Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu Season

natural remedies and essential oils for cold and flu

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. The information contained in this post is for educational and entertainment purposes only.

I’m sure you’ve all probably heard the recent hysteria over the flu “epidemic” this year….

While I’m not too sure if this year’s outbreak warrants all the panic, I do know one thing:

You won’t catch me or my family getting a flu shot– Not last year, not this year, not ever.

I’m not interested in injecting myself with a bunch of preservatives and mercury, plus there is no guarantee that getting the shot will actually prevent you from getting “the flu” since there are so many strains of it…

I prefer to arm myself and my family with natural defenses against illness– and I am happy to say that I don’t even remember the last time we went to the doctor for a flu or cold.

My hubby came down with a nasty bug over Christmas… I can’t say for sure if it was the “official” 2012 flu, but I do know it was bad stuff… Fever for many days, chills, aches, and a nasty cough. Hubby got it the worst, and Prairie Girl caught a milder version. I immediately started taking preventative measures for myself, and neither Prairie Boy or I ever came down with it. (I’m still amazed he didn’t get it, because he was only 2 months old… However, I’m pretty sure the combination of breastfeeding and a lot of prayer did the trick. ;))

Here is how we dealt with our recent bout of flu– no antibiotics or conventional medications required!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and these ideas are not to be taken as medical advice– they are simply what works for us. If you are using essential oils for medicinal purposes, make sure you are using a high-quality oil.

Natural Remedies for Cold & Flu

For Scratchy Throats

A steaming mug of Honey Lemon Tea is always a welcome option. Also, sometimes we gargle with a protective essential oil blend that contains cinnamon, clove, wild orange, and several other powerful essential oils, or use these homemade herbal throat drops.

To Maintain Proper Body Temperature

I’m not a fan of using fever-reducing medications. I believe that a fever is your body’s natural defense against illness, and that repeatedly “blocking” the work of a fever can actually make the sickness last longer. However, I do closely monitor fevers and have about a billion thermometers. 😉

I like to use peppermint, lavender, and/or frankincense essential oil to cool and soothe the body. I dilute them in a carrier (sweet almond oil or olive oil will work), then rub them on the bottoms of the feet and on the back.

For Lung Support

Coughs are a big aspect of most colds/flus at our house since hubby has severe asthma. Many sicknesses seem to go straight to his lungs… Here are some of my other favorite tricks:

  • Essential oils we love for lung support are rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, frankincense, and/or lime.
  • We also diffuse these oils, or make a “hand inhaler” by placing several drops in our palms, rubbing our hands together, and then cupping our hands over our mouth and nose.
  • These homemade herbal cough drops are handy if you can’t stop hacking.
  • Or try one of these powerful homemade herbal steams to clear airways.

Homemade Chest Rub

(thanks to my neighbor Jana for this recipe!)

Gently melt the beeswax and olive oil/coconut oil in a double boiler. Remove from heat, allow it to slighly cool, then stir in essential oils.

Store in a small glass container. Apply it to the bottoms of feet and chest.

Take a Bath…

Hubby was so miserable for several nights during his flu, that I had him sit in a hot “detox” bath. Many people rave about the benefits of a detox bath while fighting the flu. Although hubby didn’t necessarily feel any detox effects from his baths, it did help him to relax and sleep better. There are about a million different ways to mix up a detox bath, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

(Remember to drink LOTS of water before and after a hot bath to avoid dehydration when you are ill!)

We didn’t have all the ingredients on hand at the time, so I used what I had. I brewed him up a bath with 1/2 cup of Epsom salts, 1/8 cup of ground ginger, and several drops of eucalyptus and lavender essential oils.

And don’t forget the essential oil diffuser!

I have two essential oil diffusers in my home, and they run non-stop when anyone in our home is sick. We love using protective blends (like my DIY protective blend) especially.

If you aren’t sure which diffuser option to go with, check out my very comprehensive essential oil diffuser review post.

