This time of year I always seem to fight off colds. With 5 people in our house I decided it was time to be proactive! Here is my list of items I plan on keeping around the house all through the winter to help prevent and relieve cold and flu symptoms.
Ginger - keeps well and is great to ward off upset tummies. Makes into a great tea, or soup (recipes below). Very strong flavor so I recommend starting with just a little. Ginger also helps support your immune system!
Garlic - fresh and in pill form, garlic helps optimize the body's immune system and is known to help reduce the amount and length of colds when taken.
Cayenne (spicy) - can help with the immune system and the heat can help clear blocked sinuses.
Cinnamon/Nutmeg - are great fall and winter flavors but they can also ease sore tummies (recipes below).
Local Honey - soothes irritated throats, helps calm coughs (not to be given to children under 1 year of age), and if it's from a local farm can naturally help build an immunity to some allergies. Dark, thick buckwheat honey may be the best, and is also rich in antioxidants!
Garlic, Ginger, Basil, Oregano and Cilantro - help fight bacteria and are great to add to soups and chilis!
Lemon - helps cut through mucus when added to warm water and drank. Also has antibacterial properties!
Elderberry - supports and can reduce duration of the flu. Look for elderberry concentrate or products like Sambucol.
Flaxseed - naturally hydrates your body from within, it's high in fiber so take with lots of water and it will help to cleanse your body as well. Click for more info.
Immune Boosting Foods - Strawberries, Blueberries, Guava, Cantaloupe, Papaya, Pink Grapefruit, Tomato, Broccoli, Sweet Potato...
Vitamin C - Chewable for the kids, or Emergen-C packets mix into drinks (they make adult and kids packets). There are also organic vitamin C-pops that kids love! This really helps boost the immune system.
Multi-Vitamins - Children over 2 (talk to your doctor) and adults alike benefit from a multi-vitamin that helps balance out all your nutrition needs, on top of a balanced, healthy diet!
Vitamin D - If you don't have a supplement, wrap up and go outside in the sunshine for some fresh air!
Better Than Chicken Soup - recipe on the 2nd to last page, but this pdf is FULL of good info and ideas!
Hot Lemonade - Warm water, squirt of lemon and 1/2-1 tsp honey (only if over one year old). Helps opens airways and breathing as well as soothes sore throat.
Ginger - Steep chopped, fresh ginger (1 tsp kids; 1 Tbsp adults) in 8oz hot water. Steep 10-15, strain and drink. (Good for upset tummies)
Nutmeg - Add ground nutmeg (1/4 tsp kids; 1/2 tsp adults) to 8oz hot water, steep 10 minutes and drink. (Good for upset tummies)
Cinnamon - Add cinnamon (1/16-1/8 tsp for kids; 1/4 tsp adults) to hot water. Steep 5 minutes and drink. (Good for upset tummies)
Rosemary - crush leave from 3-4 sprigs, place in toe of nylons or muslin bag - throw into a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. Relaxes muscles and clears phlegm.
Thyme - pour 3 cups of boiling water over 2 Tbsp crushed fresh leaves in a medium bowl. Place face 10-12 inches above water, close eyes and breathe deeply (keeping head covered with a towel to hold in the vapors). Unplugs clogged sinuses and benefits from thymol's antibacterial properties found in thyme.
Sage - mix 2 tsp crushed fresh sage in 8 oz hot water, steep 20 minutes, strain and stir in 1/2 tsp sea salt. Gargle for 30 seconds, repeat to ease sore throat and benefit from sage's anti-inflamatory properties!
- Cool-mist humidifiers; purifiers if possible
- Check your home's weather proof/efficiency (i.e., thermal curtains, old socks with dried grains/rice along windows and doors, cover water heaters 10+ years old in thermal blankets). Check out this possible option.
- Wet-Sock Treatment: At bedtime run a pair of cotton socks under cold water and squeeze out the extra drips. Put them on you or your child, covered by a pair of warm, dry wool socks. By morning the socks will be warm, your head congestion eased (because your blood is flowing to your feet to get them warm and relieves the pressure in your head) and if there's a fever it may be broken too.
- Nasal Spray + Blue Bulb - helps relieve congested noses in children who don't know how to "blow."
- Grow your own cold remedies: thyme, peppermint, sage, rosemary and other herbs can be grown even during the cold months in a windowsill!
- Prevent sickness from spreading by dumping your toys in a bathtub filled with vinegar and water.