Monday, September 29, 2014

A month of sickness - remedies that worked and didn't

Flashback to May! I wrote this post in June after going through the illnesses I describe. I feel a little funny getting so obsessed about being sick, but it's important to stay healthy when pregnant! This is somewhat of a record for me as I progress in my exploration of natural health.

 One thing that contributed to my illnesses is that pregnancy affected my strength and immunity (the body suppresses some immunity to not attack the fetus). I am grateful I haven't had morning sickness per se, but I did have some food sensitivity, aversion, and lack of appetite. It is improving some, but that was also a change. I also made a wonderful trip early in May to visit my cousin in Idaho. I was with Jedidiah, while at the same time Avinash went to India for his brother's wedding. I don't regret the trip at all, but an unfortunate occurrence was that there was a flight delay that caused me to miss my connection, and I arrived in Houston at midnight, exhausted.

I am pretty sure my body picked up some viruses in the travel, and I was unfortunately susceptible to them. A day after my return I threw up - was this morning sickness? Pretty soon I was sure that it was a stomach bug. I got better, though weak, just in time for my mother's visit with my two younger brothers. That was another joy, and she took care of me while the boys played with Jedidiah. At the end of their visit, though, I started to get a sore throat.  (Read the rest at your own risk - being sick is gross!) That sore throat morphed into quite the cold - phlegm, exhaustion, and an eye infection to boot. When I could feel a sinus infection setting in, I went to a doctor and with my midwife's blessing started taking an antibiotic that helped me get better. I don't like taking prescription medicine, so you know I was sick!

Then Avinash came under the same cold. His symptoms included a lot more painful coughing, and he still has a lingering cough that appears in the evening. He took a lot of OTC meds and also visited a doctor, who prescribed an antibiotic but suggested he try to recover naturally. He seemed to be, until one night he was struck with a new and painful sore throat. Scared stiff that he might be coming down with strep, we hurriedly went to fill his prescription. So far, nothing worse has appeared!

Thankfully, Jedidiah showed only a bit of congestion and coughing, but his symptoms were minor. He did get the eye infection, however. We received help from a friend who is an eye doctor, who said it was bacterial and gave the go-ahead to use antibiotic eye drops on him.

We are thankful to be well now!

Whew, what a saga. The reason I'm writing this all down is that I want to note what natural remedies helped, and what didn't work this time (but might work later), and what I hope will work next time (or prevent a next time). I like the idea of natural remedies (of course, being crunchy), but we discovered first-hand that sometimes allopathic medicine is needed. However, I do believe natural remedies can bring symptomatic relief, perhaps sometimes as well as OTC medicines. If used aggressively at the onset of an illness, they may be able to prevent it.

Some remedies that really worked:

  • Neti potfor nasal congestion - This really helped me with my symptoms. It did not prevent the sinus infection, but it was still a source of relief when I was able to wash the gunk out. Avinash also found some relief from this. We discovered that it is better to use distilled water. (At first I was boiling and cooling tap water. Hm, with the chemicals in tap water and the hassle, that just wasn't worth it.) We used Celtic sea salt, which dissolved easily and was gentle on the nasal passages. Iodized salt would have burned. I learned that it was good to continue using the neti pot at least in the morning and evening even as I recovered.
  • Gargling - sore throat and chest congestion - I wish I had started this sooner when the sore throat first appeared. Avinash especially found relief from gargling with salt water and a bit of turmeric (an anti-inflammatory spice). Sometimes gargling made me gag, maybe because of pregnancy.
  • Steam detox bathscough - Avinash's body is unfortunately not good at expelling the gunk. He would cough and cough and nothing would come out. (Walgreens-brand Mucinex did very little to help with this!) His body would start to ache in different spots from the coughing. Poor guy. I would prepare a detox bath for him, mixing 1 c. of epsom salts with 1/4 c. of Redmond clay, then dissolving that in the hot water. (Mixing the two first kept the clay from clumping in the water.) More on detox baths. This really helped his body to relax before going to bed.
  • Eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils cough - I did not have high-quality essential oils, so I did not apply them on the skin. However, while Avinash was in the bath I would also put our crockpot dish in there with boiling water to contribute more steam. I would them add 8-10 drops each of eucalyptus and peppermint oils. This really helped open the breathing passages while Avinash was taking his bath. 
  • Steam in the bedroom - cough - In the bedroom we would also put already-boiling water in the crockpot with some essential oils added and the lid off. It did heat things up, but steam enters the air better than what is diffused from a cold-water humidifier. This really helped me keep from coughing, though there were a few nights when Avinash's cough was just too severe.
  • Massage - painful cough - On a couple of those worst nights, where Avinash was sore from too much coughing, he felt better when I massaged him with coconut oil and arnica massage oil (Weleda brand that I had on hand).
  • Honey, ginger cough - Honey really seemed to help, taken directly off a spoon. Sometimes so did ginger & honey tea (just ginger cut up and boiled in water, then honey added.)

Not sure if these helped or not:

  • Chestal honey homeopathic cough syrup - We gave this to Jedidiah some, though his cough was not severe. I also took it some. I think it helped, but honey alone may have been just as good.
  • Homeopathic eye drops for Jedidiah's eye infection - did nothing
  • Supplements - My midwife had given me a "Ward off virus cocktail." I believe these may help, just like vitamin C, if taken preventatively or at the onset of symptoms. They didn't seem to help with kicking the infection, however.

Remember next time:

A friend suggested treating the eye infection with a bit of raw honey. Another suggested cleaning the eye with a cotton ball dipped in room-temperature black tea.

Coming soon:

My exploration of essential oils begins! Further strategies to hopefully stay well in late pregnancy, which coincides with flu season!


  1. I'm curious which brand oils you're using. I'm testing a few out, and trying to find budget friendly ones that work well. I just ordered a few brand I'm excited for. A few things I remember for next time :) --I'm just getting over a cold, and I used lemon essential oil in my herb tea, along with fresh mint and Thieves oil blend (Young Living....expensive, but they are nice). I also used Melaleuca (Tea Tree) essential oil on my chest, feet, and sinuses, and's an expectorant (among other things) and it has helped! I highly recommend getting some Lemon and Melaleuca essential oil.

    Finally, have you looked into what heat diffusing does to the healing properties of essential oil? I've read a lot that using a heat diffusion method degrades the essential oils. I have a cold air diffuser for that reason (not the same as a humidifier). Just curious if you had looked into that. I'm no expert by any means! :)

  2. Hi Jen! Thanks for reading. I am using Young Living. I'm glad it's been working for you! I will store that tip about Melaleuca away! I like the Young Living knowledge base - the company has operated for 20 years, and their "Seed to Seal" promise. The few other companies that I thought might have close to similar standards also have similar prices, so I'm happy to stick with YL. I have a friend who is a blogger and experimented with various brands.

    Do you have a friend who is a distributor?

    I believe you're right about heat diffusion and prefer my cold diffuser now. But at that point I didn't have one and I was using cheapo oils anyway so I didn't worry as much about them getting wasted. Now I would probably have the cold diffuser running in the same room with the crockpot.