Prevention is Key…

Of course, it’s always better to simply avoid getting sick if at all possible. These are my tried-and-true natural methods of supporting my immune system during flu season:

  • Wash your hands and use germ-fighting measures like my homemade hand sanitizer.
  • Sleep! I know you’ve heard this before, but it’s true! It’s vital that your body has adequate rest in order to ward off bugs. Good sleep is important all the time, but especially when you’ve been exposed to sickness.
  • Eat nourishing foods We must give our bodies the proper fuel if we expect them to function properly. Sugar is never really good any time of the year, but definitely try to avoid it during flu season. White sugar drastically hampers your immune function– and I know this from personal experience.
  • Cut out the sugar. If I ever feel like I’m coming down with something, I immediately cut out every last scrap of refined sugar from my diet. But if I happen to fall off the wagon, the bug takes hold like clockwork. Probiotic foods (like homemade yogurt) and homemade bone broths (I like to have my home-canned beef broth ready to go at all times) are especially helpful. I’ve also noticed that I tend to crave vitamin C-rich foods when I’m sick (like oranges and grapefruit.)

Even with our healthy lifestyle habits, there is no guarantee that we will completely miss the flu bugs this season. But you can be sure of one thing– if Mr. FluBug comes knocking at my door, we’ll be ready! 😉

Other Essential Oil Posts you Might Like:

What are your favorite natural flu and cold remedies?

natural remedies and essential oils for cold and flu

 

How We Treated a Dog Bite with Natural Solutions

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. The statements in this post are meant for educational and entertainment purposes only.

If you follow along on The Prairie Homestead Facebook page, then you probably know that we lost one of our dogs in the early part of December due to accidental antifreeze poisoning.

We had no intention of getting another dog so soon, but we heard of a young female South African Boerboel (Mastiff) that needed a new home.

“Rue” is a great dog. She’s only about 8 months old and still has a lot of puppy in her, so we are working to teach her about homestead life (don’t chase horses, don’t chase chickens…) She’s coming along well, but occasionally she can be aggressive towards certain other dogs.

The week after Christmas, she started a fight with our Blue Heeler, so hubby stepped in to break it up. In the confusion, she accidentally bit his hand. (Yes, we are 100% positive it was an accident. If we even had the slightest idea that she did it on purpose, she would be gone in an instant.)

Thankfully, she only got him with one canine tooth, but it was pretty deep. I don’t have a lot of experience with dog bites, but I knew I wanted to avoid a trip to the emergency room if at all possible, so we decided to go the natural route. (She has been vaccinated for rabies, so we knew that wasn’t an issue.)

And the results of our natural treatment? Absolutely astounding!

The bite wound has healed incredibly well- no redness, no swelling, no bruising, no infection.

And the best part? We didn’t use a single “modern” antibiotic– no ointments or prescriptions. (Why do we avoid antibiotics? This link explains one reason.) Here is how we did it:

How We Treated a Dog Bite with Natural Solutions

natural treatment dog bite

First off, I brought hubby into the house and we cleaned the wound thoroughly. He held it under running water for several minutes to help flush it, and then we poured hydrogen peroxide on it several times.

Initially, I wasn’t quite sure what essential oils to use and I didn’t have time to research, so I went with my gut.

I grabbed melaleuca for it’s cleansing properties, clove to help numb the pain (he said it hurt- a LOT), and lavender to soothe.

I applied one drop of each directly to the bite, and then we bandaged it to keep it clean.

Unfortunately, this was also the day we were set to slaughter our hogs, so he stuck his glove back on and went outside… (It’s not a whole lot of fun to skin a hog with a bum hand… just FYI.)

After doing a little more reading later that day, I decided to switch to using a cleansing blend (ours contains lemon, melaleuca, cilantro, and other oils) and Frankincense.

I had him come back inside several times that day so I could remove the bandage, and repeat the oil application. (One drop each of the cleansing blend and Frankincense.)

The only other thing I did was to have him soak his hand in warm Epsom salt water that evening. I had read Epsom salts can help to clean the wound and draw out any infection, so I figured it would be a good added precaution.

We repeated the oil/bandaging protocol for the next several days. The wound never got swollen, or red, or nasty… I liked my essential oils before, but I really, really LOVE them now. 😉

hand
The bite about 10 days into healing. I know it looks pretty innocent now, but trust me– it was deep and nasty. (Yes, I’m kicking myself for not taking a photo right after it happened!)

