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It’s cold outside and oh baby, people around us sure have been getting sick. So this morning I wanted to take some time and cover a few quick remedies that you can refer to time and time again.
Often when I teach about natural remedies, the question I get the most is: “What can I do when symptoms of a cold, ear infection, sty, nasal congestion, or other minor issues arise? How do I aid my body in getting better instead of worse.”
Before I give you the list of remedies, here are just a few things that can go from bad to worse in a matter of hours or days:
-An uncomfortable sensation in the ear that goes unchecked can turn into a full-blown ear infection.
-Sinus pressure and nasal congestion without proper drainage can turn into sinusitis.
-A red itchy and scratchy throat can progress into a strong infection.
-A little bump in the eye goes from the size of a little grain of sand to the size of a lemon seed and begins to hurt badly.
As a family, we have experienced all of the above-mentioned and more. The key for us has been knowing when and how to use herbal remedies to help our body during times of stress and overcome sickness in addition to eating a diet full of disease-fighting foods and avoiding things that make us sick like processed sugar, GMO’s, seed oils, and processed foods. In our case, we have also been blessed these past 7 years to have pediatricians who agree with our preventative approach and often send patients to me for wellness and herbal education.
Before moving on, I would like to reiterate that it is very important to have yearly medical checkups, and in the case of illness, visit your practitioner for an evaluation if symptoms are sudden, severe, and persistent. If your practitioner is knowledgeable in herbal medicine and or homeopathic treatments he or she will be able to diagnose and provide you with a list of alternative choices. Sadly, however, so many family doctors, pediatric nurses, and pediatricians jump to prescribing an antibiotic over and over again which tends to backfire, especially in children. From my friend circles, I have seen that children who are on constant antibiotics as was my firstborn suffer from more allergies and more inflammatory conditions as their gut flora is destroyed with the constant use of antibiotics which results in leaky gut syndrome and other health and behavioral problems.
Now that we got the essential information out of the way let’s move on to some easy and inexpensive remedies I have developed and tried in our home over the years.
1. The dreaded sty in the eye & Pink Eye – According to Webster’s dictionary a sty is an “Infection of an eyelid gland. An external sty results from infection of a sebaceous gland at the edge of the eyelid; tears flow and the eye feels tender as if something is in it.”
At home, we know how important it is that as soon as we feel a sty developing we apply warm herbal compresses and herbal eye drops. Herbal compresses can be made with organic thyme and chamomile. I love to use thyme for its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Chamomile makes a great addition because of its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties but please avoid it if you have a ragweed allergy.
Herbal Eye Compress – To prepare the compress simply make a cup of tea using 2 tablespoons of thyme and 2 tablespoons of chamomile in one cup of hot water. Steep while covered for 10 minutes then strain and place in a glass or ceramic bowl. Take a clean small cotton rag ( should be no larger than 8 inches by 8 inches) and soak it in tea until it’s cooled down and won’t burn the skin but tea should not be cold. With clean hands gently squeeze out some of the tea from the rag and apply it to the affected eye for 3 minutes. Once the rag is cold, wash it with hot water and soap or use another clean rag. Repeat this process 2 more times in one sitting and apply 3 times a day.
Herbal Wash & Eye Drops – To make herbal drops we use distilled water and make unsweetened organic chamomile tea. You can use tea bags or loose herbs just make sure that you use a cotton strainer or cotton muslin bag to strain out all of the loose tea. After straining the loose herbs from the liquid we place the liquid in a sterilized glass dropper bottle. Sterilization is achieved by placing the glass bottle and glass dropper in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Make sure to wait for the bottle to cool before filling it with the tea.
The bottle is then placed in the fridge and 2-3 drops are placed around the affected eye 3 times a day. The same mixture is used to wash the eye area 2 to 3 times a day. Refrigerating the tea gives the affected eye a cooling effect that alleviates the discomfort caused by the sty. The tea can be stored for up to 48 hours in the fridge. *Avoid Chamomile if allergic to ragweed.
Herbal Turmeric Paste – A paste made of bentonite clay, turmeric powder, and kefir has taken a sty away in less than an hour. To prepare use 1/4 tsp of clay, 1/4 tsp of turmeric, and 1/2 tsp of kefir. Mixed with a wooden spoon and apply carefully.
Herbal Eye Poultice & Pink Eye Probiotic drops– An herbal poultice made with ground turmeric and raw yogurt is also fantastic at eliminating a sty in just a few hours. For instructions on how this is done click here.
For pink eye, we’ve used organic raw yogurt or raw milk as a wash several times a day and it works amazingly well. Raw dairy is full of healing probiotics that help combat pink eye. If you don’t have raw dairy near you, a probiotic capsule is the next best option. I like the baby and child probiotic by Radiant Life and this one by Just Thrive.
