Hi, Busy Moms! I’m so happy Jenn is having me on her blog. I’m Ana-Maria, baby, and kids holistic nutritionist and a picky eating coach. For the last 4 years, I’ve been either pregnant, nursing or both at the same time, so needless to say that I’ve had to find gentler ways to help myself and my family during a cold or flu.
Having a well-stocked medicine cabinet is so important to be prepared to whip up some homemade remedies when the cold or flu strike. Over the counter (OTC) medications are great at helping alleviate symptoms and they certainly have their place, but can nevertheless interfere with the immune system ability to fight off a cold.
And that’s where natural remedies come in. You know, the kind that your grandma knew how to make! There are many out there, but the good ones are designed to support the immune system in fighting the battle raging against those nasty bugs.
I like to do a mixture of using OTC and natural remedies to help me and the kids get over a cold mainly because they are both useful in their own ways but in this post, I’m sharing the 15 items you must have as part of my natural medicine cabinet.
While generally, a cold or the flu can be treated at home, there are some guidelines when you should seek a doctor’s help right away. Keep this list handy for easy reference.
When to see the doctor during a cold or flu
- Baby is under 3 months old with a fever of 101 / 38.3
- Baby is under 6 months old with a fever greater than 103.5 / 39.7
- A fever that does not respond to any efforts to be brought down including OTC medication
- A fever that lasts more than 4 days
- A fever greater than 103.5 / 39.7
- Babies/child seem unable to focus, limp, can’t make eye contact
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck or pain when trying to touch chin to the chest (this indicates possible meningitis)
- A severe cough with chest pains or with difficulties breathing
- Recurring sore throats
- Any signs of dehydration (can’t drink any fluids, or not urinating regularly)
- Coughing blood
- If you have a sense that something is wrong
Here are your natural medicine cabinet must have supplies
Raw unpasteurized honey
Many studies show that raw honey is just as effective as cough syrup in comforting a sore throat. That’s a huge win for me. First of all, it’s a food, so you don’t have to worry about “dosages” per see. Actually, it’s the only food in the world that does not go “bad”. Choose raw unpasteurized honey as still has all the beneficial bacteria that will help our bodies fight against any viruses or other harmful bacterias. The only time you would want to be careful is to avoid giving honey to babies under 1 year old as there is a risk of botulism. If you are using honey as part of your home remedies, I would also be careful with any toddler under the age of two just because the amounts can add up quickly.
Turmeric is the most well known and most research anti-inflammatory food. In a cold or flu, it helps protect our mucus membranes from being too irritated and form over producing mucus. Too much mucus can get clogged up and breed even more bacteria. We want to make juuuuust the right amount so that it can nicely flow out of our bodies carrying with it trapped viruses and bacteria. Mix it with some honey to make a more palatable paste for the kiddos.
Garlic has been most studied for it’s antiviral and antibacterial benefits. It’s known to be effective against viruses, bacteria, yeasts, and funguses. Combined with raw honey, it’s kind of like giving our immune system access to an unlimited army of troops to fight off that cold or flu. It’s THAT helpful!
Ginger is also a must have food that can be super handy during a cold or flu. It’s anti-inflammatory and while it’s best known to relax the digestive tract and relieve tummy upsets, it’s also a really good way to relieve some muscle achiness that sometimes comes along with a cold or flu. The best way to use ginger root is to store it in the fridge for up to 3 weeks and peel and grate it when you are ready to use it. Add it to your meals towards the end of the cooking time. Or steep the root in boiled water for some homemade ginger tea.
These little fruits are a high source of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Not to get too sciency on you, but the colored part contains powerful antioxidants that help protect cell structure and DNA, which is exactly what our bodies need when fighting off a virus! Most colds or flu are viruses. They are pieces of inactive proteins, really DNA proteins, that make their way into our cells and hijack them.
Did you know that the stronger onions smell (and the more they irritate our eyes) the more loaded they are with phytonutrients that are super health promoting? I knew there had to be a reason to make it worth the tears everytime I cut one up! Onions are anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and an expectorant. In Ayurveda, they are used as a poultice to loosen and break up hardened mucus. You know how sometimes, we have that lingering hacking cough long after our cold seems to be gone? An onions poultice is especially good for breaking up that last bit of stubborn mucus.
This is one of my favorite spices to use as it’s so versatile flavor wise. Cinnamon also has anti-microbial properties and mainly studied for its ability to stop bacterial and fungi growth. So if you cold or flu is bacterial in nature, this will be so helpful. Cinnamon is also anti-inflammatory and it’s warming smells and aroma are just so soothing during a winter cold. You can simmer a cinnamon stick with some non-dairy milk and add honey for a delish warm drink.
The hotness of this spice helps to thin out mucus and helps our body move it along. Because our body uses mucus to protect our membranes and to trap bacteria or viruses, the last thing you want is to have thick mucus sticking around. Cayenne pepper, help liquify it making it a great little spice to have on hand when we are congested.
