Alternatively titled: Being Sick Sucks, but I changed it because, you know, SEO and stuff.
Whatever the title, it’s officially here. Germ season. Sunday evening I felt drained, but sure enough yesterday it full on hit me. Lethargy, stuffy nose, sore throat; the general ‘crud’ that likes to start making its round during the most wonderful time of the year. Though there is never a good time to feel under the weather, these two weeks before Christmas prove to be a super sucky time to feel sick. There are so many things to be doing and people to be seeing that spending even a day under the weather can be incredibly frustrating.
I’ll be honest, I was thisclose to going to the doctor and asking for antibiotics when I woke up Monday morning feeling like garbage. If you know me, this is a huge deal because I loathe the overuse of antibiotics. I haven’t taken them in years. The girls have never taken them. I don’t say that for any pats on the back because I dropped trying to be the crunchiest of crunchy moms a long time ago and am a supporter of all the good modern medicine does for us. I am also a firm believer in the importance of a healthy gut for overall immunity and well-being, so the idea of wiping out all that good bacteria makes my stomach hurt (both figuratively and literally).So being the patient woman I am (still no sarcasm font, huh?), I decided to give it one solid day of throwing every natural remedy I have at it, then decide whether or not a trip to the doctor was warranted. Well well, what do you know, I feel SO much better today.
Since it’s the season for the crud to start making its round, I wanted to share with you the natural remedies I swear by. These are not things I’ve read about or googled, but the tried and true methods I use when I get sick. Without further adieu, I give you my natural medicine arsenal!
Garlic. If you are only going to choose one natural cure to try, make it this one. Raw garlic has a property called allicin that is released when the raw garlic is crushed or chopped. It is a natural defense compound in the garlic that only stays “active” for 2-16 hours at room temperature after extracted (crushed). Allicin has incredibly potent antibacterial and antiviral power that will seriously wipe out a sore throat in 24 hours.
The trick with garlic though is that you have to be a little hardcore about it. Yesterday I think I did 7-8 cloves throughout the day. Simply peel the clove, cut it in half and pop it in your mouth. It will be spicy. Use your teeth to slightly crush the clove and release the juice. Swallowing the garlic juices helps the allicin compound to your throat and is important in killing whatever bacteria or virus is ailing you. Do this for about 10 minutes, then spit it out (or swallow it!). Repeat every 1-2 hours for optimum results.
I know your breath will reek and everything you eat that day will taste like garlic, but it really, really works!
Apple Cider Vinegar/Lemon/Honey. I’ve talked numerous times about the many uses of apple cider vinegar. When you’re feeling congested, it’s the magic you want to reach for. ACV is a natural expectorant, meaning it helps thin mucus and get it out of your system, a natural version of Mucinex if you will. It’s potent though, so I make it enjoyable to drink by adding 1 Tbsp-ish of ACV to 8-10 ounces of hot water, adding about 1 Tbsp of honey and a splash of lemon. Honey can help soothe a sore throat and lemon adds extra vitamin c. Basically a power house tonic! I had 2 of these concoctions yesterday.
Probiotics. That gut health I referenced? More and more research is showing it’s importance in overall well being from playing roles in immunity to depression. Natural probiotics can be found in yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, among others. Though I take a daily probiotic supplement, I also kick up the probiotic foods when I start feeling run down.
If you aren’t a kraut fan, I beg of you to try this garlic dill pickle variety. Even the kids devour it.
Gargling Salt. I remember my mom making me do this as a kid. It almost always made me gag, but almost always makes me feel better. Warm salt water (1/4-1/2 tsp in 8 ounces of warm water) can loosen gunk in the throat and help soothe it. 3-4 times a day when you are feeling sick is plenty. You don’t want to overdo it or the excess salt can actually inflame your throat. If you have a hard time gargling, try doing it in the shower. It won’t matter if you spit and sputter. I know that sounds weird, but the hot steam helps too.
Vitamins. I do take daily vitamins, but sometimes I forget. Maybe it’s mental, but if I forget for a week or so straight, I always feel my immunity suffer. Vitamin D and Vitamin C are important in preventing illness and though I prefer to get nutrients from food, having a back up system is helpful, especially during this time of year. When I’m feeling rundown, I also am a firm believer in zinc. In my experience, taking zinc, vitamin C and elderberry (in the form of syrup or supplement) can really help kick a cold before it gets you down.
