Did germ season sneak up on the early side for anyone else? Does it feel like it never actually left? About 6 weeks ago I got shingles, then we passed the “crud” as I lovingly call it for the next couple of weeks. No one ever really got sick with anything major, but sniffles, coughs, allergies, and the like made themselves at home in our home. Now, knocking on wood, I can say we are starting to come out of it.
I’m not against western medicine at all. In fact, I’m very grateful for it, but I do like to exhaust the list of natural options before looking to modern medicine. Summer is coming to an end so I just restocked my home remedy arsenal and am ready for colds, fevers, sniffles, and all other minor ailments that fall under the umbrella of “crud.” Sometimes I only use one or two of these items, but other times, when things get real (or green… ew, you know what I mean), I pull it all out. I feel fortunate that the majority of the time these natural remedies, coupled with the basics like a lot of rest and water, do the trick.
I want to first put a disclaimer that I am not on expert on oils, but I do have a decent supply and do enjoy using them myself. There are endless combinations of oils and almost everyone I know has a different one they swear by. These are just a few that I personally use on the regular.
Diffuse oils. When the girls have a cough I diffuse eucalyptus and lavender in their rooms at night. I also have OnGuard (the Doterra protective blend) that I diffuse in the kitchen and living room when I start hearing of different viruses around town. Sometimes I add in peppermint, especially if the cold is creating a headache for any of us, as it helps ease headaches and reduce congestion.
Apply oils. I recently learned that applying lavender around the ear is good for fighting off ear infections. I also am a fan of oregano oil on the bottom of feet because it has powerful antibacterial and a anti-fungal properties.
Add oils to baths or showers. Again, eucalyptus is one of my favorite because wen inhaled, eucalyptus oil can help loosen up the mucous to make a cough more productive.. Also adding in Epsom salts (which is not really salt, but pulverized minerals–mainly magnesium and sulfur) with a drop or two of your favorite oil can help draw out toxins and relax the body.
I am sure many of these you could make at home yourself, but we choose to buy some natural medicines. Here are our favorites.
Elderberry Syrup. Elderberry syrup has been used by people for the treatment of colds and influenzas for centuries and research supports that it is effective at reducing the severity and longevity of colds, flu, and sinusitis. During germ season the girls take 1 tsp/day about 5 days a week and I take 1 Tbsp/day as often as I remember. Local friends- we buy our locally from Backyard Fruit Co who grows their own organic elderberries on property and mixes it with local honey and spices.
Zarbee’s Naturals Cough Syrup with Ivy Leaf for Mucus. We keep Zarbee’s Naturals on hand for when the girls develop those deep, productive coughs. It uses dark honey and ivy leaf to soothe the cough and throat, and the nighttime version has melatonin to help promote a good night’s sleep.
Cough Rub. Usually made of a mix of essential oils and beeswax/oils, chest rubs are easy to make yourself, yet I also like just grabbing these from the store. Zarbee’s uses beeswax while Maty’s (another great natural brand) uses sunflower and coconut oil. I rub this on the girls’ chests before they go to bed at night to help calm their coughs.
Reduce sugar consumption. Eating or drinking too much sugar and curb the immune system.
Limit dairy. Dairy can cause increased mucus production, so if the girls have a gunky nose or cough, then we cut on cheese and yogurt for a while until it subsides.
You may also like 12 Ways to Keep Kids Healthy During Germ Season.
Sinus rinse. NeilMed makes a kid sinus kit – just check out this video of a little girl using it like a pro. A neti-pot is my go-to for clearing my sinuses when I get stuffed up, but it’s hard to get kids to be on-board with pouring saline into their head. and I bought one to have on hand next time we need it. I’m not certain my girls will go for it, but I’m hoping will convince them it’s not that bad.
Warm honey lemon drinks. My girls just refer to it as a “hot honey” drink and ask for it every time they feel a tickle in their throat. Hailey can make them all by herself now, which is super cute, but it’s just an easy combination of 1/2 tsp-1 tsp of apple cider vinegar, juice from 1/4-1/2 of a lemon, a big squeeze (i Tbsp?) of local honey and hot water. Apple cider vinegar is a natural expectorant and can help get the gunk out.
Eat raw garlic. My favorite for it’s healing powers, but admittedly not my girls’ favorite to consume. Raw garlic, when consumed within 20 minutes of chopping it, is has powerful antiviral and antibiotic properties that I swear by. For the girls, I chop about half a clove. I used to give it to them on a spoonful of peanut butter, but now that they are older and know there mom is crazy, I just hand them the chopped clove with a big glass of water and they both can get it down fairly easily.
The Magic Salt Sock natural ear relief. You can google this and find a million tutorials, but the basic idea is that you fill a clean, white sock (it must be white) with 1-1.5 cups of course sea salt. You then warm it up on the stove, flipping every minute or two, then have the child lay their ear on the warm sock for 15-20 minutes per ear to help. I can vouch that it helps soothe earaches, but some say it also helps draw out the virus and bacteria that is causing the pain as well.
Comfort and Care Items
Boogie Wipes. Boogie Wipes are wipes made with saline with helps dry up mucus. It is gentle on kids’ noses and best of all- they smell good! We use tissues most of the time, but when the girls’ noses get super stuffy and/or crusty (ew, sorry), we always reach for Boogie Wipes!
Saline drops. We also buy to Boogie Wipes brand saline drops. They aren’t the most pleasant thing, and I usually have to find a way to coerce Kaitlyn into lying down and letting me squeeze them into her nose, but just a couple drops really helps to clear out and drain her sinuses!
Coconut oil on nose. For relief of irritated skin from blowing their noses. I also splurge on the fancy, quality tissues, something I used to poke fun at. We don’t use them often, but when we do it’s repeatedly, so the extra softness makes a difference!
Elevate the mattress/pillows. I remember thinking it was the coolest when mom would stuff pillows under my mattress when I was a kid with a cold, and I still keep up the practice today. Having their heads slightly elevated makes breathing a little easier during the night as it helps the gunk drain.
Lollipops. Can I say decrease sugar and then recommend candy in the same post? Sure… With stuffy ears and sore throats, sometimes a lollipop will go a long way to help unstuff and soothe the body and the kid soul. We love these lollipops that are made from fruit and vegetable juices from Lovely Organics (and I can vouch that their gummy bears are delicious too!).
Now that we have all these natural cold remedies at the ready, I’m crossing my fingers that we stay healthy as the weather turns colder as we head into fall and winter!
Now I’m curious- what is your #1 go-to natural cold remedy for kids when germ season hits?