Ringing in the New Year with Healthy Food Remedies

Happy 2014! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here, but I’ve been working on other endeavors. This year, you’ll see more posts about homesteading, eco-living, and healthy mind, body & spirit articles.

Here are some foods that have natural antibiotic properties that help ward off colds and more.

Garlic: Antibacterial properties make it useful for treating and preventing colds, athlete’s foot and other infectious problems. Scientists attribute garlic’s powers to a sulfur compound called allicin, which it releases when cut or crushed. Because cooking changes and deteriorates this compound, eating raw garlic is the best way to derive the healing qualities from this antibacterial food.
Tip: Try chopping garlic, let it set for a few minutes, and put it on crackers or toast to get the most prevention.

Honey: Use as an antibacterial salve like treating cuts and wounds. Researchers at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam recently discovered that bees add a protein to honey from their immune systems that gives honey its antibacterial quality. Honey also produces an enzyme that in turn produces hydrogen peroxide, which prohibits the growth of bacteria.
Tip: Mix honey and cinnamon, take a teaspoon every morning. Add to oatmeal, pancakes, and tea as well.

Cranberries: Well-known for their ability to help prevent and treat bladder infections, in part because of their antibacterial properties. Cranberries prevent bacteria from latching onto the walls of the bladder and urinary tract by altering bacteria such as E. coli—responsible for illnesses such as kidney infections and the flu—to prevent them from forming the biofilm necessary for an infection to develop.
Tip: Buy fresh cranberries in the store, usually around November, and freeze them. Frozen cranberries are good for 1 year. Make your own cranberry sauce using sugar or honey and whole cranberries.

Tumeric: Essential oils contain a wealth of antibiotic molecules, making this antibacterial food useful for treating topical cuts and wounds. Turmeric is also often taken in Ayurvedic medicine to prevent and treat colds and other internal infections.

Oregano: Essential oils in oregano lend this herb antibacterial powers that have been shown to inhibit even salmonella and E. coli bacteria. Oregano oil is also useful at boosting immunity,  preventing and treating common colds. Because oregano’s antibacterial powers are found in its oil, an oregano oil supplement is better than the dried version.

Peppermint: commonly used in toothpaste, mouthwash and other oral hygiene products—and for good reason, too. Peppermint oil has antibacterial powers that help to kill bad breath-causing bacteria in the mouth.
Tip: Eat a peppermint after meals, it will settle your stomach and freshen your breath!

Basil: Thanks to its volatile oils, this flavorful antibacterial herb can inhibit bacteria growth. Studies have shown that basil can restrict the growth of E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus bacteria, as well as inhibit growth in strains of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.
Tip: Use raw/fresh basil to get the most use from it. Basil is also easy to grow in pots or in gardens. Snip the leaves regularly, and it will multiply quickly throughout the season. Add to pizza, soups, salads and more.

Note: Above content is credited to: Susan Melgren from a Jan 18, 2012 article originally posted on Mother Earth Living.

Natural Cures for a Cold: Stage 3 Stuffy Nose

Alleviate a stuffy nose without going to the doctor’s office by heeding these natural cold remedies. From a box of soft tissues to a natural menthol based vaporub, you can snuff out a stuffy nose!

It’s that time of year again….cold and flu season. Once a year or maybe more if you have a weak immune system, you’ll catch the common cold, a sinus infection, bronchitis or the flu. There is help for the common cold and sinus infection that will save you a trip to the doctor’s office and lots of money.

I experience 4 stages of a cold; first there’s the ticklish scratchy throat (time to start taking Vitamin C), which turns into a sore throat – Stage 1;  then the sore throat turns into sinus congestion with a sinus headache – Stage 2; after the sinus congestion (excessive runny nose) I get a stuffy nose for a few days, and finally hoarseness or laryngitis. However, my first defense against a cold or sinus infection is not prescription medicine (which do not cure the common cold anyway – science says), it’s Natural Cures for the Common Cold.

By taking an active and aggressive defense against the common cold bug, I can knock it out in just a few days. Plenty of rest is a key component of getting well again and back at 100 percent operating level.

This is my defense against the common cold or a sinus infection. Everything can be found at your local drug or grocery store.

Over the counter teas, vitamins, cough drops and tissues help alleviate the symptoms of a common cold and sinus infection.

Relieving a stuffy nose 101: 

Tissues – Spend a little more of the super soft kind. I prefer Puff’s line of tissues because they have an extra layer of softness that won’t leave my nose dry and sore.  Ensure you have a few extra boxes in your closet. I got through at least 2 small box of tissues in a few days. Keep 1 in your living area, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen (yes, the kitchen). These are the places where you will likely spend the most time as you recover from a cold.

