Our son woke up with a sore throat this morning, so I went to work using a few home remedies for colds — here's what I did!
Do you know of some effective home remedies for colds or earaches? 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:
- 10 Tips for Strengthening Your Immune System and
- How to Avoid Antibiotic Bullets/Prevent Antibiotic Resistance (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: GAPS Diet for Rookies — What IS the GAPS Diet? *Also, if you DO end up having to take an antibiotic, click here for the ONLY probiotics to take at the same time (knowing this may save your life someday).
***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 colds, earaches or 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 absolutely have to go that route, okay, but at least I give the natural stuff a good shot before hitting the drugs…
- 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 coming down with something, because they populate the gut with healthy bacteria to help get you well quickly. We only 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.
- These are the homeopathics I use for cold or flu symptoms (that link has combo remedies for various issues). The kids don't even complain — there's no bad taste! I keep them on hand because you never know. I'll also give things like Belladonna to help with sore throats, Bryonia 200 with Aconitum 200 to help with chest congestion, and usually nothing for fevers because that's the body's way to fight the virus! There's more info below on homeopathics for sinus congestion. Also here's a specific post on which essential oils & homeopathics are best for ear infections. ***And here is my newer post with more specific homeopathic suggestions plus a FLU CHEAT SHEET.
- 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! This is doubly beneficial because it's made with local honey which is also good for cough and colds! You could make elderberry jello or gummies with this recipe for kids if they're over 1 year old, because until then they shouldn't have honey. (There's some bacteria in honey that is only worrisome for very young kids.)
- 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. Read about the funk I was in once and how vitamin D helped so much!
- Don't forget Vitamin C when you're sick, this is also a powerful immune system booster! I'll also 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.
- 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” full of healthy dairy fats. This went over much better than giving her butter oil when she was younger – she threw it up every time! This always helped, probably because of 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)
- Also don't forget the benefits of a good bone broth/stock especially when you're not feeling well! 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 to season it up. I add extra grass-fed collagen for even more nutrients. My kids love this. (Don't have time to make it yourself? Here's the only kind of broth that I'll buy to keep on hand for when I'm all out. (It's organic, made from pastured animal bones, and shelf-stable too.)
- 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. Also you could get a free printable by clicking here: Top 25 Simple Ways to BOOST Your Health with Apple Cider Vinegar.
- If there is any ear pain, I'll start giving them topical drops of Colloidal Silver in their ear 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 topical garlic oil drops in the ear for her son and his ear infection went away without antibiotics too, so I tried it and it took away ear pain fast! It's a medicinal herb. Be sure to dilute with a little olive oil, avocado oil, or other carrier oil!
- Another time when one of the kids had a little cold or sore throat, I let them drink “honey juice”. Just put a little raw honey (local is best if you have a source) in some warm water, and it soothes their throats. ***See above about honey for kids under one. See above for how to combine this remedy with elderberries though, which is a double hit of help.
- Most of you probably do this already, but when kids cough and 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 way 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.)
- Sinus pain/to hopefully prevent sinus infection: There is also a combo remedy to help with sinus congestion and pain. More options: Arnica as needed or Sanguinaria or Hepar Sulph. All of these are good to keep on hand just in case! (Remember I'm not a doctor, this is just what I'd do, so use common sense.) If symptoms aren't improving in the past 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. Many years ago 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 more). 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. However, now that I'm learning more about homeopathics, I try not to resort to the meds unless absolutely necessary when I can't find the right remedy. Also see the comments for how some use steam for sinus congestion and stuffiness, along with diffusing specific essential oils. One of my friends loves using the Neti Pot to clear out your sinuses: Look for options here with good ratings because I don't have one so don't know one to recommend.
What if they really need an antibiotic?
I try to avoid it if possible, but if they do get an infection and are prescribed an antibiotic, 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, then yes, we can be thankful to have them. However, they are VERY hard on our bodies, specifically our gut and immune system, 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 ON 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. (Read more here.)
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!
- Learn how to Cure Yourself and Your Family with homeopathy
- 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 and here's where to buy Colloidal Silver online, which is usually cheaper than buying it at the health food store.
- 10 steps to building a healthy immune system
- Suggestions from the Nourishing Gourmet on Nourishing a Sick Child
- How to make your own elderberry syrup for a natural cold and flu remedy
DON'T FORGET to get your free printable by clicking here: Top 25 Simple Ways to BOOST Your Health with Apple Cider Vinegar — you'll find many more free printables there, too.