What I do is simple. Two probiotic capsules mixed into 1 ounce of distilled water, two drops in the affected eye, 3 times a day.
2. The yucky sore throat – Sore throats can be caused by an allergy to certain foods, pollen, dust, mold, and bacterial or viral pathogens. It’s extremely important to seek medical attention in the case of a persistent red and puss-filled sore throat that does not go away. This can be a sign of a serious infection that might require additional treatment. This past year my husband started out with a sore throat and in one day lost his voice completely. His throat was red and had puss-filled pockets. His doctor immediately prescribed an antibiotic saying that he had an infection in his throat and in his chest. You can read the post I did about a remedy to alleviate a sore throat by clicking here.
Updated December 2015 to add: This video shows how you can easily do these massages at home yourself. To relieve nasal congestion we use organic herbs like thyme, rosemary, sage, and eucalyptus, which help stimulate secretions, and clear the nasal passages. Note that some people are allergic to eucalyptus and similar herbs, so avoid using them if you are allergic.
Make an Herbal Bath – My second course of action is to prepare an herbal bath using the following herbs:
1 cup organic rosemary
1 cup organic thyme
1 cup organic lavender flowers or rose petals (if these aren’t available use chamomile flowers or sage)
1 cup organic eucalyptus leaves (avoid if allergic to eucalyptus)
To prepare your herbal bath, fill a 5-quart pot with water, and let it boil for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add your dried herbs, mix them around making sure they are all under the water, cover, and steep for about 15 minutes.
While the herbs steep, fill your bathtub halfway with warm water and then strain your pot with herbs into the bathtub. Store strained herbs in the fridge for up to a week. They can be used again in another herbal bath, they can be composted or they can be used to exfoliate the skin.
While in the bath, the adults in our home and children who know how to hold their breath underwater, place their faces under the water for a few seconds at a time. This is done throughout the bath to further help remove congestion and reduce inflammation.
Make an Herbal Steam Infusion – For nighttime use or when sinus congestion seems to need a little relief, we make an herbal steam. This is super easy to make. Use herbs like rosemary, eucalyptus, thyme, rose, peppermint, and calendula. I boil about 2 cups of water, then add 1 tsp of each herb, give it a swirl and remove it from the heat. Using a large towel we cover our heads while standing over the herbal steam. Doing this along with a lymphatic facial massage can really help with nighttime congestion. Just be careful not to touch the hot pot.
Warm Compresses and Rinses – Warm compresses can also be placed on the head and nose area to relieve pain and pressure.
Herbal nasal washes using herbal extracts of nettles, olive leaf, and other herbs have also been very helpful in our family. Just make sure you are using distilled water to dilute, never use tap water. We use one dropper full of whatever two extracts we have on hand and dilute it in four tablespoons of distilled water then use the solution to rinse our sinuses.
The Probiotic Secret – Lastly each night after brushing our teeth and just before we’re going to bed, we open up a probiotic capsule with live strains.
The powder from the capsule is placed under the tongue right before sleeping. It is important not to drink anything, not even water. Swoosh the powder around your mouth making sure to coat your gums while leaving some powder under your tongue. Then go to sleep.
The probiotic cultures will make their way into the throat and sinuses and can help combat irritations and infections. We’ve done this in our family for up to 7 days with great results.
If you believe that a sinus infection is present you can see your ENT or family practitioner and ask them to have a private Compounding Pharmacy make you a saline nasal spray that is mixed with an antibiotic. The ingredients are usually: CP Mupirocin 0.2% solution. This is a much better option than taking an antibiotic internally as it does not affect the microbiome like an oral antibiotic would.
4. Ear pain and discomfort – Ear pain can be caused by pressure, allergies, and other serious conditions so it should not be ignored. In my classes, I always teach that it is imperative that a root cause for any and all symptoms be found. Treating reoccurring symptoms without eliminating the root problem is a temporary fix. For example, my firstborn was constantly throwing up and wheezing as a toddler. The pediatrician at the time loaded him up with antibiotics, steroids, and anti-allergy meds which I ignorantly administered for years.
After my own research and documentation of his health decline, I discovered that he was reacting to foods and artificial colors which would make him throw up and have an asthma attack. The pediatrician denied that my findings were a possibility and said I was crazy for wanting to wean my toddler off of his 5-plus meds a day. I thank God that He opened my eyes while my son was still little, and now my teenager is much healthier, although the consequences of my ignorance still affected his body for quite some time.
In regards to ear pain and discomfort, we use garlic and mullein oil in the ear in addition to onion poultices and a homemade immunity oil with myrrh and other herbal extracts that are rubbed around the outside of the ear 3 times a day. You can read about these remedies by clicking here.
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