We've been working toward a healthier lifestyle for quite some time and we truly still have VERY far to go, but recently (since it became clear that our new affordable "health care" may not only make our insurance more expensive, but may make it more difficult to see the doc or afford that visit) we've realized the need for natural alternatives. I've tried some things that have worked quite well recently and wanted to share them.
This is the first year in quite some time that we have decided not to take the flu shot. We took it for years because I have a daughter with asthma, but we did notice that we had the flu (albeit fairly mild versions of it) almost yearly while taking the shots. I've never been one of those people that believed the shots caused the flu (and still really don't since we'd get it quite some time after the shot), but since we almost never got it prior to the shot and my daughter's asthma has settled down I just didn't have peace about taking the shot this year. In my quest to find out how to avoid it I've found that first and foremost are vitamins. Take a good multi-vitamin and supplement with additional vitamin C and D. I recommend doing your research to determine how much you'd like your family to take. Also, I could not stomach multi-vitamins for many years. I tried many different kinds and tried taking them at bedtime, or mealtime....you name it....I tried it. They made me feel awful. I just wanted to share that I have discovered that I can take almost any kind of gummy vitamin without any ill effects....including Omega 3 (fish oil). So, if you tend to have trouble with multi-vites you might consider trying a gummy version. We use Vita-Fusion.
There is one other thing that we try to use somewhat regularly as a preventative and we take in larger doses at the first symptom of any illness. It's Olive Leaf Extract. We typically take two a day to prevent and 4 (or sometimes more) when we're sick or coming down with something. My former chiropractor (he moved far away...I'm still sad) told me about it. He used a brand called Olivir, but I needed a cheaper alternative, so we usually use Nature's Way.
Now I wanted to share a couple of things that we've found that help with symptoms.
I'm somewhat new to essential oils and am just learning what some of them can be used for. Here's what I have experience with so far:
Thieves Oil - You can search the name for the legend behind the blend, but basically it's a blend of essential oils that is believed to be strong enough to help prevent catching the plague....while I don't know much about the plague I do know that I've had relief from using thieves oil and we enjoy the scent. There are some popular blends under a few different names, but they can be very pricey. The least expensive that I've seen of what's called Therapeutic Grade is made by a company called Plant Therapy and their version is called Germ Fighter. I haven't used their product yet, but plan to order some of their oils very soon. I have been mixing my own for a couple of years. You can find several different recipe versions online, but the one that I use calls for equal parts lemon oil, rosemary oil, clove bud oil, eucalyptus oil and cinnamon oil. The brands that I have of those individual oils are Aura Cacia and NOW. In the winter I place a few drops in a pot of water on the stove to add some moisture to the air and I'll add it to a humidifier or vaporizer.
This works great as a decongestant. You can add it to vaporizers and humidifiers as well and also make your own vapor rub. (We've found that vapor rub on the bottom of your feet can help to quiet a cough.)
Peppermint Oil -
This can work as a decongestant as well, but we have found that our favorite use for it is to relieve headaches. We also found this weekend that if you smell it and rub it on your stomach with a carrier oil it will help relieve nausea. My husband used it three times last week for a headache and nausea (he actually asked for it once) and it worked every time. I also like to add a drop to my hot chocolate.
Last week I started coming down with something that would have ordinarily lasted a week or two and had me in the Drs. office getting a steroid shot within the first couple of days. I immediately started the Olive Leaf Extract 4 times a day and put thieves oil (mixed with olive oil as my carrier oil) on the bottoms of my feet, my chest and my neck and under my nose at least twice a day, but more often if I needed it to alleviate my coughing and congestion symptoms. I added a couple of drops of Eucalyptus to my chest, neck and under my nose to help as a decongestant. One day I had a headache that would not go away, so I got out the peppermint oil and put a little under my nose, on my forehead and on my temples (with olive oil) and it worked. Not only did my "illness" not even last a week, I did not have to take anything over the counter (other than Ibuprofen all week). It also kept me from really feeling sick. I had symptoms all week (congestion, sore throat, headache, coughing), but they were mild and I'd only have one or two at a time. Normally something like this would have me in bed for a couple of days, but short of a couple of naps and one evening of feeling pretty rough these things made it very manageable/tolerable.
Here are a couple of other things we've found to be very helpful:
Honey - A teaspoonful of Honey can help to quiet a cough and sooth a sore throat.
Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar - (My favorite brand is Braggs)
This has TONS of helpful properties....Google ACV remedies or benefits
Tart Apple Cider: For a sore throat or cough I like to mix 1 Tbsp. honey, 1 Tbsp. ACV and a dash of cinnamon to a coup of hot water. This tastes a bit like a tart cup of Hot Apple Cider. Adjust the amounts to your tastes. If you think it's gross you won't drink it, so add more honey or less ACV until you've found the combination that you enjoy. I think it's yummy this way, but have to add more honey for my son.
Homemade Cough Syrup: For a cough make a homemade cough syrup out of equal parts honey, ACV and lemon juice. No real side effects from this one so we take a teaspoon as needed.
My disclaimer: I'm no Dr. and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express. All of this info has either been gleaned from friends or my own Internet research. This is what has been working for myself and my family. Do your own research....check with your Dr. if medication interactions or other health issues are a concern.
Where to buy: I have found that Amazon and Swansons usually have very good prices, but you'll need to look through their products. I've provided links to some of these things. You should be able to tell which words to click on.