Sinus & Ear Infections, Sore Throat & Swollen Glands, Fevers & Colds — Remedies & Relief
Sinus Infection? Neck Pain? Same Difference.
It’s a common mistake to think the following symptoms are unrelated:
- Sinus infection and/or stuffiness
- Headaches, migraines and/or light sensitivity
- Neck tension and/or trapezius tension
- Swollen glands under the jaw
- Ear infection or itchy ears
- Motion sickness or simulator sickness
- Chronic cough or bronchitis
- Sore throat
These symptoms – these systems – are interconnected and inter-related. It’s common knowledge that mucus running down the back of your throat can give you a sore throat. The same is true for an ear infection, but both of these can travel the other way. An infection that starts in your nose can travel to your ears, throat, and lungs. Your lymph tracts themselves become burdened, and your glands swell. Overflow from your lymph system can cause your muscles to be acutely sore, or, if you have chronic tension in these muscles, you may have a low-grade infection or toxicity level within your glands that is chronic.
Because motion sickness has everything to do with what’s going on in your ears, you’re also more susceptible to getting headaches or nausea when riding in a car, an airplane, or even while playing a first-person video game (which is called simulator sickness).
An infection in the sinuses or ears isn’t always the starting point however. If you have poor posture and live a sedentary lifestyle, then you can develop chronic knots in that area between your shoulder and neck (your trapezius muscles). These knots create metabolic waste that your lymphatic system has to address. Because your lymphatic system is only pumped by your physical activities, a sedentary lifestyle leads to lymphatic blockages in the groin, armpits, breasts, chest (just below the collar bones), and especially in your throat, ear, and jaw area. This can then lead to itchy ears, sore throat, and so on. This can (and frequently does) happen even without any nasty germs being involved.
It is also possible to have all the following start with a gum infection or tooth infection. If you’re suffering from dental problems, I’ve got some other detailed articles for you (linked below). However, I also recommend using the treatments on this page even if it is starting in your mouth. Why?
Whether it is metabolic waste, infection, or something else causing one or more of these systems to bother you, there is always leakage into the other systems. If you only address the one you’re feeling, you’re likely to move from having one problem to another. Ever heard someone say that they were just getting over an ear infection, but now they’ve got a sore throat? It’s because they addressed some of the issue, but not the spillover.
Imagine you spill milk all over the counter. If you mop up the counter and floor, it might look clean, but a few days later your kitchen will smell like spoiled milk. Small amounts of milk will have gotten into floor boards, cabinet doors, and sometimes even into drawers. The best approach is to act fast, and act thoroughly – before your body is akin to a kitchen reeking of spoiled milk.
The Sore Throat
The most common cause for a sore throat is a sinus infection. Mucus makes its way down the throat and causes irritation. The sinus infection often spreads into the ear canal, becoming an ear infection, or drips down into the lungs, causing acute bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchial tubes within the lungs).
Treating the sore throat symptom is often very helpful toward healing (so long as you’re not treating it with ice-cream, sweetened cough drops, and other sugary nonsense), but to really kick the infection to the curb, the entire respiratory system needs treatment.
Let’s start with sore-throat soothers that will also boost your immune system.
“What does it mean to boost my immune system?”
Since your immune system is nearly your entire body, “boosting” it means doing things that help without any negative side effects. Giving yourself minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants without refined sweeteners, mold, pesticides, etc, is how you boost your immune system. For example, rolled oats have some beneficial properties, but they also are dehydrating, have a low nutrient density per calorie, are low in antioxidants, and contain lectins that many people are sensitive to. I wouldn’t call oats immune-boosting.
Soothing The Sore Throat
Peeled, Seedless Cucumbers – Peel them entirely. While some people feel that peeling cucumbers is a waste of nutrition, as a nutritionist, I completely disagree. There isn’t enough valuable nutrient content in the peels to be worth the irritation they can cause in your throat and digestive system.
You can add sea salt or mustard to your cucumber slices to make them more appealing if they seem bland by themselves. Salt helps kill infection in the mouth and throat, and improves the flavor and experience of the cucumber. Cucumbers are one of the most effective aids for a sore throat, and science doesn’t exactly know why. One thing we do know is that cucumbers are better at hydrating your body than water alone because of their fantastic electrolyte balance.
