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Wellness, naturally: five simple tricks to help you get well soon
This winter has been a strange one, with temperatures fluctuating wildly from cold to warm, dry to wet. These weather fluctuations–whether atypical, like this year, or the normal changes common during the beginning and end of winter–often trigger bouts of winter colds for children and adults alike.
Last week a bug landed in our home, leaving half of our crew down for a couple of days. And like any time we find ourselves with a cold or flu, we reached for our herbal kitchen arsenal to bring comfort and healing–fast.
I thought some of you might be interested in hearing some fresh ideas to get well on the double. With this in mind, five of my favorite wellness tips for cold and flu season are below. I hope they help you and your loved ones feel 100% again soon!
(A few afflinks follow. That said, I always encourage you to purchase what you can locally!)
Five simple tips to help you get well soon
Lots and lots of rest.
As a rule, we suck at this in western society. We go to school or work sick. We pound cold medicine to feel well enough to keep up with what we think we “should” be doing, despite being sick and needing rest.
No, not everyone has the luxury of missing a day of work because they are sick. But if you are in the group of folks that does, please stay home and rest.
For me, a comfy chair, quilt, and basket of knitting beside the fire helps (a lot). Press pause on any out-and-about activities. This will not only speed your own healing, but keep your friends, classmates, or coworkers from unnecessary exposure to your bug.
Getting adequate rest when you’re under the weather means falling asleep early and staying in bed as late as you can. It means taking it easy during the day, as much as you can manage.
2. Homemade (or purchased) Chicken Broth or Stock
Sipping flavorful mugs of bone broth is an easy way to nourish your body during cold and flu season, without overtaxing your digestive system. It’s my magic potion for getting well in a hurry.
My basic recipe is can be found here. During cold and flu season I love adding a giant knob of smashed ginger, a full head of smashed or sliced garlic, and two big handfuls of astragalus root at the start of my cooking cycle.
Make a big batch of homemade broth now, then sip it throughout your resting period and until you feel 100% again.
3. Herbal Tinctures and Teas
I think simple, homemade tinctures and teas are the best medicines of all. Our family makes many different kinds each season, and we rely on them throughout out the year to support our health.
Tinctures are available for purchase in most natural food stores, but they are ridiculously simple to make at home. If you’ve never made tinctures before, give my simple folk remedy for homemade elderberry tincture a try!
Suggested teas are below. For tinctures, look into the specific symptoms you are looking to comfort, as well as your own constitution. Generally speaking, immune-supporting herbs like elderberry and echinacea area a good choice, as well as herbs for specific symptoms like fevers, body aches, chills, or herbs for lung support.
4. STAY HYDRATED
Warm drinks are key to a fast recovery. The aforementioned chicken broth and tea are key. Along with hot toddies, they are my top picks to deliver good medicine while helping us stay hydrated.
A hot toddy (in our world anyway!) is not a boozy concoction, but rather a strong lemon and ginger infusion, sweetened with honey, then spiked with optional herbs and tinctures. My easy hot toddy recipe – with variations from the most simple to more complex – can be found right over here.
For teas, think of immune-supporting herbs like echinacea, elderberry, and chaga; lung-support like mullein and wild cherry bark; or fever remedies like yarrow and elderflower.
ANOTHER FAVORITE WARM DRINK AROUND HERE IS HOMEMADE PINE NEEDLE TEA.
Made from a simple decoction of white pine needles and thin branches, pine needle tea feels excellent on the throat, quiets coughs, and is loaded with vitamin C. I share a how-to for my favorite version on page 160 in my book.
If you don’t have a copy on hand, simply harvest fresh white pine needles, twigs, and bark. Cut into pieces and place in a large nonreactive pot. Fill pot with water and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and steep for 10 additional minutes. If desired, additional herbs can be added to the pot, depending on the cold or flu you’re working through. Consider mullein leaf, bee balm, yarrow, elderberry, elecampane, or wild cherry bark.
Body aches? Epsom salt baths are a wonder for sore muscles. Arnica massage oil also supports healthy, happy muscles and joints. Also try a hot water bottle tucked up against an aching back or sore neck.
Earache? You can’t beat garlic ear oil. There is a recipe for my favorite version with mullein flowers in Herbal Adventures. I also shared this simple garlic recipe years ago (along with a few other holistic earache remedies).
How are your lungs? Support them with herbal steams and by keeping your humidifier filled and running.
The undiluted oils can be added to a diffuser or humidifier, or mixed with a carrier oil along with your epsom salts in the bath.
Sore Throat? Those hot toddies (above) work wonders; so does gargling a simple cup of hot salt water. My go-to remedy for sore throat is homemade Monarda tonic or oxymel. Made with just wild bee balm, raw honey, and brandy or organic apple cider vinegar, it soothes sore throats in a hurry.
I share an entire chapter of Bee Balm/Monarda recipes in my book, Herbal Adventures (including a Bee Balm Oxymel recipe). If you already own a copy, head to page 118 and dive in.
Since many of you don’t have bee balm on hand, try a tea made from sage and thyme instead–herbs with similar medicinal properties to bee balm, but found right in your spice cabinet.
Pro tip: always steep herbal teas covered to keep the healing aromatics in the cup.
Fever? My favorite herbal remedy is a tea made of 2 parts peppermint leaf, 1 part yarrow, 1 part elder flower, and 1/2 part catnip. Again, there’s a proper recipe in Herbal Adventures! (Noticing a theme? These are most certainly my favorite, go-to home remedies.)
Try Belladona 12C homeopathic remedy. This along with our homemade fever tea and the other wellness steps above are our best defense.
Cough? I can’t sing the praises of this remedy enough. If you don’t have elecampane on hand I urge you to pick some up now and have this remedy ready for your next round of coughs. It works like magic.
What would you add to the list of wellness tips above? What are your go-to solutions to cold and flu season?
Pssst, LüSa Fans…From now until January 15, jump in on a buy-3-get-1-free offer on all LüSa Organics cold and flu season wellness products. Find the details here!