A Few Notes:

  • If you are using essential oils for any sort of medicinal purposes, make sure you are only using a high-quality oil. I personally use doTERRA oils, and am pleased-as-punch with them.
  • I think a huge part of our success was that we start using the oils immediately and continued to apply them frequently.
  • I will always have hydrogen peroxide and Epsom salts in my first aid kit from now on!
  • Please use common sense and caution when dealing with animal bites and other wounds. There is a time and place for medical intervention. You will have to make that call.

Interested in learning more about doTERRA essential oils?

Visit this page for more info, as well as a big list of all the ways I use my oils around the homestead.
Have you ever used essential oils in first-aid applications? What did you use?

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This post is not to be taken as medical advice. Please exercise extreme caution when dealing with wounds.

How to Prepare Your Homestead for Wildfire

Photo Credit

I’ve never, ever thought about fire as much as I have this year…

I know that some of you in other parts of the country are dealing with too much moisture and cool temps. But, we are the exact opposite here in our corner of Wyoming.

We’ve had various wildfire raging all over the parts of Wyoming and Colorado that are somewhat close to where we live. As I type, there is a out-of-control wildfire burning in the areas north of us. Last I heard, it was over 90,000 acres with little containment. That particular fire isn’t threatening our homestead at all, but the smoke blew in yesterday and turned the sky snow-white as it blocked out the sun. I could barely see the landmarks less than a mile away from our house…

Photo Credit 

Although in the past, I’ve complained about the serious lack of trees out here on the prairie, this year I am thankful. Generally, grassfires are somewhat easier to estinguish than the fires in timber. However, with the epic drought conditions we’ve been suffering from this year, that doesn’t mean our property still isn’t at risk from fire.

All it would simply take someone tossing a cigarette out the window on the road bordering the backside of our property, and our pasture could be on fire in minutes…

Obviously, there is a lot to think about when it comes to preparing or evacuating in the case of a fire.

I spent some time the other night talking with my husband about our fire preparedness plans. He is a volunteer fire fighter and shared some great ideas that I thought some of you might find useful as well.

Photo Credit 

Ultimately, God is in control of well-being of my homestead, and I won’t lay awake worrying about it since He know what will and will not happen. However, we will be taking a few extra precautions this year to make our home and structures more defendable in the instance that a fire visits our land.

(Please note- this is not meant to be a comprehensive list. I am not a fire science expert. However, I hope it will get you thinking towards prepardness, as that is the most important first step.)

Preparing for a Possible Fire:

  • Clean up piles of trash or brush piles. If fire fighters are trying to keep the fire from reaching your home, you want to have as little fuel for the fire laying around as possible.
  • Cut down dead trees and shrubs.

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  • Keep your grass and pastures short. We have several large areas of unfenced grass surrounding our house and barn. Because they are not grazed, it’s easy for the grass in those areas to become quite tall. My husband spends a considerable amount of time on the tractor mowing each year to make sure those areas would provide as little fuel as possible for a prairie fire.
  • Think about natural barriers. Things like green grass, bare dirt, roads, or rock are all helpful natural fire barriers. Obviously, it depends on your homestead as to which will work best for you. The goal is to slow down an approaching fire as much as possible.

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  • If you are building or remodeling a structure, take note of non-combustible building materials. Choosing safe shingles and siding is something to consider if you live in a dry area. This website has some excellent info regarding building materials, location, and plans.
  • Have heavy drapes or curtains on your windows that you can close in the event of an approaching fire.

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  • Have plenty of hoses and keep them readily available during fire season.
  • Consider planting a “fire mix” type of grass seed. This is new to me, but this page from Colorado State has tables and info about different mixes of grass seed that are more fire resistant than others.
  • Store firewood or hay stacks away from buildings.

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  • Make sure your animals are clearly identified. Use ear tags or brands to mark your animals in case you must cut fences to free them in a hurry.
  • Talk to neighbors to find out who might have a truck with water pumping capabilites. If I were ever to spot a fire close to us, I would first call 911, and then immediately call the neighbor down the road who has a small fire truck. I’m betting he could probably be here quicker than anyone else.
  • Have a plan of where you can take your family and your animals in the event of an evacuation.

Photo Credit 

  • If a fire is in the area, but you aren’t sure if it will be an issue for you or not, have your truck and trailer hooked up and ready to go in case you need to transport animals in a hurry.
  • Store important papers such as social security cards, birth certificates, or animal registration papers in a fire-proof safe. Or, have them in a bag that you can easily grab in a hurry.
  • Check out this website from the Colorado State University for more ideas and checklists.

