Natural Cold Relief

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

At Home With a Cold?

Last week Nick was home sick for two days. He had a sore throat, fever, and was all congested. This week, it's Ben's turn. I hate this time of year because in January and February, it seems like a cesspool of germs. The boys pass their sick germs back and forth. Once I am done taking care of them and they're all better, I usually catch it.

I am hoping since I was blessed with a stomach bug Sunday that I will avoid this bug. I'm going to share some DIY cold-combatting recipes that I've shared with you over the years. It's cold and flu season, so I am reaching for the Vick's to slather on the boys, right?

Wrong! Have you seen what is in this age old "remedy"? Crude oil and turpentine...I kid you not.

We'll look at what is in popular Vicks products and then I'll show you how to make an easy alternative.

Photo from Wegmans.com


Here is the full ingredients listing, for example, from a package of Vick's VapoRub:

Active Ingredients: Camphor (4.8%), Eucalyptus Oil (1.2%), Menthol (2.6%). Inactive Ingredients: Cedarleaf Oil, Nutmeg Oil, Special Petrolatum, Thymol, Turpentine Oil.


And the listing from the newer, greaseless cream:
Active Ingredients: Camphor (5.2%), Eucalyptus Oil (1.2%), Menthol (2.8%). Inactive Ingredients: Carbomer 954, Cedarleaf Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetyl Palmitate, Cyclomethicone Copolyol, Dimethicone Copolyol, Dimethicone, EDTA, Glycerin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Isopropyl Palmitate, Methylparaben, Nutmeg Oil, PEG-100 Stearate, Propylparaben, Purified Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Stearic Acid, Stearyl Alcohol, Thymol, Titanium Dioxide, Turpentine Oil

Let's see....we have Turpentine and parabens in something rubbed into our children. There are PEG ingredients as well in the second. The original contains "special" petrolatum. Special crude oil? . What exactly is that? A high octane version, perhaps. The most troubling ingredient, though, is that camphor is still used in these products when it is known to be toxic in children.

In fact, Nancy Clark, the Assistant Commissioner of New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) Bureau of Environmental Disease Prevention Program says, "Camphor products can be very dangerous for children...Be sure to keep these products away from them. Swallowing camphor or applying it in large amounts to a child can cause seizures."

A study at Wake Forest University also concluded that Vicks Vaporub can be harmful to the airways of children.

Vicks clearly in unsafe to apply on our children. You can make your own 100% natural products to use instead of Vicks with just a handful of ingredients you may already have at home.

*1/2 cup of rice bran, safflower, grapeseed, or sesame oil (if you do not have these, even canola will do)
*5 drops rosemary essential oil (100% pure, not "fragrance oil")
*5 drops of peppermint essential oil (100% pure, not "fragrance oil")
*5 drop of lemon essential oil (100% pure, not "fragrance oil")
*10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil (100% pure, not "fragrance oil")

Combine in a bottle. I prefer to use a dark glass for storage, such as amber or cobalt. Anything will do, though, in a pinch. Note that I am using smaller amount of essential oils than one normally would--that is because children should not have the full amount, even when rubbed topically like this--of essential oils. Remember, this is topical and should not be taken orally.

This will not have that Vaseline-type consistency of Vicks. That is OK! The carrier oil (the rice bran, grapeseed, etc.) will act as that great base to hold the essential oils and deliver the benefits of aromatherapy.

Take a small amount and apply first to your feet and cover with socks. Then apply a bit (less than a dime sized amount) and apply to chest area and cover back up with a top.

This works very well. Why?

The lemon works in aromatherapy to treat sore throats. The rosemary helps with sinus issues, bronchitis, asthma, and other respiratory symptoms. Peppermint is used to help with treating coughs, especially those of a dry and hacking nature. The eucalyptus works to loosen phlegm and mucus.



In addition to the oil, you can also make an easy peasy milk bath to help with congestion. 

Here is how to do it:

My favorite thing to make for myself when I am feeling under the weather with a cold, congestion, or flu-like symptoms is my "decongestant" milk bath, which can be made in a large jar and refrigerated, or in small jars for one treatment. You can use mason jars, canning jars, or any clean and dry jar. Rinse out those plastics and feel free to reuse it to make this as well.

Why a milk bath? Milk contains lactic acid, a form of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). It helps to gently exfoliate the skin, and milk will also soften and nourish.

I like to use aromatherapy as much as I can to treat symptoms of stress and illness. It is being used more and more by alternative health practitioners to treat stress when used as a complementary therapy with traditional Western medicine. Of course, I believe in going to the doctor regular and in vaccinations to prevent illness, but I take a holistic approach along with traditional medicine.

This will fill a 4 ounce jar:

Start with 1/4 cup of goat's milk (you can buy Meyenberg Goat's Milk in many grocery stores or natural food grocery stores right in the refrigerated section. I really prefer the fresh version as opposed to powder. Powdered goat's milk doesn't work as well, in my opinion, as the fresh. 

You can also use organic whole milk or buttermilk.
I then use 1/8 cup of steeped peppermint or chamomile tea. You can skip this and just use milk if you don't have any handy.
Then add in some fresh or dried peppermint. I use enough to fill a teaspoon. You can use more or less.


Add in about 15 drops of peppermint essential oil, 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, and 10 drops of lemon essential oil. All are available at Mountain Rose Herbs or at your local natural foods store. Locally, Wegmans even has most of these in the Nature's Marketplace section.

Gently mix these with a wooden spoon and pour into your jar. You will most likely have room to add more milk before you put the top on. 

I let this steep for a few hours. I then pour it under running hot water in the tub & light a couple of candles to soak away my cold symptoms.

This blend will store in the fridge for a couple days.


What else can you do?

Have you tried a Neti Pot yet? You can find them at drugstores and handmade on Etsy. They really work like a charm (they are nasal irrigators) and can give immediate relief of your stuffy nose. Here are some I found on Etsy:

$30

$18


$38


HAVE A TEA PARTY!

Tea also helps. Some tried and true teas that I drink when I feel under the weather:


 Harney & Sons White Vanilla Grapefruit tea is a favorite. The vitamin C in the grapefruit and the comfort factor of the vanilla makes this one of my personal loves.
$9.60


Lemon Souffle from Etsy's Tea for All Reasons is blended with Honeybush and is another cold season favorite of mine!
$5


Oh Honey!

A spoon with some honey on it also soothes a sore throat. My personal favorites?
I have two. I love a local company's Buckwheat Honey. It's called Doan's Honey Farm and is from the Rochester area.


My other most favorite honey was a gift from a friend in Michigan. She's also a C & G reader. It's a heavenly whipped lemon honey from Le Cocoa Bee. It is ideal for helping soothe a sore throat!  


Dislclaimer--I hope these natural remedies help everyone out. Please remember that you cannot give babies honey and that you should see a doctor if you're sick. This isn't a substitute for medical advice or intended to diagnose or cure a medical condition.
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