Do you ever wish there was some way to naturally protect your family during cold and flu season? Before you rush out and get a flu shot, I’ve got some great tips to boost your immune system and fight off those pesky little germs!
But before I get into that, let me tell you a little about myself… My name is Erin Disch and I met Bianca through our local MOPs group! I am passionate about Jesus and the world, natural living, healthy cooking and all things artsy! I have been married for 13 years to my wonderful husband, Jimmy. I am a stay-at-home, homeschool mom to our three young boys. They are amazing and crazy and my house is never quiet, yet I wouldn’t change it for the world! I am so blessed!
Nearly 4 years ago, when I found out I was pregnant with our third child, I began seeing a naturopath doctor to help decrease my chances of developing severely high blood pressure that I had suffered from during my first two pregnancies. We had tinkered with several dietary things prior to this, but I would say this truly began our path to developing a natural lifestyle for our family. We switched to a clean eating, mostly organic diet, started exercising regularly (which I need to get back into the habit of doing again – ugh!), began seeking alternative medicine for health concerns, and eliminated chemicals in our home by switching to Norwex for cleaning. Along the way, I’ve learned a few tricks for helping our family to ward off, or at least shorten the length and severity of the cold and flu. Ready for the goods? OK. Here we go!
Did you know that 70-80% of your immune system is housed in your intestines where a vast collection of bacteria live? Bacteria line your intestines and help your body to digest food. Eating too much sugar or processed foods and not enough fiber and vegetables, as well as taking antibiotics can cause your gut flora to get out of whack. It’s important to keep the good bacteria in your gut at a healthy level to improve your immune system. There are a few ways that you can incorporate probiotics into your diet to get and maintain a healthy gut. Choose any or all of these to help boost your body’s germ fighting ability!
· Taking store bought probiotic supplements.
· Eating cultured dairy products like yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, and raw milk.
· Adding in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles or other pickled vegetables.
· Drinking kombucha, a fermented tea – my personal favorite! You can buy it for $3-$4 a bottle or make your own for much less moolah. I follow this method. My favorite is to flavor it with fresh lemon chunks and raspberries when I bottle it for the second ferment. It becomes fizzy and is a super healthy substitute for soda. My whole family enjoys a glass every day! My 3 year old even threw a temper tantrum a couple weeks ago at 9:30 at night (2 hours after he was in bed) because he “needed a little cup of kombuchaaaa!” Oh boy. That child... At least it’s a healthy request, right?
Elderberries have been used for centuries as a folk remedy. They are packed with Vitamins A, D and C, antioxidants and bioflavonoids which can boost your immune system and protect your cells from being infected by cold and flu viruses!
Elderberry is usually taken as a tea or syrup. You can purchase elderberry syrup or make your own for far less money. I prefer to buy dried elderberries and make my own syrup. It’s as easy as simmering some dried elderberries in filtered water, straining them, and adding some raw honey once it cools a bit. Easy peasy.
This recipe is a powerhouse of immune boosting goodness! It includes fresh ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Ginger on its own can calm nausea, help inhibit the growth of bad bacteria and fight off rhinovirus, which can cause the common cold. Cinnamon is also great at fighting off various kinds of infections and has tons of antioxidants and polyphenols. Likewise, cloves have powerful antibacterial properties and can also help boost your immune system! Wahoo!
When I make mine, I prefer to simmer a couple of broken up cinnamon sticks and 5 whole cloves with the elderberries instead of ground spices so it doesn’t have the gritty texture of the ground spices in it. If you love ginger, the finer you mince it, the spicier it is. I keep mine in a mason jar in the fridge and we all take it daily during cold and flu season.
If you haven’t jumped on the essential oil train yet, here’s the skinny… Essential oils are concentrated, volatile, aromatic liquids that are obtained from plants. These oils have been used for their aromatic and healing benefits for hundreds of years.
There are quite a few companies out there that sell essential oils. This is a great article comparing the top 10 essential oils and is a great resource when choosing which brand to purchase. I personally use Plant Therapy oils, as I particularly like that they are high quality, fit my budget, and they have a whole line of “Kid Safe” synergies that, as the name suggests, are safe for use on children of all ages. Many people may not be aware that there are several oils that are not safe for children under 10, so please be careful which oils you choose to use. I encourage you to do some research and determine what you feel is best for your family.
Once you have your essential oils, there are several methods by which you can incorporate essential oils into your medicinal arsenal.
· Apply them topically being sure to dilute to a safe amount, as it is almost never safe to apply them undiluted. These single oils are great for fighting off germs, but there are also blends available from many oil companies. Again, please be safe with which oils you use on kids! I like to make roller bottles with fractionated coconut oil and Plant Therapy’s Germ Destroyer blend for our kids and the Germ Fighter blend (their version of Thieves) for my husband and I. We apply it to the bottoms of our feet, our chest and back when we are feeling under the weather.
· Inhaling oils by putting a couple drops on your pillow, tissue or aromatherapy necklace, using an aromatherapy inhaler, putting a few drops in a bowl of steaming water and deep breathing in the vapors, or by diffusing them. Diffusers work by creating a fine mist of the essential oils and dispersing them in the air making them more easily absorbed by your lungs. I have this diffuser and really like it for in our bedroom or smaller living spaces.
· Ingesting them. Although many people do ingest oils, our family does not. According to Robert Tisserand, a leading expert in aromatherapy and essential oil safety, there can be long term risks associated with ingesting oils if you don’t “absolutely and totally know what you are doing.” Since I’m not a certified aromatherapist, I’ll stick to the other methods described above, just to be safe. But again, please look into this yourself and choose what you feel is safe for you!
So there you have it folks! I hope your family can benefit from incorporating one or more of these tricks into your home! Have a happy and healthy winter!