Every Wise Woman

Real Food, Real Health, Real Birth

Radically Natural Remedies for Winter Ick

This winter seemed to be a particularly long illness season.  Since these bugs like to hang around into spring, I thought it wasn't too late to share some remedies.

In December, I posted a long list of remedies for sore throats and coughs.  I wanted to follow up with a couple of my favorite tips for ear infections and general remedies for colds and congestion.  I'm thankful that my family did not suffer bounceback infections this winter.  I think we got one mild upper respiratory bug that lasted a few days.  Aside from a nourishing Real Foods diet with regular consumption of homemade gelatinous broths, a basic remedy repertoire can improve or ensure wellness.

When we enter cold/flu season, I begin pulling out certain herbs and nutritional supplements to give to my family prophylactically.  When we are exposed to friends who are sick, or when we feel we might be coming down with something, I increase dosage and add a few essentials to the mix.

My first secret to wellness?  We swab our ears daily with 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide.  We also use it as a gargle if we feel the slightest scratchiness in our throats.  If we know we've been exposed to a bug, we do our ears and our noses and throats.  My husband travels frequently (by air) for business, and he takes H2O2 with him to use prophylactically and he always doses when he gets home.  

Colloidal silver is another natural medicine I constantly stock and use frequently during illness season.  For general illness, we drink a teaspoon three to five times daily in water.

For immune boosting and infection fighting, I dose the family daily with:

  • Elder berry elixir (three tsp. daily; I make my own, but you can buy Sambucol)

My "winter ick" botanical necessities include:

  • Garlic (broad spectrum antibiotic)
  • Usnea (more potent broad spectrum antibiotic, particularly effective against strep)
  • Red clover (blood purifier)
  • Pure, therapeutic grade essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, lemon (good EO info can be found at Heritage Essential Oils)...taken internally; diluted and applied externally to bottom of feet, palms of hands, on throat, chest, back; inhaled through diffusion
  • "Thieves" type essential oils blends

General advice for dealing with cold/flus/infections:

  • Homeopathics for respiratory infections include Boiron Coldcalm, Boiron Oscillococcinum (take at first sign of flu), Dulcamara, Aconite.
  • For sinus and/or chest congestion, do an essential oil steam with eucalyptus, rosemary and peppermint.  Boil water and pour it into a large bowl.  Add one to two drops of each oil to the steaming water, lean over the bowl, tent a bath towel over your head, and breathe slowly (through mouth or nose depending upon condition) for a few minutes.  Keep your eyes closed, as the EOs can sting.
  • Do not fear fevers.  The body utilizes heat to destroy invaders; to allow your body's defenses to work, fevers should be left alone.  If you want to help a fever to burn more efficiently, use a combination of yarrow, elder and peppermint.  (Tincture dose is 30 drops every hour for high fevers.) This can bring comfort and regulate fever without eliminating the fever.  Do not be concerned with any fever under 104º unless it is a very little baby.  Temperature readings vary depending upon method used (oral, axillary, tympanic).

My favorite tips for ear infections:

  • First, get an otoscope and learn how to examine your child's ears.  Learn what a healthy inner ear looks like and what an inflamed ear drum looks like.  This will save you trips to a doctor.
  • Gauge the severity of the ear infection by monitoring your child's temperature and discomfort.  If the child is screaming in pain, has a high fever, and liquid draining from the ear, you may have a perforated ear drum.  In my opinion, this does not necessarily require medical intervention, as it can resolve naturally, but you need to be the judge of what you believe is best for your child.
  • It is helpful to treat both ears, even if only one is affected, as the canals are connected.
  • If the eardrum is not perforated, use garlic/mullein ear drops, an antibiotic treatment that relieves pain and inflammation.  (Make your own (see below) or purchase Herb Pharm drops.)  You can also use colloidal silver as drops or swab canal.
  • To relieve pain and help heal the infection, heat half an onion and secure it over the ear.  Make sure it is warm, not hot enough to burn the ear.  Cut an onion in half and peel, then gently heat in a small covered sauce pan with a bit of water, just until quite warm.  (Don't use the microwave...for anything...ever.  Please.)  It is helpful to secure the onion over the ear with an ace bandage or by tying a large thin tea towel around the head (like a flour sack towel), or an old t-shirt cut into a large strip.  [I have personally used this method and it works well to bring relief!]
  • Clogged sinuses can lead to clogged ears...remember, the tunnels are all connected.  :)  To relieve earache pain and ear congestion, do a massage with lavender EO, rosemary EO, eucalyptus EO combined with mullein oil (or coconut or olive if you don't have any mullein).  Massage around the front of the ear, up over the ear, behind the ear, down along the jaw and down the throat.  Use firm (but not agonizing) pressure, go slowly, use little circular motions with your finger pads as you follow the path:  up, around, down.  Do this five times a session, throughout the day.

Garlic/onion honey syrup recipe

Chop half an onion and a head of garlic.  In a saucepan, just cover onion and garlic with raw honey.  Gently simmer (don't boil, keep the heat quite low) for at least 30 minutes, an hour is better.  Bottle and keep in the refrigerator.  Serve by the spoonful throughout the day.  You can strain the honey or just serve whole.

Garlic/mullein ear drop recipe

In a small saucepan, gently simmer a chopped head of garlic and a handful of crushed mullein leaves/flowers in enough olive oil to cover the herb matter.  Keep the heat low and simmer for 20-30 minutes and allow the herb matter to steep in the oil until it comes to room temperature, or allow it to steep overnight.  Strain the oil and bottle, refrigerate when not using for long periods of time, but warm to apply.  Administer a few drops into each ear as often as needed, at least every 30 minutes.

You can buy mullein and other high quality bulk herbs from

Mountain Rose Herbs

For more information:

My writeup on 

Treating Pink eye

My writeup on 

Treating Croup

Relieve Earache with Natural Medicine

EWWHerbals                                                                              "Every wise woman builds her house..."  Proverbs 14:1

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