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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dr. Mom's Natural Remedies

Many of us are interested in do-it-yourself anyway. I have dreamed of living like Laura Ingalls did since I was a girl. But now it is less of a dream and more of a necessity, both for secular and spiritual reasons. Having awaken yesterday to my first sore throat and plugged up nose of the season, I though about those great old home remedies. And because I love it when others share (I end up learning so much!) I thought I’d share my list.

Homemade Medicines

Homemade Cough Drops- OK, I read a medical article once about cough drops (don’t ask- really long day and nothing else to read). The point is that you can’t cough and swallow at the same time. It is also true that true sugar syrup in cough drops will coat the throat as is dissolves and is swallowed. That is why many throat drops are just sugar and flavoring. You can get cough drops with menthol in them, which helps to open the throat and make breathing easier. It also slightly numbs the throat, suppressing the urge to cough. So you can take a candy recipe like this one and make it whatever flavor or herbal infusion you like (and use whatever sweetener you prefer), or you can add in some spearmint oil or menthol if you can afford it!. Be very careful with essential oils and use only a tiny amount!

Homemade Cough Syrup- This one is really easy. Mix lemon juice, honey, and water into a syrup and store in the fridge. Just like cough drops, the real effect comes from the coating of the throat. A cough that does not originate in the lungs comes from the phlegm in the throat benign disturbed. The best thing to do is get rid of it. Meanwhile, something sticky will help to smooth it back down. And unlike medicines, you can’t really take too much of this (though you might take enough to make you vomit!)

Homemade Tinctures- There is a whole field of study on this, and I’m not going to even attempt to cover it here. Julie has some great recipes and links. The only thing I would add (and it may be in there already) is not to buy your herbs at the grocery store if you can help it. Frontier sells them online, and they are of medicinal quality. With something like this, look for the company that does only one thing and does it well.

Homemade Decongestants-My favorite decongestant is the Spearmint/Peppermint Tea from Mint Brook Meadows. It is so strong, it clears me right up. It is also not something you can overdose on! There are many Chinese and Indian spices that will help to clear the sinuses. Wasabi comes to mind, which I love on my sushi. Horseradish will also do the trick. Onions can help, too. Think of something that makes your eyes water, and then try it.

Homemade Poultices-A poultice can help when you have really congested lungs. The old standard was a mustard plaster, but I found this mom’s recipe for a less odd smelling one and it sounds great!

Homemade Antibiotics- The best anti-germ foods I have heard of are onion and garlic. Raw is best because it is fully potent. In the winter when we have tea every morning, I dice up a garlic clove and mix it with honey on a spoon. Down the hatch. I got that idea from Heather and it really does work both as a preventative and as a cure.

Homemade lip balm-- take some beeswax or coconut oil and add a few drops of olive oil. If you want, you can add essential oils, though be aware that oils will burn when applied to really chapped lips. It is better to apply this before going out and therefore prevent the chapped lips altogether.

Homemade lotions-- Use coconut oil, olive oil, or grapeseed oil for really rough spots. Right now we use this, because we can get it wholesale through our co-op. We’ve never tried anything better. Having a natural lotion is also a must for us because some of our kids would lick the lotion off their hands because it smelled like something good. It is also reassuring to me knowing what is on their hands is natural since we wash hands many times during the day to prevent spreading germs. I would hate to use something chemically over and over on anybody, let alone babies!

Disinfecting and Preventing

Hands- Wash, wash., wash those hands. Make sure to get under the finger nails and the backs of the hands too, since these are very germ prone. I do not recommend antibacterial soap, both because it dries you out faster, and because it kills anything. It is also good when anybody has the sniffles to wash their face at least three times a day. Kids have a tendency to schmear when they wipe their noses, and that stuff is sitting there looking for somebody to contaminate.

Hot water- this is an age-old way to handle sickness, and it works. Not only do I put my dishes through the dishwasher with a hot rinse to help prevent spreading germs, I also assign colors (cups, bowls, plastic silverware) for use throughout the year, so that if two forks are sitting side by side on the table, we know who’s is who’s. We do generally spray the tub with bleach once a day when there is sickness going around. A mild solution will still work well. Allow to sit for 10 minutes and then rinse with very hot water.

Bodily fluids- There is a reason Yah told us LONG ago to wash in running water and to keep sick people away from others. Most illnesses are spread through bodily fluids, be it from one end or the other (yuck, I know). This is when I do agree with buying disposable. We stock up on cheap tissues and toilet paper, because were we to use cloth for these, I would not only have a mountain of washing during an epidemic, but it can also spread to the laundress of the day. My opinion is that into the paper and into the trash is worth the cost to keep the germs at bay. If you absolutely cannot buy paper, many dollar stores do still sell handkerchiefs for about 25 cents a piece. These can be washed in bleachy, hot water. I would recommend marking each with the owner’s name and not allowing borrowing.

