I learned about a great way to find relief from sinus allergies recently. It started with home delivery of local organic produce from Natures Garden Delivered here in Arizona, which gave me easy access to a much wider variety of fruits and vegetables than I even knew existed.
One day I was looking through the list of items I could exchange in my box the next week and I saw beets. This reminded me of the beet kvass I made years ago when we lived in Portland and had raw milk delivered to our cohousing community. One a side note, I think red beets are better suited for making beet kvass than either chioggia beets (which I call zebra beets because of the stripes inside) or golden beets. I’ve tried all 3 kinds, the chioggia beets make a light pink color kvass and the golden beets make a pale yellow kvass.
We’d been getting raw milk for several months from saveyourdairy.com, a local organic dairy farm in the Phoenix area (visit realmilk.com to help you find a source local to you). One week we didn’t use as much so there was leftover milk, so I decided to make whey by taking some raw milk out of the fridge and letting it sit in a jar on the counter for a couple days until it separated into curds and whey, then pouring it through a cheesecloth to separate the curds from the whey. Then I think I ate the curds and put the whey back in the fridge. More details and instructions for producing whey are on page 87 of Nourishing Traditions.
Once I had whey ready in a jar back in the fridge, I then added locally grown organic beets to my next delivery of the organic produce box using the user friendly order customization interface (at az.naturesgardendelivered.com).
When I first started doing this in January I drank about a gallon or two per week of beet kvass so I could keep ordering beets every week in my produce box (and because it felt so good to have relief from post nasal drip). I ended up getting a urinary tract infection and passing 4 kidney stones one day because I had effectively replaced my water intake with beet kvass for several weeks.
This recipe is in the “Tonics and Superfoods” section, not the Beverages section of the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, and now I understand why. The Tonics section starts with this paragraph:
The following tonics are offered for their medicinal rather than epicurean qualities. They are useful for fasting and detoxification. Caution: Fasting should only be undertaken under a doctor’s supervision. Consult a qualified health practitioner for the treatment of all serious disease conditions.
I had gotten carried away and drank the tonic like it was water, which is why I got into trouble. So I took a month or two off from drinking beet kvass before making a new batch, which I only do once every other month or so now. I am careful to stick to a small cup of it per day (when I’m most congested) and drink plenty of water throughout the day now. Last night I had some after dinner because we had pizza.
We all had a wonderful holiday break from school and gained more first hand experience in healing ear infections then ever before. When the fevers and coughing turned into earaches and fluid draining from the ears of both our babies, we knew we had to do something. It came to a head when Hani refused to eat and was too weak and in pain to do anything but cry and be held (I think that was the day after the fluid started draining from one of Hani’s ears and both of Nickalus’ ears, as well as their noses). We had started putting garlic and mullein ear drops in their ears the day before but it wasn’t getting better, so we pulled out all our books (including the ones shown below), did some more research and came up with the following remedies that we used to help both our babies heal from their ear infections:
External Applications (in the ears, using cotton balls and Q-tips):
Turmeric, Hing (Asafoetida), Neem oil, Colloidal Silver with Tea Tree oil spray, and ear drops (Garlic and Mullein in an olive oil base). First, the colloidal silver with tea tree oil spray was used to sanitize the Q-tip that we used to clean the fluid out of the ear. Colloidal silver and tea tree oil are natural antibiotics and antiviral. Once the ear was clear of any noticeable fluid, we moistened a small cotton ball with the Garlic/mullein oil and with neem oil. Garlic and neem are well known for their antibacterial properties. Mullein is very soothing and takes away inflammation. After the cotton balls were slightly moistened with the oil, we rolled them in a mixture of turmeric and hing. Turmeric is antimicrobial plus has properties that heal skin tissue and decrease inflammation. Hing works like the garlic with its pungent smell to kill infection, but it also is very drying and helps to dry out the inner ear. We put these on cotton balls and put them in both babies’ ears, securing them with body tape.
Internal Applications (mixed with almond milk or water in a bottle):
Tea made by boiling water with goldenseal powder, hing, turmeric, trikatu, and honey in it. Goldenseal, although expensive is a very powerful natural antibiotic. It can be used both externally and internally in small amounts. Hing and trikatu (an Ayurvedic herb) works by increasing the body’s digestive activity to help boost the immune system. And turmeric again works like an antibiotic in the body. For every 2 cups of water or liquid, we used 1/8 to 1/4tsp of each herb. It is important to add the honey to this mixture when putting it in the bottle (don’t heat the honey). All of these herbs are very bitter and pungent (they don’t taste very good). We used Vanilla flavored Almond Milk bought at the store, so there was some sugar in this. If your child is under a year old and you do not feel comfortable using honey, you can substitute stevia or molasses. This tea or mixture helps heal the infections from the inside out and can be given when ever they want a drink.
Honey and Trikatu on a spoon is an ayurvedic home remedy for runny noses or productive (with mucus) coughs. Mucus builds in the digestive system first, before it shows up running out of a nose or rattling around in their lungs. Trikatu is a powerful herbal formulation that helps stimulate the digestive fire and dries up mucus in the digestive tract, boosting the immune system and enabling the body to get rid of the mucus. Adding a small pinch of trikatu to a spoon full of honey is an effective and quick way of getting rid of mucus in the lungs. The honey is essential, not only for taste (trikatu tastes like chilli pepper mixed with black pepper), but energetically honey brings the healing power of the herb to the lungs and upper body region. They work together to clear the digestive system and the lungs of mucus. Trikatu should not be used long term in children. Only for acute conditions and never longer than 5 days in children, the elderly, and pregnant women. The trikatu and honey combination can be given up to 3 times a day as needed.
