Besides eating a nutrient-dense diet and taking daily supplements that support immunity and overall wellness, we all still get sick. Diet and good supplements can definitely help you prevent and fight illness, suffer milder symptoms, and help you recover faster, but we still have to get through illnesses every so often and it’s always frustrating and uncomfortable no matter who you are.
It’s so important to have your house well stocked with all the natural remedies you’ll need to help fight illness throughout the year. I’ve learned the hard way- by not having all this stuff readily available during “sick season” and scrambling to make it, get it, or have someone (thank you, my dear husband!) make it or go get it for me while I shiver and cough my brains out in my bed.
It has also taken me three pregnancies now for me to officially realize that I always get really sick while pregnant! So a word of warning to all you ladies out there: take the extra steps to strengthen your immunity while pregnant!
Here’s my list of what I’ve gathered and successfully used throughout the years. I’m sure there are plenty more remedies out there that you can add to the list, so be sure to comment with your secrets and stories!
*Just a reminder that as outlined in my terms and conditions, nothing I write here should be considered medical advice, and before trying any remedies for illness you should consult your licensed healthcare practitioner. I may also receive a small amount of compensation if you purchase some of the items linked in this post. Thank you for supporting Real Food Family in this way!
Remedies That Are Most Likely In Your House Already:
Chicken Stock/ Chicken Veggie Soup
An African proverb goes something like this, “A good stock will raise the dead”. Stock made from simmering bones is one of the most common traditional foods there is. Every culture across the globe uses their favorite version of stock and spices as their “magic elixir”. The vitamins and minerals that are pulled out of the bones of healthy, pasture-raised animals while slowly simmering for hours and hours is truly nature’s BEST supplement. I have a recipe and more good information about homemade stock here. Don’t wait until you’re sick to make it! Try to make a good bone broth/homemade chicken stock every week, or at least every other week! When you make it, make extra to store in the freezer so it’s there when you need it. Get my recipe for homemade chicken stock and watch the video of me making it here.
Soup: stock, garlic, onion
Garlic and onions are considered to have antimicrobial benefits and are traditionally used to fight infections. The intense aroma and flavor alone may help clear up sinus an chest congestion! When I’m so congested I can’t taste anything it’s nice to make an intense garlic and onion soup that helps me taste at least a little bit (even though it repels everyone else). I like to make a garlic and onion soup by sauteing (a lot of) minced garlic and onions in butter, then adding a serving size of stock to the pan to heat it up and eat right away. Having stock ready to go is so nice, so make some right now while you read the rest of this post, then store in your freezer for when you need it!
Cough Syrup Tea: lemon juice, raw honey, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, ceyenne pepper, liqueur
I often see people make a cough syrup with these ingredients, but I like to use enough hot water to make a very thick tea…so I’m calling my version a “syrup tea”. Simply boil some water, and while its boiling juice a whole lemon into a cup and add 1-2 tablespoons of raw honey. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a heavy sprinkling of cinnamon, and a dash of cayenne pepper (optional). Pour in about 1/4-1/2 cup of hot water and mix until the ingredients are dissolved and blended together. If you’d like to, add a little strong liqueur to the tea (like a tablespoon). Alcohol is, after all, a wonderful cough suppresant. Of course if you use liqueur, treat it like you would any alcoholic beverage- with discretion. I suggest using cognac, brandy or whiskey. (Honestly the only liqueur I ever really have in the house is cognac because every once in a while I’ll make a recipe that requires a flambé.)
Shots of raw honey with raw garlic
Raw honey is a very different food than regular commercial honey. While commercial honey is heated and highly processed, raw honey contains living enzymes, beneficial bacteria, and is shown to have antibacterial properties. If you want to take the immune supporting benefits of raw honey and garlic to the next level, you might consider a raw honey and garlic shot. Just like it sounds, place some raw honey and minced raw garlic on a spoon and suck it down. It may sound intense, and it is, but it can be very helpful for various bacterial and viral infections, and even fungal infections like yeast infections or thrush.
Detox Foot Wrap
This is a “famous” treatment for illness and injury in my family. My pediatrician grandfather taught it to my family practice physician mom and she’s passed it down to us. The feet are often used for detoxification therapies because of the remarkable amount of pores per square inch of skin on the feet. The way our family does the detox wrap is by soaking a kitchen towel with hot water then wrapping the foot with it. (You can do one for each foot.) Wrap the hot towel with plastic wrap or a plastic bag, then put a wool sock over the wrap. You may even add a poultice of some sort (a medicated paste) to the bottom of the foot before your wrap it. Homemade poultices could be a garlic paste (even though it stinks) or some plant therapy (contact me for info on this). Actually, here is a cool poultice salve recipe I found.
From the drug store:
Epsom Salts and Baking Soda
Of course you might already have these things in your house- especially the baking soda- but if you don’t, go get some right now! Try this perfect blend of epsom salts with eucalyptus and spearmint to help with congestion or achy muscles. You don’t even have to be sick to enjoy the benefits of soaking in a really hot bath with a few scoops of epsom salts and baking soda. Epsom salts are an inorganic salt compound made of mostly magnesium and has hundreds of different uses, including soothing aches and pains and drawing toxins out of your body. Baking soda in a bath is known to have a detoxifying ability as well, so the two together in a hot bath- like, as hot as you can handle- is one of the first things to do if you’re sick. Just be sure to drink a lot of water to replace water lost from your body in a hot bath.
