It’s that time of year again-flu season-BOO! And I just heard that our state was 9th for top flu outbreaks. (Why can’t we be on a good list :/ Oh well.) Now of course I also heard that everyone needed to go get vaccinated, RIGHT AFTER THEY STATED YOU HAVE A 3 IN 4 CHANCE OF STILL GETTING THE FLU! Yes, evidently the vaccine is not working that well this year (surprise) and even the number of deaths has increased. We actually have friends who got vaccinated and still got the flu-and no it didn’t even shorten it for them. I’m still scratching my head wondering why I’m told to go get a vaccine that doesn’t work. (Actually I know, but I’ll be nice 🙂 )
Here are some better ways to avoid the flu, and some proven ways to get over it if you get it.
1. Put as much healthy, nutrient dense, and probiotic filled food in you as possible.
Have you ever wondered why some family members get sick when others stay well even though they are around them constantly? Those that stayed well were healthy enough to fight off the virus or bacteria and not get sick. If you are healthy you have a good chance of staying well. But if you are eating processed foods and sugars then you lower your immune system and deter it from doing its job. If you are consuming good yogurt, kefir, sour cream, fermented vegetables, broths, and healthy fats then you dramatically increase your chance of staying well. Remember your gut is where most of your immune is!
2. Use hydrosols and essential oil diffusers.
Hydrosols are essential oils mixed in water and stored in a spray bottle. These can be sprayed in the air and breathed into the lungs adding a protective layer against bacteria in the air. They can be sprayed as air fresheners and work better than man made fragrances. Instead of masking the odors with chemicals they actually kill the germs getting rid of the cause of the odors and leave a fresh scent behind. We have been using them in place of germ sprays for several years and would not go back. If someone is sick we spray down the couches, stuffed animals, (anything they’ve been on that can’t be washed) and around the house to kill germs and help the rest of us stay well. Hydrosols are great to have on hand to just freshen up the house-sheets, clothes, pet areas-I even keep one in my bag to use instead of perfume.
Essential oil diffusers work in the same way as hydrosols in that they disperse the oils into the air to kill bacteria and viruses. Any essential oil or combination can be used-depending on the desired effect-and they work on a larger scale than hydrosols so are more suited for a whole room or house. The oils are mixed with water but are dispersed into the air as a fine mist. This mist contains such small particles of the oils, they aerosolize rapidly and are then breathed into the lungs. Some of the best oils to kill bacteria and viruses are citrus, peppermint, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and tea tree. Lavender is also great especially for babies and children as it calms and promotes sleep as well as kills bacteria.
If you read my last post, you now know what a tincture is and how to make one. HOORAY! (If you missed it, you can find out here.) But which herbs do you start with to make a tincture? There are so many herbs and herbal combinations that can help ailments from A to Z that I don’t think a person could ever learn them all in a lifetime. But don’t let that overwhelm you, start simple and stay simple. If you don’t know a single person with Jumping Frenchmen of Maine (yes that a real disease and no I don’t know anyone with it) then don’t learn what herbs will help it. Learn about herbs that are good all around anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal and work with those. I’ll get you started with my 4 favorite herbs for colds and flu.
Olive Leaf-this is such a great all-around herb since it’s safe for kids and adults. It also has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-oxidant qualities. Olive leaf is great for colds, flu, sinus infections, or any other bacterial infection or virus. It is usually taken internally as a tea or tincture, but can be taken in capsule form also.
Elderberry- One of THE best herbs for colds, flu, cough, and respiratory problems. It has antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral (flu), pain reliever, laxative qualities. Taken internally-the berries can be eaten fresh (just make sure they are ripe), dried or made into a syrup. It can be made into a tea or taken dried, ground, and encapsulated. The syrup is best for coughs-add some honey to sweeten it. Again this herb is very safe for kids to adults.
Peppermint-such a great tasting herb with so many benefits. It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, irritant, antibacterial, and astringent qualities. Best known for helping with tummy troubles-expelling gas, stopping diarrhea, and relieving nausea. It will also bring down a fever, helps with ulcers, cramps, calms nerves and is good for your heart. Take it internally as a tea, tincture, or encapsulated. Replace your cup of joe with peppermint tea for energy and alertness without the caffeine. The tea or capsules are great for gas and other stomach issues including digestion. Cooled peppermint tea sweetened with honey is a tasty way to bring down a fever-especially for little ones. Externally as a poultice or essential oil, peppermint is a great wound cleaner and healer. Also, externally the essential oil is a great replacement for biofreeze on sore/hurt muscles and can ease a stress headache when rubbed on temples. Fresh or dried peppermint is a great at deterring ants and a strong tea will deter rats. Again this herb is considered safe for kids to adults (although it could lower your milk supply when nursing, but for short periods or acute illnesses I have taken it during nursing with no noticeable effects.) Make sure if you use the essential oil to dilute it first in coconut or olive oil.
Yarrow-this is one herb that has been used for centuries. It is a tonic, carminative, febrifuge, antispasmodic, astringent, and hemostat. It is great for fevers and cold-often ridding the body of them within 24 hours. It is also great at stopping internal or external bleeding. Because of the bitter compounds it contains, it will relieve smooth muscle spasms and reduce blood pressure. These same compounds cause it to taste bitter as a tea, so tincture form is often preferred when taken internally. Yarrow can also be taken by children or adults.
My “secret flu tincture” is to combine all of these into a tincture (EPYO-Elderberry, Peppermint, Yarrow, Olive leaf) using equal parts of each. I have made all three types of tinctures using these herbs and prefer to mix the glycerin with vinegar for my children and add some of the alcohol tincture to the mix for adults. But making only 1 type of tincture would also work well.
Last year our whole family got the flu, but we took this and can say it worked. I also made elderberry lemonade by heating elderberries in water to make a syrup, then added lemon juice and honey to taste. My daughter who first got the flu only had it 3 days. My other two kiddos felt bad for about 3 or 4 days then ran a low fever for a couple days after, but were running and playing like they were well after the 3 or 4 days. My husband had 1 day of a fever and I had about half a day with a fever-despite sitting between 2 sick children and getting coughed on all day! So although we did get sick, we bounced back extremely quick and had no other sicknesses all winter.
We pray for God’s grace that we stay well, but are doing our part as well. This year we have added more fermented foods and broths to our diets and have so far avoided the flu. I can’t help but feel that are immune systems are stronger and better able to protect us, but I do have my tinctures ready just in case. Either way, I will not stress over it. I know I’m doing what I can to keep my family healthy and have to trust God from there. Am I concerned that I live in a state with a flu epidemic? Yes, but I’m not worried. Concern causes action-and I have acted to be healthy; but worry causes stress which leads to sickness and I am determined not to go there!
I pray for blessing and health as you