Our son woke up with a sore throat this morning, so I went to work and here's what I did! Do you know of some effective home remedies for a cold or earache? Or how do you avoid colds, flu, ear infections and antibiotics at your house? I'll share my tips, and I hope you'll comment with yours, too, so we can learn from each other.
For the most part, our family is rarely sick, even when everyone around us is missing work and school like crazy. And if we do come down with something, it's usually mild and over fairly quickly. What should you do if you get a bug?
Before reading more, click here for how to avoid colds and flu in the first place:
If you've had to be on a lot of antibiotics in the past and your gut is a mess, read more about the GAPS Diet:
***A important disclaimer:
I'm not telling you what you should do and I'm not a doctor, I'm just sharing what has worked for us. Use your OWN judgment when illness hits your family and remember you may need to see a doc to make sure nothing serious is going on.
Natural Home Remedies for Cold Earache Flu, and How to Avoid Ear Infections and Antibiotics
There are a few things we do when one of us first starts getting a cold or any upper respiratory symptoms…
In the past I would usually give over-the-counter decongestants right away when one of the kids came down with cold symptoms, because the goal was NOT ending up on antibiotics since they're SO hard on our gut and our immune system, but these days I try other things first, especially since we're homeschooling now and I can keep an eye on them here. If we end up having to go that route, okay, but at least I give the natural stuff a good shot before hitting the pharmaceuticals…
- These are the homeopathics I use for cold or flu symptoms (click the word for the link). The kids don't even complain about any taste! I keep them on hand because you never know. Here's a specific post on which essential oils & homeopathics are best for ear infections.
- Last fall, our daughter had a little cold and then developed a low grade fever. Remembering what the WAPF says about the potency of cod liver oil and butter oil together for healing (read more about CLO benefits here), I gave her a dose of cod liver oil, and then made her the following chocolate milk “concoction”. This went over much better than giving her butter oil when she was younger – she threw up every time. Maybe it was a coincidence, but I don't think so, because it has happened a few times like this: her fever was gone within a couple hours and didn't come back. I think it's from all the nutrients in the pastured cream and pastured egg yolks. Here's what I make, and the amounts don't have to be exact… mix together the following ingredients very well so there are no egg yolk floaties for the kids to complain about:
- 1 raw egg yolk (from pasture-fed chickens – don't do this with eggs from the grocery store)
- Don't forget the benefits of a good bone broth/stock! You could put it in recipes, or get it lukewarm and drink it with a little sea salt and maybe a bit of garlic powder. I add extra grass-fed gelatin for even more nutrients. My kids love this.
- We take probiotics daily and then take extra if we start to feel sick, but if you don't take them daily, at least keep them on hand for when you're sick because they populate the gut with healthy bacteria to help get you well again! We take this probiotic, and you can read why here: Is My Probiotic Really Helping or am I Wasting Money? 5 Ways to Know For Sure.
- Vitamin D is also great for building up your immune system and fighting off sickness or keeping it away. It's also a nice mood-booster, especially in winter when you're not getting Vitamin D from the sun. (Be sure to take it with a good K2, more about that here: What you MUST take if you're on Calcium or Vitamin D!)
- If there is any ear pain, I'll start giving them topical drops of Colloidal Silver as soon as the symptoms start. It's a natural antibiotic. Read more here about colloidal silver and my top uses for it. Or click here to read specifically how we use it for earaches.
- Also, onions and garlic are powerful, so be sure to add those to your broth. My friend Sue used garlic oil for her son and his ear infection went away without antibiotics. Oregano oil is another healing oil. (***A couple readers raved about this garlic oil for ear infections so I got some and tried it recently when our son had ear pain, it took it away fast! This is a medicinal herb. ***Be sure to dilute with a little olive oil, avocado oil, or other carrier oil.)
- Don't forget a spoonful of this homemade elderberry syrup — read more at that link about how it helps and how to make it, it's easy!
