Category Archives: Remedies

Elderberry Taste Test

I love Elderberry.  If you take some right at the moment that you feel a tickle in your nose or throat, it can usually head off an illness pretty quick!

This is what I had in my house today as far as Elderberry products go. (I TOLD you my stash of homeopathic remedies would make you jealous!)  

My standard go-to elderberry syrup, for me or my boys, is the Sambucus Sugar-Free (orange box). I buy that in bulk 🙂 But there are so many products out there, that I thought a taste test might be in order (and my Coconut Water Taste Test was so darn fun!).

The verdict?

The Natural Elderberry Concentrate by Natural Sources was DELICIOUS. You mix the concentrate with water and it isn’t syrupy or too sweet.  Tastes like a glass of juice you’d willingly drink in the morning.  BUT I didn’t like the packaging. I could pull the seal off with my bare hands, and there was no inner seal under the cap.

I was so suspicious, I actually sent it back thinking something was wrong with the bottle. Nope. The second bottle was exactly the same. I guess I’m just paranoid. This needs to be refrigerated after opening.

The Sambucus Sugar-Free Syrup (orange box) is my kids’ favorite. They ask, “Is this the good elderberry or the yucky one?”  This is the good one. There’s an adult dose and child does both for maintenance and intensive use. AND it comes with this on the label, “Safety sealed with printed outer shrinkwrap and printed inner seal. Do not use if either seal is broken or missing…” And it’s in bold font. Perhaps they could give some advice to the Natural Sources people…

The Original Sambucus Syrup (purple box) has fructose in it, a bit sweeter. I’ll stick with the Sugar-Free.

Both of the Sambucus products have 100mg standardized elderberry (extract from 6.4g of berries).

The Sambucol Original Formula was my least favorite. It tasted more like a cough syrup. This is the “yucky” one my kids referred to in the previous question. It has MORE sugar (3g more than Sambucus) and the elderberry extract is only 3.8g.

The zinc elderberry lozenges are amazing. They are free of artificial sweeteners , colors or flavors, and have no corn syrup, sucrose or cane sugar (they’re sweetened with brown rice syrup). Each lozenge has 3.8g of proprietary blend of elderberry and 5mg of zinc. I eat 1-2 of these every day during cold season.

The last elderberry product in my stash was the Sambucol Cold and Flu Relief.  It’s unopened, so I can’t tell you if it works or not. (Perhaps this is a good endorsement that my proactive approach of elderberry and zinc is working!)  They are quick dissolve tablets and should be taken an the onset of symptoms. It says fast relief of nasal and sinus congestion, runny nose, sore throat, coughing, sneezing and chills and fever. No know drug interactions, no known side effects, non-drowsy, non-habit forming. Can be given to children over age 4.  If I do get something this winter, I will definitely give these a try! But hopefully, like an umbrella, if I have this box with me, I won’t need it!

Here is a great explanation of why elderberry seems to work. Elderberry seems to be most effective against the flu–Influenza A and B

This is something I ALWAYS have around the house.  I truly believe it’s helped to improve my immune function the few times I’ve gotten run down 🙂

Do you have a favorite supplement that you turn to when you start to feel sick?

Are Colds Inevitable?

Remember when I mentioned that I hardly ever get sick anymore?

I should have knocked on some wood.  I got a cold this week.

I didn’t actually get it, I received it. From the kind lady sitting next to me on my flight to Vancouver who liked to share her life story.  And her germs.  A big ol sneeze in my face.  Really?!

Anyway, the cold manifested itself the day after I landed.  Had I been at home, I have quite a few things I try when I feel like I’ve been exposed to cold germs or may be coming down with something:

The  supplements are all sitting in a clear storage box, standing at the ready, waiting to be used (which isn’t all that often).  And they usually dramatically help the situation and the cold doesn’t develop into a full-blown situation.

BUT, I was traveling and didn’t imagine the great need for cold remedies on a 4 day trip.  So they were at home. Useless to me.

When I went to the Canadian pharmacy, the only items I felt comfortable buying were Vitamin C and a small tube of Vaseline for my Rudolph nose.  And a bunch of those pocket-size Kleenix packages.

Had I been visiting for longer, I would have let the cold run its course.  But because my return flight was 48 hours later, I needed to speed up the process. (Have you ever flown with a cold? Wow, your ears feel like they just want to explode!)