Airing out a sick house- It used to be the custom to whitewash a house of sick people. The lime in the paint was a disinfectant. We whitewashed the inside of our barn annually until we sold the cows. But that is not a really practical solution anymore for houses. A doctor once told me you should open up your windows for 15 minutes a day regardless of the weather. It also helps if you have infusers or a vaporizer that can spread menthol or lavender oils in the air. The oil attaches itself to the germs and either kills them or makes them heavy enough that they fall to the floor.

Sick Foods

Chicken broth is known as a sick food for good reason. It helps to heal the body as well as provide a readily absorbed source of calories. If you are not sick to the stomach, adding vegetables can make it a hearty lunch.

Here’s Dr. Weil’s recipe for garlic broth, which oddly enough was in my inbox this morning (daily recipe mail). I’m linking because he has more info about garlic on this page.

Ginger ale does settle the stomach better than plain water because of the ginger. Sometimes carbonation helps as well, but most ginger-ale from the store is corn syrup and artificial flavoring. Carla Emery has a recipe for brewing your own pop, and many health food stores have their own versions, but you can make it cheaper at home. Keep a supply of carbonated water on hand (club soda, seltzer water, etc, preferably in small cans rather than a large bottle) and cook up a batch of ginger syrup. There is also a recipe for ginger water in the Little House Cookbook that uses vinegar and brown sugar.

Another kind of drink that is good for sickness is a tonic. If you can get a hold of some raspberry shrub or montmorency cherry syrup, mixing these with carbonated water makes a very light drink that has a LOT of vitamin C as well as the many medicinal properties of these fruits. I get mine here, and if you look under the concentrates section, they discuss the cherry. They also have a ginger syrup I haven’t tried yet. Eggnog is good when the trouble isn’t in the stomach. And of course teas can be both a drink and a medicine, as discussed previously.

Popsicles were one of our favorites growing up, especially for sore throats. When we had our tonsils out, we had heard the whole ‘all the popsicles and ice cream you want’ rumor, but it wasn’t true. Ice cream, made of milk, would cause phlegm, so we couldn’t have any. We were allowed all the popsicles we wanted, but they had to be banana because other flavors would discolor the throat and make it hard to tell if we were bleeding. But even banana are often corn syrup, artificial flavors, and dyes. Instead, freeze some fruit juice or ginger ale in an ice cube tray covered in plastic. That way you can stick a toothpick in each square. You can also buy popsicle molds. I have the Tupperware set my mom bought years ago. These smaller portion pops are good for littles. Big kids can always have 2.

Salt- It is strange that salt settles the stomach, but that’s the trick behind saltines. With stomach illness, it is actually better to avoid starches when possible. So just swallow a pinch of salt. This works well for breaking up mucous in the throat, too, as that stuff consist of salt and water at a very thick ratio. Salt followed by lots of fluids break it up easily.

Anybody got an old time remedy they'd like to share?

3 comments:

Jeannie said...

I cant wait to keep this post to my favorites...Thanks for sharing...

MommaofMany said...

This is an excellent article! Thanks for posting it.

BTW, my six year old son has kidney disease. When his immune system is challenged by a bug, his kidneys begin to allow protein to exit through the urine. This damages the kidney and can lead to renal failure. When he begins to have sustained elevated protein counts, he needs a two and a half month course of prednisone.

I have discovered, however, that a small clove of garlic, eaten with honey as you described, and chased with a saltine if he has trouble swallowing the garlic, brings the protein right down in just a few hours. He may smell like garlic bread, but he has not needed medicine but one time in almost three years!! A clove a day keeps him healthy! i begin as soon as I notice an elevated count and usually every day for a week, or until his count stays down without the garlic.

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Thanks for sharing these remedies. My husband and I have discovered the benefits of raw apple cider vinegar. I swallow/gargle when I've got a sore throat and it kills the bacteria that is causing the sore throat. It also works good when you've bit your cheek or the inside of your lip and it gets infected. Put a little apple cider vinegar on a q-tip and rub it on the sore until all the infection is gone. It will heal much more quickly and while it hurts to put it on there initially, it feels much better in the long run. My husband drinks about an 1/8 of a cup everyday and he says it helps his joints. It is also supposed to help with digestion. Thanks again for sharing! I always love to hear about home remedies. They sure save a lot of money and they are so much better for you body.

God Bless!