If you are interested in taking a more natural approach to your family’s health, these are the essentials to have on hand during germ season. I’ve spent several years building a natural medicine cabinet that is simple and effective. These are my favorite go-tos!
With germ season around the corner, I’ve made sure my arsenal is ready to go. Over the past few years I have built a natural medicine cabinet that often lets us nips colds and other minor ailments in the bud before they take over the house. With two girls in preschool, we can’t avoid germs, but if they make it past our first defense of soap and water, I stand ready to attack with some of my favorite natural remedies.
I buy mine from a friend locally then freeze to pull out when needed.
What it is: Elderberry is a plant. The plant’s berries, which contain vitamins A,B and C, are boiled and simmered with other ingredients to make a syrup.Uses: According to Israeli researchers, elderberries help stimulate the immune system. Elderberry syrup has been shown to help be avoid contracting common colds as the flu, as well as speed up recovery if you do get sick.
More info: For more information and a recipe on how to make your own elderberry syrup, check out this post.
What it is: A water-soluble nutrient that acts as an antioxidant protecting cells in the body from damage caused by free radicals.
Uses: Though it hasn’t been proven to prevent colds, some studies have show that taking vitamin C before the onset of cold symptoms can help shorten their duration.
Best buys: Pure Radiance C is a wholefood vitamin C supplement containing only natural vitamin C without any synthetic ascorbic acid. I also keep Shaklee’s chewable Vit-C on hand because I love their quality standards, plus they are chewable and the girls like the way they taste.
More info: Though it is not common to be deficient or overdose, there are always precautions to keep in mind with any supplement. Dr. Weil goes into more detail on vitamin C in this article.
What it is: Activated charcoal is specially designed for medical use. It is made by heating common charcoal in the presence of a gas that causes the charcoal to develop lots of small pores. These pores help activated charcoal “trap” chemicals.
Uses: Activated charcoal is used to treat poisonings, reduce intestinal gas, whiten teeth, lower cholesterol levels, prevent hangover, and prevent contracting the stomach flu. If I hear word that a stomach virus is going around, I start taking the charcoal and feel it has really helped me escape a few rounds of the stomach bug.
More info: This Dr. Axe article goes into more detail on the many uses of activated charcoal.
What it is: Saline spray is a salt solution used to rinse out and moisturize the nostrils.
Uses: Saline spray is used on dry and irritated nasal passages associated with colds, allergies or dry air. It helps clean and moisturize the nasal passages and get rid of thick mucus.
Best buys: There are endless choices of fine nasal sprays available almost everywhere. I have the Xclear version with xylitol, which is shown to keep nasal passages more moisturized.
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What it is: Ginger is a plant and the root of the ginger plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried, in oil form or as juice.
Uses: Ginger is used for relieving digestive problems such as nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness and pain.
Best buys: I like to have candied ginger from the bulk bin on hand (which is just dried ginger coated with sugar) to chew when my stomach feels uneasy. I also keep this tea on hand for the same purpose or to sip in the evening to aid in digestion.
More info: For more information on ginger’s many uses, click here.
What it is: A fragrant, natural oil derived from a plant’s seeds, roots, stem, flowers, peels or plant.
Uses: Various uses based on your ailment because they have antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. I am rather new to oils (have been using them less than 1 year), but my favorites to have on hand are peppermint (for energy and it really helps with headaches), oregano (for cleaning and immune support) and a blend by DoTerra called OnGuard which contains wild orange peel, clove bud, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils. I use it mostly during the winter to diffuse (I have this diffuser) or to rub on the girls’ feet after bath.
Best buys: I believe its best to talk to a rep, so if you represent a quality oil company, please comment below so those interested can contact you for more info.
Cool Mist Humidifier
What it is: Cool mist humidifiers add moisture to the air without using hot steam which can burn young children.
Uses: To add moisture to dry environments and can help ease coughing and congestion due to colds.
Best buys: In my mom experience, I can vouch that this is very helpful when cold season strikes as it really helps everyone sleep more soundly without the discomfort of a dried out nose and mouth. We have this frog humidifier, which the girls love, but also am looking at this one because of the option to diffuse oils simultaneously.
Throat Coat Tea
What it is: A tea containing the slippery component of the bark of an elm tree combined with licorice and marshmallow root.
Uses: When anyone in our house feels a tickle in their throat, this is the first thing we reach for. Like its name suggests, it gently adds a level of protection to scratchy, uncomfortable throats.
Best buys: You can find this at many grocery stores and pharmacies, or buy it on Amazon.
What it is: A fat soluble vitamin vital to bodily health.
Uses: Vitamin D manages calcium in your blood, bones and gut and helps cells all over your body to communicate properly.
Best buys: David and I take these gummies and I am able to cut them in half to give to the kids if needed.
More info: This article from Harvard goes into detail on why vitamin D levels are important.
What it is: Allicin, a chemical found in garlic, has powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties. Garlic is shown to have many health benefits and medicinal qualities.
Uses: If I could swear by only one thing, it would be raw garlic. I chew on a peeled clove for about 10 minutes 4-5 times a day when I feel the first hint of a sore throat and it knocks it out immediately. Yes, my breath is horrendous, but I credit garlic with keeping me well when others get knocked down at least a dozen times.
Best buys: The best thing you can do is buy garlic from the grocery and chew the cloves raw (once cut for 20 minutes or cooked, the allicin in the garlic which is the potent antibacteria begins to fade). However, if that is too hardcore for you, I recommend keeping a quality garlic supplement on hand.
More info: Find 13 uses for garlic here.
What it is: Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system.
Uses: Probiotics are live microorganisms that may be able to help prevent and treat some illnesses while promoting a healthy digestive track and strong immune system.
Best buys: As far as supplements go, I am constantly trying new probiotics as I learn more about what makes a good one. At this time I have these because the girls can easily chew them up and like the way they taste. Plus, they contain vitamin C, vitamin D and a prebiotic as well.
We also regularly eat foods rich in probiotics like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and yogurt.
More info: I am fascinated by the growing research on probiotics and how they so strongly affect our physical (and mental!) health. Here is an article with some interesting facts on the importance of gut health.
Apple Cider Vinegar
What it is: Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made by first juicing apples and fermenting them to become apple cider. Then it is fermented again with acid-forming bacteria to create vinegar.
Uses: Though it has many uses, for today’s focus on germ season, ACV acts as an expectorant, helping to thin mucus and clear it out.
Best buys: You want to look for a raw, organic apple cider vinegar that has the mother, which you can buy at your local grocery store or online.
More info: You want to be careful in how you use this potent solution, so read all the details here first.
That sums up the basics of my arsenal!
Do you have a favorite natural cure that you swear by?
Please share in the comments!
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