A Crunchy Medicine Cabinet: Our Top 10 Must Have’s

It’s cold and flu season….and all the other random and situation specific diseases like the lovely Norovirus that hit my friends in California and RSV for my preemie power Moms.  Our home specifically just got over Roseola and the flu and now one of us is fighting the stomach flu hoping it doesn’t spread to the rest of us!

While we were fighting Roseola and the flu..and now with the stomach flu, we have not used any mainstream medication.  Part of this is because I cannot use any decongestant when I’m nursing as they can impact supply.  Part of this is because mainstream medications are often something crunchy parents stay far away from.

However, that doesn’t mean we just suffer and don’t do anything.  There is plenty you can do to treat illnesses without popping over the counter or prescription medications.

Here are my top 10 things I utilize in my “medicine” cabinet.

Note:  I was not paid or compensated in any way nor am I affiliated with any of the companies in these recommendations.  I just really like their products.  I also suggest consulting a Naturopath, Chiropractor, or Acupuncturist before starting any medicinal regimen, crunchy or not.

10.  Lavender Essential Oil
There are a number of essential oils that we use for a variety of different reasons.  I won’t go into all of them yet until I do a series of posts I have planned on the overuse and abuse of essential oils and how they should be used safely.  Lavender is one of the very few oils that I would consider relatively safe in a wide range of uses though so it’s first on my count down.
Lavender essential oils can be used to treat pain of all kinds (bumps and bruises, headaches, teething pain, muscle aches, arthritis, etc), boost the immune system to treat a wide range of illnesses including cold and flu, safely helps even young children with congestion, and a wide range of skin issues such as sunburn, acne, insect stings and bites, eczema, and rashes.
Personally, we use lavender in our cool mist diffuser and topically at a dilution of 0.25% on our 20 month old twins, 3% on adults.  Topical application is only used sparingly (as should ALWAYS be done for littles) and for intense pain as a last attempt at natural relief before using Motrin or some other mainstream pain reliever.
We get all of our oils from Eden’s Garden and love them.  They are also available on Amazon and it depends on the day whether it is cheaper to buy through their website or through Amazon.
9.   Elderberry Syrup
Ideally, make this on your own.  Store bought syrup is full of additives that your immune system just doesn’t need.  Elderberry Syrup has been shown to be extremely effective in combating the flu…even more so than Tamiflu.  I really like this recipe on Wellness Mama but there are many you can find on Google.  It is best to take Elderberry Syrup everyday throughout the cold and flu season.  If you get sick, you can increase the dose to give your body a boost.
8.   A Whole Food Diet
As much as our budget, time, and energy constaints allow us, we strive to eat real whole food as much as we can.  Not everything we eat is organic as we do not have the privilege of a large food budget each month.  Not everything we eat is unprocessed as we do not have the privilege of ample time to prep, cook, and store completely unprocessed meals.  Not everything we eat is local and crunchy as we live in a 4-season part of the United States (it’s April 3rd and it was blizzard conditions today…).  But, we try to do the best that we can with what we have and that has to be enough.  Our bodies can process, absorb, and utilize nutrients best when they are minimally processed and altered.  Our bodies do best when our food comes from the farm instead of the factory.  Our bodies do best when food is our medicine.
7.   Cool Mist Humidifier
Let’s be real here.  Waking up with your nose full of dried hard boogers pretty much sucks.  Coughing, mouth breathing and having a dry tongue when you wake up, and being so congested you feel like your face is going to explode…that sucks too.  Though this won’t solve all your problems, a cool mist humidifier does the best job at putting moisture into the air that soothes and calms the respiratory tract to help you cough less, mouth breathe less, and wake up with less rocks in your nose.  This is especially helpful for littles.  I suggest cool mist over warm mist because warm air can increase inflammation and therefore increase coughing and congestion.
6.   Manuka Honey (preferably as minimally processed as you can find)