- For a nice hit of vitamin C, I'll give them a couple organic California mandarin oranges, we get them each year in late fall and they are the BEST. Other citrus fruits would be good too.
- Another time when one of the kids had a little cold or sore throat, I let them drink “honey juice”. (They'll ask for it other times, too.) Just put a little raw honey (local is best if you have a source) in some warm water, and it soothes their throats. ***I've read that you shouldn't give honey to kids under 2.
- A good friend of mine drinks Apple Cider Vinegar (2 Tablespoons in some hot or cold water, add a bit of raw honey if needed) and it always knocks out her cold FAST. That stuff is powerful. (You could mix that with the honey.) Also you could get a free printable by clicking here: Top 25 Simple Ways to BOOST Your Health with Apple Cider Vinegar.
- Most of you probably do this already, but when kids cough & sneeze, we teach them when they're young to put their face into their arm, not to cover with their hand. This cuts down on the germs that get spread around.
- Good handwashing is another no-brainer to keep germs from spreading, but I don't use antibacterial soaps. As I said above, my goal is always limiting their exposure to antibiotics. This is why we avoided milk with antibiotics before they took it all out of the milk supply, and we buy our meat from farms that don't inject the animals with antibiotics. This is all so that if we ever really need an antibiotic someday, our bodies will not be resistant – meaning they will still respond. (Read more about how our environments have become too sterile from The Maker's Diet. And if you don't have a safe source for local pastured meats, click here for a good online source for healthy meat.)
- See the comments for how some use steam for sinus congestion and stuffiness, along with diffusing specific essential oils.
- If symptoms aren't improving I might give a dose of an over-the-counter decongestant at night before bed if I absolutely have to — if I think they're not getting better, in order to avoid an antibiotic. This usually dries up the drainage (at least some anyway), so it doesn't settle in their chest, ears, or throat all night, which can lead to irritation, inflammation, infections, and usually a sore throat and/or an earache, too. A year ago in the fall, our youngest woke up from his nap really crying and holding his right ear and then laying it on me and snuggling. He never cries, so I thought for sure he had an ear infection. I didn't want to rush him right in to the med center like I would've in the past, knowing that if he did have a little redness in his ear, they'd want to immediately put him on antibiotics like they always did for our older kids (before I knew better). The next day was Thanksgiving, so we decided to just hit him with the cold meds and pain meds and wait. Thankfully we didn't run right in, because by the next morning he was fine. The meds must have dried him up so the fluid didn't run into his ears all night and cause more pain and inflammation.
What if they really need an antibiotic?
If they do get an infection and are prescribed an antibiotic, depending on the situation you may want to try some of the above ideas before filling the prescription, but use your own judgment. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and take the meds in order to get well, and for those times, especially for the times antibiotics can actually save our lives, let's just be thankful we have them. However, they are VERY hard on our bodies and can cause many health problems down the road, so hopefully you never need them at all!
***NOTE that this is the only probiotic you should take while taking an antibiotic, it won't “cancel out” what the antibiotic is doing, but will help to minimize the damage to our gut health. We take them daily as a preventative, but at the least you should keep them on-hand.
Most importantly, if you seem to catch everything that comes along and you always get it bad and then end up on an antibiotic, read about how to heal your immune system!
- Here are more remedies for various ailments (lice, allergies, ringworm and more)
- Which essential oils & homeopathics are best for ear infections
- What a difference 10 years makes: How we dodge antibiotic bullets and prevent antibiotic resistance
- My top 3 uses for colloidal silver
- 10 steps to building a healthy immune system
- Here's where to buy Colloidal Silver online, which is usually cheaper than buying it at the health food store.
- Suggestions from the Nourishing Gourmet on Nourishing a Sick Child
- How to make your own elderberry syrup for a natural cold and flu remedy
- Great post from Sarah on NOT giving meds to lower your child's temp.