Essential Oils. Ok, If I’m being honest, I’m still a total newbie with essential oils. I know so many people swear by them, including one of my best friends. I ordered some through her and am enjoying having them on hand. I use them with the girls and myself, diluded to a suitable potency, and feel like I have seen some improvement with cough and cold symptoms when they are used at the first sign of trouble. I have the blends in rollers and apply them to the bottom of feet (then cover with socks) and on the lower spine/back every 4-5 hours.
I’m particularly fond of the OnGuard blend from DoTerra or oregano oil (a powerful antibiotic). I’ve heard peppermint is great for reducing fevers and headaches, but have not used that one myself. I’m interested in learning more and continuing to try them. Perhaps I see a diffuser in my future?
Yes, maybe some new labels are in order too. The one on the left is a blend of frankincense, lemon and oregano. It makes me smell like a pizza. I kind of love it.
Rest. The most underrated of them all perhaps is rest. If I am able to spend one day resting, I can save myself a week of sickness. It isn’t always easy to come by, but I lucked out that the girls were absolutely dolls yesterday. They played together (mostly kindly the whole time) for hours while I rested on the couch. I thanked my lucky stars for the cloudy, rainy day which lent itself to indoor games of playing mommy, including taking care of me, which was adorable.
Both Sunday night and last night I also went to bed at 8:45. No shame in my game. I know sleep heals my body. Hailey was up at 3:00 am this morning, then Kaitlyn was up at 3:45 am this morning, so when my alarm went off at 6:00 am, I hit ignore and slept in, knowing I needed it. That’s why I’m late blogging but you guys, I feel GOOD today. Like, really good. I have a slight lingering stuffy nose (left side only- isn’t that always weird when you have congestion only on one side?), but my energy is good and my throat feels great.
I’ll probably have another ACV drink today and garlic clove just to knock it out, but again, I’m floored by what natural remedies can do.
Other remedies to note: neti pot (I love this to help with seasonal allergies), breathing warm steam, drinking a lot of warm liquids, oil pulling and staying away from sugar/white foods.
For more on natural health, check out these posts!
Do you have any natural remedies you swear by?
Such a helpful post this time of year. A couple of questions: for the garlic method how would you implement this for a toddler (2 year old)? And just for my own clarification, do you ingest the essential oils or inhale them?
Brittany Dixon says
Great question! I actually just went back to add info about the essential oils, so thanks for pointing that out. I apply the oils every 4-5 hours on the bottom of our feet (then cover with socks) and on the lower spine/back. I also make sure I do it before bed.
As for the garlic and 2 year old, I don’t know. I am trying to figure out how to make it work for my 4 year old but the truth is that it’s spicy and kids don’t usually take kindly to it. I try to give her foods with garlic (in pasta sauce or minced and used as garlic toast), but since the potency is when it’s freshly crushed, it isn’t easy. I will work on this and report back/edit if I find any successful techniques!
I just added a crushed clove to my 3.5 year old’s ACV, lemon, honey water. We’ll see how it goes. She’s complaining it’s a little spicy, but I think she’s so sick of coughing, she’s downing it
What daily probiotic do you take/recommend? I’ve been looking for one to incorporate with my family!
Brittany Dixon says
David and I take Shaklee’s probiotic pearl. This link is to my personal website, as I am a distributor. I don’t actively sell anymore, but still buy the products for my fam because I believe in the quality. https://brittanydixon.myshaklee.com/us/en/shop/healthysolutions/digestive/product-_p_optiflora_p_
If you’d rather buy somewhere else, look for a probiotic that is encapsulated in some way to protect the bacteria from destructive stomach acid. You want it to be intact so it can get to your lower intestines so it can do it’s job! A lot of probiotics increase the # of bacteria in the supplement knowing that some will be destroyed on the journey to the intestines. Hope that helped!
Julia @ Lord Still Loves Me says
Your post could seriously not come at a better time for me. I woke up to an incredibly stuffed up nose, a foggy head… and two finals to take. 🙁 AGH. I plan on coming back from the tests and sleeping away the day. I love garlic, so that will be an easy remedy for me to try! I didn’t know it was so good for you!
Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life says
I woke up this morning feeling the SAME way. We went out to dinner last night and had some of the most potent garlic bread I’ve ever tasted, so I’m hoping that will have helped. 😉 I’m not sure I could handle a whole clove!?!
I also keep meaning to look into what I can do/take while pregnant, but then I forget. Any tips?? 🙂
Brittany Dixon says
Hey garlic bread always helps, doesn’t it?! YUM. As for pregnancy (congrats again BTW!) I was a little nutty about not taking any meds, so garlic and the neti pot saved me a few times. Attempt a clove and see how it goes! If you want to punch me afterwards, I understand but man I swear by it.