Salt Water Gargle – Mix hot water with sea salt and swish together until the salt dissolves. Use a half teaspoon of sea salt in a half cup of water. Tip your head back and breathe out to gargle the salt water mixture at the opening to your throat. This kills infection, clears mucus, and carries away a lot of debris from your mouth and throat. Salt-water gargling should be done at least once a day with minor sore throats, and twice a day with more severe cases. This is also a useful hygienic tool to use every morning as part of dental hygiene and absolutely should always be done after oil-pulling. (Oil pulling is swishing your mouth with oil, which also helps remove bacteria from your mouth.)
You can also gargle with garlic tea (described under “Fighting Respiratory Infections”), clove tea, apple cider vinegar, diluted hydrogen peroxide, and/or ginger tea to help kill undesirable bacteria in the mouth and throat.
Hot Tea – Keep hot tea with you continually and sip it all day and all night when you have a sore throat. Helpful ingredients include licorice, slippery elm, marshmallow root, sage, echinacea, ginger root (ideally use fresh slices), chamomile, turmeric, elderberry, lemon peels, orange peels, cranberries, pomegranate (use the white inner fiber after eating or juicing the red arils), cloves, goldenseal, raspberry leaves (fresh or dry), honeysuckle flowers & leaves (fresh or dry), and cinnamon sticks1.
1I recommend cinnamon as sticks and not as powder so that you get the essence without the granules. The granules can be an irritant. Also, stay away from cinnamon if you have cankersores or are extremely prone to cankersores.
Slippery Elm & Marshmallow Root – Slippery elm is very mucus-like. Mucus, while unpleasant, is your body’s natural defense. Many remedies include lemon, which helps burn away the yucky mucus, but what many people don’t know is that you want to replace the mucus after you’ve burned away the old mucus. When slippery elm or marshmallow root is mixed with water, a mucus-like substance forms a slick gel that coats and soothes. To use, pour boiling water over powdered slippery elm and/or marshmallow root, stir, and drink. If you make your own home-made lozenges, slippery elm is a great ingredient to add. You can sometimes find these in the bulk section at health stores, or in the form of tea in the tea section.
Essential Oils – Place one or two drops of essential oil in your palm. Then touch your palms together gently so that there is some oil on each palm. (Do not rub your hands together.) Then “tent your hands” so that they are covering your nose. Inhale the vapors between your hands. When you exhale, you can leave your hands where they are, but I prefer to move my hands because often my exhale takes the vapors up toward my eyes, which is unpleasant and not useful. You can also tent your hands over someone else’s face during your exhale, which I particularly enjoy doing with my husband.
All quality essential oils (that smell appealing to you) will be enjoyable this way, but some are particularly helpful to the sore throat, such as ravensara, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus radiata, cinnamon1, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree), and myrrh.
With food grade essential oils, you can take peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus radiata, and melaleuca alternifolia in a capsule daily for additional immune support.
More about essential oils under “Acute Bronchitis & Cough Remedies” below.
Vegetable Juice – Using a masticating juicer (such as the Omega) you can make your own leafy-green juices. While salads may be irritating and too much effort to chew when you’re sick, the leafy greens will powerfully aid your body in the form of juice. A masticating juicer squishes the greens, extracting the juice without cutting, which minimizes oxidation of nutrients. Then the pulp (fiber) is put into a separate bin. By leaving the fiber out, the juice comes into full contact with the cells in your mouth and throat. This full contact allows direct absorption of beneficial compounds, particularly through the gums.
While vegetable juice is always a great addition to any diet, it is particularly helpful to an irritated respiratory system. Particular vegetables (and fruits) I recommend include beets, leafy greens (dandelions, kale, spinach, escarole, cabbage, etc), ginger, lemon, cucumbers, wheatgrass, turmeric, celery and cranberries.
While it is fine to simply drink your juice normally, you can also take a concentrated shot2 of wheatgrass, turmeric, and/or ginger juice and simply hold it in your mouth against your throat for several minutes to get direct action on your mouth and throat. This can relieve toothache pain and begin healing on gums, cavities, and any other damage in the area. It is important to note that any dental infections are a major strain on the body and are often connected to respiratory infections.
If you’re struggling with gum disease, cavities, tooth aches or bad breath, read my article on healing these conditions by clicking here.
2A concentrated shot of these juices means not diluted by cucumber, beets, carrots, apples, or any other juice that would weaken the impact. You could have other herbs included however, such as sage or rosemary, without “diluting” the juice. In general, when sick, I recommend staying away from adding apples to your juice, and possibly even away from carrots. If you need the juice to be more palatable, rely on lemons, cucumber, or celery. Possible flavor adjusters could also mean tomatoes, ginger, garlic, or even hot peppers.
