Flu season starts in the fall every year since 1918, and this year, the continuing coronavirus pandemic has complicated the picture. COVID-19 and the flu are both contagious respiratory illnesses.
Flu and Coronavirus symptoms, how do I tell them apart?
Unfortunately, the short answer is, you can’t. If you come down with any kind of illness, the best thing to do is call your doctor, explain your symptoms, and you will need to make a series of tests (that will most likely be inaccurate) or, you can do what I do for me and my family to feel better and stay healthy through cold and flu season and it is working just fine so far without any vaccine.
We’re all experiencing a lot of fear right now, and that’s understandable. We’re dealing with a brand-new virus, and conventional medical care hasn’t been able to offer many definitive answers. In uncertain times, it’s natural to look for alternatives, to reach for things that make sense to us or offer some degree of comfort.
Now just to be clear, I am not a doctor and nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. These natural home remedies should not take the place of professional advice from a doctor. They always worked for me and my family, and that is the reason I share them, but before you use them, remember to consult your doctor to make sure they don’t interact with your current prescriptions or worsen any underlying medical conditions you may have.
To get started, do you remember horehound candies, those brown candies that you could buy at the candy store when candy came unwrapped and you bought 3 candies for a nickel? They were flavored with horehound and sugar. They were originally made to soothe sore throats. You could buy them as both pillow-shaped brown candies or brown and white striped candy sticks, right beside the humbugs and sarsaparilla candy sticks.
Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) is an easy to grow herb that is targeted for sore throats, coughs, and chest congestion. Suck a horehound cough drop and you’ll get rid of the tickle and the cough will ease. It is a targeted herb for bronchitis and also helps with irregular heart, and has been used in the treatment of malaria, and to reduce fever.
The medicinal use of horehound dates to the first century where ancient Romans used it as an antiseptic. Cultures across the globe have recognized it medicinal properties. Uses have included: treating respiratory ailments and influenza, promoting digestion, as a kidney flush and for treating ulcers and scabs in farm animals.
Horehound is a hardy perennial herb that is good in zones 4 to 8 (or zone 3 with snow cover). Growing 18 inches high with a spread of about 12 inches, once it’s established you will have lots of herb for your needs from 4 plants. The leaves are green and wrinkled with a downy underside, and it has small clusters of white flowers that are not showy, growing up the stems in the leaf bracts. It can be propagated from seed in Spring or from soft cuttings taken in summer. Established clumps benefit from division in the Spring. It can also be grown in a container, in a sunny position.
Harvest the stems during the flowering, bundle, and dry away from sun and heat. Once totally dry, strip the leaves and flowers from the stems and store in a glass jar with a lid, in a cool, dark place. Use the leaves and flowers for medicine.
HOREHOUND IS EXPECTORANT, ANTI-SPASMODIC, DIGESTIVE, BITTER, VULNERARY, DIAPHORETIC, AND PECTORAL. (HOLISTIC HERBAL BY DAVID HOFFMAN)
To use horehound you can make a strong tea, sweeten with honey and drink several times a day. But when you are on the go or if you are treating children you sometimes want the medicine in a dry, and easy to carry form. Horehound cough drops and lozenges fit the bill.
Cough drops are made like candy. The herb is extracted in water and then candy is made by boiling a sugar mixture to the hard crack stage. Lozenges are made using an edible gum like Tragacanth or Acacia and sugar along with the dried and powdered herb. Other herbs can be added to cough drops and lozenges as well to increase the effectiveness, or essential oils can be added. The traditional Canadian remedy “Fisherman’s Friend” is a lozenge with licorice essential oil or anise essential oil added, for coughs and sore throat.
Horehound Cough Drops (Makes 1 lb.)
To make horehound cough drops you will need a large stainless steel pan, a candy thermometer, and a stainless steel tray that has been heavily buttered, and insulated rubber gloves. Before you begin you may want to read my tutorial on Candy making so that you understand the process.
To start to make a strong decoction by steeping 1 cup of dried horehound leaves in 3 cups of boiling water. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain completely and squeeze leaves to get all the liquid out. If you have extra liquid there is no need to worry as it will boil off during candy making.