Cough Drops – Opt for any flavor you choose; however, select the brand with Vitamin C and Zinc to get the most benefit. Hall’s has coupons for many of their cough drops with extra cold fighting vitamins. I keep several Halls’ Defense cough drops nearby at all times while fighting a stuffy nose. Soothing flavors keep my throat moist and my nasal passages open.

Vaporub – A menthol based salve will alleviate a stuffy or runny nose within a couple days. Popular Vick’s Vaporub works well for adults, but can be quite overwhelming for children. I prefer an Ohio based company, Skinner’s Vaporizing Salve, which is available in many drug stores or you can order online through the company’s website as well as Amazon. Rub a little behind your ears, on your chest, under your nose and on your feet (put on a pair of heavy cotton socks too). It’s best to do the all over body rub at night. However, you may also apply a warm compress to your chest such as a heating pad or warm washcloth.

Hot/Cold Liquids – Alternate between hot teas (try Traditional Medicinals Herba Tussin or Breathe Easy) and cold beverages such as water and sports drinks, which will prevent dehydration and keep mucous membranes moist. Note – do not over hydrate yourself, this will cause more work for your kidneys and liver. Read more info about this study here.

Saline Nasal Wash/Spray. Common store bought versions like the Neilmed Nasal Rinse that comes with pre-measured packets of a salt-baking soda mixture and a nasal wash bottle. You can also mix your own nasal wash using 1/4 teaspoon pure salt (should be iodine free) and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Mix this together with warm, not hot water, and using a bulb syringe flush one nostril at a time (allow water to run out of other nostril). It will feel funny going up into your nasal passages at first – somewhat like getting water in your nose while swimming. Blow your nose after each nasal rinse and you should start feeling better after just a few times.

What do you find the most helpful when treating a cold or sinus infection? Post your responses below!


Natural Ways to Relieve Allergy Symptoms

Found this helpful article on Natural Home and Garden website and wanted to share it with you. I’m a 4 season allergy sufferer myself, but when the humidity is high they are even worse in the spring and summer.

Do note that if you have allergies to pollen and other types of flowers, you’ll want to skip the remedy and opt for something else.

Nasal rinses are good for alleviating clogged sinuses and itchy noses. You can buy or make your own nasal rinses using salt and baking soda, dissolve in warm water, then add to a Neti Pot or sinus irrigation bulb.

Here are a few other natural ways to cure those annoying allergy symptoms.

Relieve congestion with horseradish. Steep several spoonfuls of the grated root in a bowl of boiling water or soup stock. Drink and breathe in the pungent aroma. Also try peppermint tea. The sweetness of peppermint combined with the natural menthol helps alleviate congestion and clears nasal passages.

Congestive coughs? Try crushing some anise (1-2 teaspoons) seeds, add to boiling water allow to steep like tea and drink. Also may add anise essential oil to peppermint tea, sweeten to taste. The expectorant qualities of Elder Flower along with vitamins A, B and C make a great tea to relieve coughs and congestion.

Itchy eyes are the most annoying type of allergy symptom. Try soothing itchy eyes with cool, wet Chamomile tea bags placed on your eyelids. (Do not use if you have allergies to ragweed.)  You might also try Stinging Nettle tea or capsules from fresh freeze dried leaves. Stinging nettle is known for reducing the histamine produced from some allergens.

Natural Cures for a Cold: Stage 2 – Sinus Congestion

Even if you only get a cold once or twice a year, natural remedies are cheaper and better for your body than prescription or over-the-counter cold elixirs. Here are a few of my tried and true remedies for clearing sinuses and chest congestion.

Even if you only get a cold once or twice a year, natural remedies are cheaper and better for your body than prescription or over-the-counter cold elixirs.

As an allergy sufferer for nearly 11 months out of the year, sinus and chest congestion seem to always creep back when my allergies are at their worst. This is the second part in a series of 4 blog posts about curing a cold naturally. Here are a few of my tried and true remedies for clearing sinuses and chest congestion.

Garlic. Minced or chopped raw garlic (allow to set for 15 minutes to allow healthy compounds to be more potent) on toast or crackers consumed 4-5 times a day will loosen phlegm in your chest and help you breathe better. I’ve had 2 people testify that they could feel a difference after only 1 intake of raw garlic and toast.

Vitamin C. Combined with raw garlic, these two natural cures are just as potent as a prescribed antibiotic. Both can stave off colds and flu-like symptoms quicker than common cold elixirs and tablets. See Stage 1 Natural Cures for recommended doses of Vitamin C when your body is fighting a cold.