Common Recommendations That May Hurt Instead of Help
I do not recommend honey unless you also have a severe cough. While honey is a whole food made by nature (particularly if you get it raw and local from an organic farm), it is still very, very sweet. Sweet things feed bacteria. Even if the honey itself is antibacterial, that changes as soon as your body begins to break it down – which starts in your mouth! Give your pancreas, liver and adrenal system a break and lay off the honey unless you have a severe, hacking cough and don’t have access to cough-soothing alternatives.
I also do not personally recommend baking soda as a remedy for sore throats or digestive discomfort. Baking soda will help stifle acid reflux in the moment, and will kill bacteria in the throat, but it will dramatically impact your stomach acid’s pH in an unnatural way that will stifle your digestion. There are plenty of ways to effectively kill bacteria in your throat contained in this article, and plenty of ways to healthily regain digestive function in other articles of mine, such as:
I strongly advise against any dairy products coming from the cow while you’re sick. Firstly, store-bought dairy products are usually pasteurized, destroying the beneficial parts of the milk and negatively impacting the pH of the milk. Secondly, store-bought dairy products are usually from animals that have been raised in an unhealthy environment often including a diet of GMO soy, pesticide-laden wheat, and GMO alfalfa.
That said, if you have access to raw goat milk, this can be highly beneficial, particularly if you’re fond of citrus or other mucus-stripping treatments while you’re sick. After you’ve used citrus or sea salt to strip your throat of mucus, then consume raw goat milk to add a layer of fresh, helpful mucus back. You can also use slippery elm or marshmallow herb to add helpful, soothing mucus.
While all of the sore-throat remedies will help with coughing and bronchitis to some extent, some specific herbs for dealing with lung irritation and infection include osha root, eucalyptus globulus, lungwort leaf, oregano leaf, lobelia flower, and chaparral.
Notice I said eucalyptus globulus for the lungs, and for the sinuses and sore throat, I recommended eucalyptus radiata. When selecting an essential oil or tea, pay attention to what kind of eucalyptus you’re getting.
Eucalyptol occurs in high concentrations in eucalyptus globulus and is responsible for the oil’s ability to decongest the lungs. Eucalyptus globulus is also very effective as an air purifier. It effectively removes odors and airborne bacteria.
Eucalyptus radiata also contains eucalyptol, but less of it. It is good for severe sinus infections because it can be inhaled even with sinuses so irritated that they’re bleeding. Eucalyptus globulus, in contrast, will burn painfully in irritated sinuses. If you’re experiencing gunk in the lungs and have very irritated sinuses, you can tent your hands over your mouth with eucalyptus globulus and inhale the vapors down your throat, skipping your sinuses and getting the vapors directly to your lungs.
For severely sensitive tissues, you can use eucalyptus dives. It is the most mild form of eucalyptus. As your tissues heal you can move up to radiata, and then later to globulus. “Dives” is also great for topical application on a yeast infection or other type of vaginal infection.
The strongest variant is eucalyptus polybractea. This is too strong to be taken in directly, but can be used in a diffuser to create a healing atmosphere for respiratory infections and irritations.
Ear Infection Remedies
Everything on this page will help at least a little with an ear infection. However, treating ears is most effective when you also include remedies that go straight to the source – the ear canal.
Warm olive oil (or another neutral oil safe for internal use) in a dropper bottle by placing the glass dropper bottle in a bowl of hot or boiling water. I like to boil water for my tea and then pour my tea at the same time as adding some boiling water to a pyrex bowl to warm my ear oil. Then, while my tea is steeping, I can use the ear oil.
If using boiling water, the oil in the dropper bottle should warm very quickly. Test it every minute by pulling it out and putting one drop in your palm. It should feel mildly warm. If it feels right in your palm, test it again on your ear but not yet in your ear. If it feels hot on your ear, let it cool down for a minute and test it again. If it feels cool, warm it some more. It should feel just mildly warm to your ear lobe.
When the oil is the right temperature, squeeze drops of oil into your ear canal. You’ll need to put your head down and to the side on a flat surface. I like to use a table or desk. Be sure to have a tissue or rag ready to turn over onto when you’re done. When your ear canal is full of oil (which will only take a few drops if your ears are plugged up), stay in the position for a one minute while moving your jaw and/or massaging the lymph nodes along your jaw and ear area. This will help the warm oil move through the canal and clean it out.
Before the oil has cooled, or after one minute, turn over onto your rag or tissue. It is important not to let the oil cool as it can congeal with your wax in a new formation that can be unpleasant. (If that ever happens, do quick rounds with fractionated/MCT oil under twenty seconds to thin out all the oil and wax in your ears.)
