We have been very fortunate in our house so far this year in the illness department. *knock on wood* My sister Rebecca, however, has not been so lucky and came down with a doozie of a cold this week! And she’s not alone! My friend who is an E.R. nurse said that upper respiratory infections are the most common ailment they see this time of year, right behind snowmobile accidents (we live in an area with lots of recreation!)
This year Americans will spend more than $3.6 billion on over-the-counter cold, cough and throat remedies, even though there’s growing evidence that many are ineffective and even risky for children.
But did you know that some of the BEST treatments hardly cost anything at all?
I thought today I would share with you a few of my favorite simple, inexpensive and all-natural cold and flu soothers:
Honey Lemon Cough Syrup
Lemon juice has citric acid and bioflavonoids that boost immunity and fight infection and is an excellent source of Vitamin C. Honey is a natural immune system booster, loaded with anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial properties, and has been proven to reduce nighttime coughing and improve sleep. (Due to the risk of infant botulism, a rare but serious form of food poisoning, never give honey to a child younger than age 1.)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or 3 drops Lemon essential oil
- 1 Tablespoon honey (use a locally produced raw honey, if possible.)
- 2 Tablespoon hot water
Mix together and drink.
The hot water soothes and reduces swelling, while breaking up congestion in your throat. The lemons’ acidity will cut through mucus, kill bacteria, and provides an extra shot of Vitamin C. The honey coats your throat and sweetens up all that acid that’s working in the lemon.
Simple Homemade Chest Rub
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 10-15 drops Peppermint essential oil
- 10-15 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
- 5-10 drops Lemon essential oil
To melt the coconut oil: put in a glass bowl or jar and then into the microwave for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the peppermint, eucalyptus, and lemon oils (add more if you want) and shake well. Allow it re-solidify (at room temp or faster in the fridge) for easier use.
Rub on chest just like you would Vicks Vapor rub. The peppermint provides a cool, tingling, sensation, while the eucalyptus and lemon help open up airways and loosen coughs.
Homemade Shower Disks
Place a disk on your shower floor and as the water slowly dissolves it, the essential oil vapors combine with the steam to relieve cold symptoms.
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1/3 cup water (enough to make paste)
- Essential oils (eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a mini-muffin tin with foil liners. Mix the baking soda and water together to form a thick paste. Pour into cupcake tin. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Top with one drop each of eucalyptus, lavender, and peppermint essential oils.
Garlic Oil Ointment Treatment (GOOT)
GOOT is a natural antibiotic, antifungal and antimicrobial ointment safe for children and even infants. Apply every couple of hours on the feet of children, infants and adults to fight infections. Rub on chest for chest colds, or rub into nostrils for sinus infections. Dab on a cotton swab and place in the ear for infections.
- 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
- 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Apply this salve to the soles of your feet when you start to feel a cold coming on. Put thick socks on your feet and go to sleep. By the morning you’ll be feeling better! Be sure to keep a special pair of socks dedicated to this treatment or else you’ll risk everything smelling of garlic. Store in air-tight container and use as needed for up to two weeks.
Tea Tree Facial Steam Bath
Tea Tree essential oil has long been known as antibacterial and antifungal, and helps make coughs more productive (that is, it helps clear out your lungs faster so you feel better sooner).
- Put 10 – 15 drops of Tea Tree essential oil into a bowl of hot water and lean over the bowl.
- Cover both your head and the bowl with a towel.
- Inhale the steam to help loosen mucus in your chest.
Cayenne “Tea” Sore Throat Remedy
Technically not a tea, but it is made with warm water and it’s an effective sore throat remedy. Cayenne pepper aids in breaking up and moving congested mucus. Once mucus begins to leave the body, generally relief from cold and flu symptoms follows.
- ¼ cup warm Water (warm enough to dissolve the honey)
- ¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Honey
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice or 3 drops Lemon essential oil
Stir together until dissolved. Drink it quickly or gargle with it if you are brave. You may decrease the amount of cayenne for younger children.
A neti pot looks like a genie’s lamp that can perform some sinus-clearing magic. Fill it with warm saltwater (use noniodized salt,) then stand over a sink, tilt your head to one side, and slowly pour the liquid through one nostril and allow it to stream out the other — along with a lot of the gunk that’s causing your congestion.
Honey and Cinnamon Cold Remedy
Both honey & cinnamon have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties.
- 1 teaspoon honey (organic raw honey)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Take this amount every few hours as soon as you feel a cold or other illness coming on. Spoon it into hot drinks, mix it into your oatmeal, or dip fruit into it. Treat the whole family with this simple yummy remedy at the first sign of a sniffle.
Other Natural Treatments
- Don’t forget to get enough sleep and drink your fluids when you’re feeling ill. Good lifestyle habits are proven to reduce your risk of getting sick.
- Eat healthy foods. Get regular exercise. Learn to manage stress. Those are among the best natural ways to prevent colds and flu.
- Cover your mouth when you cough. Make sure to cough into your sleeve instead of your hand. You’ll reduce the odds of passing your germs on to someone else.
- Washing your hands remains one of the best ways of protecting yourself from cold and flu germs.
Remember, prevention is always the best remedy. If you notice symptoms lingering or worsening, be sure to check with your health care provider to rule out any serious illness.
What’s your go-to defense when you or someone in your family is getting sick?