As the fall weather starts to turn cooler, I always get a little anxious about cold and flu season. Luckily my family doesn’t get sick too often but when we do I feel so much better knowing I am prepared with an arsenal of natural remedies that can help us heal quickly. Here is my personal list of go-to illness busters that strengthen the immune system and offer comfort when someone is feeling under the weather:
1. Probiotics – I only recently learned that the foundation of immunity is in our belly. In fact, 80 percent of our immune system is located in our digestive system, making a healthy gut a major focal point if you want to maintain optimal health. Good quality probiotics are made up of healthy bacteria that balance harmful bacteria in the body. Each of us has more than 1,000 different types of bacteria that live in our digestive tracts and research is now showing that the “good” bacteria from probiotics helps not only to stimulate digestive health, but may stimulate a healthy immune system. I follow the advice of my naturopath and use either the HMF or Culturelle brands that each contain many strands of live bacteria.
2. Oregano Oil– I first learned about the power of oregano oil years ago from a client of my husband’s – and I thought she was nutty when she first told me about it. But I have since learned that oregano is a virtual powerhouse when it comes to it’s antiviral and antifungal properties and has been proven to kill unwanted bacteria, fungus, yeast, parasites and viruses. Living Libations makes a potent and pure food grade oil that I always have on hand. When I feel a cold or a sore throat coming on- I immediately put a drop or 2 under my tongue and swallow it a few times a day. But brace yourself – it is very strong and will burn for a minute or so after you ingest it. My older children are able to handle the oil under their tongues but I generally wouldn’t recommend this remedy for children.
3. Castor Oil– Don’t worry- I’m not going to go old school and suggest that anyone do a shot of castor oil to clean out their system. But the oil from this amazing plant has wonderful healing properties when massaged onto the skin. According to nutritionist Meghan Telpner “The ricinoleic acid in castor oil prevents the growth of bacteria, yeast, and viruses. When I have joint pain anywhere, I rub it on the joints, if I have swollen glands, I massage it into neck/gland area, if I am feeling a little backed up- on to my belly it goes (massaged in a clockwise direction- the same direction stuff moves through the large intestine). With a cold or congestion, I’ll mix in a little comfrey and eucalyptus and massage it into my chest.” You can also direct the healing power of castor oil directly onto your stomach by making a “castor oil pack”. You simply soak an old cloth in the oil and place that directly onto your belly. Cover that with a plastic bag and lay a hot water bottle over top and relax for 20 minutes or longer. The castor oil will soak through your skin and is said to “improve the body’s ability to assimilate nutrients, eliminate toxins, and stimulate circulation.” (source: Meghan Telpner)
4. Flu Tea– I got the recipe for this tea from a Flu Fighter seminar I attended a few years ago that was offered by a local naturopath. As soon as someone in my family gets a bug, I immediately whip up a batch of this healing tea and serve it up a few times a day. The combination of natural healing herbs and superfoods will kick any cold to the curb! But you’ll want to add lots of honey to each cup to make it drinkable. Into a medium saucepan add 6 cups of water, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tsp of cumin powder, a 3-inch chunk of fresh ginger cut into pieces, and 1 lemon cut into slices. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and save the tea in the fridge in a mason jar. Heat and drink as needed.
5. Magic Socks– you are going to think I am off my rocker when I tell you about this remedy but my naturopath swears by it and everyone in my house has benefitted from this treatment over the past couple of years. You can follow this link to get clear directions on what to do but basically you warm your feet in hot water, dry them thoroughly and then put on a pair of socks that have been soaked in cold water and rinsed out. You cover those with a dry pair of wool socks and immediately get into bed. Think I’m nuts yet?! Well according to Jamey Wallace, ND, Clinic Medical Director at Bastyr Center for Natural Health: “The treatment is known as a “heating compress,” meaning that it’s up to the body to heat the cold, wet socks. The body reacts to the cold socks by increasing blood circulation, which also stimulates the immune system. You have to ‘rev up’ the immune system, so it’s ready for battle against the affliction or condition. This treatment acts to reflexively increase the circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head and throat. It also has a sedating action, and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment. The treatment is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections.”
6. Immune Illume – I mentioned the wonderful food-grade oregano oil from Living Libations above- but I also always have a bottle of their Immune Illume handy during the fall and winter. I simply cannot say enough good things about all of the pure and potent oils I have purchased from this company but the Immune Illume is my absolute favourite. According to Nadine at LL “This fortifying fuse of potent antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agents groom a resistant immune; hyssop, thymes, ravensara, rosemary, eucalyptus + oregano releases breathing. Inhale, bathe, massage into chest + sinuses or diffuse. Ingest a drop or two in: olive oil, teas or honey.”
I hope these ideas help naturally ease some of the pain of cold and flu season. Remember that these are my own personal remedies so remember to do whatever works best for you and your family.
Another quick suggestion- cook with tons of onions and garlic. They are both nature’s antibiotics and have potent virus busting properties. Sometimes I’ll even chop up a clove of garlic and swallow the bits with some water when I’m feeling a bug coming on. Powerful…and smelly stuff!
What are your go-to home remedies?