I tend to be pretty natural in the products we use on and in our bodies, and when we're talking about a cold or flu- it's no different.
Obviously, I work in medicine, and I work with mainly older adults who are on significant numbers of medications. I am also currently on a prescription medication for reflux, as I've had it since I was an infant and am pretty much miserable without medication. However, I do believe that there is a time and a place for prescription or over the counter medicines. And- to me- that is when we've exhausted our more natural options.
When someone in our household has a cold- you'll know just by stepping into our home.
The first thing that I do for either myself or my family members at the first sign of a cold is humidity and essential oils. Typically this involves spending a good amount of time playing in our family room with a pot of water, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, and a little bit of lavender essential oil simmering on the stove in our connected kitchen. This serves two purposes- the first being that it humidifies the room, which helps to thin out the mucus and secretions that are making us stuffy, even if increasing liquid intake isn't always an option in a cranky toddler. The second is that the essential oils, especially the eucalyptus and peppermint, are said to help to reduce inflammation and bacteria.
Some people take actual supplements of these oils, but we don't go that far, because of some warnings regarding eucalyptus oil and breastfeeding. Typically, just a few drops in the simmering water will help quite a bit!
When I'm feeling particularly congested, I'll also use a sinus rinse or Neti Pot (as seen above). If you've never used a Neti Pot, it basically looks like a small teapot. You mix water with a saline packet and basically just flush your nose and sinuses with it. The doctor with whom I work in laryngology consistently recommends this to her clients to perform several times per day. Just a quick note though, if you're using a Neti Pot, you want to make sure that you use boiled or distilled water. Using tap water in the Neti Pot can lead to infection if your water is not pure enough, which most tap water isn't.
The next thing we do is long showers or baths, again, for the reason of the humidified air helping to thin the secretions and aid in drainage and increased comfort.
When little man has a cold, we also stick a thin pillow actually underneath the head of the mattress to angle him more upright, although, this only works with a baby or child who stays with their head consistently on one side of the crib or bed.
Also, if little man gets sick, we automatically begin garlic ear drops once per day. The garlic oil is said to be anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and- as many ear infections begin as viruses- we want to prevent any chance of an ear infection even beginning.
These are just a few small tips and tricks we use to cut down on the number of antibiotics we're taking in our household. I will 100% say that we do use medications when DH and I feel they are warranted, as we- like any parents- want to see our child and children feeling as comfortable as possible. But, again, we try to use more natural remedies as a first step before bringing out the bigger guns.
What natural remedies for cold or flu do you use at home?