Natural Remedies for Occasional Illness and Minor Injuries
We are ALWAYS surrounded by pathogens. ALWAYS! !!!
The key to staying healthy is NOT to avoid or destroy germs, but to boost the body’s own natural defenses.
Typically, if we provide the body with nourishment from nutrient-dense food, fresh air, clean water, proper exercise and rest, the body will fend off anything that may threaten it – without our even realizing it! The reason that so many of us get sick in the fall and winter isn’t because there are suddenly MORE GERMS in the world. There are various reasons, including: the change in temperature (which causes stress on our immune system), the fact that we get much less fresh air and sunlight, as well as the added stress (and sugar!) that comes with the holiday season.
And so, there will be those times when even a healthy body gets out of balance and succumbs to a virus or other pathogen. And you know what? That’s a good thing! Occasional illness trains the immune system, keeping it ‘on its toes’ so to speak. And it’s important to allow the body to fight its own battles ~ most of the time. Because it really is true: Whatever doesn’t kill you, DOES make you stronger!
The symptoms of illness are the body’s way of letting us know that it is out of balance and in need of support. Botanicals (like herbs, essential oils, and food as medicine) support and strengthen our body’s own natural defense systems. Conventional medications, however (antibiotics for stuffy noses, steroid creams for rashes, Tylenol for fevers, antacids for reflux…) act ON the body, not WITH the body. They force their own agenda without concern for anything else that may be happening inside the body. This is why nearly every over the counter and prescription medication causes unwanted side-effects.
The Body’s Natural Defense System
Let’s take antibiotics for instance. Antibiotics will likely kill the unwanted harmful bacteria causing your, let’s say… sinus infection, but they will also kill the beneficial bacteria in your gut that you need for a healthy immune system and digestion. Without those beneficial bacteria you are quite likely to suffer from many relapses of your original sinus infection and/or find yourself stuck in a vicious cycle of various infections.
This is because your beneficial bacteria are a gift from God to fight off harmful bacteria. They are your very own military defense system. If you wipe them out, who will be there to protect you next time you encounter harmful bacteria???
Let’s take a quick minute to consider what would happen if we used the “antibiotics to treat every infection” method with our national military defense system… If in order to destroy a dangerous enemy, we had to also destroy our entire army: it had better be REALLY, ABSOLUTELY necessary!!?! Right? Because even though we’ve successfully destroyed one enemy, we’ve now left ourselves completely defenseless against the next attack.
But what if there were a better way? What if instead of using an atomic bomb to destroy ALL the soldiers on both sides of the war, we simply provided our own soldiers with more efficient weapons? What if we made sure they were well trained, well fed, and highly motivated to defend their country? Wouldn’t that be a bit more logical? And wouldn’t THIS war simply sharpen their skills and endurance for the NEXT war?
There are many natural remedies that cleanse and support the body in such a way that the body is not only able to recover from the first infection, but will be better prepared to fight the next battle because of it.
A Time and a Place for Medical Intervention
Now, sometimes the body’s immune system is not able to handle a particular illness. In those cases, it is important to see your doctor and it may be necessary to take a pharmaceutical drug. Medical interventions do save lives, however, they NEVER come without consequences. And often times the consequences of using pharmaceutical drugs far outweigh the discomfort they were meant to treat in the first place. That is why, for our family, we have chosen to save medications and other invasive medical treatments for absolute emergencies.
Over the years, we’ve not only built up our own bodies’ defenses though proper care and nutrition, but we’ve also collected a variety of natural remedies that we rely on in those times when we do need more support. Having a few inexpensive supplies on hand will help you to be able to take action immediately the next time your body is out of balance.
*** Important Reminder: I am a mom – NOT a doctor. Everything I write to you today is based on my own research and understanding of how the body works best. These are the remedies that we have found success with. This is not a prescription of any kind. It is completely your own responsibility to make the best choices for your family’s wellness. ***
Natural Remedies for Occasional Illness and Minor Injuries
Uh-oh… I’m not feeling so well!
The very first thing to do when you begin to feel ‘under the weather’ is to make sure you are getting plenty of good, uninterrupted rest!
Pathogens LOVE SUGAR!!! It’s always best to have a diet that is fairly low in grains, sugars, starchy foods, and pasteurized dairy, but it’s especially important when you are fighting off illness.
Stress is a killer. You already know that.
If at all possible, get some fresh air and sunshine! Even in the winter, a few minutes out of doors (bundled if necessary) can make a big difference.
An Extra Boost for the Onset of Illness
When you begin to notice symptoms of illness, it’s a great idea to give your body an extra boost using any/all of the following:
- fresh lemon, a drop of lemon essential oil, and/or a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar in your water (and LOTS of it!)
- extra ginger and fresh garlic in your food, or mixed into a spoonful of raw honey
- an extra probiotic
- an extra drop or two of a high quality vitamin D supplement
- turmeric and ginger tea
- an Epsom salt bath to help the body detox
- Thieves essential oil in the diffuser, applied to the feet several times per day, and/or added to a cup of tea or teaspoon of honey.
