We are quickly approaching Fall and not long after that Winter. It’s such a busy time, starting school and trying to can, freezing and dehydrating the end of the summer bounty. But, as a good friend reminded me, it’s time to start thinking about stocking up the winter ‘medicine’ cabinet.
When you treat your family using natural means that best way to attack is prevention with a good, healthy diet to keep a strong immune system (80% of your immune system is in your gut, keep it healthy!!) and treatment as soon as symptoms begin to appear or when you’ve been exposed to known illness.
For us, some of the first signs of illness are unexplained crabbiness. Yup. Nine times out of ten when my kids are being unusually crabby, with no given reason, the next day they end of sick. I’ve learned to try and boost the immune system, diffuse with essential oils, load up the belly with good food and send them to bed early after an epsom salts bath in hopes to ward off the illness. Most of the time we are successful with early intervention.
But, sometimes I miss those early symptoms and we end up with illness. I have learned the hard way that I want to have my cabinet stocked, not having to run out and get things when the illness sets in. I think the early treatment helps lessen the severity of the illness plus you save money.
Here are some of my winter must haves:
1.) Chicken stock and whole chickens: Nutrient dense bone broth is a must for sickies around here. Whether your belly is full of mucus or you have a tummy bug, a little bit of broth sipped throughout the day will help give your body the nutrients it needs to heal. I like to have several bags of stock frozen to have on hand. I also keep whole chickens because I like to make a big batch of soup for my sickies. (Then I can also replace the broth I used for the illness and boil down the bones of the chicken.)
We cook our soup with lots of onions, garlic, celery and carrots that all add great minerals and help aid in fighting illness.
2.) Essential oils: I love to be able to diffuse oils or add to a bath for illness. There are some great oils to help break up congestion, clean the air and help calm and comfort you when you are sick. We currently keep doTerra’s OnGuard, Purify, Breathe, and Balance blends on hand as well as the single oils of rosemary, peppermint, lavender and tea tree oil for illnesses.
3.) Probiotics: Since a good portion of your immune system is housed in your gut, keeping it happy with good bacteria is a good thing. Whether it be extra cultured foods in the house, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kombucha or beet kvass, having a good supply is a must. Daily consumption, and it doesn’t have to large amounts, will help keep your gut happy. I also like to keep some powdered probiotics around for those tummy bug times as a little bit of powder in honey is a bit easier to get down than sauerkraut when you have the belly icks.
4.) Herbs: There are so many wonderful herbs to keep on hand for illnesses, I could probably break the bank stocking up! But, I have narrowed my must have down as I’ve experienced illnesses. For us, we like to have echinacea (I actually like to give a dose every day for one week out of each month in the winter to build up the immune system), elderberry (This is a great antiviral and I like to keep dry and frozen around for tinctures and syrup) yarrow, ginger, turmeric (my friend Gwen has a great post on turmeric on her blog), peppermint, cayenne, activated charcoal, garlic, mullien, lobelia, chamomile, olive leaf, oregano and marshmallow.
These herbs cover a lot of territory. I’m kind of boring with my herbs and stick to the basics but I like to have the territory covered. It takes time to build up a collection or it gets expensive. I also don’t like to order a lot of one single herb as it gets pricey and I don’t like them to sit around too long in the herb form. Tinctures are great because they last forever and are effective and easy to give to little kids.
Ordering in bulk, with friends, is key for some of those herbs but also learning how to harvest your own is a big money saver. I’ve also discovered to trade with friends. Swapping tinctures and herbs is a great way to save money.
4.) Random items: Home canned peaches, applesauce, rice, Hyland’s cold and cough, raw, local honey, frozen berries, apple cider vinegar, vitamin D3, cocoa powder (Can be great for coughs!) fresh onions and garlic, hot water bottle, epsom salts, a humidifier, cell salts, Children’s motrin, (I know it’s not natural but some times we need help and a midnight run to the store is not my idea of fun!) amber necklaces (great for sore throats and other inflammation), Rescue Remedy and popsicles (My good friend says these are must for illness and injury and she is so right!)
I know that looks like a lot, and it is, but a lot of those things are just items I make a point to have on hand. But, as it gets close to flu season I like to make sure I have things fresh and stocked up. Prevention and early attack can be key at reducing illnesses.
It’s also important to know when you need help. We are blessed with a great doctor that supports natural supplements and is not antibiotic crazy. Medicine has its place and I am thankful to have it available to us! Our doctor is also thankful we don’t go running to him for every runny nose. 😉 (Really, ask him!)
What are some of your favorite remedies for cold and flu season?