Be sure to do both ears even if only one ear is irritated. It is also wise to do both ears even if neither ear is irritated but you have a sore throat. This will help prevent a throat infection from spreading to your ears.
You can put one drop of hydrogen peroxide in each ear if you have a severe ear infection that needs strong antibacterial power, but only do this once and be sure to also use ear oiling (described above) in the same day.
Any essential oils that you can put on your skin safely can also be put onto a cotton swab and used on the outermost part of your ear canal (where the swab reaches). Be careful though, as your ear canal may be more sensitive than the rest of your skin. First check your sensitivity by putting the essential oil on the back of your ears (and only do this if you’ve previously used this oil elsewhere on your body safely).
If you are sensitive then you can dilute the oil (such as tea tree) with a carrier oil (such as MCT oil) to make it more tolerable to your skin. If you’re very sensitive to an oil, don’t use it on your skin and definitely don’t put it in your ears.
In my case, I can’t use peppermint oil or cinnamon oil whatsoever on my skin, even diluted. But I can use tea tree oil straight on most of my body. Each person has different levels of sensitivities to oils, so be careful. A reaction can take minutes or hours to show up, so don’t make assumptions based on a thirty-second trial.
Fighting Respiratory Infections (including Ear Infections)
Humidifier & Diffuser – These tools are extremely helpful at relieving discomfort and speeding healing. Dry sinuses, throats, and lungs become more irritated, and more susceptible to allergens and bacteria. If you’re dry, you won’t heal as effectively. This is part of why your body tries to coat these membranes in so much mucus. By increasing humidity, you take strain off of your body’s damaged membranes. This can make it easier to make it through the night without coughing, or without your nose getting so runny or stuffy that it is hard to breathe.
Using a diffuser in addition to a humidifier makes it possible to add eucalyptus globulus or eucalyptus polybractea to the air in combination with any other desired beneficial oils (such as spruce and clove). This removes bacteria from the air, and eases breathing.
The effect is dramatic. You’ll notice when you leave your bedroom at night and enter the bathroom how itchy and unpleasant the “dry air” in the rest of the house is in comparison to your soft-air bedroom!
If you don’t own a humidifier, try looking at a thrift store. I’ve found all of my humidifiers second-hand for under $10 each (usually only $5). Or, for an immediate option, plug your tub and rub the shower at the highest heat with a fan pointed toward the bathroom. The fan will force the steam to billow out of the bathroom into the rest of the house. You can add essential oils to the tub for a diffuser effect.
Be sure that after you’re well again your home is thoroughly aired out and nothing is left overly moist to prevent mold. (Afterall, the last thing you need after recovering from a sinus-respiratory issue is mold!)
Face Steaming – To get even more moisture into your lungs and sinuses, face steaming is highly recommended. This procedure helps loosen stuffy sinuses, clear gunk from the lungs (i.e. heal bronchitis), and get lymph fluid in the glands around the jawline moving. This process is one of the most effective for creating clear, youthful looking skin, because your skin’s health is all about the clarity of your lymph fluid.
Pour boiling water from a tea kettle into a baking dish (like a pyrex bowl) atop a plate (or hot pad) on your dining room table or on the floor. Have tissues, handkerchiefs, or a sink nearby. Kneel or sit in front of the bowl with a towel. Lean over the bowl and drape the towel carefully around your face and the bowl. You want to seal the steam in, so be sure to close the towel under your chin.
For your lungs, breathe in through your mouth. Also, if the steam is too hot, breathe through your mouth to protect your sinuses until it cools a little. The steam will combine with gunk in your lungs and cause you to cough. Let yourself cough. Try to stay under the towel as you cough, but of course, if you feel at risk of burning yourself then come out.
For your sinuses, breathe in through your nose slowly, and exhale through your nose forcefully. You’ll feel your stomach contract when you’re exhaling quickly and harshly. Repeat this breathing pattern until the snot literally runs from your nose into the hot water continually. This is extremely cleansing and beneficial.
With severe respiratory infections this may mean spending the first minute or two coughing, and then spending the next six to ten minutes watching snot travel from your nose into the hot water.
After you steam your face, blow your nose in your sink or into tissues or handkerchiefs until you’re dry. Now is a very powerful time to move on to a neti pot, salt water gargle, essential oil smelling, or hot tea. With your nasal passages more open and lungs more clear, you’ll find these other practices much more effective.
For added enjoyment and benefit, you can put lemon peels and/or orange peels in your steaming bowl. If you have a mint patch in your garden, this is also a lovely addition.
