Monday, December 10, 2012

Living Healthfully: The Best Medicine When You're Down and Out

This is about the time of year when the great majority begin dropping like flies to the many and various colds, flus and viruses that infiltrate our homes and make their way through all the bodies inside.

And let's face it -- sometimes no matter how well we care for these bodies, they still fall to some sort of illness because life is busy and fast and it doesn't always lend itself to taking good care of ourselves by sleeping well and preparing food well and the like. {If you haven't my tips at staying well, you might want to read about preventing illness through healthy lifestyle choices!}

Because I've learned so much thus far on our extensive health journey through personal experience as well as research, I thought a short guide to restoring health when you're under the weather was in order.

{Note: We're not talking serious bacterial infections or illnesses that are life threatening here, just to be clear.}

While sick, here's where you should spend your time:

The Bedroom

We often grumble because most of us just don't have time to be sick.

But I think we have to reframe our mindset: when we fall sick we must tell ourselves that we can't afford to NOT take the time to be sick -- to rest, to heal.


Illness is the body's way of alerting us that we are run down, worn out!

Getting sick is a signal that something needs extra care and attention -- our bodies! And when we become ill repeatedly, I think we need stop and revaluate how we're operating on a day-to-day basis, which is what I had to do a little more than a year ago when repeated illnesses took a turn toward chronic conditions as that eventually happens when the body becomes worn down enough.

Those who routinely focus on deep nutrition, stress relief, adequate rest and exercise aren't off the hook, though, when they are down and out! Just because we're not repeatedly getting sick doesn't mean we don't need to stop and accept these times of illness, too, letting ourselves have sick days where only the truly important is tended -- children and rest.

Skip the Pharmacy, Visit the Garden and Kitchen

We've been programmed to turn to medicine when we're under the weather because we live in a society that has it at its fingertips.

But medications are sometimes more detrimental than helpful when it comes to viruses and general flus and colds because they often stop the body from doing the job it's supposed to do when we are sick: usher out the foreign invaders causing the illness!

While decongestants, antihistamines, fever reducers and other over-the-counter medications may help in extreme situations where very high fever or histamine reactions become dangerous, most of the time they end up hindering the body in its mission to rid itself of illness. Remember, mucus carries things out of the body as does diarrhea and vomiting and low-grade fever. So let your body do its job unhindered!

Again, I'm NOT advising against OTC medications when truly needed to help bring a body out of a dangerous situation. But for the general uncomfortable ones, letting the body do its job and aiding it through the use of herbs and food will be more helpful to healing rather than band aiding the symptoms.

Here are two places to visit instead of the pharmacy:

The Kitchen:
"Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food." Hippocrates
Best Chicken Soup Ever Recipe

Instead of getting out of bed when sick to vacuum the floor, put your energy to better use: walk into the kitchen, toss a whole chicken into a big pot with water and simmer all day morning or afternoon. Grandma's chicken soup may be some of the best medicine available, chalked full of important minerals and nutrients that are deeply healing to an ailing body.

Also healing are cultured food and drink like water kefir. Those aren't as easy to whip up in a short time period, but if you have a Whole Foods or health food store nearby, I highly recommend sending someone out to grab you a jar or few of Bubbie's Sauerkraut, some fermented kimchi or kvass. Remember, there's a HUGE link to gut health and immune health -- 80 percent of the immune system begins in the gut! So at the very least, double or triple up on a seven-strain probiotic and take it right before bedtime.

Fresh vegetables and fruits {low sugar is best}, healthy fats like avocado, pastured butter and eggs and coconut oil also have a large place in your diet, as they are richly nourishing, providing the body not only with antioxidants but also minerals and nutrients.

Water Kefir Recipe

What to avoid in the kitchen, especially while sick: sugar, including that of high-sugar fruits, grains {most of them} that rapidly turn into sugar when digested and pasteurized dairy as it can promote even more mucus production when you're already on overload. Processed and packaged foods should be out, too, especially while ill.

The Garden or Herbalist:

Herbs are powerful, so they must be carefully {especially if pregnant or nursing} used but in general, I opt for herbs before heading to the pharmacy. Whole-food-based supplements are powerful, too, and can be used to help nurture the body while sick.

Here are a few of both I keep on hand for my specific body; I recommend working with a naturopath or practitioner to find out how to best help your specific body, but in general, the following should be beneficial for many:

Green Pasture Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil gives those of us in the sun-deprived northern hemisphere during winter a natural but powerful dose of vitamin D, which is actually a hormone regulator and crucial component to T-cell regulation.

Oil of Oregano
Oil of Oregano is a powerful anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflamatory. When sick, I place two drops of high quality oil of oregano into a small glass of water two-three times per day and drink. For babies or children, you can drop one drop into olive oil, rub it onto the soles of their feet and cover with socks once or twice per day.

Mullein Leaf Tea
Mullein leaf tea, when left to steep for 15 minutes or more, helps naturally bring relief to the respiratory system. Research has shown that mullein has antiviral properties effective against the flu virus. It calms and eases sinus irritation and coughs, as well as acting as a natural probiotic for the nasal passages.

Congaplex by Standard Process
Congaplex is a blend of whole-food derived minerals and vitamins that naturally support immune system function; it's only available through health practitioners so you'll have to visit the Standard Process site to find someone near you, but this specific blend is extremely helpful in helping the body naturally strengthen and fend off illness.

Garlic Oil
Perfect for relieving intensely painful earaches, we rely on garlic oil mixed with some sweet oil. You can read about how to make your own here.

Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is great for relieving pain and inflammation. We've kept a good-sized bottle -- about as big as my thumb -- for the past year, and we've found it to be highly effective in reducing head-ache pain and bringing relief to minor burns.


  1. I'm going to try the Mullein tea, and some chicken noodle soup, stat!

  2. Love this post Hyacinth! Will be sharing with my Facebook and Linked in folks if you are ok with that. Let me know.


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