2 cups of brown sugar
1/2 cup of honey
2 -3 cups of the strained decoction
Add all ingredients to a 3-quart pot. Stir in sugar to completely dissolve. Put a lid on the pot and begin to heat it over medium heat. When it boils rapidly, remove the lid and with a brush and water, dissolve any sugar crystals that may be adhering to the side of the pan. Do not stir the mixture or it will seize. Boil rapidly and insert a candy thermometer. Boil to the hard crack stage or 300 F. Remove from heat. Add flavoring if desired (eucalyptus, lemon, or vanilla) but stir as little as possible.
Pour hot mixture out onto the greased baking sheet. Allow cooling for 2 minutes. Using two greased spatulas begin to fold the candy mixture over on itself and repeat until the mixture is cool enough to handle with gloves on. This will make the candy lighter and give it a better texture.
Then pull the candy as you would pull taffy. It’s best to do this with two people, pulling a small amount of the recipe at a time. Once the candy begins to stiffen, cut into 1/2 inch pieces with buttered scissors. and drop onto a buttered pan. Allow cooling completely. Dust with icing sugar and wrap individually in parchment paper or wax paper. Store in a glass jar in an airtight container. It will last for up to 2 years.
Suck a cough drop slowly, as needed.
- 1 cup dried horehound
- 3 cups boiling water
- 2 cups of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of honey
- To start, make a strong decoction by steeping 1 cup of dried horehound leaves in 3 cups of boiling water. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.
- Strain completely and squeeze leaves to get all the liquid out.
- You should have 2-3 cups of the decoction.
- Add all ingredients to a 3-quart pot.
- Stir in sugar to completely dissolve.
- Put a lid on the pot and begin to heat it over medium heat. When it boils rapidly, remove the lid and with a brush and water, dissolve any sugar crystals that may be adhering to the side of the pan.
- Do not stir the mixture or it will seize.
- Boil rapidly and insert a candy thermometer.
- Boil to the hard crack stage or 300 F.
- Remove from heat. Add flavoring if desired (eucalyptus, lemon, or vanilla) but stir as little as possible.
- Pour hot mixture out onto the greased baking sheet.
- Allow cooling for 2 minutes.
- Using two greased spatulas begin to fold the candy mixture over on itself and repeat until the mixture is cool enough to handle with gloves on.
- Then pull the candy as you would pull taffy. It is best to do this with two people, pulling a small amount of the recipe at a time.
- Once the candy begins to stiffen, cut into 1/2 inch pieces with buttered scissors. and drop onto a buttered pan.
- Allow cooling completely.
- Dust with icing sugar and wrap individually in parchment paper or wax paper.
- Store in a glass jar in an airtight container.
- It will last for up to 2 years.
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Lozenges use dried, powdered herbs for their potency or essential oils, rather than extracting the herbal medicine in water. Altoid peppermint candies are lozenges, with a few more ingredients like gelatine, and icing sugar. In their simplest form powdered slippery elm bark can be used instead of tragacanth gum to make lozenges. To make horehound lozenges take the dried horehound and powder it completely in a food processor or blender.
To make lozenges you will need:
30 grams/1 ounce of Tragacanth gum
1/2 cup powdered, dried horehound herb
1/2 cup Brown sugar, or powdered stevia to taste
Icing sugar, or tapioca starch to prevent sticking
Soak 1 oz. of tragacanth gum in 2 cups of water overnight. Bring mixture to a boil.
Beat until mixture is of uniform consistency. Force it through a strainer to make mucilage. Add 1/2 cup powdered herb and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Mix well into mucilage to make a thick paste. Add more powdered herb as necessary to get the right consistency. You are looking for the consistency of pie dough. Roll out with powdered sugar or cornflower to 1/2 inch thick. Cut with round cutters, like a bottle lid or bubble tea straw. Or roll into a rope and cut with a powdered scissor. Allow drying completely over a few days, away from humidity. Sprinkle with more starch or icing sugar and store in an airtight tin or wide-mouth jar, tightly capped. Makes 1/2 lb. of cough drops. Horehound is bitter tasting so you will need more sugar or stevia to decrease the bitterness than when using an herb like anise or licorice that has its own sweet taste.