Hot Showers & Long Baths – Hot showers and baths have similar benefits to using a humidifier and steaming your face. The steam is soothing to your respiratory system, the heat helps your lymph system flow, and washing takes away bacteria.
For added benefit in the bath, blend together aloe spines, ginger root, herbs and water in your blender. Then pour into your bath water. The ginger will stimulate sweating, which will help you sweat out toxins slowing down your immune system.
For added benefit in the shower, use rosemary and/or eucalyptus radiata diluted in a little coconut oil and hot water on your scalp after washing your hair as a leave-in conditioner.
Neti Pot – It looks similar to a tea pot, but all you’re putting in it is warm salt water. A neti pot flushes out mucus from your nose, freeing up your nasal passages from irritants. The neti tradition comes from India and goes back hundreds – maybe even thousands – of years. While we usually only use neti pots when we’re sick here in the west, in some parts of the world it is considered part of normal daily hygiene – like brushing your teeth.
To use your neti pot:
- Create a warm saline solution using very pure salt (not the lovely sea salt that I’m always recommending for food). You can use salt specifically designed for a neti pot which will come with a special scoop so that you know just how much to use. You can pour boiling water over the salt and let it cool, or use a device to warm the water to a limited degree (I use my milk frother which allows me to warm to specifically 110ºF).
- Just like with ear oiling, it is important to get the temperature just right. Too hot will burn your nasal passages and too cold will give you a headache. Test the solution first on your finger. If it seems good there, test it on your cheek right beside your nose. If it seems good there, place the neti pot tip into one nostril and try a little tentatively there. It should feel comfortably warm.
- Tilt your head over the sink. The angle is the toughest part of this whole process, but once you learn it, using a neti becomes easy. The trick is that your forehead should be higher than your chin, but only by a little. If your forehead is lower than your chin then the water will flow up too much and may cause a headache. If your chin is too low the water may flow to your throat; this isn’t too bad, but it is uncomfortable and may cause you to cough.
- Flow your warm saline solution from one nostril to the other. You will need your mouth open. If you don’t breathe through your mouth the water won’t flow. When the pot is about half full, set it down, blow your nose, and repeat from the other nostril. Alternatively, use a full pot for each nostril.
- Enjoy having the clearest nasal passages you’ve ever had.
The first time I used a neti was very uncomfortable, but after I finished I was amazed. I had never felt so clear in my life. It took me about seven uses before I felt entirely comfortable with the process. It’s awkward, but so was brushing your teeth when you first learned to do it.
Garlic Tea – In addition to the sore-throat soothers I mentioned above, garlic tea is very helpful for killing off unwanted bacteria. Peel cloves of garlic, slice them (and crush them if you wish), add them to a mug or teapot, and add hot water. Let it steep for a few minutes, then let cool to drinking temperature.
Antibacterial Foods – Antibacterial foods include garlic, onion, sage, ginger, turmeric, cloves, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, basil, cumin, yarrow, cat’s claw, cranberries, elderberries (always thoroughly cooked!), licorice, and lemon balm.
When you’re sick (or care-taking sick people), it’s important that everything you’re doing is contributing to getting better, and that includes your meals! So be sure your meals are rich in antibacterial and antiviral foods. Fortunately, these same foods are also rich in nutrients and antioxidants, so they’re doing double-duty on boosting your immune system.
While I don’t recommend cayenne for a sore throat specifically because it can cause more irritation and coughing, it is highly beneficial for fighting infections in general. Cayenne can be added to a soothing tea, or followed by slippery elm tea.
Cleansing Diet & Lifestyle – While you’re sick, it becomes especially important to eat a cleansing diet. This means nothing dehydrating (seeds, nuts, beans, most cooked foods, meat, dried fruits, bread, flour, pasta), no stimulants (black tea, coffee, cacao beans, chocolate), no alcohol, no smoke (pot, incense, barbecue grills, sage and candles included), no sweeteners3 (including agave, white stevia, cane/beet/coconut sugar, maltitol, aspartame, splenda, etc, etc, etc), no gluten, and no GMOs (conventional – corn, cotton, alfalfa, papaya, canola, soy, sugar beets, aspartame, American dairy products from cows, green zucchini, yellow straightneck, yellow crookneck squash, and arctic apples).
3With the possible exception of a local, raw, organic honey in small quantities as needed suppress a severe cough.