Too late. You’re already sick…
If your attempts to prevent or deter the onset of an illness have failed, you may need more specific support. These are remedies that we often use in addition to the ideas above:
Bumps, Bruises, and Headaches
- Never underestimate the power of a cold pack! We make our own, using fabric and white rice. Simply sew something that looks like a very small pillow case. Fill it full of dry rice and then sew the open end shut. Keep it in the freezer for every time you’ve got bumps, bruises, headaches, or just kids who need a little extra attention. 😉
- WATER! Did I already mention that you should be drinking LOTS OF WATER?!
- Magnesium can really help to relax a headache… or any kind of ache for that matter (sore muscles, cramps, etc..) You can take a magnesium supplement in capsule form or you can absorb it through your skin in an Epsom salt bath.
- Panaway, Peppermint, or Wintergreen essential oils applied to head tension can be very soothing. This is my go to! These oils also soothe and reduce swelling/discomfort associated with minor injuries – just don’t put them in an open wound!
- Watch your blood sugar! This is often the culprit behind headaches. Make sure to eat enough protein and to always balance your carbs with protein and fat. Missing a meal or eating too many carbs without sufficient protein will get your blood sugar all out of whack.
- Apple Cider Vinegar helps with digestion, especially if you’ve eaten more fat than you are able to digest well. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water is often all that is needed for an upset tummy. It can also help to restore proper acid balance in the stomach if you are struggling with heartburn.
- Digize! Digize is such a fantastic essential oil blend for any kind of digestive complaint. It can be massaged in a carrier oil clockwise on the belly or dropped underneath the tongue to soothe an upset tummy. Peppermint and Ginger essential oils can be helpful in this way as well.
- A drop of Frankincense essential oil in a glass of water every day goes a long way toward soothing the digestive system.. and boosting overall wellness.
- We also keep a piece of ginger root in the freezer. NOTHING takes away nausea faster than chewing a bite of fresh ginger!! ~ It tastes like FIRE, but it works!
- If you don’t have any of the above, chewing a bit of fresh peppermint, or drinking a cup of peppermint tea can be soothing, although I find these to be less effective for my family.
- Remember that DIY cold pack? Well it can also be heated in the microwave to become a warm pack, which can help with tummy troubles. A heating pad or hot bath works well too, of course.
- If you suspect that you may have a bit of food poisoning, activated charcoal works really well to pull poison from the body, keeping it from being absorbed. Take 1-2 capsules every half hour, but make sure to stay very hydrated!
Scrapes, Scratches, and Other Ouchies
Our general first aid routine looks like this:
- Rinse it.
- Clean it with witch hazel on a cotton ball.
- Apply a drop of Lavender essential oil and a bandaid (if necessary).
- I’ve also read that for major bleeding, pure cayenne pepper can be applied to help with clotting and stop the bleeding. Just keep pouring it on there! Once the bleeding has stopped, the cayenne can be rinsed off and the wound dressed as usual – or – if necessary, head to the doctor for stitches. I have fortunately NOT had opportunity to try this myself… yet.
- For any other kind of rash or skin ouchie it’s Lavender essential oil every time. I’m telling you, we cannot live without Lavender!
- Oops.. not every time. If the skin trouble is fungus related, we use Tea Tree essential oil instead… and cut out ANY sugar in the diet until it has cleared!
Bug Bites and Stings
- We make an “Itch Stick” roller bottle to use on bug bites that works so well! If you have little kids who either pick their skin to pieces or complain constantly about every little bug bite, you need an Itch Stick! Simply fill a roller bottle with several drops each of lavender, peppermint, and purification essential oils and then fill to the top with a carrier oil. Give one to each of your children and let them rub it on whenever they need to! Hallelujah!
- IF you don’t have essential oils, witch hazel works for bug bites too, though not as well.
- Most likely if you have an untreated lawn, you have access to a weed called plantain. Plantain can be chewed or chopped up and applied to a bite or sting. It will draw out the poison and soothe irritation.
- For a bee sting there are several essential oils that can be helpful. Make sure you get the stinger out first. Then apply Lavender and Purification essential oil directly to the sting. I’ve also heard that Melrose and Panaway work well. We haven’t had enough stings to try them all. 🙂
- A drop of Thieves essential oil in a spoonful of raw honey or in a cup of tea is the first thing I reach for when my throat starts to feel a bit scratchy.
- We also keep a bee propolis spray handy. Bee propolis is made and used by bees to seal cracks, reinforce, protect, and sanitize the hive. It’ll do all those things for your throat too! It is naturally antimicrobial and greatly boosts the immune system.
- Heat a few pieces of ginger root in a small saucepan. Simmer for several minutes. Allow to cool slightly and add fresh lemon juice or lemon slices and a bit of raw honey. Sip on this this throughout the day.
