The kids are back in school and you can finally breathe a sigh of relief, summer is over! You can put your feet up for a tiny bit, have a little bit more time to yourself, and maybe catch up on some reading or meet with friends for coffee. It’s quiet...wow, so nice and quiet. Until you hear it…a sneeze. Your ears perk up…your heart starts to beat faster…you hear it again…a sneeze, a cough…you hold your breath and peek over to see a faint sign of clear snot starting to run out of your kids nose. Ugh you pray to the cold and flu gods, “no no not yet!”
“Mommy, I don’t feel good.” And thus it begins. Cold and flu season.
I am here to tell you moms, this season you can fight back NATURALLY, build up your families immune system, and avoid getting sick multiple times this winter. You will have everything you need to ease cold and flu symptoms without over the counter medicine or antibiotics. It’s time to get your natural first aid kit for colds and flues together, have it at the ready, and use it when germs come knocking at your door.
As a Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist, one of the most common problems I see in my practice during the fall and winter months are common colds, and an effective way to treat them is with herbal medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, the common cold was seen as a “wind invasion.” Even thousands of years ago, they knew that whatever was making them sick was coming in from the outside of the body. Now, modern medicine has shown that herbs that treat “wind invasions” have powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
Let me guide you on preparing an at home herbal kit that is safe and effective for you and your kiddos, that you can get out at the first sign of a sniffle.
Remember mom, you are the perfect provider of care for an acute illness, and armed with a little knowledge, and a kit of supplies, you are ready to treat most illnesses. In most situations, you are all that is needed. Your calm reassurance, affection, touch, holding and attention will do wonders to decrease symptoms for your little ones. No one has as much of a connection with your child as you do, so always listen to your gut. It is important to know when to seek medical attention if herbal therapy is not working. If you or your child has a persistent high fever over 103 degrees, severe sore throat, prolonged illness (more than 14 days), significant lethargy, unresponsiveness, or severe pain - seek a medical professional immediately.
So what exactly is a common cold? A cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. Because your child’s immune system is developing, it is normal for them to get sick several times a year. In a way, colds are not REALLY bad, because they helping build strong immune systems. What we want to do is help them (and ourselves) through the process by building up our immune systems, and easing symptoms. Symptoms of a common cold include stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, headache, sore throat, coughing, loss of appetite, ear infection and low-grade fever. Yuck!
OK lets get building. Get yourself a small toolbox or tackle box. Fill with these items, along with directions on dosage, and I like to put small bottles water in it as well, just as a reminder to drink a lot of fluids and stay hydrated when we are sick.
Your kits should contain these herbal remedies:
· Large non-alcoholic glycerin preparation tincture of Echinacea - Echinacea stimulates the body to produce more white blood cells that fight invasions by viruses and bacteria. Mix with juice or give straight, for babies under a year, 10 drops three times per day, for children over a year 20 drops per day. Do not take longer than 5 days.
· Yin Chao Junior, or Windbreaker - this Chinese herbal formula is AMAZING. Start taking it at the first onset of symptoms. This formula is great at relieving mucus production and congestion. It’s formula contains alcohol, so mix drops in a small amount of steaming hot water, then mix with juice. Dosage: for babies under a year, 10 drops three times per day, for children over a year 20 drops per day. Do not take longer than 5 days.
· Eucalyptus essential oil - this is great for steams to help open the chest and loosen phlegm. Turn on a hot shower, let the steam fill the room and put 20-30 drops of oil in the water. Do not put it directly on your skin.
· Ginger tea - Ginger is a great antiviral and antibacterial drink, this will help soothe a sore throat, ginger will also cause you to sweat, which will help fevers and clear out the pathogen, drink up to 4 times a day.
· Chamomile tea - this herb is wonderful for rest and relaxation during a cold, drink twice a day as needed.
· Sage tea - breaks up congestion and will bring down a fever, drink twice a day as needed.
· Wild Cherry Bark syrup - This stuff is great, it helps with cough and mucus in the lungs. I have to be honest with you, it tastes awful, but it’s worth it to have for a bad cough. Take 1 tablespoon 3 times a day, and try to hide it in food like applesauce.
· Astragalus- great cold and flu preventive, this should be given after symptoms have cleared up, once a day throughout cold season.
· Elderberry syrup- I absolutely love this for immune system recovery after a cold. This will strengthen the immune system and help you and your kiddos bounce back.
I am confident that with this kit, you’ll be ready to fight the cold and flu season with confidence! Remember if you have any questions, please consult a trained herbalist. Take this kit, and put it in a dark, dry and cool place. Feel free to add other cold fighting equipment to this as well such as a thermometer, bulb syringe, a nice breathing salve or cream to put on you or your child’s chest at night, or even an organic can of chicken noodle soup. Make this your own, that fits with your family. Good luck with this season and happy kit building!
Rhianna Weaver is an herbalist, acupuncturist, and owner of Big Sky Fertility and Wellness in Bozeman Montana. She is also a mom and wife, lover of the outdoors, and a bookworm. You will usually catch her with a smile on her face, and a willingness to help with love and compassion. Feel free to reach out with any questions at 406-518-1887 or visit bigskyfertility.com .