It’s that time of year again! Pumpkin pies, cornucopia, Pilgrims, turkeys, fall colors; and something unpleasant that can dominate and throw a wrench into the best, most well-oiled gears: cold and flu season. Having a large family means we end up being exposed to more stuff, more often. Whether it’s workplaces, schools, stores, offices, or restaurants; there are more of us to be exposed to those wintertime viruses than the average household. As “mom,” I always seem to be one of the last to come down with whatever is making its way around our household. This is great for my family: I can care and nurture them during their time of illness with my own mental and physical clarity; but it also means that I am at a greater rate of exposure and usually everyone else is well when I become symptomatic.
While I never expect to avoid this season unscathed, there are a few things that we try to do to be prepared and make it slightly more bearable. One of the biggest things we do is to not rely on one, single “cure all.” Remember when “Zicam” was the fad for getting over a cold quicker? If you’re not familiar with it, it was a zinc-laden nasal spray. Zinc is good for fighting colds and flus, but one must also be careful: it is an elementary metal and too much can cause an overdose. Our sinus cavities and nasal passages weren’t designed for topical application of zinc. We personally know some people who lost their sense of smell because of their use (and ultimate faith) in the zinc nasal spray.
In our home, we prefer “complimentary” medicine: a balanced blend of holistic, all natural, vitamins, minerals, and “modern” medicine. Each fall, I do try to stock up on over the counter cough syrups and decongestants. We also stock up on Emergen-C, Day & Nighttime Theraflu, Vicks Vap-O-Rub, Echinacea, Vitamin C, Zinc, Gypsy Cold Care Tea, Ricola cough drops (Green Tea + Echinacea), Chapstick, Cinnamon, Apple Cider Vinegar, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and Essential Oils: Thieves, R.C., and Raven. We use Amazon’s Subscribe & Save to receive a case of Kleenex every month so we never run out and have to blow our noses with paper towels or toilet paper. That’s a huge plus for young, sensitive noses!
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? Especially with little ones about, make it a habit to always be washing your hands and theirs after coughing, sneezing, or general touching their faces or items on a store shelf! If you don’t have to be out and about while sick, or your children are sick, don’t go. Stay home! If you do have to be out, be polite and cover your cough or sneeze (then wash your hands). These are just routine, common sense considerations that we’ve all heard and should be practicing.
I can’t stress enough the importance of reading ALL labels and following all dosing recommendations and precautions! If my 18-year-old is drinking Theraflu, she cannot take Tylenol. As a nursing mother, I stay away from Theraflu! Be aware of what your family’s tolerances for medications are. Ibuprofen has no effect on my husband, so he must take Tylenol. For my mother, acetaminophen does not agree with her so she must take Ibuprofen. In the Essential Oil world, their use should always be diluted! Never diffuse oils around a baby if you don’t know whether or not they are safe to do so. Always dilute with a carrier oil for topical applications and monitor for signs of allergic reaction. When in doubt, see your doctor. Sometimes home-remedies just aren’t enough. And that’s okay!
Many claim extraordinary benefits from ingesting Essential Oils. That is something that I cannot endorse. I use Essential Oils sparingly due to their concentration and potency. I have my own cold/flu “rub” that is used twice a day: morning and night. I mix 6 drops of Thieves, 3 drops of R.C., and 4 drops of Raven with 15mL of Coconut Oil. Before bed, rub on feet, especially the bottoms. Every morning, reapply then put on your socks. Whether or not this helps to boost the immune system and fight winter viruses is unknown. What I do know is that our feet smell good and don’t dry out. Due to the uniqueness of each individual, the results of using essential oils will vary. I also add one drop of Thieves to each load of laundry: wash cycle, not rinse. I think it is a safer alternative to bleach when I want to disinfect linens.
Colds and flus will come and go. That is just a part of life. How we prepare for them and deal with them is what really counts. As “Mom,” my job is to make sure they are comfortable and promoting healing while they are ill. Now, grab a cozy blanket and pillow, a good book, and curl up on the couch in front of a cozy fire with your little ones and read to them! Even sickness can nurture strong bonds and fond memories.