Hi there! I feel like I’m coming out of this hole that I’ve been living in for the last two weeks. There’s been a lot of excitement with my nephew being born and getting back to routine in September. Sandwiched in-between those two events was this nagging sense of not getting things done, being disconnected from the world due to lack of internet at home, and this after-summer cold that my family has been hanging onto for a few weeks now. It went from one person to the next and seems to be working its way out of our home (finally)!
I was sharing our story of this persistent cold/”viral thing”/”congestive annoyance” with another family in our office and they asked one of the most common questions I get in practice. “What do you do for your family to beat infections?”
This is a topic that I’m very passionate about. I’m a Mom (first and foremost) and I’m also a Chiropractor, who has a special interest in taking care of myself and my family as naturally and holistically as possible. And I like to share what I have learned with others because over the years I have connected with so many amazing families, headed by mamas who are doing everything they can to support their family’s health with as little medical intervention as possible.
So, before I answer the question “What do I do for my family to beat infections?”, let me share some of my beliefs so that you understand why it is what I do.
1. Your body (and those of your children) is intelligent. The human body will always pick the perfect response to stress that it encounters. For example, if your 3 year old daughter gets a virus then her body will do whatever it has to do in order to kill the virus. It will raise its internal body temperature (read: get a fever) in order to destroy the virus as it tries to multiply. Viruses love normal body temperature, they do not like higher than normal body temperature and will die off as a fever is produced. Also, it will create an increase in mucous in order to rid the body of the virus. Hence the gunk that is coughed out of lungs and the stuffy, runny noses that are draining. Pretty smart of her body, right?
2. Infections are a Normal and Healthy Part of Being Human When we “get sick”, it’s not always a bad thing. I have to look at a few things to determine whether or not this is my own fault out of conscious (or subconscious) thought and action OR if simply, this is my body (or my children’s bodies) growing a better defence system. What do I mean? I mean that if I’m burning the candle at both ends – not sleeping well, not exercising, not eating whole foods, not getting adjusted as often as my body needs, etc. – then I’m likely setting my body up for an infection. It’s energy stores are depleted. I can’t possibly expect for my body to ward off a cold or flu if I haven’t been properly taking care of it.
The second part of this is that getting sick can simply be a way for my child’s immune system to expand and get stronger. Childhood infections of any kind are a great way to test, grow, and support the immune system. If we never got sick, then we wouldn’t have a heightened immune system to protect us against future infections. When we take medication or give our kids medication, it doesn’t allow for their bodies to properly and completely internalize the infection, build an immune response against it, and heal from it. As a result, when future infections hit, the body is less prepared and more likely to get knocked down even harder. Interesting concept, yes?
This all being said, when I or my husband or my kids are sick, it sucks. None of us enjoy being sick. It affects the whole family too. It impacts our ability to do what we want. It impacts our ability to work. It impacts our ability to play. I respect the whole process that the body has to go through when it’s healing from a sickness, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t sideline our lives. Prevention is key but let’s be honest, even with the most organized plan to stay well, we still get sick. So, let me share with you what it is we do once “something” sets in.
My Six Step Punch to Knock Out Infections
1. Get adjusted! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Regular Chiropractic care is crucial to supporting a healthy nervous system AND immune system. The nervous system is the master control system of your body and directly affects how your immune system functions. If there is interference to your nervous system then there will be interference in your immune system (read: your immunity is working at less than 100%). Get adjusted. Regularly for preventative reasons and to stay well…and then yes, when you feel like your immune system has been compromised, get checked immediately!
2. Essential Oils A relatively new addition to our family’s toolbox but one that I can’t believe we lived without up until the beginning of this summer. I use DoTERRA oils and I’ve been amazed at how well they work. Their purpose is not to “treat” your infection, but support your body through it. That being said, I was shocked the other night when I used a couple of drops of OnGuard and immediately my sinuses cleared after hours of being congested. Find out how to order them for your own family.
- OnGuard – An incredible immune support oil. It’s Wild Orange combined with clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary. I put a couple of drops under my tongue (very spicy, like oregano oil but wow, does it work!), put a drop on each of the soles of my feet, and dilute 3-4 drops in a tablespoon of coconut oil and massage it into the areas that need support (bridge of nose if nasal congestion, chest if coughing, across throat if sore, behind ears if sore, etc.)
- Lemon – I add 1-2 drops in each glass of water I drink. Another great oil for immune support.
- Helichrysum – Helps to support healing. I take 1-2 drops (with or without a carrier oil, depending on level of sensitivity…I use a carrier oil for my kids) and place it on the soles of feet and into areas that need extra support (see above with OnGuard).
- Breathe – great to use if congested and having trouble breathing (also great support for allergies, asthma, and other breathing challenges!)
- Peppermint & Lavender– We often don’t get fevers but when we do, they hit hard! Fever has its place but it makes it very difficult to sleep, especially for young ones. I will take 2 drops of peppermint & 2 drops of lavender & mix it in 1 tsp of carrier oil. Rub onto soles of feet, back of neck, and down their spine. It creates a cooling sensation that isn’t meant to kill the fever, just make it more manageable to live with.
3. Drink Liquids So great to stay hydrated! Water, water with lemon and warm tea (or even warm water) are all easy ways to get fluids in. Bone broth works by bringing oxygen to the cells that need it. I make homemade bone broth once a month and then freeze it in small portions (1/4 cup sizes…or use an ice cube tray to make individual portions). Simmer different bones (oxtails, bones of fish, chickens, cows, etc. – just make sure they are organic!) in water for days (I stick it all in a slow cooker for up to 72 hours). Breast milk for those who are still breastfeeding is exceptional for immune system support.
4. Tone It Down Hardest part especially for the “go go go” types like myself. But it’s crucial to get into a quiet place. Stay home. Snuggle up on the couch or in bed. Watch a movie. Play quietly. Read books. Draw. Our lives are so busy usually that for us, we really need to focus on just being as still as possible.
5. Avoid Sugar and Dairy Sugar is a feast for viruses and bacteria. Eliminate it asap (it’s not good for us anyhow!). Dairy is a congestant. It will create more mucous than what is necessary. So getting rid of all dairy products is a second nutritional change that has to be made the moment we are fighting something.
6. The 24 Hour Rule Did you go to bed with a fever and wake up feeling great? Well, you’re likely not out of the woods yet. The rule in our home is 24 hours without fever before heading back out into life. It’s too easy for infections to rear their ugly heads again. Your body is still processing! I know that life is there and needs your attention – but I promise you it will still be there tomorrow. Work from home, if you can. Putter around the house. Go for an easy walk outside. But lay low for an extra day to avoid delaying proper healing.
So there you go! That’s what we do to beat infections in our home. Hopefully this helps you discover what works best for your family.