Many times when we are feeling under the weather, We don’t always feel like eating. Our body is diverting resources away from our digestive system towards our immune system, so it’s perfectly normal to have a low appetite. Sipping on warm bone broth or using it to make soups delivers a quick boost of nutrients without the heaviness of a meal. Make some ahead of time and freeze it so you have it ready when you need it most.
Teas are dried parts of plants that have very powerful properties to help our bodies. Chamomile flowers, Lemon balm leaf, Echinacea, Elderberry or Elderflower are my favorites mainly because they work, but also because they are safe for babies to seniors. Remember how I was telling you earlier that a virus basically takes over our cells? Our immune system already has its work cut out to destroy the infected cell. Then our lymph and liver have to work extra long hours to get rid of any waste materials. So this is one time, where I would recommend you buy organic loose herbs in bulk and store them in your home. It’s much more affordable than buying a box of teas!
Similarly to loose teas, essential oils are made from herbs. The big difference is that they contain a concentrated amount of the compounds that have a wide variety of health benefits. So it’s most important to treat them as medicine especially for the little ones under 2 years old. Eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils are best known as decongestants. They are so potent that it’s wise to avoid using them on young kids under 1 or even 2 years old unless you are comfortable calculating age-appropriate dosages. Cypress, Pine, Fir Needle, Spruce, Thyme, Oregano, Tea Tree are all safe to use around kids over 3 months old. I love to diffuse them at night to help keep noses from being plugged and in steam showers to really get the mucus flowing out the nose before bed.
Did you ever notice how during the winter months, we tend to wake up with a dry mouth? Or how we get crappy sleep because we have coughing fits in the middle of the night? Even worst, your kids are having coughing fits in the middle of the night and no one sleeps! A diffuser is an amazing way to keep the nose and throat hydrated so that we can sleep a bit better. A humidifier works well too, but I do prefer a diffuser because I can add a few drops of essential oils to help keep us breathing more freely through the night.
Coconut Oil OR Almond Oil OR Olive Oil
I don’t think I ever came across anyone who did not get their backs and chests lathered in Vicks as a kid. Is it hard to forget that smell right? The fastest and easiest way I found to make a homemade version is to use a carrier oil like coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or apricot kernel oil and add a few drops of essential oil and apply to the chest, back and bottoms of feet to get some much needed decongesting relief.
I once made the mistake of washing my hair and going to sleep while I was smacked down in the middle of a cold. This made for a terrible night’s sleep because just when I thought it was impossible to be more congested, things got more stuffed up there! The remedy is to put on a pair of socks that was soaked in cold water then ringed them out. Over the cotton socks, you would then put on a pair of wool socks and you’d simply go to sleep. Your body will be busy sending blood to your feet to warm them up and dry them so your circulatory system is constantly moving. This pulls blood away from your head and helps with symptoms like headaches, congestion, and even fevers. By morning the socks will be dry and hopefully, you or the kids were able to get a few hours of much needed uninterrupted sleep.
Okay, so these are using the same wet socks remedy as the cotton socks, but just in case you don’t own a pair, it’s a good idea to stock up on one pair for each member for the family. The wet sock trick works well for kiddos and adults alike, so it’s a good remedy to have in your back pocket. It’s especially helpful when the cold is at its peak and you so congested you can’t breathe properly through your nose. For kids, it helps them sleep longer at night by keeping congestion under control and, it helps you get a good night sleep too!
Hopefully most of these items you’ll have in your kitchen so if a cold creeps up in your home, you’ll be ready to tackle it head-on.
Now if you’d like to take your natural medicine cabinet to the next level Jenn and I have put an amazing bundle together for you.
I’d like to introduce you to Sniffles, Sneezes, and Stuffy Noses. In the Sniffles, Sneezes and Stuffy Noses Bundle the same must-have items are used to share twelve home remedies to help boost your immune system and help your family through a cold or flu.
We also talk about what you can do year-round to boost your immune systems and break down what to do during a cold or flu with getting well routines.
Instead of having a sick home every cold and flu season you can learn how to drastically reduce the amount of time your kids are home sick. If you’d like to learn more about this amazing bundle, click the button below.
Inside this bundle you’ll learn:
- Understand how your immune system works to help fight off those nasty bugs quicker.
- Know exactly when you need and don’t need to head to the doctor, clinic, or ER.
- Strengthen your immune system year-round to fight off the sickness before it even happens.
- Simple sick day routines for you, your kids (husbands included).
- 12 simple remedies and recipes to help fight off the cold or flu with ingredients you probably have on hand right now.
Inside this bundle you’ll receive:
- Symptoms and routines pdf
- When to see the doc pdf
- Homemade remedies and recipes pdf
- 4 how to instructional videos:
- Understanding the immune system
- What to do before a cold or flu hits
- What to do during a cold or flu
- What to do after a cold or flu
So instead of having your children live with a 3-6 month runny nose, you can learn how to reduce symptoms to help keep your family healthy.