When there is someone sick in our home, I have learned that there are multiple types of illness and multiple types of treatments. I keep an assortment of things on hand to help speed healing and ease discomfort.
Foods for healing:
Bone broth: I always cook down my poultry bones and safe the stock. I freeze it in flat in plastic freezer bags, or pressure can it. When a child is sick, I can just warm up the broth with a little salt and garlic powder, or turn it into a more hearty soup by adding chicken meat and veggies.
Crackers: I don’t always have crackers on hand, but I will run out and get a box if I have a child who is suffering with a stomach bug. Crackers are a bland food that are gentle to add as a first food to a recovering stomach. I choose cracker brands that are whole-grain and low sugar. Rice cakes or dry wholesome cereals can also work for this.
Raw Honey: I put honey in tea if my children are struggling with a sore throat or cough. Honey is a natural cough suppressant. I was even told by a pediatrician that it is more effective than cough medicine and has no frightening side effects. In fact, raw honey is full of antioxidants that may speed up healing in the body. It is not good for children under one, so other methods have to be used to help babies recover from coughs and sore throats.
Yogurt and Kiefer: Probiotics are very helpful to combat bacterial infections. Most ear and sinus infections are bacteria related. Stomach bugs can be too. If my child is able to eat food, I may try to get a little yogurt or Kiefer in their tummies. If they need an antibiotic, they have no choice, but to boost up the probiotics. Antibiotics are always taken with probiotics in our home.
Tea: I use various teas for various ailments as well. Chamomile tea is wonderful to calm a child and help him or her sleep. Peppermint or ginger tea helps settle upset stomachs. Sienna tea helps with constipation. A licorice root tea, such as Throat Coat from Traditional Medicinal is wonderful to sooth a sore throat. Milk Thistle is a tea that I drank during nursing to help build my milk supply. Echinacea based teas help boost the immune system and can be used if I or my children have been exposed to other sick family members.
Herbs: I keep baobab powder on hand. I use it for smoothies and drinks. Baobab is a huge antioxidant and a lot of vitamin C. The benefits of baobab are far too unpublished, but it is an excellent plant to boost the body in healing. I also keep matcha tea powder for its healing benefits. I will mix matcha in a smoothie, cold drink, or warm tea for myself or children.
Supplements: Vitamin C powder is a staple in my home. I will mix a small bit of it with some stevia and natural flavoring extracts like cherry, pineapple, and coconut. I often will put in matcha tea powder or baobab powder too. It is an excellent immunity booster and healing supplement for sick little ones to sip on throughout the day.
Medicine: I am not against the use of medicines, but only use them as needed. I will give my children a dose of acetaminophen without dyes and fillers. The Genexa brand is usually one that is available in my area. I will also use a dye free ibuprofen if needed. Acetaminophen is good for relieving pain, whereas ibuprofen relieves pain, but also reduces inflammation. Both medications are my last resort if a fever is creeping up too high for comfort, or a child is in noticeable pain.
Essential Oil: I am very careful with the use of essential oils in our home. Generally, I do not use them unless there is a specific need. I was told by a doctor that even lavender oil can mimic estrogen in the human body, similar to soy products and BPA, and feel the side effects and long-term results of essential oils are not tested or understood at this point. I love essential oils, but treat them with caution, like I do medicine. I will use a diffuser during allergy season with a blend of oils like eucalyptus that help open up the lungs. I will also purchase a gentle eucalyptus chest rub. I will use it if there is severe chest congestion, sometimes topped with hot towels or a heating pad. I have read mixed thoughts on this, but Eucalyptus has been around a long time, and it does seem to be very effective to open up lungs, so I am personally comfortable with its use on occasion. I am not apposed to using thieves or a blend of oils to help kill airborne germs if we have stuff going around in our house. I use tea-tree oil to heal skin blemishes. And I do use a dab of lavender oil on bug bites. I also will use peppermint oil on my son’s feet to help ease his stomach when we travel. It helps reduce nausea.
Fluids: Keeping a person hydrated while sick is something most mothers know is crucial. I have been known to treat a child with a bottle of Gatorade, but a little mineral salt in some water is just as effective and without the dyes and sugar. I do the plain old water too…it can be chilled or warm. Lemons are wonderful detoxifiers and have good vitamin C. I sometimes will make lemonade with a squeezed lemon and a bit of Stevia. Warm lemon water can also be a soothing drink for sick children. I am not against all juice either. Sometimes, a little can benefit a sick child in providing a little nutrients such as vitamin C and antioxidants, as well as energy from the natural sugars. Cranberry and Grape are the richest, but Apple and Orange Juice can be watered down a little to lessen the sugar load and still give some flavor and vitamin C.
Frozen Hydration: Chopped ice can be a good way to keep little ones hydrated when there is a lot of vomiting or diarrhea. I also will sometimes get natural fruit popsicles. They can provide cooling, and slow hydration to children who are recovering from upset stomachs or fevers.
Non-Food Treatments: A humidifier is the greatest enemy of cold viruses. It is also wonderful to sooth sore throats during the night. I own a couple, so each room can have one if there are multiple sick children. I also have been known to let my children take shower after shower. The steam is so good to sooth those sinuses, loosen up junk in lungs, and ease pain of sore throats. When I had babies suffering with congestion, I would take a long shower, and just hold them in the shower. They got lots of skin to skin time and the benefit of the steam from the shower. Baths are also a wonderful comfort. Baths are very soothing if a child has a fever. I put Epsom salt in the bath to help their bodies detoxify, absorb magnesium, and calm body aches. A bath will also calm the fever chills. Rest of course is extremely important for healing. I do make my children take a nap and go to bed early when they are sick. The more severe the illness of a child, the more time in bed he or she will get.
What is not allowed for sick children in our home: I do my best to avoid sugar when my children are sick. Sugar lowers the immune system and feeds bacteria and viruses (cancer too). Sugar also kills vitamins. It is not a friend. To speed recovery, I know sugar will not be helpful. However, in some cases it is unavoidable. I do use raw honey for sore throats and coughs, and that is high in fructose. But I think the benefit outweighs the risk in that case. I also do occasionally use medicine which sometimes contains a sweetener. Or I will allow crackers, natural unsweetened juice, or a bit of Gatorade (if there has been severe dehydration). All of those things do have sugars in them. Again, it is something I judge on a case by case basis and consider if the immediate benefits outweigh the concerns of added sugar. I also avoid milk, unless it is breastmilk for a baby who is still breastfeeding. Milk does not hydrate the body well. It can increase fevers. It contains lactose, a form of sugar. Milk contains nothing that will aid in the speedy healing of a body. Heavy foods and meals are something that are off limits for sick people in our home. I will invite children to eat with the family for a meal, if the child is well enough to sit. However, I do not insist that he or she eats what everyone else eats. I will allow my child to sip on tea, just have crackers, and be picky until I feel he or she should try to eat something more.