I remember I got bronchitis and they started me off with something that worked like an Alka-seltzer or an Airborne. I donít actually know what it was, but it didnít work. Not at all. A week later I went back and they gave me an inhaler. It was my first time on an inhaler and again, I donít know what kind of medicine it was, but it was nothing like anything Iíd ever had in the US up until that point and again, it did nothing to make me feel better. A week later, I was back again in the office with a translator who explained things between me and the doctor when my growing Spanish failed me. Finally, the exasperated doctor gave me pills. They must have been antibiotics because a day or two later, it felt like Iíd never been sick. At the time, I was experiencing culture shock so I just complained about these weird Spaniards who wouldnít give me medicine. I said it over and over again to my friends, ďI wish theyíd just give me pills. If I were in the US, this stupid bronchitis would be gone already. Iím done with all this herbal junk!Ē What I didnít realize until later was that my body was so accustomed to heavy medication over the years that it wasnít able to heal itself as quickly as it should and the ďherbal junkĒ that was working for Spaniards unaccustomed to heavy medications, wasnít working for me for that reason.
Later, while at the end of my study abroad in Spain, I went with a friend and her parents to translate when they had to visit a doctor because her mom had broken her arm. When they asked her mom (a typical, middle aged, American woman) what medications she was on, she proceeded to give a list of at least five medicationsófor heart, blood pressure, etc. As she was talking and I was translating, one doctor shook her head and looked to the other and said in Spanish, ďHave you ever heard of the movie El drogadictoóThe Drug Addict?Ē My jaw dropped as she was so blatently rude in front of my friendís mother because she knew she could say it in Spanish without being understood. She either forgot I was in the room or she didnít care. I kindly didnít translate that part to my friendís mom, but now, after taking my daughter to the doctor for one bug or virus after another and getting medicine prescribed each time, I kind of see their point. I worry every time sheís prescribed an antibiotic or a pain medication. I worry that weíre teaching her body to depend upon these chemicals. So, since her birth, Iíve been doing my own research and trying some natural things to avoid going to see the doctor. Now, when we do go, I always accept the medication they give, but this is after trying other methods at home first.
The following is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is some of the things that weíve tried as a family to avoid and/or heal sickness.
DietIf you eat a bad diet, youíre sort of setting your body up to get sick. We eat a majority of whole foods as a general rule, and for awhile we ate Paleo because my chiropractor suggested it as a way to avoid sickness. It was a hard diet to follow at first, and expensive because of all the meat and fresh produce, but I did feel amazing once Iíd been on it a couple of weeks. Also, my chiropractor told me it would help me get pregnant, and I was pregnant not even a month after going on it. However, now that our baby is born, weíre just going back to whole foods and clean eating because I really like my grains and legumes!
VitaminsI try to keep vitamins around so that we can take them every day. During my pregnancy this is easier as I have to take Prenatals. I usually buy childrenís gummy vitamins instead and my daughter and I take them together.
Tea tree oilTea tree oil has many topical uses from what Iíve heardósuch as being used in tiny amounts in your baby wipe solution. In itís concentrated form, Iíve used just a little bit on a Q-tip to kill ringworm. This can be irritating to some skin, though, so be careful. It didnít irritate my daughter at all but killed the ringworm after only one or two applications.
Amber teething necklaceIíve read that amber teething necklaces act as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory, so I bought both a necklace and a bracelet for my 9 week old son. He isnít teething yet but Iím assuming it can help with other discomforts as well. I canít tell if itís working or not because there are so many variables that could be contributing when heís uncomfortable (and he certainly isnít teething yet), but I have a couple of friends who used it just for teething and theyíve promised me that it makes a difference. I had it on him when he got his 2 month old vaccines just in case it might make a difference. I donít know what he would have been like without the amber, but I figured it couldnít hurt.