I wouldn’t do the extra vitamins while pregnant just to play it safe, but definitely rest, drink a ton of water with lemon, a little acv with honey and for reals, the garlic. I hope you feel better soon! Pregnant and sick sucks twice as much 😛
I’m thinking it’s this insanely warm weather we’re having in NYC that is messing me up because I woke up yesterday feeling the same way. Funny you mention ACV because I went to the deli this morning to buy one of Bragg’s ready to drink ACV drinks but instead bought the straight vinegar. I drank about 1/5 of the bottle before I realized it was just vinegar! Hoping that helps clear me up real quick 😉
Brittany Dixon says
Oh my gosh I just majorly cringed for you!! Haha! I can’t believe you downed 1/5 of the bottle- that is so hardcore! Make sure you rinse your mouth out as that stuff is potent. Hope you feel better soon and thanks for sharing- it made me giggle! 🙂
I read last year about how important scraping your tongue can be especially during flu season. (Reason #5 here http://askthedentist.com/6-reasons-to-scrape-your-tongue/). When you’re around people who are either actively sick, or may be in the early incubation period, it apparently helps to get rid of as much bacteria from your tongue as possible. I just use a regular oral-b tongue scraper from Target and only got sick once last year (as opposed to multiple times the years before). That could be due to lots of other reasons, but it probably didn’t hurt.
Brittany Dixon says
Oh wow this is a new one for me and I think it sounds really cool! I will be buying a tongue scraper. Thanks!!
Glad I could add to the conversation! Especially with something so simple 🙂 Hope you’re enjoying your Wednesday off.
Great tips! I haven’t tried any of those. I use my nedi pot, but that’s more maintenance than getting rid of a cold.
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
Drinking tons and tons (like double my body weight) of water and tea is my way to always kick anything I feel coming on! (It usually works pretty well!)
Great tips! Gargeling salt is so disgusting, but indeed really helpful.
During the winter I do up my probiotics, mainly in the form of Kraut – I’m German and embrace the cliché wholeheartedly. 😉
Brittany Dixon says
What a delicious cliche to embrace! 🙂 I’m Greek and do the same with feta cheese— can’t get enough- mmm!
Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) says
I love all these natural remedies. The salt water gargle which is so easy has totally shortened sore throats for me in the past. I make sure to do it every time now, especially since I stopped buying throat lozenges (full of sugar!). I’m glad all your natural remedies worked for you.
Thanks for sharing. These are great tips! Drinking a TON of water and decaf hot tea always helps me, and of course, rest. Rest really is the best way to recover from the “crud” in my opinion! I also swear by those Emergen-C packets.
Grandma Honey says
I’ve recently discovered Silver Shield by Nature’s Sunshine. I have a friend who swears by it. So last month I gave it a try and was amazed. I had this cold/cough thing going on for FIVE weeks. Then on Thanksgiving day it got even worse with a fever. I thought…okay, I need an antibiotic but now we were on a 4 day weekend. So I finally started taking the Silver Shield. I started to feel better within 24 hours and within 3 days the symptoms were all GONE. That 5 week cough, the congestion, it was all gone. It worked just like an antibiotic for me, but much safer, and no side effects. Go read the reviews about it on Amazon.
Great post today!
I for sure swear by resting! Taking it easy! And getting lots and lots of sleep!
Hope you’re feeling better soon! I try to drink TONS of bone broth and hot water with honey and lemon when I’m sick. It works like a charm. Hope you feel better soon 🙂
Time for you to make some fire cider and try that out! Merry Christmas Brittany!! Love keeping up with you on the blog <3
Catherine @ foodiecology says
ACV + honey is my go-to when I feel a cold coming on. I also have a lemon/peppermint/lavender EO blend I use (sniff) to clear sinuses. I’m so iffy about antibiotics, too (HATED giving them to my then-10 month old for his ear infections, so I made sure to give him an infant probiotic!). I’ll have to try the garlic one day!
I like the ACV, lemon, honey combo when I’m feeling something start to come on. I wish I could do the garlic, but eating raw garlic gives me an instant migraine, so I’m afraid to try the juice.
We also do lots of water, sometimes extra vitamin C.
My Dad swears by zinc losangers when he’s getting a cold, I’m not sure if there’s a more natural brand than the “popular” one he takes.
