Friday, January 15, 2010

Herbalism Part Four

In the final post to this series, I want to share what I've done to treat my family as we've passed around a respiratory virus. Remember my disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or herbal expert. These are just my first attempts to treat my family (as opposed to just myself) with some herbal remedies I've found through research. You need to do your own research to decide what's best for your family.I apologize for the length of this post, I have a big family, you know! I have outlined the topics in bold so you can easily scan it if you wish.
Symptoms: We seem to have a virus that causes a lot of chest congestion, then nasal congestion and as a result, a sore throat. Some of the girls ran a little fever as well.
First, my first "formal" lesson in using herbs came from a DVD from the Bulk Herb Store called Making Herbs Simple (Thanks Alisha for the loan!). It introduces tinctures (herbs in a liquified form), poultices (remember these are herbs wrapped in a warm, wet cloth applied to the skin). It also does a great job telling you where to find wild herbs and how to make your own tinctures, teas & poultices. It is simple, but there's a lot of information to take in if you're green like me. Their website has a lot of free information as well as an online catalog of herbs to buy.

The ABC Herbal by Steven Horne, found on the Bulk Herb Store and Amazon, was the most helpful this time around. I also read Herbal Antibiotics by Stephen Harrod Buhner (found in the same places).

Here's what I did as soon as Audrey started getting sick--although Ashlyn & Hope had started getting a little congested, I trust Ashlyn to tell me what level of uncomfortableness she can tolerate and well, Hope is always congested, no matter what we do! Once Audrey started getting sick, I got to work.

 Diet changes for sick ones: No dairy, sugar, and limited heavy foods. Lots of water and caffeine free, honey sweetened tea is pushed. Rest.

Since babies can't be given OTC cold meds, this was a perfect time to test out some suggestions in the ABC Herbal book. I had to adapt Horne's instructions (as he give a blessing to) because I live in a small town with only a little health food store and I have a little budget. I started with a commercially made Echinacea and Goldenroot tincture to head off sinus or other infections. For those who had chest congestion, I also gave Horehound Blend. Chamomile tea was in order for the whole house (the reasons why are in the book, I won't go into that here). I rubbed Vick's on the soles of their feet and put socks on them. I have no idea if this helps, but it can't hurt and it gives me a chance to sit one on one with each sick child and give them some TLC. Another massage I give that I believe does work comes from the ABC Herbal-a rub down with fresh, crushed garlic diluted in olive or another stable oil (at least a 1:5 ratio, as garlic can burn the skin). I started on their back and rubbed around to their chest, or if they were resistant, I just rubbed the chest. I did this two or three times a day. Audrey got breast milk drops in her ear to stave off an ear infection. Dr. Mercola's site suggests this. The herbal books say garlic in some oil works too. I did both at different times with great success, as she didn't show any signs of infection.

For Shane, we did the Vick's and a garlic rub before he went to bed late one night after work. Then when he was off in the evening and resting at home, I put a garlic poultice on his chest. You seriously have to be careful with this, as it indeed did start to irritate his skin. To help rest and calm his cough, Shane used my not-so-herbal remedy, a few swigs from my quart jar of Hot Toddy mix. It's about a cup or so of honey with lemon slices and some fresh lemon squeezed in, simmered for a while. Once it's been a while (how ya like this recipe?!), I pour it into a glass quart jar and then add an equal portion of whiskey. The kids have not taken this, but depending on how bad they felt, I might consider pulling it out for one of the bigger girls.

For Shane, I think I would have had more success in treating him if I'd also had some Echinacea for him. Honestly, I'd only bought it for the kids and he didn't tell me if he wanted me to go back for more for him, so I just didn't. He has also been taking some OTC meds, but he's still feeling rough. He says his cough is better and from the outside he seems better, but he says he's still feeling pretty worn out.

Lymph Node Issues:
I found an interesting recipe for Hope I want to tell you about before closing this out. Hope is tiny, and her lymph nodes are easy to feel. I'm not sure if it's that alone, but she seems to also have an (over?) active lymph system. Her lymph nodes swell a lot and we do lots of massage and she regularly takes an herbal capsule of a liver cleansing blend. However, to keep her lymph nodes from swelling up while she was fighting this, I found a suggestion in ABC Herbal. It had a whole list of essential oils that the author uses that I can't afford, so I just bought what I could find/afford and hoped for the best. I won't go into all the author uses, but I bought tea tree oil, lemon, and lavender essential oils and diluted them in my oil (I use grape seed oil, but olive would work). I massaged these into the lymph nodes around Hope's neck and they never did get large!

