Well, it’s here, the official peak of “flu season”... otherwise known as a perfect breeding ground in lifestyle and climate for germs. The CDC map shows that this week in the United States, only the District of Columbia is holding out from stopping the flu from being widespread (last week West Virginia was too). Of courses we can count Hawaii and the Virgin Islands where the sun wants to still shine - and two places I would gladly like to book a flight. Maybe that needs to be my “home away from home” remedy.
Alas, I think having actual home remedies on hand is more practical. And since living in a bubble (or Hawaii) isn’t an actual option during the high flu and cold times of year, why not use tools available to you to help you body create it’s own immunity bubble.
Before modern medicine existed, people found support for ailments in nature. Modern medicine also uses nature, but often it is standardized and manipulated for measurability. I happen to believe that sometimes we manipulate it a little too much and then we lose sight of the resources God gave us. We also tend to fall for the “party line” when it comes to conventional products. I used to get the name brand peanut butter because that’s what I had growing up. Guess what?! The generic tastes great and has less sugar added. I also used to have advil in the home and grabbed two when i had a headache or cramps because that’s what I had always known. Then I gave myself an ulcer in my 20s when I was taking advil throughout the days at work. Huh. Hadn’t really known that was such an easy thing to do. I also used to give tylenol or ibuprophen at the first sign of a fever in my little ones. The most obvious downside was they would start bouncing around playing like normal- and the minute the medicine wore off the fever was back and they were back to being lethargic. When I kept this up, fevers could last for days and they often got congested in addition. These days we often can skip using OTC medicine to treat what I now know to be helpful responses of the body.
A headache and a fever are protective mechanisms of the body. They are communication tools. If we silence these, we prevent our body from getting the help it needs. Headaches can come from a variety of causes. And due to the cause, we may need to address it in different ways. If you have chronic headaches it could be really important to understand the cause so that you don’t over use over-the-counter interventions and cause liver and kidney damage. If tension in life is a cause of headaches, learning how to manage that tension in various ways could be the “cure.” If your headaches are caused by poor sleep health, then learning ways to get better sleep could provide long term support. My philosophy is that taking OTC medicine without addressing the root cause doesn’t do your health justice. And it ignores your body’s way of trying to communicate with you.
A fever even is going one step further and not just communicating an infection and need in the body, it’s also the body’s way of treatingthat infection. The temperature makes the body less attractive to the infected cells and more attractive to immune cells. Remember in my last post about how I talked about the flu germs being transmitted in cooler situations better- same goes for the body. The germs multiplying can be minimized with ahotter internal temperature AND the immune system strengthens to also attack infected cells!
When we want to intervene to help our health there are two philosophies that I try to adhere to in our family:
1. Avoid doing more harm. Know the risks and the benefits.
2. Be proactive instead of reactive.
Natural options can accomplish both of these. We integrate them into our daily life to focus on keeping us healthy. When we take our vitamins and supplements regularly, eat a balanced diet with plenty of whole foods, have healthy sleep patterns and minimize the pollution in our homes and bodies, we give our body more opportunity to keep a strong immune system. If any of these get out of balance,our bodies have to work harder to pick up the slack and then can’t maintain energy in the immune system. For example, a tired body getting exposed to germs has less of a chance than a well rested one! A poorly nourished body doesn’t have the vitamins and minerals to help organs and body systems to function and it can also bring on illness.
A FAVORITE KITCHEN STAPLE
It's that simple. And scientific.
It’s proven by science and our bodies.
I love it when I can find scientific support for my home remedies. Personally, I don’t really need it when I can feel and see the effects of using them. But it’s always confirming to know that we aren’t getting a placebo effect. Though, can I also just acknowledge that a placebo effect working is not really that big of an issue when IT WORKS! Wouldn’t you rather trick your brain and feel better than mask your symptoms and possibly hurt your internal organs. Just me? I mean, even my kids like a quick kiss to the bumped knee over any other form of treatment (IE. Placebo effect).
So back to the science. There have been a few peer reviewed studies over this simple berry either in syrup, capsule or gummy form throughout the years.One study had 60 participants between 18 and 54 years who, when they got the flu, took 15ml (one tablespoon) of Elderberry syrup 4 times a day for 5 days. Their symptoms cleared up 4 days earlier and with less “Rescue” meds than those who had the placebo. Another study of 312 economy class passengers traveling from Australia to an overseas looked at cold symptoms and durations. They took elderberry capsules 10 days prior to travel, during and after travel. There was a difference between the placebo and treatment group in how many colds were acquired, but it was not great enough for research significance (17 in elderberry, 21 in placebo). The greatest significance happened in the duration and intensity of symptoms. The ones taking the elderberry recovered in half the time as those taking placebo. In addition, they rated their symptoms at 50% less intensity. In other words, consuming elderberry made sure that people got over their colds faster and with less severity! Yes, please. When studies have been done in vitro (meaning in agar plates and not in humans or animals) results show elderberry liquid extract to decrease the activity and growth of bacteria and flu viruses!
