Get well soon (five simple, natural tricks to get there fast)!

The change of the season often taxes our immune systems as the weather fluctuates between winter and spring.

This week the bug has landed in our home, with 2 out of 4 of us down with body aches, sore throats, and fatigue.

And just like any time we find ourselves with a cold or flu, these are the foolproof steps we take to get well – fast.

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean.

1. Rest

Lots and lots of rest.

That 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.

For me, a comfy chair, quilt, and basket of knitting beside the fire helps (a lot).

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean.

2. Chicken Broth or Stock

I have been sipping cups of bone broth for days on end. It’s my magic potion for getting well in a hurry.

My basic recipe is can be found here. Make a big batch to store in the fridge or freezer while you heal.


3. Herbal Tinctures

I think simple, homemade tinctures 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. Currently I am taking elderberry, echinacea (my recipe is from this booklet), and astragalus tinctures.

If you haven’t made tinctures before you won’t believe how simple it can be! My recipe and instructions for homemade elderberry tincture can be found here.

Also yes, I give alcohol-based tinctures to children. A single child-sized dose of tincture contains less alcohol than a ripe banana. So I simply don’t fret about it.

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean.

4. Stay Hydrated

Warm drinks are key. Herbal tea, the aforementioned broth, and hot toddies are my top picks to deliver good medicine while helping us stay hydrated.

We’re hitting them hard this week – even the two among us who aren’t battling the bug.

My hot toddy recipe – with variations from the most simple to more complex – can be found right over here.


Another favorite warm drink around here is homemade pine needle tea.

Made from a simple decoction of white pine needles and thin branches, it feels excellent on the throat, quiets coughs, and is absolutely loaded with vitamin C. To make, 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, monarda, yarrow, elderberry, elecampane, or wild cherry bark.

If you’re aren’t up for making your own tea blends, choose a purchased herbal tea that matches your symptoms. We love the Traditional Medicinals brand, especially Throat Coat, Breathe Easy, and Gypsy Cold Care. (afflinks)

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean.


Body aches? Epsom salt baths and arnica muscle rub/massage oil both work magic on soreness. Also try a hot water bottle tucked up against an aching back or sore neck.

Earache? You can’t beat garlic ear oil. I shared this recipe years ago (along with a few other holistic earache remedies), though the one I used this weekend I made with garlic and mullein flowers. (If you’d like I will share a recipe for it during the next mullein flower season. Do let me know if that interests you!)

Support healthy respiration with LuSa EOs

How are your lungs? Here at LüSa we also make two lines of essential oils and chest rubs to support healthy respiration.

Our Breathe Easy EO blends and Children’s Chest Rub are eucalyptus-free designed specifically for kids under 10, while our Breathe Deep EO blends and Original Chest Rub are just the thing for ages 10 and up.

The undiluted oils can be added to a diffuser or humidifier, or mixed with your epsom salts in the bath. The roll-on oils and chest rubs can be applied directly to the skin as desired.

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean.

Sore Throat? Those hot toddies work wonders; so does gargling hot salt water. My preferred remedy for sore throat is homemade Monarda tonic. Made with just wild bee balm, raw honey, and brandy it soothes sore throats in a hurry.

Since many of you won’t have bee balm on hand, try a tea made from sage and thyme, found right in your spice cabinet. Add a bit of honey and find simple, effective relief.

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.

Try Belladona 12 c homeopathic remedy. This along with our homemade fever tea and the other wellness steps above are our best defense.

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean.

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. I also shared two herbal cough syrup recipes in the Herbal Apothecary booklet, one for day and one for night. Both are simple to make and work wonders on persistent coughs.

And with that, I have a cozy spot next to the fire that’s calling me.

Rest up, friends. Get well soon!


5 simple tricks for healing from cold or flu, naturally.

Women’s Moon Tea

Two friends reached out today with nearly identical requests: they were seeking herbal tea suggestions for menstruation.

