Well, it happened. We got the flu this year.
As in, my whole family.
As an herbalist, I do pride myself on very rarely getting sick as I am pretty healthy and have tools in my toolkit to keep myself and my family well. But this time, I missed the boat on my preventatives, immune system stimulants, and protocol upon getting sick.
So, here is the question... What did I do wrong and how can you learn from my mistake!
This year the general consensus was that the flu began with a cough and then a few days later moved to an upper respiratory infection with body ache, headache, and a very mild fever. It lasted 1.5 - 2 weeks.
So, here is what happened.
Wren, my 5-month-old got it first. Now, to be fair, she is going through the “I-now-know-how-to-cough-on-demand-and-it-gets-me-attention-from-my-grannies-so-I-am-going-to-cough-a-lot” phase; therefore, I missed her cough as a symptom.
By the time I knew something was up it was too late and had settled into a deep phlegmy cough in Wren. We started Honeysuckle & Elderberry Glycerite every hour and 2 x daily steam showers with Lavender and Tea Tree Essential Oils in the shower and diffuser and upped nursing to help with fluids. For me…well that was the thing. I didn’t do much. I juiced ginger with a little celery (normally does the trick) and did one or two shots of our fire cider and took one semi-hot-interrupted mustard bath but as the breastfeeding, sleep-deprived Mother of a first-time sick infant I really failed myself. (read: dehydrated, exhausted, and worried)
Of course, a few days later I got it and my husband followed suit.
Oh goodie! Our first family bug.
So what did I do wrong?
1. Sleep Deprivation — not that this could have been helped with a 5-month-old but sleep is KEY as we all already know. If you miss a few hours consider taking a nap at lunch or whenever you can to catch up because you CAN catch up.
2. Dehydration — Our first line of defense is our innate immunity or the stuff that we are born with that protects us from bacteria, viruses, and other not so good guys. The primary protective mechanism is squishy and well lubricated mucosal membranes. So drink water with added minerals to make sure that you are actually absorbing the water you are drinking.
3. Missing the onset — With Wren I should have noticed the cough and acted immediately to increase her fluid intake, start doing my infant chest rub, and doing steam showers with Tea Tree and Lavender to break up congestion and act as an anti-infective and expectorant.
4. Target the Area — It seems commonsensical but if you begin getting sick and you have a sore throat as the first sign get herbs to the area impacted. Do something like a throat spray, Nasya (Aryuvedic oil application to the nose to access the lower sinus and that above the tonsils), or a gargle. Cough? Go for herbs that are excreted through the lungs (i.e. poplar buds, garlic, elecampane) or essential oils that can be breathed in and are anti-infective like eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon, rosemary, etc. and steam showers/steam baths/humidifiers/ etc..
5. Target the symptom — This is where working with an herbal practitioner can be helpful. Working with herbals in a specific way that addresses actual symptoms such as…Is your cough dry or wet? Yellow, clear, or green phlegm? Is it unproductive? Is it causing you to lose sleep? These types of specific questions are HUGE in choosing the appropriate herbs as to get more effective results.
6. Dosages — When it comes to herbals one of the most common mistakes is not using the correct herb but also not using it in the correct dosage. Most anti-infective herbals (herbs whose action is to actively kill bacteria or viruses) need to be taken every hour or so in an acute situation. Immune stimulants can be taken every 2-4 hours. So, you can use the correct herb but the wrong dosage and get little or no results.
Sick and need some expert advice?
Did you get the flu this year?
What happened and what did it look like for your family?
Let me know!