Inexpensive & Dependable Remedies to Help You Recover Faster

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As a young girl, I was always sick. By the time I was six months old, I had already experienced multiple ear infections, bronchitis, and a stint in the hospital for pneumonia. My childhood and adolescence weren’t much better. I remember in one year having mono, three or four “viral lung infections,” bronchitis, pneumonia (again), and more than a few sinus infections. My mom tells the story that I didn’t want Santa to come because it meant I’d be sick. All that (mostly unnecessary) antibiotic use led to yeast infections, which led to UTIs, which led to more antibiotics. Also now my teeth are “gray” according to my dentist. I’ve had a grandparent die of MRSA and I had a beloved pup with multiple antibiotic-resistant infections that ultimately took his life. Let me tell you: I am not a fan of antibiotics or pharmaceuticals, in general. I make painstaking efforts to eat organically and avoid that garbage at all costs. I firmly believe there is a time and place for pharmaceutical use, but I also believe medical care providers abuse and overuse pharmaceuticals. Years of living at a western medical provider’s office has led me to a different outlook and now my first line of defense is always – without question – natural and holistic.

I’m lucky that I have a PCP who embraces the holistic lifestyle and reaches for homeopathic or herbal remedies first but can write me a prescription when my family clearly needs it. I realize this is not the case for most people living in the US, but I’ve never met a parent who wanted to load their baby or child up with pharmaceuticals. Similarly, I’ve never met anyone who was at peace watching their little one struggling to breathe due to congestion and wasn’t just a little annoyed that there wasn’t anything their PCP could do for them. In this post, I will cover the specific homeopathic and herbal remedies we keep on hand in our home for this time of year. If you stumbled upon this in error and/or are looking for comfort care measures, you can find that here.

Alright, so the actual containment. I have four of these bad boys. I keep a Sterilite Stack & Carry for a few different categories of ailments and a first-aid kit for the car. Stomach bug? Wound care? Respiratory virus? I just whip one of these bad Larry’s out and I have all I need to get through the next three weeks – because with a family of five, it’s basically a month before we’re all healthy enough to go exploring the world again. These containers are awesome because there is no rummaging through my ever-expanding medical cabinet. Anyone who has ever dabbled in holistic medicine knows there is no good way to store tinctures and homeopathies so you can read the labels quickly when time is of the essence. I just snatch the kit I need for the circumstance at hand and all my main supplies are ready and waiting. It’s very convenient. Additionally, I have had spills of some liquid in them before and the spill was contained to the compartment, which was fantastic because said liquid contained honey which was obviously quite sticky. A little soap and water and I couldn’t even tell it had happened.

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I don’t even keep this in my kit, I keep this in my cabinet. Optimally, you want to prevent illness from occurring in the first place, and when you can’t do that, you want the immune system already strong enough to kick into high gear when invaders arrive. Whenever I’m heading into battle (aka public), I put some probiotics in my kids’ water. It’s suspended in glycerin, so it’s tasteless, and it’s the cleanest probiotic I’ve found on the market. Why do I do this when I know we’re going to be somewhere gross? Well, because most of your immune system lives in your gut (1). True moo. You can also bolster immunity with a healthy diet, plenty of fresh air, exercise, and Vitamin D supplementation (especially if you’re in the Northern part of the US), but the probiotics provide an extra boost.

3.) Acupressure Magnets

There are two very powerful acupressure points on either side of the nostrils. Sometimes I sneak the magnets on my kids while they’re sleeping (we are an acupuncture family, so I think they associate these with actual needling). The magnets make a huge difference in how well they sleep and feel overall. I tend to put the chest rub on these places, as well, as opposed to directly under the nose or on the chest.

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Magnetic Acupressure Patches
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4.) Epsom Salt

Why Epsom salt? Because it’s magnesium, which is an essential nutrient in healing. It also helps relax the body, which is great for sleep and relaxing distressed airways. I follow the directions on the bag and make a nice Epsom salt bath for the kids, usually mid-afternoon. In the evening, we have the main shower, which further opens those airways, but more on that later.

5.) Zarbee’s Chest Rub or Maty’s Chest Rub

I have tried the baby/kid version of both of these. I have one kiddo who does better with Maty’s due to skin sensitivity and the intensity of the smell, but Zarbee’s is the one I reach for first. It seems more potent, in my opinion. After a steamy shower (as hot as the kids can handle it, we don’t want to burn any bums), I wrap the kids in a nice warm towel (I often pop one in the dryer if they’re really feeling terrible). The first thing I do once they’re dry is put either Zarbee’s or Maty’s on their toes, followed by clean socks. The socks are important because they help them feel warm and fresh and keep the rub in place. Why the feet? Because there are loads of acupressure points in the feet that control other parts of the body, some of which are the sinuses.

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6.) ColdCalm® Baby

As soon as the first sniffle arrives, I start homeopathy for everyone in the house. I prefer Genexa Cold Crush to the ColdCalm® Kids, but I have had a baby/toddler in the house for the last six years and ColdCalm® makes a great baby product that is already suspended in a liquid. Cold Crush is currently only available for kids three and up. During our last few colds, I gave the ColdCalm® to my littlest person (17 months), and she barely had a runny nose.

