Monday, November 11, 2013

Food is Medicine {for the common cold}

All of "Daddy's girls," as Carsen calls us, are on day 4 of a head cold. Maybe it's day 5. I can't keep track. The only thing worse than having a head cold is when your littles have one too. Most people with a cold just pop some pseudophedrine and get on with life. I, for one, am not a big fan of taking medicine (or giving it to my kids) unless I absolutely can't deal without it. Plus, when you're a nursing mama you have to be extra cautious about taking any medication since it could be passed on to your nursling. You also don't want to take anything that will dry up your sinuses because it will also dry up your milk supply. And of course little ones can't take cold meds at all. Instead, we rely on humidifiers, extra pillows, saline, NoseFrida, rest and fluids to battle it out.

[caption id="attachment_834" align="aligncenter" width="504"]My poor, sick Reagan baby My poor, sick Reagan baby[/caption]

But sometimes the humidifier and some extra pillows still leave you and your little ones in misery. That's where I am! Sick and tired of being sick and tired... literally. Knowing that many common foods have health-promoting, immune-boosting, anti-illness properties, I set out to find some food-based or otherwise non-medicinal head cold relief for moms and babies. Oh, and I decided to share it with you in case anyone else is looking for the same thing :)

Here are some options I found...

1. Hot "Tea" Concoction
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 wedge lemon
Bring water to a boil. Combine hot water and apple cider vinegar in a small glass or mug. Add honey and cayenne pepper. Stir well. Top off with a squeeze of lemon. Take a deep breath of the mixture, and start drinking!

2. Cinnamon + honey
Mix 1 teaspoon of honey with 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and take 2-3 times daily. Both are antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. Could probably be mixed into a tea as well if you can't handle eating it right off a spoon.

3. Netti Pot
Get yourself a store-bought Netti Pot (or similar device) and follow instructions.
*Side note: I would personally boil, then cool the water before pouring it up into my sinuses just to ensure it is free of its own potentially harmful microorganisms. 

4. Homemade Chicken Broth/soup
Place a whole chicken in the crockpot with 6-8 cups of water depending on the size of your bird and your crockpot. Add vegetables and season to your liking. Cook on low until chicken is done. Remove chicken and save the broth. You can use the chicken meat and make it into soup, or simply sip the warm broth (you may want to skim it for fat/pieces, up to you). This is NOT the same as buying canned or boxed stock at the store ;) Read about the benefits of real broth here.

5. Garlic
Garlic soup (garlic cloves peeled and boiled in water), garlic tea (chopped garlic, lemon juice, honey, boiling water), lots of garlic added to your food, or even just peel and suck on a garlic clove. It's a natural immune-booster and along with your budding romance, it can kill bacteria too!

6. Electrolyte Popsicles
An easy recipe from My Whole Food Life, a blog I follow. Her recipes are vegan and all-natural. This recipe is especially for kids (it can be tough to keep them hydrated when they aren't feeling well), but adults could enjoy them just the same!
*Note: this recipe contains honey and should NOT be used for children younger than 1 year.

7. Herbal Steam
Bring water just to a boil with a few drops of essential oil mixed in. Then breathe the steam. You can place a towel over your head to trap the steam as well. Just be VERY cautious with steam/a pot of hot water to avoid burns.

8. Vapo-Rub Alternative
Skip the petroleum in store-bought Vapo-Rub by mixing a few drops of essential oil like eucalyptus or peppermint with a small amount of vegetable oil and apply to the chest or soles of baby's feet to open up the lungs.

**Disclaimer - I am not a doctor or medical professional, so please use this for information only and always consult your doctor for concerns about your health and treatment! Furthermore, I have not tried all of these methods nor am I endorsing or recommending any of them. Just sharing what I found readily available online!

Overall I found lots of recommendations including honey, lemon, ginger, and garlic used in various ways. I'm sure you could play around and create your own recipe with those ingredients and still get similar benefits. That's just my personal, non-medical opinion though. I think of these I would be most apt to try the cinnamon & honey (probably in tea) or the homemade Vapo-Rub. I'd also give the popsicles a try. I can usually tough out a cold pretty well, but it's really hard to manage two little kids with colds too. The Vapo-Rub would be great for them too. As I think of it, some essential oil in a nice warm bath might be soothing too - similar to the herbal steam, minus the danger of boiling water.

Just for interest's sake, I found some really weird suggestions too! One of them was to blow a blow dryer in your face (without burning yourself) for as long as you can stand it. What?! The hot air supposedly kills the rhinovirus in your nose. Also, cut an onion and leave it beside your bed when you sleep. It's supposed to absorb bacteria/germs.

Has anyone ever tried this stuff?? Do you know of any food-based or non-medicinal remedies for the common cold? Do you have any tried-and-true practices that help when you're sick?

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