I’m not a doctor. I don’t even pretend to be one on TV, but I do love to make a good self-diagnosis. In fact, I pride myself on being better than Google when it comes to diagnosing an illness. Google takes you straight to your death bed, but I prefer a slightly more optimistic approach.
When my children were young, at the age when brainwashing by parents is perfectly acceptable, they believed in my care. My daughter has been drawn to medicine since she was a small child, as have most of the matriarchs of my family. That “white lab coat” gene has been passed down for generations. Although a license to practice medicine is not immediately gifted upon birth, we haven’t let that stop us from self-diagnosing and treating common illnesses. For a while my kids believed my mother was a legitimate doctor. It’s that whole brainwashing thing…we do it well.
For all these years, the primary difference between the doctoring of my ancestors and my own medical skills is that I would merely diagnosis while my family used home remedies that would make a witch-doctor proud.
If my throat hurt, my grandmother would open the freezer. I thought I was getting an ice-pop, but before I knew what was happening, a slab of frozen salted pork would be pressed to my neck. I don’t think the frozen pig drew the poison out of my throat, but the cold definitely numbed the pain. My own kids are so lucky I used ice-pops.
Another favorite home remedy was similar to a hot toddy. At the first sign of a cough, a Tupperware container would appear and I would get a spoonful of honey, lemon, and a shot of something that came from a bottle hidden on the top shelf of a dark cabinet. A cough was my constant companion as a child, subsequently I’m pretty sure I spent at least half of my young life with an elevated blood alcohol level.
My kids have no idea what they have escaped.
As I age, I find myself drawn to home remedies. While the salted pork is just too gross to repeat, I’m not against trying some ancient wellness rituals, as long as they have a modern, less gross, and hopefully safer twist.
Here’s how we do winter wellness on the fringe.
I believe in a good multi-vitamin. In a perfect world, a world where I was a good cook, all of our vitamins would come from food, preferably organic, locally sourced, and nutrient dense food. I don’t live in a perfect world and I’m not that great a cook. We take our vitamins and do our best to eat real food, the kind that grows on actual plants. In our busy culture, fast food has become a staple in our diets. I think it’s killing us. I’m not an expert on nutrition, but I know that when we eat better foods, we feel better.
- Fresh Air
This may seem simplistic, but breathe fresh air. I’m always amazing at how many people never crack a window in the winter. It’s not healthy, in my totally unqualified opinion. I believe in fresh air. I know that air is mostly frozen in winter, but that’s okay. It’s better than the stuffy, stale, germ infested air that’s been trapped and recycled through your house for months. Put on a sweater and crack a window. Air the place out.
My kids have been properly brainwashed, so every time they clean their rooms, which isn’t often enough, they open their windows. It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside. In fact, the colder the air blowing in, the better.
This goes along with the whole fresh air thing, but we get loads of Vitamin D from the sun, and did you know that Vitamin D helps protect you against the flu? It does.
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. Take everything I say with a grain of salt. This is what I believe helps my family, but I also believe in unicorns and the tooth fairy, so you see where we’re at.
- Emergen C
I love this stuff, and I’m not getting paid to say how much I love it. You can buy a box of thirty packets in Walmart for under $10. You dump the packet of powder into a bottle of water and drink it up. It’s loaded with Vitamin C and B Vitamins. Lately, I’ve been making my family drink one every morning. I do this when sicknesses are going around, and there’s no time like the present to up our vitamin intake. It doesn’t taste that bad and it’s a real boost. It makes you feel better than a cup of coffee in the morning.
*Pick your jaw up off the floor.*
- Essential Oils
I’m totally a latecomer to the whole essential oil fad, but I’m a true believer. I purposely avoided them for years. On purpose. I thought it was cooky and I didn’t want to waste my money.
Now I use a variety of oils, both topically and diffused, especially in the winter. I think of oils like I think of vitamins, fresh air, and sunshine. It’s not a cure, but it helps give us a natural boost.
I’m a big fan of doing something, no matter how small, rather than doing nothing. I can pretty much apply that philosophy to every area of my life.
- Mind over Matter
I’m not attempting to say we can think ourselves well, because that’s ridiculous, but I do believe our mental health affects our physical health. I believe in supporting good, positive mental health just like I believe in taking vitamins to support physical health.
Do whatever you have to do to get yourself mentally strong and supported. It’s part of the whole health package, and it’s always okay to say you need help or someone to talk to. We all do from time to time.
- Exercise & Sleep
Okay, this may seem hypocritical coming from me, but as little as I actually exercise, I do believe in it. And, despite how I may look, I do make an effort to move and move often. I don’t think exercise has to look like a gym membership, but getting off your rump is a good thing. Just move your body. Do whatever you like to do to get moving. It helps blood flow, lowers blood pressure, boosts happy endorphins, works out the kinks in your muscles, and helps you sleep better.
Make sleep a priority. I’ve been working on this, although it hasn’t gone so well. I honestly don’t think my body requires tons of sleep, but we’re all different. I think sleep is really important for overall health and well-being.
So, what kind of weird and wacky home remedies does your family use? I’d love to hear all about them. Maybe I can add one or two to my arsenal. My family will be so pleased.
Not really, but they put up with my germaphobic fussing.