A day’s menu might look like this when you have a respiratory infection:
- 3 probiotics (morning, afternoon and evening)
- 3 tablespoons Inner Eco (morning, afternoon and evening)
- 1 grapefruit
- 2 oranges, peeled (peel zest may be used in tea)
- ½ cucumber, peeled, with sea salt
- 1 handful cranberries (fresh or thawed from frozen)
- 1 quart of vegetable juice (3 ribs celery, 1 tomato, 1 inch ginger, ½ cucumber, 1 lemon peeled and de-seeded, 1 beet, and 1 carrot)
- 1 pomegranates’ arils (white fiber used in tea)
- ½ gallon tea made from pomegranate fiber, orange zest, lemon zest, cranberries, juiced ginger pulp, chamomile and licorice
- 1 quart smoothie (For example: 1 banana fresh or frozen, ½ cup frozen blueberries, a few cranberries, 1 mango with or without its peel, a few dandelion leaves and flowers from the yard, one scoop probiotic vegetable powder blend, and enough home-made kefir or raw goat milk4, water, fresh maple sap5, or juice6 to blend)
- 1 cup home-made kefir with 1-2 tablespoons ginger juice, 1 teaspoon elderberry powder, 1 teaspoon milk-thistle powder and 1 teaspoon slippery elm stirred in
- 2 cups tomato juice with 1 pinch cayenne stirred in
- Additional vegetables as desired such as baked asparagus (lightly coated in avocado oil, sea salt, and black pepper), freeze-dried beets, and baby carrots. If you’re desperately craving calories, you can always add a flax oil to your veggies, or a tiny touch of tahini.
4Be cautious about using any animal products when you’re sick. Some raw goat milk from healthy, local goats can do your body good, but if you’re very sick it may be wisest to stay away from all dairy until you’re thoroughly better. If you make fresh kefir at home, however, this is a great immunity-booster with over two-hundred beneficial microbes working in concert to keep your body healthy!
5Fresh maple sap is something you can get from your own stand of maple trees if you have them. I often tap a few and then keep frozen maple sap available all year round. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s mildly sweet electrolyte water. It is very different from maple syrup which is created by boiling forty gallons of maple sap down into only one gallon of maple syrup.
6Some high-pressure processed (never heated) juice can make for a great smoothie base. Orange and watermelon are two of my favorites. You can also use coconut water, although its flavor clashes with many other flavors, so test your experiments in small batches.
My (Raederle’s) Background
Whatever you suffer the most from, you get good at coping with. You become a master in treating your own chronic conditions. I used to think that people who still struggled from a problem had nothing worthwhile to say about it. Afterall, if they knew so much, why weren’t they healed already? The answer to that question is complex and a topic for another article, but the short answer is that you don’t have to be 100% “over” something for good in order to know a great deal about it.
In fact, because people often forget the details once they are over something for good, someone in the process of recovery often has more useful information available to them at the tips of their firing neurons.
For this reason, I’ve written this article piecemeal over the years during times when I’ve been sick or helping one of my husbands while they were sick. At these times it has been immensely helpful to have my own list of remedies that I’ve learned and tried over the years available to me. (I actually use a lot of my website to reference my own past self’s wisdom!)
I’m a specialist in fevers, colds, sore throats, gum infections, and digestive disorders. I spent my childhood repeatedly sick with one thing after another, including mononucleosis on four separate occasions. You’re only supposed to get mono once, develop antibodies, and never get it again. Due to biting a glass thermometer as a toddler (and getting severe mercury exposure), among other unusual circumstances, I grew up without a functional immune system. I got everything that went around.
At sixteen I developed stomach ulcers (which were diagnosed as anxiety and thereby left untreated for years). I thought my acid reflux was “heart pain” because I knew nothing about biology or health. But that changed fast as my days were consumed with research.
By the time I was twenty I had tried several different elimination diets and changed the lives of many of my friends. One friend lost fifty pounds and attributed the difference entirely to my advice – and constant nagging.
Still, I would get sick at times, and I turned my new-found healing methods to use on each fever, cold, and sore throat.
My basic healing tools are as follows:
- Keen attention to my body’s symptoms (and how they change over time and correlate to my actions)
- Willingness to completely overhaul my lifestyle (diet, thoughts, recreational activities, sleep patterns, etc)
- Research (reading books, listening to people’s stories, trying out people’s advice systematically, reading articles, etc)
Before I was sixteen, I was just a victim of illness. All I could do was drink the hot lemon-honey water my parents made in the microwave in a plastic cup, take the doctor’s pills, and lay around until I finally got better. It usually took me two weeks, but sometimes it took longer.
