When you have little kids who like to touch everything and are terrible at washing their hands, chances are you’re going to get sick. Or when your life revolves around the outdoors and getting some bumps and bruises is the norm. Instead of running to the pediatrician every time something comes up, I like to keep a few simple things on hand to treat minor ailments.
Here’s a list of what I keep in my at-home health and wellness cabinet:
Great for minor skin burns or irritations, including bug bites. I mix up a 2oz glass spray bottle with witch-hazel and a few drops of lavender essential oil. This spray stays in my pocket during camping trips or summer BBQs. If/when we get a bug bite, I spray a few squirts of this to stop the itching. I’ve also found that spraying this immediately after a bite typically keeps the bite from itching later on.
We use Epsom salt in our bath water. It’s great for illness because it helps the body to detox. I add one cup per bath full of water and soak for twenty minutes. When I was little, my mom would have me soak my feet in a tub of warm water and Epsom salt whenever I got some sort of irritation on my foot. I had a tendency to trim my own toenails too short and cause swelling and soreness, and this always did the trick!
Raw honey not only tastes great, but its great for all sorts of wounds. Raw honey is antibacterial which helps keep wounds clean. Since it can be messy, I often use this method in the evening when we can sit for a while as to not get the honey all over the place. It is also great for coughs and sore throats. I make a tea with about a teaspoon of honey and half a squeezed lemon. It helps loosen mucous and soothes the throat.
You knew that one was coming, didn’t you? It wouldn’t be a natural health list without it. But that’s because it is so versatile. In the winter, my skin gets so dry from both the weather and the fact that I turn up the water heater because I like my showers HOT. Lately my hands and legs have been so dry they’re starting to crack, and my regular lotion just isn’t cutting it. I mix up a little coconut oil with a few drops of lavender essential oil and rub that onto my hands and legs after I get out of the shower. It moisturizes and soothes my dry, cracked skin. It also works as a lip balm when you can’t find yours at the bottom of your purse.
There are lots of ways to get vitamin C, so I won’t tell you which kind you should take, only that you should make getting some into your body a priority. Since I’m not a huge lover of supplements, we eat fruits high in vitamin C everyday. Most people think of orange juice, but one serving of juice typically holds an entire day’s worth of sugar also. And when you’re trying to stay healthy, sugar is the last thing you want to put into your body. Eating a whole orange when they’re in season is great. But when they’re not, we add lemon to our water.
Kiwi fruit is another great way to get vitamin C in. One kiwi has more than double the daily recommendation. We try to not only get better when sick, but try to keep our immune systems functioning well enough to hopefully prevent us from catching some things. When I know we will be in a crowded place, or around a lot of people at the holidays, I’ll sometimes use Hyland’s Vitamin C tablets to up our intake a bit.
We sip on bone broth daily around our house. It’s nourishing to the gut and immune-boosting. You can buy bone broth, but with the price tags I’ve seen lately, I’d recommend making it yourself. My favorite way is to cook a chicken (however you like) and use up the meat. Throw the carcass (and the neck if you have it) into a crock pot. Put in any aromatics you have around- garlic, onion, celery, carrots, onions, bay leaves, peppercorns. I keep a gallon bag in my freezer and throw in any scraps when I’m cooking dinner, so instead of using a brand new carrot or onion, I save the tops that would normally go into the compost. That way when I want to make up a batch of broth I just dump all the scraps into the crock pot. Cover everything with filtered water and turn on low. Let this simmer for about 12 hours. If you start it in the evening after your chicken dinner, it will be ready in the morning when you wake up. Drink this warm with a pinch of Himalayan or sea salt. It’s great to have on hand if your kids do come down with something. We all know that chicken soup heals so this makes doing that so much quicker and easier.
This is another big one, and one that can be taken in either a pill form, or a little time in the sun without any protection. I know we are constantly hearing that we need to wear sunscreen, and we do, mostly. But a little time in the sun, about 20-30 minutes a day, does a body good. We spend a lot of time outdoors in our family, so we usually do our morning chores without any sun protection, and then when it starts to heat up, we put on hats and a natural, homemade sunscreen. Either way, getting Vitamin D is crucial to getting and staying healthy.
These can be controversial, and sometimes get more credit than they deserve. But I do believe they should have a place in our homes. The most common are lavender (which I’ve already mentioned), tea tree, and lemon and peppermint. Tea tree is great for minor irritations, and is used frequently to treat acne. I’ve also used it on stubborn cuts and scrapes that don’t seem to heal quick enough. I use lemon, peppermint, and lavender to keep my seasonal allergies at bay. Up until a few years ago, I had horrible, debilitating allergies for what seemed like the majority of the year. Once I started using this trio of essential oils, everything changed. I mix up about a tablespoon of oil (any kind will do, I typically use olive oil or grapeseed oil), and two drops of each essential oil. I apply this to my chest when I know allergies will be bad. It hasn’t been a cure-all, but I no longer rely on Sudafed to be able to breath, and I’m not going through boxes and boxes of tissue. I use this mixture on my 3 year old to help prevent his allergies as well.
Note: Depending on where you get your information about using essential oils, some sites will tell you not to use certain oils on children. Do your own research and make your own decisions. I personally feel comfortable using this blend on my toddler. You may not. Do your research and come to your own conclusion.
There you have it. These items might seem very basic, but they’ve gone a long way in keeping my family and I out of the doctor’s office in recent years. Surely you’ve heard the saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and we truly believe this in our home. Small steps you can take ahead of time to keep yourself healthy will really pay off in the long run. Although my greatest tip is this: Eat Real Food. None of these things are going to work to their full potential if you’re not nourishing your body with whole, real foods. This is especially true for children. Food is our fuel. Sadly, most ‘kid foods’ contain tons of sugar, both real and artificial, and this sugar actually prevents our bodies from healing. So eat healthy whole foods everyday, and avoid sugar during times of illness.