7.) Genexa Cold Crush

This stuff is amazing. I have one kiddo (#1) who always vomits when she gets any sort of congestion. She just cannot handle postnasal drip in any capacity. This also always begins at 8PM. Don’t ask me why – it’s just the way every cold has played out with her since she was FOUR MONTHS OLD. She’s almost six now, so I’m pretty sure this isn’t a fluke or a stomach bug (insert eye roll). Anyway, my second kiddo (#2) was patient zero this time. She handles things much better and is overall a better patient, so when she is the first to succumb, it’s really the optimal scenario in our household. I started both #2 and #1 on ColdCrush immediately. Kiddo #2 was sniffly for three days total and #1 barely had a scratchy throat. I think she spent one day on the incline pillow just to be safe. This is unheard of in our house. She is always my hardest to fall and has never walked away unscathed. Of course, this **could** be chalked up to developing immunity, but she was breastfed until she was 3.5 and we really didn’t start going anywhere until after #2 came along due to her social anxiety. They’ve basically been exposed to all the same germs. This was the second time I’ve had amazing results and I can’t say enough good things about Genexa’s line of products overall.

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8.)Boiron Chestal® Cold & Cough Syrup for Kids

This was referred to me by my midwife when I was pregnant with my first. I had a cough I just could not kick, and it felt like I was merging onto the Bronchitis Highway, about three exits south of the Village of Pneumonia. Within days, my cough was completely silenced, and we have been using this in my house ever since. Obviously, consult with a healthcare provider, but if you move forward with this remedy after the consult, don’t use it during the third trimester. It has Pulsatilla in it, which can flip a baby to a breech position.

9.) Oscillococcinum®

I’ve taken Oscillococcinum® a couple of times that I thought something more serious than a cold was brewing. I love that other countries investigate and study homeopathy. According to the Boiron site, 63% of patients were drastically improved or completely fine after taking Oscillococcinum® within the first 24 hours of symptom onset. (3) Additionally, they state this is the leading flu remedy in France and is used in more than fifty (!) countries. I wasn’t able to find a link to the original study, but I have had good luck with this remedy and keep it stocked in our cabinet.

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Kan Herbs – Windbreaker 1 oz [Health and Beauty]

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10.) Windbreaker and Chest Relief, Gentle Warriors Formula

This is more heavy-duty as it is a Chinese herbal formula. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is my jam, but I only use it with the kids when we are in dire straits because it tastes terrible. In October 2021, my husband and I thought our family may have contracted COVID. I was beside myself with regret for taking our kids to gymnastics class, fully knowing the risks. I immediately contacted our acupuncturist who specializes in Chinese herbs, and she recommended these formulas. I have only needed to use Chest Relief once with my own kiddo, and she felt so good the next day that she gladly took the formula again. I also recommended this to a friend whose child had COVID and couldn’t kick the cough. Within a couple of days, he was back to normal. Obviously, this isn’t a remedy I have a ton of experience with, but I was impressed enough that I have it on Amazon subscribe & save to keep it stocked and readily available.

11.) Calcium Lactate

This is new to me but after the experience, I had with it, I’m not sure I will ever go without it again. I’m pretty sure my kids had RSV earlier in the season – #2 had a fever that would not come down on its own. We were on day three of 103F, and I took her right into my chiropractor because our PCP basically gave us a shoulder shrug and a pat on the behind and said, “she’ll get through it.” My chiropractor is also a crunchy mom to little kids and gave me a bottle of Calcium lactate with the instructions to crush it up, put it in honey, and give it before bed. Her fever broke that night. I was really interested in why exactly this occurs, so I did some research. The science is that white blood cells need calcium, so they draw it from the bones. (2) Theoretically, by providing calcium to the white blood cells in a readily available form, the immune system can mount a more efficient response to pathogens.  

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12.) Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Drink Powder

Listen – I’m not a fan of Pedialyte or anything that has food dyes in it. Kids can be sensitive to food dyes, and quite honestly, I’m just not into putting anything into my body that I need to go look up an SDS for. Yes, you can get the unflavored variety, but it’s gross and the SDS thing. I choose Ultima. There’s no sugar, no calories, carbs, or gluten, and the color is made from natural sources (think beet powder for pink or algae for blue). Plus, there are many delicious flavors to choose from. I’ve found these work as tasty beverages or as popsicles and my kids never turn them down.  

13.) Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Eucalyptus is great for breaking up congestion. We throw this on the shower walls while the kids take their showers. The steam and the eucalyptus work together to really open everything up before bed. I prefer Rocky Mountain Oils for their purity, transparency, and affordability. 

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14.) Peppermint Essential Oil

I recommend using this with caution. I never put peppermint EO on anyone as it can burn the skin (I’ve actually seen this bubble paint – I’m not kidding), but I do put it on pillows in places they are unlikely to come in contact with (the sides). It can be “activating” (arousing), so I would recommend trying it BEFORE bed for your kid and watching how they react. My kids seem to be okay with a few drops on the edges of their pillows. I prefer Rocky Mountain Oils for their purity, transparency, and affordability. 

15.) SniffleEase Essential Oil

YoungLiving has a line of pre-diluted kid-safe essential oils. While I still don’t put them directly on their skin, I do put a couple of drops on their shirt as it tends to stay with them longer than the Maty’s or Zarbee’s rub. Rocky Mountain Oils has similar blends (Breathe), but this Young Living is the brand my PCP carries, which means I can grab it in a pinch. 

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I use both comfort care and the abovementioned alternative modalities together in a specific way that minimizes the duration and intensity of the suffering and increases the ability to sleep comfortably. If you’re interested in combining the two modalities for maximum effect, see my post 8 Things to Keep Your Kids Comfortable in Flu Season.” I sincerely hope this finds you before the first sniffles do, and you’re able to breeze through the remainder of this year’s sick season. 

(1) Cohen, S. (2021). If you want to boost immunity, look to the gut. UCLA Health. Link to Source 

(2) 4 surprising benefits of calcium lactate: NutriPlex formulas (2017) NutriPlex Formulas – Whole Food Supplements. Available at: Link to Source (Accessed: December 12, 2022). 

(3) Oscillococcinum®: Boiron USA. Boiron USA |. (2022, December 26). Retrieved January 3, 2023, from Link to Source

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