I give my 2yo a baby spoon of honey for a cough and a zarabee immunity gummy throughout cold season.
You’re so lucky your girls have been so healthy, my kiddo has had a few ear infections and needed the antibiotics :/ he’s gotten a few respiratory infections too, viral, so I’d love more ideas for kids.
John J. says
John J. says
Great recommendations. Print and save for needed occasions!
Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl says
I have been drinking a warm lemon/AC vinegar/honey or maple water every morning as the first thing I eat or drink to soothe my throat and tummy and prevent any illness coming my way! I’ve been so under the weather and unfortunately I know what I need is rest, I just won’t get any until my break from work over the holidays (I am taking 2 vacation days so I get from Christmas Eve through the weekend after New Years). I need a good 9 hours a night to feel rested and refreshed and I’ve been getting 6-7 on a good day since my insomnia returned (which is more than most of my friends actually, many have been pulling all nighters at work!) I want to try and find more natural remedies for that actually, other than melantonin (on which I rely too much and has stopped working as well for me) and herbal teas.
Raw garlic is no joke! I beat a terrible case of mastitis simply by eating massive amounts of raw garlic. I didn’t want to use antibiotics because I was nursing my then 4 week old son. If all that garlic affected the taste of the milk, he certainly didn’t complain. Maybe that’s why he is so fond of onions and garlic :p
Tami @ Have My Cake says
We are huge on essential oils!!! We use them every day on ourselves and the little one!!!
I also use coconut oil for EVERYTHING. It’s so versatile!
You are so lucky that the girls let you rest! My 2 have not figured this out. They DEMAND my attention.
I really appreciate this post. I hate being sick and this is the first year that we’ve been battling a lot of illness (also first year of preschool). Hope you are back to 100% soon!
I’m also really impressed that your girls haven’t had to have antibiotics – both of my kids have had strep twice this year.
I swear by the zinc lozenges, too – as long as you can catch the cold in its early stages. I will def try some of these other home remedies. Thanks so much!
Holly Atkinson says
I’m a big fan of apple cider vinegar – it has helped me so much over the past few months of illness! Fab post and love the suggested remedies!
– Holly x
Danielle J. says
I also swear by apple cider vinegar and my husband swears by garlic!
Madeline @ FoodFitandFam says
Peppermint oil is AMAZING for headaches. I have the doTerra “past tense” roller which I use at the first sign of a tension headache and it works WONDERS. I also use the On Guard in the veggie capsules when I start feeling sick and use Purify in a diffuser in the girls’ rooms to get rid of diaper funk. This is the diffuser we have and love! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LC7KV90?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage
Fun fact – I actually wrote my thesis for PA school on the efficacy of essential oil aromatherapy in reducing pre-operative anxiety. Pretty amazing evidence that they WORK.
Love this! I want to try the ACV concoction tonight. I have kept my Bragg’s ACV in the pantry, do you refrigerate yours? I hope mine is okay being left in the pantry…
Brittany Dixon says
I don’t refrigerate mine either. I leave it on a tray on my counter and it does just fine!
Andree Michaels says
I’ve had a sore throat runny nose for three days. Decided to try the AVC and the clove of garlic . My god the garlic has made me want to com and I’ve persevered and got to say my throat has eased does not feel sore but I will have one more clove later. Fantastic tips and no pharmacy medicines insight. Thank you.
Andree Michaels says
I meant the garlic has made me want to vom as in vomit sorry for spelling error
Fantastic article – can’t say enough about Garlic! I spent years getting ear/nose/throat infections and always ended up on medication for it…but since I’ve discovered garlic I’ve never been back to the doctor…in 7 years! Thanks so much for sharing this. Cheers
Dr Manish Soni says
Such a informative and useful post for anyone. Garlic has antibacterial properties that make this work.
Pickleball Portal says
Great recommendations! ACV has so many uses! I started doing the vinegar/water/pepper/honey in the mornings, harsh in the beginning but by now I am used to it and feel better doing it.
Thanks for the info. Now I know the natural remedies that really work.
Carola Jain says
Though most people may prefer over the counter remedies or seeking medical professional guidance, there is value to be had in these natural remedies. Thanks for sharing!
I know this post is old, but in case anyone wants to know… putting honey with garlic clove pieces to eat helps to get it down. There are people on YouTube doing ferments with that, too, for a cold/flu medicine.
Brittany Dixon says
Yes I just started my own fermented garlic a couple months ago; such a great tip! Thanks 🙂