**Ironically enough, after beginning this post, my whole family came down with a bug. Lots and lots of tissues later, I'm finally finishing what I started. Now obviously, I only got sick, so that I could present thorough research. I just thought I'd take one for the team and make sure my ideas were the most up-to-date and accurate as possible. So, know that tried and true remedies are coming your way! **
For whatever reason, I had always shied away from taking medication unless unbelievably ill, but it was once I got pregnant that I became a HUGE medicine stickler. Three years later, I'm still basically off all medicine for the good of my body and because my toddler still loves to breastfeed. I do take the occasional ibuprofen, like after I birthed my little guy while my body was healing or when I get a light and noise sensitive headache that my natural measures just won't touch.
Otherwise, here are my tips, tricks, and simple remedies for your everyday irritations:
Congestion (aka: stuffy & runny noses): Essential oils (EOS) like doTERRA's Breathe or even just basic Peppermint are miracle workers. We like to diffuse them at bedtime to help us sleep and open up the nasal passage. The Neti Pot! If you don't use one, you should. Even when you're not sick, this baby will help keep you well. I completely swear by it. Nasty germs pass through the nose and the cleaner you keep your sniffer, the less chance you're going to wake up sick. But if pouring water thru your nose doesn't seem like a task you can warm up to, try steam showers. Close your bathroom door and keep the water as hot as you can stand to build up steam. They are also a great way to get relief. We practice "mini steam showers" by taking our cup of peppermint tea with a drop of peppermint EO and holding it right underneath our nose with a blanket over our head. Might look a little bit silly, but it works. The humidity and the smell of mint open up the blocked passage ways. Heat tea kettle and repeat as often as needed. Plus, don't forget to drink that tea up. Good till the last drop!
Sore Throat: My favorite fix for a sore throat is hot tea with honey and lemon. As I'm sure you can see, we love peppermint tea in this house, and that is definitely the one I reach for when I get sick, but chamomile works well, too. If you're feeling hardcore, add a shot (two shots) of whiskey to your tea. Nighty-night! Now for a burning sore throat that tea won't soothe, try drinking honey straight off the spoon. It'll coat the throat on the way down and should offer some relief. Plus, don't forget natural throat lozenges.
Cough: Besides honey and lozenges, I think what helps my cough the most is to stay hydrated and to not get overheated. If you have a fever, this could be harder to do as your instinct is to bundle up when your fever strikes inevitably leaving you way too hot once it breaks. Try wearing light layers. The cooler you stay, the less likely you'll get a terrible coughing attack. Also, try to sleep elevated so that nasal drainage isn't running down your throat.
Headache: I've found Peppermint EO to be ridiculously helpful with alleviating a headache. I put just a little bit right under my nose and start deep breathing in the same fashion as when I was in early labor. The smell and the breathing get rid of the pain fast. If I have a dull ache headache, I'll use my lavender rice sack, heat it up, and apply it to the area that hurts. Close your eyes and find a happy place until the pain recedes.
The Common Cold: See the four symptoms listed above. I think, for most, they cover what happens when you get plagued with the "common," but always a pain in the ass, cold. In addition to my fixes above, up your Vitamin C intake to extreme levels. I like to say that thanks to all the citrus I ate during my most recent cold, I'll never have to worry about scurvy. There's always an upside, right?
Backache: The obvious answer is a heating pad or rice sack if you have a larger one. But there are also EO blends that help "numb" the pain as well.
Nausea: Ironically enough, the same treatment that helps my headaches, helps cure nausea. I truly wish I had known that a little bit of Peppermint EO under the nose could be so effective during my pregnancy when fighting "anytime sickness."
Dry, puffy, & itchy eyes: Chamomile tea bags are a great way to ease eye discomfort. When you're done brewing your tea, squeeze out the excess liquid, and then lay down with the tea bags over your eyes. The warmth and herbs will help calm even the grumpiest of eyes. I also love to use my rice sack. Again, the warmth just feels fantastic.
Eczema: Coconut oil. I know, I know. People swear that coconut oil the be-all and end-all, but truly it helps with eczema--as long as you're not allergic to it. If you are, I find olive oil to be very good, too. One thing I've learned is to try to moisturize immediately after having contact with water. In fact, right after a shower when you've towel dried but you skin is still damp is the very best time to lock in moisture. Also make sure to pat dry and not wipe dry as this will be easier on dry or irritated skin.
Acne: Cinnamon and honey. My husband and I wash our face with cinnamon and honey. I have found that my adult acne is much improved and that it leaves my face feeling smooth (thanks to cinnamon gently exfoliating) and clean due to cinnamon and honey's antibacterial and anti microbial properties. Plus, I only wash at night and I moisturize right after, so my skin is perfectly dewy when I wake up in the morning.
Besides keeping very basic items on hand for when you do get sick, consider also being proactive, too. Would you rather spend money for a doctor or pay for good food? Eating healthy is a large part of the battle. If your immune system isn't at it's best, you're going to get sick more frequently and/or for longer periods of time. In our home, we try to eat "colorfully." The more colors on your plate the better! Last, but certainly not least, good ole fashion sunshine (vitamin D). So, go outside and sun yourself like a cat. I'm serious.
Wishes you an illness-free end of winter and beginning of spring!