Saline Nasal Wash/Spray. Common store bought versions like the NetiPot (or bottle w/ syringe) come with pre-measured packets of a salt-baking soda mixture and a nasal wash bottle. I’ve used these in the past and they last for several washes. You can also mix your own nasal wash using 1/4 teaspoon pure salt (should be iodine free) such as pickling salt without the alum and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Mix this together with warm, not hot water, and using a bulb syringe or Neti pot, flush one nostril at a time (allow water to run out of other nostril). It will feel funny going up into your nasal passages at first – somewhat like getting water in your nose while swimming. Blow your nose after each nasal rinse and you should start feeling better after just a few times.

Hot drinks. Whether it’s your favorite Green Tea, Lemon Hot Toddie, hot chocolate or grandmother’s secret recipe, hot drinks are good for loosening phlegm in both your sinuses and chest. Lots of liquids will help your body eliminate congestion and keep you hydrated while those antibodies are hard at work.


Grandmother’s Cupboard Can Alleviate Common Cold Symptoms

Herbal Remedies May Not Be the Cure for the Common Cold,
But Often Work Better Than Pre-Packaged Cold Meds

There’s more than prunes, oatmeal and canned tomatoes in your grandmother’s cupboard. Grandmothers really do know best when it comes to alleviating coughs, sniffles, teary eyes and headaches caused by the notorious common cold.

I remember my grandmother (God, rest her soul) giving my father a shot of whiskey to cure a coughing spell he had once. Although his eyes got red and watery, the coughing did stop. I have tried the whiskey cure before for sore throats and dry coughs, and it has helped; I do recommend having something in your stomach before throwing a whiskey shot back though! My grandparents did not spend much on going to the doctor when they got a cold because most of their symptoms could be alleviated with herbs and veggies right from their garden or from a nearby market.

Antibiotics do cure the common cold, and even your doctor will tell you this; however, a combination of garlic and Vitamin C taken at the first signs of a cold (you know that scratchy throat feeling or a migraine) can greatly reduce your symptoms as well as heal your body’s immune system naturally. Raw garlic acts like an antibiotic and does not have those funny feeling side effects like other decongestants and prescription antibiotics. Besides, our bodies are becoming more immune to lab-created antibiotics which won’t help our cold symptoms  or any other infection.

Herbal treatments and supplements are our best defense against the common cold. Have a few of the following in your cupboard for the next time you start feeling run down, have a scratchy throat or need a box of tissues for a runny nose. (Source: Natural Health, Nov. 2010)

Echinacea (ek a na sha) – Stimulates your body’s immune system. How to use: Buy as a liquid extract or capsule since the entire plant is both beneficial and medicinal to strengthen your immune system. Use five droppers of tincture (liquid) or 2 capsules at the onset of a cold, then 2 droppers or 2 capsules every 4 – 8 hours up to 24 hours. You make a hot tea with the liquid or add it to juice or water. If it’s too bitter add a little honey to sweeten.

Elderberry – This herb warms your body and has many anti-viral properties that reduce both flu and cold symptoms. How to use: Buy from a recognized natural health or whole foods store to find the best quality product. Follow the directions on the package at the onset of flu or cold symptoms. Can also be used in conjunction with other herbal supplements.

Garlic – Allicin (sounds like penicillin), the anti-bacterial compound forms in fresh raw garlic when it’s crushed, chopped or chewed and works similar to prescribed antibiotics, but without harming your immune system. How to use: Buy fresh garlic cloves, crush, slice, mince or chop and allow to sit for 10 minutes to maximize the allicin. Then eat or put on toast (do not toast with the garlic otherwise it will lose its strength). You can also swallow since you don’t have to chew it to receive its potent power. You can do this several times a day to get the most effectiveness and reduces your cold symptoms much more quickly.

Ginger – Similar to Elderberry, Ginger also raises your body temperature to fight off viruses, and it has anti-flammatory and immune fighting properties. How to use: Chop ginger root and let simmer in water to make ginger tea for 10 minutes, strain, and add lemon and honey to taste. You can also buy ginger tea bags and 1 tea bag is good for at least 3 cups of tea.

Licorice – Also packed full of anti-viral properties which help lessen your cold symptoms and boost your antibodies. Good for sore throats. How to use: Licorice tea is the best way to treat colds, and you’ll often find it mixed with herbs because of its potency. Not recommended for those who have high-blood pressure. Drink up to 3 cups of licorice tea daily throughout the duration of a cold.

Vitamin C – Works as an antioxidant and has additional antihistamine effects. Shortens the duration of cold symptoms if at least 1,000 mg is taken daily. How to use: Start with 1,000 mg/day at onset of symptoms. Some holistic health books even say you can take 1,000 mg/hr for 12 hours everyday until symptoms subside. Capsules or caplets work well, look for Vitamin C (without a supplement) or ascorbic acid.