Coincidentally, I was brewing up my favorite moon tea blend for myself! How serendipitous!

This tea supports women before, during, and after menstruation and is easy to adapt for cramps, heavy periods, or PMS symptoms, or even for use during pregnancy.

The heart of this blend is wild red raspberry leaf.


Raspberry Leaf

Red raspberry leaf is a renowned women’s tonic that I learned about when I was pregnant with my first child and was told by my midwife to drink a quart of raspberry leaf infusion each day to prepare for childbirth.

This highly nourishing herb supports and tones women’s reproductive systems, and is recommended for women during a variety of stages of fertility, most notably as my midwife did, during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Because raspberry leaf it rich in iron, it also helps to restore strength in the body by replacing iron lost during bleeding, both during menstruation and postpartum. It is also an important herb for treating diarrhea and can be a useful herb to help reduce excessive menstrual bleeding.

Indeed, there are countless uses for the humble, often overlooked plant.

Raspberry leaf is rich in iron, niacin, and manganese. It’s also easy to identify and forage, for those who are interested, or can be purchased at your local natural foods coop or online (Mountain Rose Herbs is one shop I trust for ethically grown, quality herbs.)


Fennel & Ginger Root

Both fennel and ginger can help quiet cramping – both menstrual and digestive – and make raspberry leaf tea even more delicious! If you aren’t crazy about the flavors you may substitute lemon balm or peppermint leaf instead, or choose from the list of optional ingredients below.


  • 1/4 cup dried wild raspberry leaf
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger root, thinly sliced or grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seed

Optional additions

The ingredients listed below are also wonderful herbs to make a habit of, during any stage in your cycle. Nettle leaf is a miraculous, nutrient-dense herb (more information on my personal blog about nettle, here). Licorice root supports adrenal glands, reproductive system, and endocrine system. Burdock and dandelion are excellent for digestive health and liver function, and a sluggish or taxed liver can lead to more difficult menstrual cycles. Add none, any, or all!

  • 2 tbsp dried nettle leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp licorice root
  • 1 1/2 tsp burdock root
  • 1 tsp dandelion root



  • Place all ingredients in a quart-sized mason jar.
  • Slowly pour freshly boiled water over herbs to gently warm your jar, then fill to the capacity.
  • Cover with a plate and steep for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • When ready to serve, pour infusion through a fine mesh strainer into a mug and sweeten with raw honey if desired. Any remaining tea can steep longer, intensifying the flavor and infusing it with even more goodness. Dilute with additional hot water if flavor becomes to strong for your liking.
  • Drink a quart a day as desired.


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Making time for magic

There just wasn’t time. 


We were leaving that morning for a week on the North Shore and the last thing I wanted was to leave Pete with another animal to care for.

She cupped it gently in her hands. “A caterpillar! Mama, can we keep it and raise a butterfly? Please?” (Cue puppy dog eyes.)


My inner dialogue went something like this: “NO. No, no, no, no, no.” 


Yes, raising butterflies had been on my list of what “good” homeschoolers do for-freaking-ever. And yet we had never done it. But now? Surely not now. The coolers were already packed. And we were leaving for a week. It made no sense. No.

My sister was visiting, leaving for home just before we left for the shore. She said, “I think it’s a Swallowtail. They’ve been eating my parsley.” She started typing into her phone. Yes, indeed. An Eastern Black Swallowtail.

I took a few deep breaths, glancing back and forth between the half-packed camper, the house, and the caterpillar, my pupils rapidly dilating. I tried not to sigh, whine, or scream. Instead I quietly asked in a voice that croaked with resignation, “What do they eat?”

Wild parsnip and Queen Anne’s lace. 

I sighed. “Okay. Get the gloves (so you don’t get parsnip burns). You can forage them both alongside the garden. Go!

I grabbed a glass gallon mason jar and some cheesecloth for a lid, then took a few more deep breaths. 

I left a note for Pete.

