Dealing with Sickness

Crystal Miller

     Whenever I talk with people who do not use herbs for dealing with sickness I always get the feeling that they think people who use herbs don’t get sick or when they do get sick they can’t see what the point of herbs are. 

     One of the things I have learned about using herbs to treat sickness is that they work in a whole different way then ‘over the counter’ (OTC) meds do or even prescription meds.  The OTC meds are like putting a band aid on your symptoms.  This is not always a bad thing to do, and we do this occasionally. But it will not go very far in helping your body to heal.  Prescription meds such as antibiotics work by going in and killing all the bacteria, the good stuff and the bad.  This makes it much harder for your body to repair and recover.  I believe this can often set up a pattern of a weakened system, making the child more susceptible to catching a cold next time around and then they end up back on antibiotics.  This is a tough cycle to break. But herbs work by helping and strengthening your own body to fight and overcome whatever is assaulting you. 

     I don’t want anyone to think I am against taking my child to a doctor when they are sick, I am not and this is a personal call for each parent.  But I am very proactive in keeping my children’s immune systems in the best and strongest position that I can. 

     One of the first things I noticed years ago when I started regularly treating my children with herbs is that they would often catch a cold from other children in church or Sunday school but theirs would not last as long and while many other children would move from a cold to ear infections or strep throat my children almost never did. This had not always been the case. At times I would have monthly, or sometimes more often, doctor office trips for my children and always they would end up on antibiotics again.

    After awhile I started thinking that there had to be a better way.  I began reading and researching everything I could get my hands on in the area of health, herbs and our bodies.  I felt and still do that treating our children is an area that requires knowledge. Learning how God created our bodies and the way they were created to deal with illness showed me how I could assist this rather than work against it.  Libraries are full of good books on the subject. 

     When my children did get sick I would give them the herbs that would help them deal with the symptoms that they were fighting.  Sometimes I had to go to the doctors, but I would still do whatever I could for them. The change did not happen overnight but in time I saw the doctor appointments dwindle down to once in awhile and now they are few and far between until in the last seven years or so, one son needed stitches for a cut he got from falling and one daughter had a tick bite that was not healing despite my efforts. 
     Let me share with you what I do when we do get sick. The first thing I do when anyone says they don’t feel great is give them Grapefruit Seed Extract (can be found in health food stores or on-line. The brand I use is Nutribiotic).  This normally stops whatever it is in its’ track, but not always. If the complaints are a sore throat I give them herbal slippery elm tea to drink. This tea has other herbs in it. The brand I use is Traditional Medicinals (found in health food stores or on-line) and it is called “Throat Coat”.

     When fighting cold symptoms I have them drink teas containing herbs such as eucalyptus leaf, wild cherry bark, licorice root, fennel, etc.. I look for the ones with cold fighting herbs in them and that is why I like the brand mentioned above. To help with respiratory and sinus discomfort I sprinkled eucalyptus oil in boiling water and had them inhale the steam. 

     One of the simplest and best remedy for cold congestion and coughs is a tip from my Mother-In-Law Nadine, she has always recommended Mentholatum for relieving congestion.  When going to bed, rub some on your child’s chest and wrap a towel over this and around their neck, allowing those vapors to be breathed in while sleeping.  This is very soothing and really calms nighttime coughing and congestion. I had one daughter who really fought a virus in her lungs.  I made sure she drank plenty of liquids and also gave her goldenseal which is a strong natural bacteria/virus fighting herb and lobelia which is used for opening bronchial tubes and clearing mucous out of your system. After 2 days of this she was over the worst. 

     For most of us a virus will last about a week, beginning signs to end. One recent winter we had a virus circulating at church and for most people it lasted about 4 weeks; for us, about 1 week.  Of course I always try and suggest herbs, but they say… “Well you got sick too!” :)