So I turned to over-the-counter meds. Not my favorite option usually, but I needed relief.  Fast!

The pharmacist recommended Dristan (Afrin), which I’m not usually a fan of (there’s a rebound effect with this medicine and it isn’t safe to take more than a day or two in a row), but desperate times call for desperate measures. I also loaded up on my vitamin C and oregano (since I never leave home without it!). My colds have a tendency to go deeper into my chest (perhaps because of my history with asthma?) and the oregano helps to prevent that from happening. It’s also an anti-viral, and colds are viruses, so it’ll help clear it out faster too.

I got home on the red-eye this morning. And the good news is that my ears are still attached to my body.  It was rather painful on the quick descent on the first leg, but then I took some Motrin and that seemed to help for the second leg of my journey.

So what’s the takeaway message here?

Prevention.  When you’re traveling, make sure to wash your hands often (especially before eating or rubbing your eyes), and if you’re seated next to someone with an obvious cold, you might even move to a different seat if your flight isn’t full.  (I would have, but the plane was at capacity.)  And get plenty of rest before you go on your trip since a sleep debt is a contributing factor to how well your immune system will react under pressure.  (My sleep before the trip was average at best.  This, I’m sure, contributed to the severity of the cold.)

And next time I’ll bring my cold remedies. If I bring them I won’t need them. Kind of like an umbrella.

Oh.  And I will be practicing my dodge and duck reflexes to avoid this situation in the future!

Do you have any vitamins, supplements, remedies you use when you feel a cold coming on?


Remedy: Chronic Sinus Issues

When you get a sinus infection, do you run to the doctor for an antibiotic?

I used to…before healthy-minded Kim was born.

Now I know how to get rid of sinus problems myself, AND I know what things help them to develop.

Sinus infections are almost always fungal in nature, not bacterial, so an antibiotic won’t do anything to help it. In fact, it’ll make it worse since antibiotics help the fungus to grow…

Since 80% of your immune system is in your gut, it stands to reason that a healthier diet will boost your immune system. The Phase 1 diet is excellent to get rid of the bad stuff in your gut and improve immune function. So when I feel a tickle in my nose (or throat), I cut out the sugar and grains ASAP! (Chances are, the reason my sinus issue is flaring up is BECAUSE I’ve fallen off my diet wagon…eating sugar, etc. and my body is rebelling.)

The list below helps me alleviate symptoms, but if you are prone to these infection, you probably will want to address the root cause (fungus!):

  1. I drink LOTS of liquid–water, white or green tea (the only teas allowed on the Phase 1 diet) and chicken broth. (When you get dehydrated, the mucus gets super thick which makes sinuses feel really clogged.)
  2. I put 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 8 oz of water and drink the concoction quickly–another way to thin the mucus and ACV is antifungal. And if I need more relief, I’ll put about 1/4 cup of ACV in a big water bottle (16oz) and drink throughout the day.
  3. Use a hot compress on your sinuses (I wet a washcloth with the hottest water I can tolerate and place above and below my eyes to try to break up the mucus.)
  4. I take a good antifungal supplement several times a day–oil of oregano, olive leaf extract, etc.
  5. I go to sleep early. Everyone knows that sleep is restorative…I try going up an hour earlier than usual.
  6. The BEST nose spray I’ve found is made by Seagate. Since it’s made with antifungal ingredients, it is super potent. My husband and I use is, as do both my kids, especially in the winter months. [And no, I’m not getting paid to endorse Seagate…I just love their products!]

So those are some things I find helpful if my sinuses get all crazy.  I can usually get things back to normal within 24-48 hours…

I hope that some of these help you too!

What do you do when you feel a sinus infection coming on? Are you someone who runs to the doctor or tries something at home?

Natural Remedies for Bee Stings

It is a beautiful, sunny day in northern Wisconsin.  It’s about 74º with a light breeze. And I JUST smushed a bee that landed on the table next to my laptop.

Bees are wonderful for pollination and for making that delicious honey…but why do they need to go after us with their little stingers?

If you’ve ever had a bee sting, you know how much they hurt.  That tiny pinch is PAINFUL! And then the area will get red and usually swell a bit and be very sensitive to the touch.  And if you’re highly allergic to them, you may even carry an epinephrine to stop an anaphylactic reaction.

