On the Friday before Christmas break, EIGHT children were absent from Madeleine’s kindergarten class, three with confirmed cases of the flu. So when Madeleine walked out of school and said, “My tummy hurts,” and I felt her burning forehead, I knew that we were in for a terrible case of THE FLU. The thermometer showed a nasty 102.5. I was sure she had the flu, so we decided to tough it out, 90s-kid style.
Here are my favorite non-Tamiflu, non-prescription remedies for the flu–most of them natural and herbal, all of them sanity savers!
Gatorade & Sprite
I knew she would need to stay hydrated, so I dug around in the pantry and found a container of Gatorade powder in “orange” flavor. That first afternoon, she sucked down 16 ounces. Phew. Then we brought in Sprite. Which means we basically made Madeleine’s dreams come true. She loves both of these drinks and hardly ever gets them. (And yes, these may not be true natural remedies, but they worked!)
Ibuprofen & Hot Showers
Thank the Lord for modern-day fever reducers. I had to go buy more because we don’t keep them in the house because the kids hardly ever get sick (#humblebrag?). But they’re basically amazing. HEB-brand Motrin is seriously the friend I never knew I’d unintentionally ignored all these years. And it comes in bubblegum flavor which meant Madeleine started begging to take it.
Hot showers are also my new favorite. I managed to get Madeleine into the shower Saturday afternoon, though I really wanted her to get in the bath and relax in the warm goodness. But instead, I turned on all the heaters to turn the bathroom into a sauna and we steamed up the shower stall. She stood through the whole thing and seemed to actually have fun. But the kicker is that it brought her fever down almost a full THREE degrees! God bless you, steaming hot water. I was feeling guilty about how hot she was running that shower, but I think since it wasn’t a bath, the heat didn’t boost her temperature. Another phew.
Also, after this miracle shower, she let me brush out her hair with almost zero complaining. And it was a hot mess because she’d been laying on her back tangling it up for 24 hours.
People Paste & Honeyballs & Plague Defense
My sweet and talented sister sent us a box full of herbal remedies and chicken broth and honey and a diffuser with thieves oil. She’s the best. Especially since she lives across town from us, which because it’s Houston, means she’s a full hour and a half away. My dad was already driving up this way to pick up my aunt from the international airport, so he kindly stopped by with this box of goodies.
Chicken broth, People Paste, Echinacea leaves for tea and in powder form, Yarrow leaves, Slippery Elm Bark powder, honey, and her super fancy diffuser with thieves oil (technically named Plague Defense, a blend from her favorite essential oil store).
Basically it was box of bounty. Donnie and I immediately began drinking a cup of echinacea tea every few hours to boost our immune system. And for Benjamin, I made a “porridge” of sorts with the Echinacea and Slippery Elm Bark powder by mixing a 1/4 teaspoon of each with some hot water and maple syrup. He ate it and survived. (And the poor guy was still on antibiotics for his ear infection which I didn’t know about for four weeks….)
For Madeleine, I followed my sister’s instructions and made a honeyball from the People Paste. What is People Paste? It’s equal parts slippery elm, goldenseal root (or barberry), and myrrh. Madeleine was suspect of the honeyball but I managed to slip her a dose by coating the honeyball with….more honey!
The diffuser has been running during the day in whatever room Madeleine is in. And on Saturday, she fell asleep in our bed (see that first photo) so after I moved her into her room, I ran the diffuser in our room for a good hour before we got in bed.
By Sunday afternoon, her temperature dropped on its own to 98 degrees. We thought we were in the clear but it spiked again on Monday. Which is when my mom pointed out that she might have a secondary infection. A quick trip to the pediatrician on Tuesday and they confirmed that she had Flu A and an ear infection. Treating that brought down her fever and we were in the clear.
But then of course, I got the flu.
Hot Toddies & Yarrow Tea
I immediately started drinking heaps of yarrow tea–so much in fact that it stopped tasting bitter and started tasting sweet! And in the evenings when my congestion started getting particularly insufferable, my mother-in-law fixed me a hot toddy (whisky and water and honey/sugar). I drank it 4 nights in a row and I slept beautifully and didn’t have to take Mucinex or Nyquil overnight.
I was also able to power through and go with the family and grandparents to Enchant in Arlington. Lots of beautiful Christmas lights and crisp cold weather! I credit my stamina and the lack of a headache and general miserableness to the natural remedies.
Probiotics & Roasted Onion & Garlic Oil
Two days after Christmas, I developed an ear infection. Of course. It felt like I needed to pop my ears and a dull ache was starting in my left ear. My sister to the rescue again! She encouraged me to roast an onion (just enough that it got hot) and put it in a cup or jar and hold it against my ear. So I did!
Here’s the simple recipe:
It felt like a steam bath for my ear. I’d also made garlic oil (equal parts garlic and olive oil) while Madeleine was sick so I dropped some into my ears twice a day for two days, along with doing the onion jar twice a day, and my ear ache is gone. Huzzah! Here’s the quick and easy recipe for the garlic oil:
So all in all, these natural remedies made the flu less miserable. Donnie didn’t catch the flu and neither did Benjamin (but Benjamin’s ear infection did make an ugly return on Christmas Eve.). All along, I knew I was likely going to get the flu since I was Madeleine’s caretaker, but I’d avoided it for over 20 years, so I suppose I was due. And you better believe I’ll be using the onion trick for every hint of an ear ache in the future.
I hope these tips and tricks help you avoid the nastiness this season!