When I was sixteen I had such debilitating pain that I went to multiple doctors. I got a few opinions. None of the opinions impressed me. None of the doctor’s advice helped. And here, I’d been getting worse for months. Days would pass where I couldn’t open my mouth due to my jaw being locked in place. Weeks would pass where every single morning I woke to excruciating pain in my chest and stomach. I missed a lot of school. I missed a lot of life.
And that was a blessing. Because unlike most people who leave high school, get a job they hate, get fat, get sicker and sicker, and increasingly miserable, and then die . . . I took a different path. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re taking a different path too. And this path starts with developing the three tools I alluded to above – keen body awareness, willingness to change, and research.
As I write this, I’m twenty-seven, and I’m sick again. I don’t normally get sick anymore, but extreme circumstances bring it on. In this case, I spent two weeks pushing my body to its limits hauling rocks to build a stone planter in my garden, then went on a four-day trip that involved poor quality sleep and a lot of walking around in full sun at 90ºF. During the fourth day trip, I thought I’d have a splurge meal or two, and ate some food I know doesn’t agree with my body. (In this case, stir-fried vegetables with vegetable oil and quinoa.)
All of that, and I was still fine. But Greg got sick a day after returning from the trip. We were both frantically trying to catch up on one thing or another after the four-day trip, and neither of us was stopping to rest. After five days of taking care of him – preparing the neti pot, salt water gargles, probiotics, face-steaming water, lymphatic massage, etc – I got sick. I honestly hadn’t expected it. I’ve built up my immune system to be so robust that I was confidently sharing space with my sick husband for five days and expecting that I would not get sick.
I even went so far as to do a highly exerting yoga session. I gardened, did yoga, took care of him, and thought nothing of it.
But on day six I woke feverish. My nose was running, my throat was sore, and my fatigue was unimaginably high. My muscles felt absolutely battered. It was a cross between the worst muscle soreness I’d ever felt from being sick with the worst muscle soreness I’d ever felt from exercise. I could barely lift my tea cup.
Clearly my subconscious wanted me to know that was time to stop doing. So I stopped. I started listening to my body again. I started reading and stopped gardening. I started taking care of myself more, and others less. I stopped staying up late and started napping. I stopped eating dehydrating foods and started drinking more water.
I made use of my time being feverish. This is a time when the mind’s barriers are lowered and insights flow readily. It’s a great time for writing.
I began writing this article five years ago. I’m thirty-two now.
I was thinking that my salvia tasted a little off the last few days. This morning I began the day with hot tea, tongue scraping, extra-thorough flossing with tea tree, water-flossing, and a facial lymph massage with organic almond oil. I wouldn’t have thought anything of it – just a little lymph blockage needing some clearing.
A couple hours later I discovered that Greg was still in bed with a fever and a swollen lip (which is a very mysterious symptom). I also recalled that Lytenian has been in more pain than usual the past few days and was coughly mysteriously yesterday. With all of this in mind, I flew into action.
I made a gently warmed (105ºF) juice of turmeric, black pepper, ginger, elderberry, raspberry, blood orange, and camu camu (1 tsp camu camu for each of us).
I pulled out an array of supplements including:
- Double our usual vitamin D intake (in MCT oil and in capsules),
- Bilberry extract along with other antioxidants (gel tablets),
- Magnesium, calcium, B12 and other minerals (tablets),
- Spirulina and chlorella (tablets),
- Silver (fluid),
- Fermented cod liver oil and butter oil (gel),
- Herbal remedies aimed at fighting invaders and boosting the immune system (capsule, hot tea, and fluid extracts in water – around 45 different herbs in total).
We’re using tea tree essential oil for placing on the throat and chest glands, and breathing eucalyptus essential oil.
For breakfast I’m having a blend of strawberry, kiwi, kale, apple, orange, and raspberry fortified with more minerals. Lytenian had a cara-cara orange.
I wish I had some Inner Eco (fermented coconut water) to add to this, but I don’t have any at the moment. This is great for oral bacterial issues and I always swish and gargle with it before swallowing.
At lunch time I passed around the iodine; at breakfast I didn’t want to add that to our already confused stomachs.
We, of course, don’t know if we have COVID-19, and it’s a possibility, so I canceled my plans to have a visitor today and am now prioritizing time in bed reading. (We didn’t have covid.)
After breakfast I had a long soak in a mineral bath with four cups of epsom salt, a huge tea ball full of bladderwrack, and a bag of shungite. I soaked and scrubbed thoroughly.
I don’t actually feel sick, but it never hurts to give my immune system some extra loving care, particularly when a loved one under the same roof definitely is sick.