Hydrogen Peroxide in the Ears
This is a funny therapy for colds and the flu, as well as ear infections, that a friend told me about years ago that I’ve used ever since. Dr. Mercola talks about the theory behind it and his experience with it here. Basically you drop a few drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution into the ears, let it sit there and bubble for a bit, then clean it out using a Q-Tip. Do this 3-4 times per day right at the onset of an illness.
From the Specialty Store (Health food store, Online, etc.)
Elderberry Extract Syrup
Elderberry is one of the most popular natural therapies to help fight infection, and there is plenty of research to show how elderberry extract has antibacterial qualities and can fight strains of influenza (source). You can use elderberry syrup regularly to prevent illness and use it more frequently and intensely during an illness to help your immune system fight. The most cost-effective way to use elderberry syrup is to make your own. There are many recipes online for homemade elderberry syrup, but I like the simplicity of this one. Here is a recipe for homemade elderberry gummy snacks. Here in Southern California I have never seen elderberries available in the market to make one of these homemade recipes, but you can buy elderberry powder or the dried berries online here. Of course the easiest route is to purchase pre-made elderberry extract syrup like this one or this one and always have it ready and available.
Echinacea is a common herb that is known to prevent and fight illness. The easiest way to use echinacea is in tea. This tea made with echinacea and elderberry is perfect.
Probiotics are living bacteria that are beneficial for human health. The immune system relies on plenty of healthy bacteria in the gut to perform at its best. Getting probiotics either from supplements or from food is essential to overall health. Probiotics can also be used as a therapy during illness. We take extra probiotics in our home when we’re sick, but the best use of probiotic therapy is when you get a stomach virus like norovirus (that ultra contagious bug that causes constant vomiting and diarrhea that is erroneously called the “stomach flu” even though it isn’t a flu virus at all). If the stomach bug is going around, we double up on our daily probiotics and if we catch it, we take as much as of it as we can handle. You can also make your own homemade probiotic foods that you can eat to prevent illness or help you heal.
This colostrum formula is a fantastic source of colostrum from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows. I suggest taking it daily- sick or not- in a smoothie. Colostrum naturally contains a broad range of amazing immune boosters: immunoglobulins, your first line of defense (IgA, IgF and IgM), hormones, enzymes, growth factors, peptides, and nucleotides. Hundreds of studies have shown colostrum to powerfully boost the immune system, help control candida, accelerate healing and recovery from injuries and surgery, reduce inflammation, burn fat and build lean muscle mass, and promote a healthy intestinal flora. Check it out here.
Extra Vitamins and Minerals
I don’t necessarily recommend synthetic vitamins, but during an illness some extra doses of specific vitamins and minerals can help your immune system put up a better fight.
- Vitamin D is one of the most important immune supporting vitamins. Most people know you get vitamin D from direct sunlight (by way of synthesis in the body that relies on the presence of fat and cholesterol). However, most people don’t know that it is one of the most deficient vitamins in Americans and that vitamin D is mostly available in animal foods like cod liver oil and animal fats (which is why our family makes an effort to eat organic lard.) The best plant source of vitamin D is mushrooms, but you’d have to eat a full cup of raw maitake mushrooms to get half the vitamin D in one tablespoon of cod liver oil (source). So besides getting your vitamin D from cod liver oil or other foods, you might want to consider using a vitamin D supplement. I recommend this potent emulsified oil blend that has 2,000 IU’s of vitamin D in a little drop. It is collected from the oil on lamb’s wool and it is what we use in our home when we need to supplement with vitamin D.
Zinc is a mineral known to support the immune system and shorten the length of colds. You do have to be careful, though, because too much zinc can be dangerous. I recommend supplementing with liquid zinc and testing yourself to see if you are deficient. To test yourself, simply swish the liquid zinc supplement in your mouth. If it tastes like water, then swallow it because you are deficient. If it tastes dry and weird, you are probably somewhat deficient and could use a little supplementation. If it tastes metallic or so disgusting you want to spit it out, then do so because you are not deficient and you don’t need the supplement.
Of course drinking plenty water and fluids* during an illness is extremely important to avoid dehydration and also to help your body flush out toxins. *When I say fluids, I have to emphasize that only hydrating fluids should be consumed (during illness and every day life) and diuretic beverages should be strictly avoided. Diuretic beverages (those that actually dehydrate your body) include those with sugar and caffeine. It is bad advice to drink orange juice or any other juice or soda during an illness because of the dehydrating effects. Stick with water and herbal teas.
THE BEST NATURAL HEALTH OPTIONS I CAN SHARE WITH YOU….
My favorite natural remedies are so powerful and effective that I can’t really discuss them on posts that make health or disease claims…SO you’re going to have to contact me if you seriously want to learn about these!
Get Well Soon!