of colds and flus, like:
- Body Ache
- Respiratory Symptoms
- Dry/sore throat
Natural Cold and Flu Remedies
The incident not-so-lovingly-known as “the great minor cold pandemic of family vacation” was not serious and passed pretty quickly, but we had a rough couple of days.
Thankfully, many of the moms are well-versed in natural remedies and collectively pulled out the herbs, spices, raw honey, garlic, essential oils and supplements to get the kids through it pretty quickly.
Of course, it’s important to see a medical professional for any major or serious illness. In cases where I’d just pay a co-pay to have a doctor tell me to give my kids water and soup, I spend the money on these remedies instead. (And we do go to the doctor for anything major or serious or that lasts longer than a few days.)
For illnesses that conventional medicine can’t do much for anyway, I turn to these natural remedies. They won’t knock out all symptoms or provide the pain relief of an over the counter, but they help ease the crappish feeling of a cold (super scientific term, eh?)
Kitchen Remedies to Ease Discomfort
Even we I don’t have access to my whole natural medicine cabinet, some simple grocery store remedies can make a big difference! These are my go-to kitchen remedies:
Lots of Water
I find that we all feel better when we stay well hydrated, but especially during illness. Doctors often recommend rest and hydration for minor illness and the advice is sound. At first sign of illness, we make sure to sip water all day to support the body’s natural healing process. This remedy is mostly free but super important.
One of nature’s most potent remedies is also one of the easiest to find. It has been extensively researched in over 5,000 studies for its natural ability to help the body recover. Raw garlic is available in many stores and relatively inexpensive. To take it, I mince it and drink with a small amount of water. For my kids, I’ll also mix with honey or maple syrup or add to food to tone down the taste.
I love this incredibly soothing remedy that is easily made with kitchen herbs. What I do:
I boil 1-2 cups of water in a large pot and remove from the heat. Then, I add 2 teaspoons each of thyme, rosemary and oregano. To intensify the herbs, I cover the pan for 5 minutes with a lid, and then remove lid and the sick person leans over the pot (careful not to touch it). The person covers his or her head with a towel to hold in the steam and breathes the steam to help ease discomfort.
We try to breathe in the steam as long as we can, or for about 15 minutes. This seems to help loosen congestion and soothe the throat and sinuses.
Herbal teas can also be very soothing during illness. I personally like chamomile and peppermint for easing discomfort. I keep my ten favorite herbal teas on hand all the time, but we drink them often during illness. Many herbal teas are now available in regular grocery stores.
Bone broth and soup
Chicken soup is the age-old remedy for illness, and we also turn to broth and soups when we don’t feel well. These can be made with ingredients from a regular grocery store. Homemade bone broth and homemade chicken soup are soothing remedies during illness and a source of protein and minerals.
Lemon juice or ginger
I find fresh lemon juice and fresh ginger in water especially soothing for illnesses involving respiratory issues or sore throat. During illness, I’ll squeeze an entire lemon and slice a piece of ginger into hot or cold water for a soothing drink. Lemon juice is beneficial in other ways too andmany people drink it each morning.
When my kids really don’t feel well and don’t feel like drinking, I sneak some remedies in bymaking a natural electrolyte drink. They like the flavor and I’m able to get some Vitamin C and minerals in.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Certainly not a favorite remedy for many due to the strong taste, but apple cider vinegar can really soothe a store throat. I’ll drink a teaspoon (or up to a tablespoon) in water during illness. Adding honey makes the taste more palatable.
Other Natural Remedies
A few of my other favorite natural remedies are not readily available in all stores, but I always keep them on hand:
Elderberry is a great natural remedy with a long history of use. I keep dried elderberries on hand at all times to make several different remedies. Homemade elderberry syrup is my go-to during any illness. The homemade version is very similar to Sambucol, which is available nationwide in many places.
Many studies show that Vitamin C can really help battle cold and flu. We always have it on hand and take it every few hours during illness.
A detox bath may not really speed recovery during an illness, but it certainly seems to help ease discomfort. I often turn to these detox baths during minor illnesses to help ease symptoms.
Herbs to Help Remedy Cold and Flu
There are many herbs that support the body when healing from an illness. I always keep these around just in case:
- Nettle Leaf– It contains large amounts of vitamins and trace minerals and helps the body stay hydrated and remove toxins. In a tea with Red Raspberry Leaf, Alfalfa and Peppermint, nettle makes a powerful immune supporting and illness preventing remedy.
- Elderberry– A well-known for supporting the immune system. You can find conventionally made elderberry syrups at many stores now, or to save money, make your own. Here is the recipe.
- Ginger– Fresh ginger root can be steeped in boiling water to make a tea that is very effective against sinus symptoms and congestion. Ginger baths are a soothing way to stop some of the discomfort of body aches.
- Yarrow– This is a common herb for children. Many children’s remedies include yarrow for its soothing properties. It is naturally bitter, so it is often good to include peppermint and stevia leaf (or raw honey) when making a tea. It is great for the liver and kidneys and supports the endocrine system.
- Chamomile– An absolute staple for our kids. Chamomile is calming and seems to help children sleep. It tastes great and is easy to get kids to take. We use it in tea and tincture form. My kids always ask for chamomile tea with raw honey when sick.
- Peppermint– Great for all digestive disturbances and for calming a fever. It can be used as a tea or tincture or rubbed on the skin to bring a high fever down. It is antimicrobial and antiviral and kids usually love the taste. It can be consumed as a hot tea or cold tea during illness in any amounts.