Sleepy and sniffly, Lil’ Z was startled by a pothole in the road winding through St. Catherine parish. She left Ocho Rios congested but content, sipping on Jamaican peppermint tea with local honey. From her bumpy slumber she turned to me and said, “I’m sick. Help me feel better.” She rolled her head over to rest against the car seat cushion and slept until our return to Kingston. Getting sick is never pleasant, especially when you’re away from home. It’s not always easy to improvise but here are the healing principles we rely on to support the healing process for the big and small, at home or on the go.
Open the Channels
Whether an illness starts with a fever, headache, or nasal drip, our first plan of attack is to make sure that Lil’ Z’s bowels are moving freely with ease. Constipation is a common cause for fever and headaches and often times, a healthy bowel movement helps to alleviate the symptoms of concern. With waste sitting in your system, whatever bacteria or virus is causing the upset will flourish and thrive. That runny nose, productive cough and sweaty brow are all indicators that the body is trying to purge something unwanted. Don’t suppress the symptoms, support the healing. In urgent situations, an enema may be helpful.
To help the body eliminate freely, it’s important to avoid constipating foods like meat, dairy, refined starches and sugars. In place of these, offer fruit, fresh fruit juices, herbal teas and lots of water. If Lil’ Z has an appetite, we try to slip in as much garlic and ginger as possible into bean stews, soups, or dips and opt for brown rice over bread. To be honest, if all she eats for the day is fresh fruit, we don’t mind at all. As long as she’s eliminating freely, resting well, and staying hydrated, we don’t worry. It’s tempting to give your child whatever they want to eat but sugary, starchy, congesting foods are not the answer.
Fan the Flame
If there’s a fever lurking, we turn up the heat with warm baths, warming herbs, and sunshine. What I learned from my Family Herbalism course is that a moist fever is nothing to fear but a dry fever is. A moist fever can safely reach high temperatures, as long as the patient stays hydrated, sweats, and urinates freely. If Lil’ Z is up for it, we usually take her for a short walk or sit outside in the sun for a bit , to give her a boost of Vitamin D and help her break a sweat. We also add a few drops of peppermint oil to her bath and let her splash around in the water, as warm as she can handle it.
Peppermint, ginger, and yarrow are great for encouraging a sweat. Generally helpful herbs when fighting a cold, fever, or flu include elder flower, paired with peppermint, and raspberry leaf. We generously load our teas with lemon and honey to ward off a cough or respiratory congestion for the mucus-thinning and soothing effects of both. Thyme and fennel also make soothing teas for sore throats and coughs.
Thankfully, we haven’t had any severe cases of the flu but if we did, boneset tea is highly recommended for breaking a good sweat. Also, an herbal enema using catnip tea can also provide quick relief.
Other than asking the Healer for healing in our supplications, we use essential oils as our allies. We use lavender oil at the start of a cold to relieve upper sinus congestion and encourage rest and relaxation. Eucalyptus oil helps with relieving nasal congestion as well, either in a warm bath or a few drops on the pillow. We dilute a drop of oregano oil in a ½ teaspoon of homemade garlic oil and rub it on Lil’ Z’s foot bottoms and cover them with socks before bed. For ourselves, we drink a cup of water with 3 drops of oregano oil for no more than five consecutive days. We rub garlic oil on our chests to loosen a dry cough. Also, when someone in the house is sick, we open all the windows in the mid-morning, turn on the fans and spray diluted thyme oil in each room.
What’s Your Healing Philosophy?
Finding an approach that works best for you and your family starts with examining your own beliefs about health, illness, and their purpose in the continuity of wellness. For us, we sincerely believe in the body’s design and capacity for self-healing. Dis-ease is an opportunity to assess any poor dietary choices and lifestyle habits, cleanse your system, and emerge stronger than before. This understanding might not make you feel any better but hopefully, it will guide you towards making choices that are supportive, not suppressive. Another really important gauge we use with Lil’ Z is how she feels about being sick. If she’s still playful and pleasant, we know that she is facing her battle with optimism but if she were to become despondent or lethargic as opposed to just exhausted and tired, that’s when we’d become concerned. It took us awhile to trust her own body’s ability to fight infections but with every bout, her immunity proves its own strength. We can’t fight the battle for her, but we can support her, comfort her, and pray her through what she is facing.
An advantage that we have, which we largely attribute to our diet, is that we eliminate regularly and don’t have accumulated mucus in our systems. Regular headaches, sinus issues, or phlegm are uncommon for us. In this case, when we are sick, there’s not a lot of overdue cleansing that needs to take place, so thankfully we’re able to resolve most challenges without incident.
Disclaimer: The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.