The conclusion of this study is that it’s worth better understanding of how to take elderberry and also exploring how combining elderberry liquid extract “with additional ingredients with the goal of increasing its effects might also be considered, just as it is possible that various natural ingredients could be used in combination with the extract for different kinds of therapeutic applications.”
So guess what?!?!
That's exactly what I do when I make my Elderberry Syrup!
When you buy elderberry syrup at the store, they will often have added preservatives and are sweetened with sugar. I have a problem with these sugar sources- that are often glucose syrup or other synthetic forms. These are not natural and aren’t processed by the body in the same way as whole foods. They can also be harmful to the body and cause the liver to have to work to remove toxins. In addition, they are often from GMO corn sources. Making your own elderberry syrup eliminates this altered sugar form. It also only includes whole foods. Simple DIY Elderberry recipes often include elderberries, Cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, honey, cloves, water and simmering. I prefer making anything I do have magical superpowers with minimal extra work so I here’s why I use what I use!
Raw honey is first of all, a whole food. It’s easy to digest and break down the natural sugars. It’s also GREAT for the immune system. Raw and unfiltered honey and has a high antioxidant level and is known to be antibacterial and antimicrobial. Honey helps your brain, your immune system and the digestive system. When you are consuming a local honey, you’re also consuming local pollen and helping your body build immunity to allergens and reduce seasonal allergies. Also, little known fact- it’s helpful for getting to sleep at night! So taking the elderberry syrup right before bed maximizes it’s time in your system, and can help you sleep better on top of all it’s doing for your body.I LOVE the farm where we get our honey from. I have talked to the bee keepers and learned more about their practices. I trust them and also use their beeswax for all my DIYs!
In our home we use Young Living essential oils as supplements. We consume them internally as well as using them topically in lotions and in our aromatic diffusers. I have found that adding essential oils to my elderberry syrup can make the flavor amazing and it can also support our immune system. There are a few complementary choices when adding essential oils including Thieves Vitality, Cinnamon Vitality, Lemon Vitality and more. Two of our favorites are Clove Vitality and Orange Vitality. Clove Vitality essential oil can promote a healthy immune response and support general wellness. Orange Vitality has antioxident properties and cleanses the digestive system. All of these are amazing additions to elderberry- because we often are using it to help our immune system and our digestive system.
Using Elderberry Syrup in a lot of ways
Home Remedies for everyone
Hopefully Elderberry syrup can be one of your go to remedies this season and in years to come. If you would like my recipe and tips for making it, along with 10 other home remedies and techniques, text “Home Remedies” to 412-748-0406. It's not hard to make and I'd personally love to help you learn how to!
I love teaching about this topic in person and virtually so always feel free to reach out with any questions. Let’s all arm ourselves with tools that help us to feel empowered and ready to take on this seasons germs. It’s amazing as a mom to no longer have that helpless sinking stomach feeling that doesn’t come from getting the flu but from watching one of your kids come down sick. You can do more. Science and I both know so! Plus, with a superpowered elderberry-wolfberry-essential oil-honey infused hot toddy in hand you can do anything. Cheers to our health!
Being sick is the worst. We all like to joke that Mom’s do not get sick days. But what we do get is to take care of all the other people's sick days. As a mom, taking care of the sick people I love ranks up there with one of my greatest privileges. It used to be one of my biggest anxieties and burdens.
Last week my son came down with an abrupt cold and fever. On Valentines day and 3 days before his 10th birthday. We had work to do. We were both disappointed about the change of plans and schedule but we also knew that we had resources at our disposal. We were on a mission to get him healthy for his party. And we did. It took lots of different tools and a good amount of rest. But it all worked out and Nerf fun was had by all!
Most days, in our house, we focus on staying healthy and not letting the ick take us down. My daughter told me the other day that my job with Young Living was "to help other people stay healthy". And she isn’t wrong. I love my home remedies. I am constantly telling other people about them. If you hear me casually mention things like wet socks and elderberry syrup and detox salts, I’m not talking gibberish. I am talking science and natural health. Yes, those two do actually go hand in hand.