When making these herbal lozenges or candies from a single herb you are making an herbal simple. Simples let you focus on the action of a single herb while combining herbs with similar actions will boost the potency of the simple. Herbs that work well with horehound include Sage, thyme, oregano, echinacea, lemon balm, and peppermint. Consider adding one or more of these herbs if you have them on hand.
Lozenges use dried, powdered herbs for their potency or essential oils, rather than extracting the herbal medicine in water. In their simplest form powdered slippery elm bark can be used instead of tragacanth gum to make lozenges.
- To make horehound lozenges take the dried horehound and powder it completely in a food processor or blender.
- 30 grams/1 ounce of Tragacanth gum
- 1/2 cup powdered, dried horehound herb
- 1/2 cup Brown sugar, or powdered stevia to taste
- Icing sugar, or tapioca starch to prevent sticking
- Soak 1 oz. of tragacanth gum in 2 cups of water overnight.
- Bring mixture to a boil.
- Beat until mixture is of uniform consistency. Force it through a strainer to make mucilage.
- Add 1/2 cup powdered herb and 1/2 cup brown sugar.
- Mix well into mucilage to make a thick paste. Add more powdered herb as necessary to get the right consistency. You are looking for the consistency of pie dough.
- Roll out with powdered sugar or cornflower to 1/2 inch thick.
- Cut with round cutters, like a bottle lid or bubble tea straw. Or roll into a rope and cut with a powdered scissor.
- Allow drying completely over a few days, away from humidity.
- Sprinkle with more starch or icing sugar and store in an airtight tin or wide-mouth jar, tightly capped.
- Makes 1/2 lb. of cough drops. Horehound is bitter tasting so you will need more sugar or stevia to decrease the bitterness than when using an herb like anise or licorice that has its own sweet taste.
How To Treat A Fever Naturally
Herbal Smoothie Freezer Pops For Fevers
These herbal freezer pops are made using a combination of an herbal infusion and smoothie mix, and they’re perfect for that second stage of fevers when your kid is feeling really hot, they’re perspiring and losing fluids, and you want to help them be as comfortable as possible.
Now although all of the above sounds like great benefits, the best thing about them is that they taste really good and your kids won’t be likely to turn them down. So now, let’s walk through the steps of making them together, shall we?
Step 1: Make an Herbal Infusion
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1/3 oz dried elderflowers – anti-viral
- 1/3 oz dried rosehips – high in vitamin c
- 1/3 oz dried peppermint – for taste
- 1 TBSP of sweetener
There are a lot of different herbs and herb combinations that you can use in this recipe, but today I’m gonna give you a combination of herbs that is great for viruses and children love it because it tastes good.
To make an herbal infusion, combine equal amounts of dried herbs in a quart jar. You can weigh your herbs using a kitchen scale to get the exact amount you need or you can eyeball it if you don’t care to be exact. Just remember… the rosehips are going to weigh more than the elderflower or the peppermint because they’re hard. All that matters is that you have around 1 ounce of dried herbs by weight in the end. Your jar should look like it’s about 1/3 to 1/2 full of your herbs.
Put your herbs in a glass quart jar and pour boiled water over them, filling it to the bottom ring of the jar.
Cover, and let your herbs sit for as little as 30 minutes or as long as four hours. This makes a very strong tea and really gets the properties out of the herb and into your water. The longer you can let it sit, the better.
Time Saving Tip – Four hours is the standard time for making an herbal infusion, but when your little one is sick and they need something to keep them hydrated and cool, 30 minutes will definitely do. Just look at the above photo. It’s only been sitting for 5 minutes and you can already see the water darkening as it penetrates the herbs and pulls the properties out of them!
Strain the herbs from the water using a cheesecloth, old t-shirt, or fine stainless steel mesh sieve. Squeeze all the liquid from your herbs to get all the good juices out, and then you can compost your herbs as they can’t be reused.
Your infusion should smell strongly of peppermint! Now you’re ready to sweeten it.
To sweeten your herbal infusion, use a small amount of natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup. I’m talking about 1 TBSP of one of these to your whole infusion. Another option you have is to add a touch of whole leaf stevia to your herb mix during the infusion process. Only a small amount though… stevia leaf is very strong.