I read recently that a person can handle one bee sting per pound of body weight.  So an adult male would have a better chance after stepping on a nest than a small child.  One more piece of random knowledge to file away….

So what do you do if you get stung?

Get one of these remedies on ASAP. From my experience, the sooner after you can get the stinger out and apply one of these, the faster the pain will dissipate and shorter the healing process.

Apple Cider Vinegar. Soak a cotton ball and hold on the site for a few minutes. The pain will go away quickly.

Ammonia. I was told about this remedy from a boy I tutored who was in the Boy Scouts. Seems to be a popular remedy for scout leaders when they are out in the woods.  Soak a towel or cotton ball and apply to the site.

Baking Soda.  Make a thick paste and let dry on the site. Wipe off with a wet cloth and reapply as necessary.

Crushed Garlic.  Put a clove or two through a garlic press and apply to the site.

Honey.  Apply a thick layer, enough to cover the entire site.

Lavender Oil.  Use pure lavender oil and apply a few drops to the site.

Lemon Slices. Place a slice of lemon over the entire site.

Mud. Make a paste with some dirt and water. Best for those times when you’re out hiking far away from a kitchen. (I have not tried this one, but a friend thinks it works well.)

Oil of Oregano. My personal favorite (surprise, surprise) because it worked on my 3 yr old last summer within 5 minutes.

Onion. Cut an onion in half and place cut side down on the site.

Tea Bags. Steep a tea bag in hot water and then let cool slightly and place on the affected area. I have not used this one, but again, a friend has told me it works.

Why do these remedies work? The venom that is “deposited” needs to be neutralized. Many of these are natural antibiotics, antiseptics and anti-venoms and also help with the inflammation.

Hopefully you won’t need to use one of these remedies in the near future, but if you do, let me know how it worked for you!

Natural Sunburn Remedies

What’s the first natural remedy that pops into your head when you hear the word sunburn?

Aloe, right?

It’s the only one I know of that the drugstores sell (although if the tubes are green, they’ve added dye and probably some fragrance ).

We usually keep an aloe plant in the house and just break off a leaf when needed and resort to the stuff in the tube for vacations only.

But I bet you have some other remedies already in your house…

Apple Cider Vinegar.  Either apply directly to the sunburn or put a cup or two into a lukewarm bath and soak for 20 minutes.  You may not smell too pretty, but the burning feeling will subside and the peeling will be minimal, if any.

Baking Soda. Make a thick paste with a little water and spread over the burn. Let it dry. Wipe up with a wet cloth and repeat as necessary.  Really “soaks” up the burning feeling. Isn’t as effective with peeling in my experience.

Coconut Oil.  Since it is a solid at room temperature, it’s kind of like using lotion. Instant relief of the burn. Will control the peeling.

Oil of Oregano. I’m a HUGE fan of this stuff (it got rid of my asthma, remember?)  It  is the one I go to when there is blistering involved.

These are the three I’ve tried, but I’ve also heard of success with raw egg whites, cold potato slices, tomato slices, tea bag baths and witch hazel.

All of these remedies will work best when applied as soon as you get out of the sun.  There seems to be a small window of opportunity for any remedy to work, especially if you’re in pain and concerned about peeling.

So go out and enjoy these last couple of weeks of summer!  Hopefully you won’t need to worry about relieving a sunburn, but if you do, try one of these. And let me know how they work for you!

A Natural Cough Remedy

Have you ever looked at the ingredients for cough syrup?  High fructose corn syrup. Some red dye. Sucralose (an artificial sweetener). HFCS and an artificial sweetener seem like overkill, but what do I know.

So I set out to find a recipe for a natural cough remedy.  One that didn’t make me gag and actually made the coughing stop.  This is the one that worked best for me:

2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar*
1 tablespoon Honey
1 teaspoon Lemon juice
1/4-1/2 cup warm water

Put the warm water in a small glass.  Add the other ingredients (the warm water will dissolve the honey) and stir until completely mixed. 

* There are several kinds of apple cider vinegar.  The one you should find for this recipe is Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar with The “Mother” (I use Braggs.)

The kids aren’t too fond of the vinegar, so I either add more honey for them, or a little apple juice.  Honey is very soothing, so I often give them some right off the spoon before bed.