Let’s just get this out of the way: I love modern medicine. It saved my life 10 years ago when I was pregnant and pre-eclamptic. It has saved the life of my family members and it has its time and its place. AND I also can’t help but think that we are also losing our roots and awareness that the earth does give us ways to help our bodies stay healthy and get healthier. I’m proud of the fact that my kids don’t know a lot of the over the counter medicines. But they can give you a great explanation of Wet Sock treatment. And they do know to ask for elderberry syrup and they are regular essential oil users. My daughter realized this school year with some confusion and surprise that not all of her classmates use essential oils- or know what they are. I think she wants to help them learn more. So do I.
Starting with educating myself and my family on natural home remedies began a little over 4 years ago. I was no stranger to gargling with salt water when I had a sore throat but I had no idea all the amazing tools available to me in my kitchen. I definitely remember the frustration as a pregnant and then nursing mom with the general clueless-ness of the medical professionals on what I could do to help my sinus infection. I learned about the Neti pot and apple cider vinegar then. And then I discovered the importance of eliminating toxins in the house to give our bodies a chance to stay healthy. I also learned that there are tools that exist to keep our immune systems strong. As we integrated these into our home, I started to teach others on how to do the same. To have some simple places to point others, I wanted to write a series of articles on home remedies for cold and flu “season.”
Did you catch those quotes? If we were in person I would have totally thrown up some air quotes! I don’t really believe this to be a time of the year when colds and the flu virus must exist so much as it’s a time of the year when our body isn’t able to remain fortified naturally and our behaviors work against us. People can get colds and flu in May and they can get sick as a dog in August. Up here in the United States and specifically, the Northeast US we see an epidemic of this half of the year as a season for germ breeding. If we break it down and re-frame it we can also see it’s a season for physical and emotional turmoil and a season with physical temperature, social behavior and emotional fluctuations.
We are indoors more, not getting as much sun-borne vitamin D stimulation. We tend to congregate indoors if we do get together at places like schools, stores, malls and churches. We are sharing a lot of the same warm, dry air, allowing for easy transmission of germs. Our heating systems also blow around all this well used air and dries out our nasal passages- putting them at a deficit of doing their jobs. It’s also important for us to recognize that modern indoor air can be one of the worst places for pollution. The indoor pollutants such as artificial fragrances, toxic air fresheners, soot carrying candles and more can depress our respiratory system and our internal filtration (ie. Immune) system. Research done on the optimal breeding ground temperature and humidity for flu virus showed that low humidity in both 40 and 68 degree spaces allowed for 100% transmission of the flu virus. In addition, research on candles and chemical toxins in cleaners shows that we are creating our own indoor pollution.
During this time of year we often are more sedentary and more isolated in our lifestyle- kids aren’t out running around at recess, we tend to not be as social and it can be hard to want to be active in the short cold winter days. The shorter, grayer days also influence our mood. And when we feel less positive, we often feel more distress or stress or can't handle stress as easily. It’s also not a coincidence that some of the most stressful holidays land smack dab in the middle of the "flu season" too. Stress does a significant number on our immune system. Going hand in hand with the holidays is our increased consumption of sugar and treats and a decrease of fresh fruits and vegetables that are no longer in seasonal abundance.
So when we put it this way, it’s really not surprising that a whole season allows viruses to flourish.
I want to touch on all of these “Seasonal” deficits and what to do about them over time but I hope this sums up why it’s really important to be proactive in staying healthy.
Home remedies are not just for remedying the cold or flu someone is going through. They are also able to remedy the situation that encourages germ transmission and a weakened immune system. I don’t have time for sick and I would rather spend the time staying healthy in as many ways as possible. Some of the simplest rules for helping to keep a strong immune system are universal:
And the big add: Have lots of great physical immune supports integrated into your kitchen and personal care products. I can’t wait to share more about these! First up, because it’s an ancient and well known natural remedy: Elderberry Syrup. Have you used Elderberry or other home remedies? We love using this one to stay healthy and recover from colds faster. And there is some great science to back it up.
I am an eat, play, work at home Mom- a part time new-mom's support facilitator- full time dreamer of clay- an all the time thinker- a trained art therapist- and a home biz empower-er who never has enough minutes in the day, clay in my hands or ideas in my brain to create all the things! Also: I am mildly invested in our families health using nature's tools! Just kidding. That's my passion and message for others: Your life is essential. Take back your health!
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