- A nasal salt spray does wonders to prevent a stuffy nose from turning into a sinus infection. Salt is just plain amazing!
- We also keep a roller bottle of Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, and Copaiba essential oils on hand, especially in the springtime! Apply it around (not in) your nose, around (not in) your ears, across your cheek bones (but not in your eyes), on the back of the neck, and the bottoms of the feet several times/day, or as needed. The Lemon cleanses, the Lavender soothes, the Peppermint helps to open things up, and the Copaiba intensifies the other oils/boosts the immune system. This combination added to the diffuser is also VERY helpful and smells amazing too!
- If we have congestion that does not clear quickly or suspect that an infection might be close at hand we also take 2 capsule, 2x/day of Ecchinacea/Goldenseal or Oregano Oil.
- Neti Pots are supposedly the very best option for a sinus infection. We have never had to use one because the above has always taken care of the problem for us.
- R.C. essential oil (a blend of eucalyptus oils) in the diffuser and rubbed on the chest and back.
- If you don’t have a diffuser, try a steam bowl. Heat water to almost boiling and pour into a large bowl. Add a drop of R.C., Eucalyptus, Rosemary, and/or Peppermint essential oils. Sitting with your face over the bowl, put a towel over your head to make a tent, trapping the steam. Take as many deep breaths as you can. Pull your head out for a break as needed.
- For middle of the night, scare me half to death coughs ~ we have had success with running the shower as hot as we can get it, trapping the steam in the room, sticking our heads around the curtain (if necessary) and patting the little one’s back. We also make sure to keep this homeopathic medicine on hand. It works very quickly for our little guy. We don’t always have success with homeopathics, but this one really does the job.
- If your child suffers from asthma or really difficult chest congestion, a breathing machine can be used without the steroid treatment. You can fill your breathing machine with a pure saline solution and use it as you normally would. It is possible that the saline (salt again!!) alone will provide relief.
- Obviously, if these measures don’t work and especially if your child is having trouble breathing, see a qualified health care provider right away.
- This stuff! – Honestly, I have no idea why it works, but it DOES work! We have one child who is very prone to bloody noses. I came across this recommendation as I was frantically searching for a way to deal with our third bloody nose of the day. Just drop a bit of this ayurvedic oil into the nostril as you continue to pinch the nose. Stops the bleeding quickly. Also, during times when I think my little guy is most likely to have a bloody nose (because of dry air or a runny nose usually) a drop of this oil in each nostril helps to prevent it from happening.
- Ear infections are not something that we deal with often… or ever. I suspect it’s because we don’t eat any pasteurized dairy, also likely because we have long since dealt with our food sensitivities. However, we do have one child who occasionally gets a bit of an earache. At the suggestion of a friend I tried an interesting remedy called a salt sock. Yep. A salt sock. And you know what? Takes care of the problem every time! Take a clean cotton sock and fill it with salt. Tie or sew the opening shut tightly. Heat the sock in the microwave (or carefully in a skillet on the stove or in the oven) and then put a drop or two of tea tree essential oil onto the sock. Have the child lie down with the salt sock under the problem ear. The heat will soothe the discomfort immediately. (Though do make sure it isn’t TOO HOT for your little one!) The salt will begin to draw out toxins and moisture.
- We also use a roller of tea tree, eucalyptus, and/or lavender essential oils around the back of the ears (not in the ear!) any time we are dealing with head congestion.
Fever is the body’s natural, powerful healing response to illness and an indication that the body may be fighting off an infection. In general, we choose to let a fever run its course. We do not want to interrupt the body’s natural healing process. HOWEVER, we do:
- WATCH a fever closely.
- Consider any possible infections.
- Watch for loss of appetite and lethargy.
- Try to keep the child comfortable with cool cloths.
- We DO NOT leave a child with a high fever alone over night.
- A fever over 104 degrees (even lower for babies) can be dangerous and needs to be lowered.
- If the fever gets too high or begins to make me nervous I apply peppermint and lavender essential oil on the bottoms of the feet, over the forehead, temples, and back of the neck. I also get out a few of those handy DIY cold packs and rotate them around the body (forehead, back of neck, under arms)
- And of course, if these measures are not sufficient to keep the fever from getting dangerously high, if the fever persists past a couple of days, or if I for any reason I have a bad feeling about it, I would call my doctor. (Though I have not ever had to do so.)
**This list of symptoms and remedies are for occasional illnesses and minor injuries. If any of the above symptoms persist or have become chronic or severe, it would be a good idea to do further investigation and discuss it with your qualified health care provider.**
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What are your favorite natural remedies for occasional illness and minor injuries? What natural products do you make sure to keep on hand???
And as always friends, please remember that I’ve got kids sledding down the stairs on Costco boxes as I write to you…
So, if you think I’ve forgotten something important, have any questions or comments, or simply a bit of encouragement to share, please use the comments below, send me an email, or find us on facebook.
I’d love to hear from you.