Hopefully, if you take these steps in preparing your homestead for fire and they will be completely unnecessary. But, even so, it never hurts to be prepared.

Like I mentioned above, this isn’t a comprehensive list- just some of the things I’ve been thinking of this year.

Although winter is a ways off, I’m already praying that we get a lot of snow this year to help make up our severe moisture deficient… Hopefully I’ll need the Homesteader’s Blizzard Checklist come January!

Do you have any other tips you can share in the comments?

Don’t forget to pray for the wildfires raging in many parts of the USA. And while you’re at it, I’d love it if you would pray for some rain to be sent my way as well. :)

(Thanks to faithful reader Denise for suggesting this post!)

This post was shared at: Simple Lives Thursday, Frugally Sustainable, Your Green Resource

 

Pondering Alternative Water Sources

(Photo Source)

Once again, my husband and I have felt an increased urgency to be better prepared.

Though things like food (stored in our frugal buckets, of course!) and a milk cow are important, we have both been shying away from addressing the real elephant in our homestead preparedness:

WATER.

Our little part of Wyoming can be dry. Really dry. We are still coming out of a drought, and though we usually get some good moisture in the spring, sometimes we can go weeks without a drop of rain in the late summer/fall.

If we were ever to be without power for a length of time, our biggest downfall would be there is no way to run our electric well. (Thankfully, we DO have our own well. That’s a start.)

Though we might be able to store enough water for ourselves for a little while, our animals would be in trouble. If you are expecting to have chickens, dairy animals, and a garden to help sustain you during a power outage, then they need water, and lots of it.

A few of the ideas we’ve pondered so far:

1. Storing water in 55 gallon drums. Like I mentioned above, this would work for us, but not our critters. Plus, you then have the issue of keeping it fresh, etc. Perhaps a partial solution, but not a full one.

2. Solar/Wind Powered Electrical Systems. While we would still LOVE to do this, there is no way we could afford it right now. As we work on our preparedness, we like to implement things that we can use even in our every-day life, not just during an emergency. A small wind turbine is still a possibility, since hubby is employed in the wind industry, and can pretty much fix/troubleshoot/take apart any turbine that has ever been made. But as a immediate fix? Not so much.

3. Rainwater Collection. I am still intrigued by this idea, as we have a lot of square footage of roof area. However, in order to implement this, we would need to install gutters on our house, shop, and barn, as well as rig up some kind of storage system or cistern. I worry that with the minimal amounts of rainfall in our area, that all this work might still be in vain.

4. Hand powered pump jack. This is the most promising option for us so far. We have looked at installing a back-up hand powered pump. Ideally, we would need one that connects into our current system, so we could still use the electric pump as long as we had power. The biggest issue here? Price.

5. Getting Creative. As we weighed our options, we tried to think outside and box and get a little creative. We then remembered that we have an extra well on our property. It is actually the original homestead well, drilled in 1910. It has an old, broken hand pump attached to it and sits nestled in the lilac bush. Although we’ve looked at it a bit in the past, we’ve never really considered it, until now.

In progress...

Last week, on one of our beautiful spring evenings, we fired up the tractor and hubby went to work. It’s not easy taking apart something that has been sitting unattended to for decades! We were able to lift the pump jack off with the tractor and determine that there IS water at the bottom!

The next steps involve pulling up 200 feet of pipe and seeing if/how we can fix the pump at the bottom.

The plan is to get it running again and hopefully be able to use it as a full functioning pump jack, in addition to our electric one.

My imagination ran wild as we were dismantling the well. It made me so excited to think that we were reviving an actual piece of old time homesteading history and making it usable again.

Isn’t it cool how things come full circle?

The old pump jack

I bet the original homesteader never imagined that there would be 2 young adults, 100 years later, in an age of amazing technology, trying to breath life into his ancient project.

We are still a long ways off, and many things would have to happen for this to work, but I will keep you posted on our progress!

What ideas/plans do YOU have for alternative waters sources or back-up? I would LOVE to hear your ideas!

I shared this post at the Homestead Revival Preparedness Challenge #10