Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Back to the subject of health

Today I'm not ranting about msg or any of the other horrible food additives that are slowing killing and maiming so many of us. I'm just being thankful for the provisions that the Lord has made for us in nature to eat healthy foods that can also help to heal our bodies and thankful that He has also provided herbs and other things in nature that we can use freely as our medicine.

It seems like I have almost always used the things in nature as medicine, from blackberry leaf tea for "the scoots" like grandma taught me way way back when (it helps tremendously btw!) to homemade wild cherry cough syrup and elderberry syrup for colds and flu bugs.... making medicine from things that grew in the yard, garden and woods was just part of life for me for a long time. When my parents split up and we moved to town and away from grandma and the other people who lived by the "old ways" those things fell by the wayside in my life until I got older and had children of my own. A colicky baby brought me quickly back to the things that are free, natural and work well with just a little bit of effort.

Now that my kids are older and so curious about all of this "herbal healing" type stuff I've been trying to teach them and help them learn to be as responsible as possible for their own health but found that in order to be able to truly say I've educated them I have much to learn myself. My biggest struggles aren't with how to make the remedies that I know work and are harmless in use or which herbs or plants or even which parts of those plants to use when. My struggles are with the proper vocabulary and such that I probably should know but never learned. The way that I was taught was always in simple terms like "rip up some of those leaves" or "mash in a few of those berries" not by their proper names but their common names. I want the kids to know how to identify the plants by their proper names and such things as that ... those things I have to learn myself.

But anyway, my point in talking about all of this is not what I'm teaching the kids or even why. My point is that there is so much that everyone can do to be more responsible for their health. Instead of reaching for that chemical filled over the counter cold medicine every time a child is ill why not take the natural measures to strengthen their immune systems and try to do what you can to treat their illness without medication before you resort to chemicals?

For example, it's the season for kids to catch those viruses. At our house that means extra handwashing, extra vitamin C, elderberry syrup if they've been exposed to the yuckies, and at the first sign of sniffles the sinus lavage that they normally do one time a day is increased to two or three times, the olive leaf extract and garlic capsules are handed out along with cod liver oil capsules and the hot liquids in the diet are increased. If the sniffles last longer than a day we use GOOT to help boost the immune system as well as fight off whatever is attacking and a sinus steam with herbs like peppermint and thyme and essential oils of tea tree and eucalyptus to help with the congestion.

Yes, it's a little bit of effort and sometimes not so pleasant such as when your young one is sitting under a towel tent over a steaming pan coughing, snorting and spitting the yucky stuff out.... but I'll tell you that it works and it's well worth it. My kids are all extraordinarily healthy and I have only had to take any of them to a doctor's office 2 times in the past 5 years. I'll take that little unpleasantness and small amount of extra work any day over doctor bills and the unpleasantness of sitting in the waiting room being exposed to everyone else's yuckies.

I would encourage everyone to just start thinking about more natural ways in to improve your health and your families health this year. Learning a little bit about the basic things that you can do naturally with herbs to improve your health is really not hard and it's fascinating to study. Cheri has a great deal right now on a beginner herbal course for $15 and I think you should check it out. For $15 you don't have much to lose! The kids are going to be going through this course for the next few weeks and are really excited.

While it may sound really gross to some people one of the easiest and best ways to protect yourself and your family from allergies and viral infections and such is to learn to use a neti pot or other means of sinus lavage. My family uses a bottle instead of a neti pot now because it is so much easier for the kids and it's easier on the Hunk 'O Honey's back too. We all used to suffer terribly from allergies and sinus trouble, Caleb used to have nosebleeds several times a day but the sinus lavage has dramatically changed all of that. It's well worth trying, especially since we no longer take daily or even on any regular basis any kind of allergy medication or decongestant medication. For severe sinus infections we have on occasion added colloidal silver to the Hunk O Honey's bottle as he welds for a living and the mess that poor man breathes in is full of bad stuff that causes lots of problems and the silver is a natural antibiotic.

The sinus steam bath is also really helpful for congestion, headaches, tension, allergies and so on. The Deliberate Agrarian has a great post on his peppermint zing sinus sauna that EVERYONE should read. Around here we will often add tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil to the peppermint for the antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties as well as the extra soothing power, and lavender essential oil helps with headaches as well as being helpful with fighting off bacteria etc. We have often put a tablespoon or two of dried thyme in as well. The essential oil of thyme or thymol is used in products like Vap O Rub and such and has some very strong antibiotic properties. It is still used in many animal medications to treat serious respiratory infections, and it's even good for treating mites and the viral infections they carry in our beehives.... so it sure can't hurt you.

I hope to keep posting from time to time about simple things to do to improve your health. But the day is slipping by me now and I have things to do so that's all for now. Have a great day!

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