The results-
Ashlyn who refused everything but the tea is still coughing but feels fine. She took some Mucinex and Tylenol in the beginning. Hers has lasted longer than her sisters. Just a note-She's 12 and if it's not a serious health issue, I'm going to let her call the shots on taking meds. It wouldn't have been appropriate for me to give her a garlic massage anyway, but I offered to rub her back and show her how to rub it into her chest. I will, however, not let her complain if she refuses treatment!
Hope, Bethany, and Audrey-they had the shortest duration, especially Beth & Aud. You'd hardly know they were sick. Hope is a challenge because she struggles year round with a lot of allergies, so congestion is currently part of her daily life (even on daily Zyrtec).
Jaika-She's the latest one to get sick. She's my hearty girl who's never been on antibiotics. She's had one day of moderate congestion, she sucks down the tea (which isn't the strongest weapon I've got, but it's what she likes) and she rebels against the garlic massages. I've rubbed her down twice as of this writing (I write these posts on the weekend to be posted the next week, today is actually Sat Jan 9th) and she's perky, eating, drinking normally with a slight congested sound and occasional cough.
Shane-he's not doing well, but he's not resting enough either. He's probably still consuming dairy...but he's an adult...
Me-well, I got it first and took Mucinex because I hadn't read any of my books yet! I would say my recovery was a little longer than Bethany and Audrey's.  

After books (which are all about $10 or less), I spent $50 at the health food store for chamomile tea, the tinctures and essential oils. I later sent Shane to the store for more lemons to make more Hot Toddy mixture, as I already had honey & whiskey. Today he made one more trip for more lemons, more chamomile tea bags, and more whiskey. I don't know what that cost. I'd guess in all, it was under $75, maybe $100 if you count the large honey I buy at Costco (I know raw is better, but I have a budget you know!) and the first bottle of whiskey. Also, I really should have bought echinacea and or elderberry in a form for us adults, and I probably could have used more of the commerically made tinctures as I ran out before Jaika really got it (I'd been giving her just the echinacea one).

The cost is probably close to what I'd pay if I took a couple of the kids to the doctor and picked up prescriptions for all of them.

Side effects: None except the skin irritation from the garlic, which we were prepared for. Also, I felt sorry for Hope, as she was going to bed really stuffy and miserable so I gave her some Zyrtec and Children's Sudafed. She broke out a few hours later-when I examined the label, I realized the Sudafed contains a decongestant she's taken before, and she broke out then, too. Sensitive little liver she has!

Closing Thoughts:
It felt really good to help my children heal with my hands massaging them. I know it sounds New Age-ish but I assure you I simply mean it was a very satisfactory feeling to know I was helping their little bodies heal. And just so you know, if need be, we would have seen our doctor. I think you can see we use both conventional and herbal medicine together.

However, I also rely on the Great Physician. I prayed for my sick children and I prayed for wisdom in treating them. On my way to the health food store, I prayed for discernment knowing I'd soon  be surveying shelves of pills, teas, and such calling my name. I prayed for help staying in our budget. God is good and has answered my prayers. I am pleased with my first full blown herbal experience!


Anonymous said...

Very good series, Wendy! I've enjoyed reading it all, but sorry you had to go through the sickies to experience it. I've been going back and forth on using poultices, but I haven't yet. You've encouraged me to try it the next time we're sick. *knocks on wood* Although, I wouldn't mind waiting a while on that.

Also, MY favorite herbal book, and you are welcome to borrow it, is Practical Herbalism. It was my most expensive book (I think the cheapest I found it anywhere was *gasp* $27. But I used my birthday money a few years back) It's really written in detail with good pictures if you want to wildcraft your own herbs. Just let me know if you want to borrow it and I'll get it to you. ;)

Looking forward to reading more about your herbal adventures.

Summer said...

You will be glad to know I read every bit of each of these posts, and found them very interesting.Of course, the only herbal remedey I would like to try is the one that included whiskey. Oh, and I learned what a poultice is! I've read that word many times not knowing it's proper definition. I think you are awesome for doing what you do!

Wendy said...

Alisha-thanks for the offer. If I don't get that book for my birthday this spring, I might take you up on your offer. I feel bad borrowing from you since we don't see each other very often and it takes me a long time to get your stuff back to you!

Summer-I'm so honored that you'd read it with an open mind! I have plenty of hot toddy ready made if you need it. :)

Jennifer said...

Good job on your posts. Those posts can get really long really quick because there is so much to cover. Glad the kids are better and it does make you feel better knowing you did things the natural route and wow they even got better. *sarcasm intended*

The Mrs. said...

I am all on board! God put all the treatment we need right out there in nature. We just seem to have gotten away from this stuff. I think that this would be a good class to add to your curriculum for your girls as the get older...I also think this would be a great subject for you to teach all of your friends...hands on!