Those people who’ve been under my care when sick know how seriously I take even the most minor illness. They also know the effectiveness of my care.
I’ve gone from being a person who spent three or more months out of the year being sick, to being a person who rarely gets sick even for a day.
It is my sincere hope that I can pass some of what I’ve learned on to you.
Below is a list of things I mentioned in this article that you may want to buy to boost your body’s ability to successfully swing back into wellness.
Food shopping list (buy organic!):
- Leafy greens (dandelions, kale, spinach, escarole, cabbage, etc)
- Ginger root, fresh
- Cucumbers, seedless
- Turmeric root, fresh
- Cranberries (fresh or frozen, be sure they’re unsweetened!)
- Inner Eco (fermented coconut water)
- Aloe plant (not exactly found in the produce section of the grocery store, but these plants are great medicine to have live in your window sill!)
Herbs shopping list (buy organic!):
- Ginger root, fresh
- Garlic head, fresh
- Apple cider vinegar
- Herbal tea blends including slippery elm, marshmallow root, sage, echinacea, ginger, chamomile, turmeric, elderberry, lemon peel, orange peel, cranberry, pomegranate, cloves, goldenseal, raspberry leaves, and honeysuckle.
Additional herbs for lung conditions and coughing:
- Osha root
- Eucalyptus globulus
- Lungwort leaf
- Oregano leaf
- Lobelia flower
Essential Oils shopping list:
- Eucalyptus radiata
- Eucalyptus globulous
- Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree)
I’ve given you a lot of remedies on this page, but how should you implement them? The answer is: back-to-back. The more sick you are, the more you should prioritize doing only things which help your body, which means that you should be doing one of the things on this page or sleeping at all times. What if you’re not that sick though? What if you were merely exposed to a sick person or are taking care of a sick relative and you just have a little sinus congestion? Or what if your energy is so low that you can only get out of bed for an hour a day? Then what?
Then it is time for The Ritual. That’s what I’ve taken to calling it. It’s not a spiritual practice – but it feels like one since most spirituality harkens to purification of the body, mind, and emotions anyhow and that is exactly what this does for you. This is simply a series of the rest of the things described on this page, but in order. You can do all of this back-to-back in roughly an hour.
- Start water heating to boil.
- Put a spoonful of coconut oil in your mouth and begin oral oil pulling.
- Fetch a towel, a bowl for face-steaming, a glass dropper bottle with oil for your ears, your neti pot, neti salt, sea salt to gargle with, oil for body-oiling, essential oils, herbal teas, probiotics, and supplements.
- Prepare everything while the water finishes boiling: put herbs in your tea pot, put the right amount of neti salt in your neti pot, put sea salt in a mug for gargling, put out your bowl for face-steaming on a hot pad and add anything to the bowl you’d like to inhale while face steaming. Be sure to only use mild things in your face-steaming bowl as essential oils in hot vapors can sting your skin intensely. I like to use rose buds best.
- Spit out your coconut oil either in the yard or into a tissue (not in your sink).
- When the water is boiling pour it into your tea pot or mug and cover to steep. Fill your neti pot (on a hot pad) and leave it to cool. Fill your salt-water gargling mug about one-third of the way and cover. Lastly, fill your face-steaming bowl and immediately seat yourself in front of it with your towel to capture the steam. Face-steam for about ten minutes, breathing through your mouth for the first two minutes and doing breathing exercises for the last two minutes.
- Come out from under the towel, blow your nose.
- Put your dropper bottle with your ear oil into the hot steaming water to warm up.
- Pour a little hot tea into a small tea cup to rapidly cool enough to drink.
- Test your salt water for gargling and use it if it is ready. (If it isn’t ready, sip tea and breathe essential oils under tented hands until it is. Also, you can blow on the salt water to cool it faster.)
- Sip your tea.
- Test the temperature of your neti water. If it is ready, neti at the sink thoroughly. (If your neti isn’t immediately ready, breathe essential oils under tented hands and sip tea until it is.)
- Oil each ear for one minute or less. You can do each ear twice if you wish. Put the oil bottle back into the face-steaming water between each use to keep it warm.
- Massage your face, ears, throat, and chest with olive oil or another body oil, using strokes that move from your cheeks to your ears and from your ears down your throat. Add lung-opening essential oils to the oil on your chest (but not your face). You may use chamomile or rose essential oil on your face if desired.
- Continue drinking hot tea throughout and pour yourself more tea if you run out.
- Take your supplements and probiotics.
- Finish with a hot shower or epsom salt bath for even better results.
And there you have it. May you feel better far faster than you expected you would or could!