I get phone calls at all hours of the night asking how to take care of an ailing family member until morning. If you have a severe sore throat or you can’t stop coughing, waiting until the doctor is in doesn’t cut it.
What usually happens is a discussion on what the caller has in the spice rack, crisper drawer and pantry. You’d be surprised how many things you have right now that can be a natural remedy. Add in a few over the counter preparations just in case and you can successfully weather the night. Here are a few examples:
Ear, sinus and throat infections are common complications to colds, the flu and even allergies. If it settles in the chest, it can become pneumonia. Depending on the type of bacteria and the severity of the infection, this could become life threatening. The following suggestions are not to replace your doctor, just get you through until the morning. A few may be helpful along with whatever you are prescribed, but ask first.
Eucalyptus can be helpful. It can be found in cough drops, teas and vapor rubs. If the person is an adult, this could be very useful. However, children under two cannot tolerate even the smell of it without risk of serious side effects. Children between two and six can handle the smell, but not the cough drops or other means of ingesting it.
Garlic is one of my favorite herbs. It has a mild antibiotic affect, which could help you kick the infection. Minor infections that don’t warrant prescription antibiotics could be taken out with this herb.
This involves the inflammation of the bronchia in your lungs. It may be caused by an infection, a virus or some other cause. One thing that has been shown useful is an onion poultice. Slice raw onions and fry them lightly. When they’ve cooled just enough not to cause a burn, place them on the chest. Vapor rubs and cough drops may also prove beneficial.
Many things can cause you to cough. In winter, it is usually going to be an illness of one sort or the other. Coughing has a purpose; to expel mucus from your lungs. If the cough is productive (meaning stuff comes up), then you may need to tolerate it for a while. That will help you avoid complications.
After a while, however, coughing can be too hard on your body. Even if it is productive, it’s hard to sleep with constant spasms wracking your chest. For this, there are a few remedies and at least one is possibly in your kitchen.
Cherry Bark: This is best prepared by a qualified herbal practitioner or in an over the counter medication. It has a small amount of cyanide in it, which can stop the cough reflex. Knowing the amount that is safe to use is important.
Cinnamon and Clove Tea: A decoction of one stick of cinnamon and a tablespoon of whole cloves can help ease a sore throat and stop coughing. Cloves has a chemical in it that is slightly numbing. In fact, dentists use a distillation of this chemical as a topical pain reliever.
Honey and Lemon: My favorite cough syrup when I was growing up is a fifty/fifty mix of honey and lemon juice. It coats the throat and cuts post nasal dripping. Don’t give it to children under one and only with pediatrician’s advice for kids under two.
Licorice Root: The sweetness of this root makes it easy for kids to handle, and it coats the throat and soothes the respiratory tract. It can also dramatically raise both blood sugar and blood pressure, so use with caution if you have problems in that area.
Sinus infections, the flu and other maladies can cause intense headaches. For the most part, you’re better off with over the counter pain relievers but there are a few things you can do along with them.
First, use a cool, wet cloth on your forehead, turning it over as it heats up. You may want to include your eyes, as that can also be helpful. If there is no upset stomach, the scent of lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint may prove useful. A cool, dark room and a soft pillow are your friends, as well.
There are alter egos for just about everything you keep in your kitchen. The next time you wake up in the middle of the night with a family health crisis, check the ‘net to see if you can use something you already have to tide you over till morning.