Manuka honey is INCREDIBLE.  I have personally used it for wound care, infection, sore throats, coughs, allergies, burns, and many other uses.  Honey is a FANTASTIC antibacterial agent capable of even treating antibiotic resistent strains of staph and also effective against group A Strep, to name a couple.  It’s just that simple.  Honey, especially manuka honey and local honey, should be in your cabinet AT ALL TIMES.
5.   Arnica
Arnica has an awesome anti inflammatory property to it.  It should only be used topically on closed skin.  Do not use it anywhere that has broken skin or near the eyes, mouth, nose, etc.  It does not heal physical injuries but its anti inflammatory properties works much like ibuprofen, which is also anti inflammatory.  Hyland’s makes a kid version in an application stick that I keep in the diaper bag and at home at all times.  We actually just used it today when River tried to run with a shirt that was hanging on the drying rack attached to the door and she slingshot backwards into a box.  Boob and her “boo boo stick” made it all better.  We have a gel for us adults.  NOTE:  Arnica is poisonous if ingested.  Keep far away from kids and DO NOT put it on open wounds, hands, or near the mouth, eyes, nose, etc.
4.   Supplements
I could do a whole article on supplements so I will just give you the list of what I like.  Royal Camu Camu powder for bio-available vitamin C is useful for the vitamin C protocol treatment of Pertussis (whooping cough).
Vitamin D3 is something that almost all people are deficient in nowadays because no one is outside enough.  It is vital to the immune system and is also extremely effective for treating the baby blues.
A small dose of zinc, NOT Zicam, is supportive of the immune system.
Probiotics are beneficial for nearly everyone’s gut health.  During illness, increasing the dosage can help your body be most effective at fighting illness.
D-mannose powder is a supplement for urinary tract health.  At theraputic doses, D-mannose , probiotics, and fluids can naturally treat and cure UTI’s even in children.
3.   Garlic
Garlic is probably my go-to when it comes to an illness.  I personally cured strep throat with a garlic, lemon, and manuka honey tea years ago.  It is an effective antioxident, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiviral, and antimicrobial agent.  It’s how I started on my road to being crunchy, actually.  Garlic can be used to treat yeast infections, thrush, bacterial vaginosis, colds, respiratory virus’, bacterial infections, ear infections, wound care, and so many other options.  We use garlic oil drops when anyone has ear pain, swallow whole raw cloves of garlic, use heavy garlic in our cooking, and drink garlic tea when we are ill.  The effects are dramatic and awesome.  Chase away vampires and kill bacteria and virus’.  It’s a win win. 🙂
2.   Nose Frida
I have a hate love relationship with the Nose Frida.  My kids hate it.  They HATE IT. They start crying at the mention of it and cry harder when I have it in my hand. Generally, I don’t force my children to do things.  It’s kind of the opposite of gentle and attachment parenting.  But, when it comes to safety, health, and the ability to breathe, that takes priority to bodily autonomy.  It works significantly better than the bulb ever has.  Trust me, we have tried.  It gets out a massive amount of snot and they are generally completely clear after doing it.  It is relatively quick, very effective, and though it seems gross, the filter prevents any snot from ending up in your mouth 🙂
1.   Breastmilk
And…yes.  The number one, most important, most effective, most everything item in my medicine cabinet is breastmilk.  Breastmilk is an awesome diaper rash cream, treatment for dry skin and eczema, treatment for protecting cuts and wounds and speeding their healing, a mucous breaker upper (yep, that’s a word now) for use before nose frida, ear drops if you don’t have garlic oil or for alternating use with garlic oil, eye drops for conjunctivitis, immunity boost for adults to take shots of, skin conditioner in a bath, acne, bug stings, diarrhea fixer, sunburns and contact burns, fevers, common cold, and flu treatment.  The list is endless.  Breastmilk is more incredible than most people know.  More on that in another blog post because it deserves its own series.
So, there you have it.  My top 10 list in my crunchy medicine cabinet.  What is in your medicine cabinet that you consider crunchy?  What tips do you have to share for parents struggling with illness in their home right now?  I would love to hear your tips!
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