Sunday, April 17, 2011

Back on the Wagon: Homemade Cold Remedies

It's been a lllloooonnnnggg 2 months folks.  I'll spare you all the details but it included spending 3 days driving to AZ with a 3 year old for vacation (yes, I am crazy), Isa giving up both the pacifier and naps, and multiple rounds of germs for both Isa and myself.  Adding insult to injury, I decided to give up coffee for Lent.  I am quite happy to have all the extra caffeine out of my system but this was perhaps the worst possible time to be without my favorite comfort.  Afterall, no naps for Isa means no naps for me as well! My butt has been thoroughly kicked.

I readily admit that I went into survival mode.  We have eaten out way more than we should have.  During my recent bout with the flu, I even went so far astray as to purchase Top Ramen.  Very few green vegetables have made it to our plates.

But I didn't cave entirely.  In the few moments of relative calm I manage to bake bread and muffins, make homemade yogurt, cook up some vegetable stock, and try out a variety of homemade cold remedies, which is what I thought I'd post on to get the blog ball rolling again.

This month Isa got a nasty head cold.  She usually has the most amazing immune system.  In the three years since coming home, she's only ever had 1 fever.  And even that only lasted one evening.  She would simply pick up the germs and pass them to me- thanks kiddo!   But this spring she's been sick twice and I was unprepared for how to make her feel better, especially when the second cold came with a nasty, nasty cough.

Here's what we tried:

Oregano Tea: On the advice of a friend, I made tea from oregano to help with Isa's cough.  She refused to drink it, even mixed with apple juice.   When I made a batch for my bout with the flu, I steeped it with cinnamon sticks and cloves, then added a fair bit of honey before drinking.  I'm not sure how much it helped but it was quite tasty!

OTC medicine: On the second or third night of Isa's constant coughing, I did actually give her a half dose of children's cough medicine.  It helped her stop coughing long enough to fall asleep but then it put her in this strange state where she would be yelling out for me ("I want Mama! I want Mama!") while I was holding her and talking to her.  I decided it wasn't worth the marginal help with her cough.

Bathroom Sauna: When Isa woke- again- coughing and hallucinating from the medicine, I was at my wit's end.  We both needed sleep!  I decided to try steam, on the advice of yet another friend.  I carried Isa into the bathroom, turned the shower on hot, opened the shower curtain and sat in the dark on the toilet rocking her.  Our tiny bathroom got steamy pretty quick and we sat there for about 10 minutes.  That night she slept well, so this is definitely something I'll remember to do next cold.

Homemade almost-Vicks rub: Anyone else fondly remember Vapor Rub?  I loved that stuff as a kid- how it warmed your chest and opened your nasal passages.  I thought it would be interesting to attempt to make my own rub since Vicks isn't recommended for small children anymore.  Did you know that lab-created camphor is made from turpentine oil?  Doesn't really sound like something I want to rub on my child.  I only used eucalyptus oil for this rub but I also saw online recipes that included other scents like peppermint oil and/or lavender.   Unfortunately, I didn't count the drops of oil as I added it so you'll have to figure out your own ratio for that.  Eucalyptus is a very intense scent but you want to add MORE than you think is necessary.  I didn't add enough and the final product isn't as heavily scented as I would like.

1/8 cup bees wax
1/2 cup olive oil
Eucalyptus essential oil

Melt the bees wax into the oil, add the essential oil(s), pour into a container and let cool.  Rub into skin as needed.

At night I rubbed it on our chests and also on the soles of our feet because I'd heard that Vicks on the soles of your feet will help with cough. (Why? I have no idea, but I heard it from more than one source!)  Again, I wished the rub was more intensely scented but it did help open nasal passages a bit and if nothing else, my skin felt lovely and soft afterward!

And since I'm always looking for more advice, what do you do to banish the germs in your house?