“I’m SO sorry to leave you more animals to care for. Please harvest wild parsnip and Queen Anne’s lace for Lupine’s caterpillar. Sorry. I love you and you’re freaking fabulous.” Or something.

And we shoved the caterpillar and the wild parsnip into the gallon jar and hit the road.


Just two days into our trip we received a text from Pete. It was a photo of a chrysalis. As it turned out Pete didn’t have to feed another critter after all.

And I was suddenly so glad I let Lupine and my sister talk me into this! A chrysalis in our kitchen. That was amazing. I was just sorry we weren’t home to watch it form.

We returned from our trip and marveled at the transformation. And we waited.


And then this weekend as Lupine cleaned up a craft project in the kitchen I heard her gasp. “Mama! A butterfly!” And there it was, stretching it’s wings for the first time. We didn’t see it emerge but it hadn’t been out for long.

And it was breathtakingly lovely.






Lupine ran around the farm and down to the pasture, collecting Pete and Sage. We gathered around her on the deck, each of us watching on in wonder. Lupine gently reached into the jar and let this glorious creature crawl out onto her arm.

And then – in an instant…



… she was gone.

What an amazing process to become a part of.


Oh, yes. I am so glad I let her talk me into this.

Because, as it turns out, there is always time for magic.


Say yes.


Homemade, natural toothpaste


Making your own toothpaste is as easy as can be.

From a self-sufficiency perspective it’s awesome simply because you made your own toothpaste (how rad are you?). But you also get the bonus of being able to control what goes into your mouth (did you know most toothpastes contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate? Yep. Even at the Co-op).

Oh, and there is one very compelling reasons to stay away from the commercial stuff. Decay.

My daughter Lupine had early childhood caries (ECCs). Her teeth were crumbling by 18 months. Modern dentistry blames ECCs on poor brushing habits, poor diet, acidic mouth, genetics, and nighttime-nursing/bottles.

But that story wasn’t jiving for us.

We brushed well and regularly, ate wholesome food, and avoided juice, corn syrup processed foods, and most sweets. We did night nurse (and still do), but that seemed evolutionarily normal and to me it didn’t make sense that it would contribute to decay of healthy teeth. So I dug deeper. Lots deeper.

I discover a nutritional imbalance. We adjusted our diet to mainly Traditional Foods, continued to night nurse, and began to supplement deficient nutrients. And we adjusted our cleaning routine.

The first step? Toss the toothpaste.


A coating of glycerin remains on the teeth for days after brushing with commercial, glycerin-based toothpaste. This film prevents remineralization, something vital for healthy teeth.

While our dentist doesn’t buy this theory, he did acknowledge that Lupine’s decay ceased within weeks after we made the changes above. It has been over a year and have seen no new decay since our diet and brushing habits changed.

The recipe below is our new standard. It tastes pretty good – sweet and minty, and if you rinse after brushing there is no soapy-taste at all. (Bonus: Our soap-based formula helps prevent swearing!)


LuSa Organics Homemade Toothpaste

2 tsp Natural Liquid Soap (try unscented Dr. Bronner’s or similar. We’ve used our bar soap, grated into water but it makes too thick of a toothpaste for my squeeze bottle.)

4 Tb Coconut Oil

1 Tb Water

2 Tb Xylitol (optional)

1/2 tsp Stevia powder (edited in 2014: please use the green stevia powder rather than the highly processed white powder. A half dropper of liquid stevia is another great option.)

10-20 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

5-10 drops Spearmint or Sweet Orange Essential Oil

Boil a small pan of water. Measure out 1 Tb and stir into it Xylitol (optional). Stir to dissolve. Melt coconut oil and add to water mixture. Measure in soap and stevia and blend (a stick blender works well if you have one. Otherwise use your regular blender or whisk by hand like mad).  Blend while the formula cools enough to stay combined. Add essential oils and transfer to a clean squeeze or pump bottle. Cool completely, shake well.

Then smile at your self-sufficiency with those squeaky-clean teeth.