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Spring is here, and so is the flu…

first aid kit

The good thing about this last burst of cold/flu season is that your local pharmacy is most likely well supplied with all of this stuff. As opposed to mid January when it’s all sold out…

It looks like the end of the tunnel is in sight. We’ve had a couple of days in the 50′s, which at this point feels warm beyond all reckoning. We have also had snow flurries, freezing rain and temps in the teens in the past few weeks. The combination is a recipe for disaster.

Which is why, though I really did mean to post this oh, back in November at the start of the cold and flu season, I am writing about it now. Because my daughter was out sick this week, as were all sorts of other folks. We can’t let our guard down. It ain’t over till it’s over, my friends, and it is far from over.

Here is a quick list of the various things I do to keep my family as healthy as possible. And I must say, we’ve done pretty damned well this year.

Elderberry tea, they say, is as effective as a flu shot if taken regularly. It is also available as a tincture, and an extract of the plant, in pill form, called Sinupret works wonders on sinus infections. Elderflower tea works more on upper respiratory problems, while the black elder, which is also more tasty, is what people tend to take for flu and chest issues.

Honey is just delicious. Turns out it is also great for calming a cough. In a tea, with lemon juice, hot water and apple cider vinegar, it can potentially cure whatever ails you. This is the drink I usually make at the first sign of cold symptoms. You can also add a little cayenne pepper to the mix, if you (or your kid) can take the heat.

Oil of Oregano is a powerful antibiotic used to treat respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders. It is overwhelmingly potent, so dilute it at least 1:3. I usually take a drop of this while I’m waiting for the water to get hot for my apple cider vinegar tea. I would not recommend giving it to your kids, unless you don’t want them to trust you ever again. It tastes horrible.

I first discovered Oscillococcinum when I had a cold in Paris, which sounds much more romantic than it was, let me assure you. I worked really really hard to learn how to pronounce it so that I didn’t sound like a fool to the pharmacist when making my purchase… Actually, this was my introduction to homeopathy, a practice that is as common in Europe as taking aspirin is here in the States. You put a bunch of these sugary pellets under your tongue as soon as you think you may be getting sick, and they magically make the illness go away. But you have to catch it at the onset. This is great for kids, as the medicine is so mild, and it tastes good.

ColdCalm is just like Oscillococcinum, but for sniffles more than aches and fever. Same pros and cons apply. My daughter LOVES this stuff.

Chestal is basically honey in a jar. And yet it actually works surprisingly well as a cough suppressant. One thing to note: the kids formula is IDENTICAL to the adult version. It’s just a marketing thing to put the word “kids” in happy crayon writing on the bottle. Everybody can drink from the same vessel, in this case.

Put a drop of sinus oil under each nostril and you can feel the passages clearing up instantly. A combination of eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree and thyme, you can also put a few drops of this in the humidifier before bedtime to help you breathe more easily through the night.

As might be evident from the extensive nature of this list, I have tried all sorts of homeopathic kids medicines, and for whatever reason, that I honestly cannot explain, Natrabio’s Children’s Cold and Flu Relief drops are the ones that work for us. So I now always stock it. I notice it is often sold out, which is reassuring, if also a bit annoying.

And lastly, but potentially most importantly, the twin pillars of Goldenseal (another natural antibiotic) and Astralagus (used in Chinese medicine to support the immune system) in tincture form are also quite helpful when taken at the onset of symptoms. I tend to give mild tasting Astralagus to my daughter to avoid her demanding some kind of ice cream chaser, as she does with some other drops I try to get into her.

I’m sure there’s lots more, but this should get you through at least these last few weeks before Spring settles in for good. Please feel free to add your own favorites in the comments. I am all about learning new tricks wherever I can!

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