Choose whatever sweetener you feel is best and give it a taste to see if you think it tastes right. At this point, it should taste like sweet peppermint tea… only really strong peppermint tea! Don’t worry if it’s not perfect… the best part is below!
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Step 2: Make Your Smoothie Mix
The next step is to take your herbal infusion and combine it with a smoothie mix to make it taste great so your kids will eat them.
Below you’ll find two different smoothie mix recipes that your kids are sure to love! If I’m making a small amount of smoothie.
- 1/2 cup of homemade yogurt (preferably from a raw milk source)
- 1/4 cup of herbal fever infusion
- organic almond butter to taste
- organic blueberries to taste
Strawberry Banana Smoothie:
- 1/2 cup of homemade yogurt (preferably from a raw milk source)
- 1/4 cup of herbal fever infusion
- 2 bananas to taste
- 3-4 large organic strawberries to taste
Once your smoothie mixes are made up and your herbal fever infusion has been added, give them a quick sip to make sure they taste like something you kid can’t turn down. Remember the main goal is to make this taste good so they’ll eat it and get the benefit of the herbs at the same time!
Step 3: Pour Into Popsicle Molds & Freeze
Once your mix tastes great, you’re ready to make your freezer pops! Pour your mix into your choice of popsicle molds and freeze them.
Store your extra mix in a glass jar in the refrigerator so you can make more freezer pops later.
Time Saver Tip – If you’re strapped for time and you don’t feel like waiting several hours for your pops to freeze, you can let your kiddo drink it like a smoothie now and freeze some for later… either way is fine.
Once your fever pops are frozen, you can let your child eat as many as they want. All of the herbs used are safe and non-toxic even in large doses.
So there you have it. Herbal Smoothie Freezer Pops that will not only help to keep your kids hydrated and slowly lower their fever, but they will keep them happy at the same time!
Other natural ways to deal with fever
#1 ~ Calcium
According to Dr. Bernard Jensen, one of the main functions of a fever “is to pull ionizable calcium out of the bones and draw it into the blood where it is useful for fighting infections.” The process may be part of what makes us feel achy, and some care providers suggest giving the body what it needs without requiring it to withdraw from “the bank.” Some expert believes that calcium works with the fever to make it more effective, which may reduce illness duration.
One small study of patients with dengue fever did find that supplementation with calcium and vitamin D (which assists with calcium absorption) reduced the duration and overall symptoms of the illness. Calcium is best obtained from food, but it can also be obtained through supplements. Calcium citrate malate and calcium orotate are thought to be two of the most bioavailable forms. (Vitamin D may also be helpful for increasing absorption)
#2 – Bone Broth
It seems that Grandma was right after all – chicken soup is good for more than just the soul. Though some have thought that the comfort associated with the chicken soup was a placebo effect, research published in CHEST: The Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, suggests that “chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity.”
Several components of broth are thought to be beneficial, but the one that has been most studies is cartilage. Dr. Kaayla Daniel detail research suggests that cartilage supports healthy immune function by “stimulating just about every time of white blood cell the body needs to mount a strong defense against unwanted microbes.”
Of course, it’s also rich in bioavailable calcium, which as I just mentioned is likely to be beneficial as well.
#5 – Apple Cider Vinegar
What happens if/when we feel it’s time to try to bring the fever down? Apple cider vinegar is an old remedy used by grandmothers and great-grandmothers that is thought to “draw out” the fever – people still swear by it! Soak a couple of washcloths in diluted apple cider vinegar (1 part vinegar and 2 parts water), then place them on the forehead and tummy, or add a cup to a warm bath. Some people also soak a cloth in and wrap it around the soles of the patient’s feet.
#6 ~ Warm Bath
A cold bath can shock the body into trying to raise the internal thermostat even more, but a warm to an extra warm bath (depending on comfort level) may be helpful, especially when a cup of apple cider vinegar is mixed in.
Must-Have Resources for Herbal Medicine Crafting:
I strongly recommend that you don’t rely on free internet resources or e-books for your herbal medicine crafting only. When you need an herbal medicine in an emergency, you want the resource at your fingertips, in your brain, and in a hard copy resource that you can quickly thumb through to find the information that you need.
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