Below is a picture of all the items (except the honey, I forgot to put that in the picture) we used to address the ear infections. We have access to the ayurvedic herbs – neem oil, goldenseal, and trikatu – because Candice is a medical herbalist. And if you want help locating these herbs, feel free to contact Candice through her website at phxherbs4kids.com. All these items are not necessary, but we had them on hand so we used them all:
Cut up Figs and Dates – figs are excellent for children, and dates promote health and vitality. They are also good during teething, as their texture helps massage the gums. During ear infections, the movement of the jaw chewing also breaks down mucus in the inner ear and allows it to drain, breast feeding also does this.
Almond Milk – we switched from raw goats milk to almond milk in their bottles to help reduce the amount of mucus involved during this time. If your child has lots of mucus, in the ear or lungs, it is important to avoid mucus producing foods; such as dairy products, cold foods and drinks, processed sugar, fried foods, and berries.
Rice Porridge made in a similar fashion as my oatmeal
The morning after putting all those herbs in the babies ears on cotton balls taped to their heads with body tape, we were excited to see them acting more like themselves again (see picture to the right). This was very encouraging, they began eating again and wanting to play. A couple days later we got rid of the tape (and some of their hair, we cut some to make the tape removal less painful) but kept using turmeric and hing to keep reducing the fluid that was still draining a bit from their ears (as well as the ear drops to ensure the infections get totally resolved).
As you can see below, they are recovering very nicely – their ears are a bit orange because of the turmeric, but that’s okay. We used these remedies religiously for 5 days. It is important to be consistent with this treatment. As we found, stopping the remedy for a day or two resulted in increased drainage from the ears, specifically from Nickalus. We are back to using the turmeric and hing on a Q-tip that had been sprayed with the colloidal silver/tea tree oil rubbed in the ear two times a day. We will continue to treat them until there is no sign of fluid.
For plenty more home remedies which will empower you to take control of your own health, click on the book pictured to the right.
The picture of Hani shows the molar he pushed through in the back during this episode – he’s also working on the molar on the other side and an eye tooth – sickness often comes during teething due to the stress on the immune system during that time.
This afternoon the kids were playing in the backyard and I had just opened the sliding glass door to plead with them to not take apart the travel cage for our rabbit that Candice bought this week. Eden (our 2 yr old daughter was near the door so I told her to watch out before I closed it. She stuck her fingers in just before it closed and they got smashed.
She started a constant panic crying at that point, so I brought her inside and gave her a couple homeopathic arnica pills (we call them “hurt pills”) but as soon as she had closed her mouth over them she continued her panic crying.
Her fingers were already swelling up, so I tried making a paste of turmeric and salt (recommended for swelling in the home remedies book – see link to the right) and she let me put a little bit on her fingers, but that didn’t seem to help (not right away, at least). Then I got a teacup, put a bunch of salt in the bottom, and filled it with almost hot water and told Eden to put her fingers in it. She did so willingly, and I could see a visible relief as she relaxed her shoulders and switched into normal crying mode.
After a few minutes, she began getting distracted and only cried when her awareness was brought back to her fingers since she had to stand in one place while soaking them (I would recommend using a mug rather than a teacup in this situation because the teacup kept falling over). After about 15 minutes she was playing in the water and it seemed like she forgot which hand got hurt. The swelling had already been reduced almost back to normal. So I told her to go wash her hands and get them dried off, and within an hour she was climbing and playing like nothing had happened!
One day last week I came downstairs and after skipping the last step with a toy on it I landed funny and strained my ankle. After a few minutes on my back I was able to get up and gingerly walk on it, so I made a mental note of appreciation for my MBT shoes (www.swissmasaius.com) that have strengthed my ankles for the past few years and went to bed. At about 3am I awoke in a great deal of pain and couldn’t sleep anymore. So I hobbled downstairs on my hands and one foot and got some ice. That was my first instinct because I was taught to put ice on all my injuries during my 16 years as a competitive gymnast. But after about 10 minutes I put the ice pack back in the freezer and decided to find out what else I could do, since the pain wasn’t much better.
I looked in my Ayurvedic home remedies book and read a recommendation about putting a healing paste (made by adding a little water to equal parts turmeric and salt) on sprains and strains. So I tried putting on a paste, and a few hours later I could walk on that ankle again gingerly. Then I tried another recommendation from the same book –
“To relieve swelling, soak the foot for 15 minutes in hot water with 2 tablespoons of salt per gallon of water.”
I did that around 6am, and my ankle was still yellow from the turmeric for awhile. But by noon I was walking normally with only slight sensitivity while carrying two of our children down the stairs. I was amazed at how effective these simple remedies were – my ankle is fine now.
Update (with another example): A few months later while my parents came to visit us, my dad twisted his ankle stepping down from their RV which was parked in our driveway. These remedies were fresh on my mind, so as he sat on the couch in pain I got a bucket of warm water with salt in it and gave it to him to soak his ankle (and foot) in. Then I made a paste of turmeric and salt, and after about 15 minutes I gave it to him to rub on his ankle. The next day he drove their RV a couple hours to a round dance event, and he was able to dance with only slight discomfort. By the following day he said he didn’t notice any pain in his ankle.