Vaccinations:Some people skip vaccinations, but I feel that their benefits far outweigh the risks. Kids used to die from things like measles and Rubella and a friend of mine made a good point that we forget how bad it used to be for children because our vaccines are so effective now. If you choose to vaccinate, you can always space out your vaccinations so as not to overwhelm your childís immune system. It may make a difference. It may not. I didnít space them out for Bunny, but Iím doing so now with Bear and he seems to react less strongly to his shots.
GarlicGarlic has so many uses! From lowering your cholesterol to curing ear infectionsó the list is pretty long! Using garlic regularly in your meals is one way to keep your family healthy. Just having it in your system will help your body fight off infection.
When I have an ear infection, I also use garlic oil drops in my ears to help combat it and when my daughter has a cold, we put cut up pieces of garlic into her socks so it can absorb into her blood stream and help her fight the cold better.
OnionOnions are similar to garlic in their sickness-fighting, body strengthening properties.
My favorite way to use an onion is to cut it in half and place it in our bedrooms in a bowl. I know itís crazy, bug Iíve read from a couple of sources that this helps to draw germs out of the air. Also, I read about how one mom cuts an onion in half and puts it against her childrenís ears when they have an ear infection. Iíve never tried it, but I have no doubt it helps. Cooking with and eating onions can help as well, but be careful not to save bits of an onion after it has been cut open. Iíve heard that since it draws germs, an onion that has been cut and not used immediately can make you sick.
BreastmilkIf garlic and onions are medicinal wonders, breast milk is more so. The stuff is liquid gold even after the colostrum is gone. Iíve used it instead of saline solution to clear out sinus passages and my friend said she gave some to a friend of hers to use as eye drops to clear up an infection and it was reported back that it worked better than anything else sheíd tried. Itís no wonder. Breast milk is designed not only to nourish, but to boost a babyís immune system. Itís amazing and Iíll be sorry when my supply is gone years down the road and this medicinal wonder is no longer at my fingertips.
Cinnamon/honeyAnytime I feel that familiar tickle coming on, I take a spoonful of honey sprinkled with cinnamon. This is an antibacterial combination and can help stop a coming cold or shorten one thatís on its way. Also, honey is a great cough suppressentó chemical free and one that your child (whoís at least one year old) will actually love to take.
TumericThough Iíve never used it as such, tumeric is supposed to have great medicinal properties as well. Itís disinfectant, antibacterial, and apparently a pain killer to name a few of itís awesome benefits. Iíve also heard that itís antifungal, which doesnít surprise me. I love Indian food which uses a lot of tumeric and now I know that eating it is actually good for me!
Neti potThe neti pot is great for health maintenance and for cold and sinus infection remedy. We use it any time weíre sick. One time in particular, my husband used a dose of antibiotics that didnít actually clear his sinus infection so once heíd finished the medicine, he just kept on with the neti pot. After another week or two, the neti pot cured the infection rather than the antibiotics.
ChiropracticMy chiropractor is wonderful and he is part of the reason that I now look to natural remedies before medicinal ones. He always emphasizes that a healthy spine is the first step towards a healthy life style because your spine houses your spinal chord which affects all of the systems in your body. Often, simple spine adjustments can fix subluxations which are causing things like viruses or even infertility. In addition to adjusting the spine, my chiropractor has adjusted my knees, arms, and even my sinus passages. When Iím pregnant, he adjusts my round ligaments and prepares my pelvis for delivery (which also helps get the baby in the head down position). I also get my children adjusted regularly which can help their bodies in proper development.
Again, Iím no medical expertójust a mom who seeks the best for her kidsóso if youíre going to use natural and herbal remedies, please do the research on your own and consult a professional if possible. But the great thing about these remedies is that they canít hurt the problem, only help it. I also donít exclusively lean on these things for my familyís health. I use them to try to avoid a problem before itís begun or assist a problem when itís small, but if they donít work, I go to the doctor. I do accept antibiotics for my children, Iím just judicial about it. I try other avenues first. My son, for instance, is on Zantac for his reflux, but we didnít try that until weíd already tried natural remedies first.
So since Iím no expert and Iím sure some of you reading this actually are, can you comment with your favorite natural cure? Iíd love to add more to my repertoire.