It's upon us now. Not in our family yet, but all around us. This is the time of year when I start making a plan to deal with the winter cold/flu season. So far we've been pretty lucky. Last year, Sunshine and Gem both got sick enough to take to the doctor, and for both of them, it was because Mama's strict immune-building regimen wasn't followed. Sunshine, after disregarding my advice as "hippie junk" last year, remarked to me after her doctor visit, "Mama, next time I'm going to follow your advice."
Even so, having five children, I don't think that's too bad of a track record.
And also for the record, I believe mainstream medicine and doctors have their place. I am greatful that we have antibiotics available to fight things like pneumonia, which I have had to deal with twice in mothering my children; it's scary. I do think that most of the time, we can do better with helping our bodies work properly and letting our bodies heal themselves.
The first thing we do is cut out refined sugars (including high fructose corn syrup) and processed foods, which weaken our immune systems. I get lax over the summer, giving in to pizza, ice cream, and other fun stuff, but now is the time where I become very strict about our diet. It's hard to do most of my cooking from scratch when I am working, but I have to remind myself that avoiding the illnesses or fighting them off quickly is worth it in the long run. We strive to stick with whole foods as much as possible, ie, foods that grow out of the ground or that we make ourselves. If I make it, I know everything that goes in it. Snacks will be fruit and raw veggies, with the occasional homemade muffins (made with ingredients like whole wheat flour, rolled oats, and honey instead of sugar.) I think I'll post another blog soon with ideas and recipes for healthy snacks for the kidlets.
I'll begin giving my children vitamin supplements with extra C and zinc.
At the first sign of sniffles or scratchy throats, I'll begin giving elderberry syrup, which is an anti-viral. I usually also add an ecchinacea/astragulus blend for good measure.
Our grandmothers were very wise in using chicken soup to treat colds. I don't mean canned chicken soup, I mean the real homemade stuff. I usually have a big pot of some sort of homemade soup simmering on my stove throughout most of the winter. The chicken broth will help keep us hydrated and has protein which will help our bodies to heal. Throughout the year, anytime I have chicken, I will simmer the bones on the stove for a whole day, strain, and freeze the broth for later use when I am sick and don't feel like cooking. I add lots of onions and garlic to my soups, which not only help it taste good, but offers protection for our immune systems. If we want an even bigger boost, we add a bit of cayenne pepper and/or miso.
Herbal tea is another thing we keep on hand, particularly chamomile or peppermint. Chamomille is soothing and healing. Peppermint soothes upset stomachs. To make full use of the medicinal properties of tea, we steep the herbs for at least 20 minutes. We add honey and lemon to our tea; both have immune-boosting and healing properties.
For coughs and sore throats, ginger tea is easy to make. In fact, while you are looking at the ginger tea recipe on the Learning Herbs page, look at the other links to the right. I use many of these natural remedies mentioned. They work well for us.
We stay healthier and feel better following a natural health regimen than we do eating "convenience foods", getting sick, and treating it with over-the-counter medicines and doctor visits. It may seem to some like I go to great lengths, and it may seem like a lot of trouble, but really, it's just what you get used to. It's worth it to me if it cuts down on us missing out on our work/schoolwork/activities or if it keeps us from going to the doctor.