Some friends are simply "forever friends". Those friendships that weather the highs and lows, the together and apart, the presence and absence, good, bad, ugly... Laura Camacho is one of those friends. Our friendship began in high school when we would sit at the coffee shop and talk for hours from the depths of our hearts, or spend afternoons in the kitchen whipping up healthy recipes, when "healthy" was so uncool in the high school scene. Today, Laura is a rockstar mama and natural health guru, sharing her wealth of knowledge and encouragement to other moms. 

Laura Camacho used to blog a lot about natural family living at http://www.HeyLauraWhat.com, but that has fallen by the wayside as life with two girls (and a boy on the way) has gotten more hectic. There's still a lot of great info archived there, and she still loves helping people find answers to their questions (feel free to email her or find her on Facebook!) 

We asked Laura to share some of her remedies to keeping immune systems strong during flu season. Here is what she shared:

I am a huge advocate of equipping the body to fight its own battles. The symptoms that most over-the-counter cold and flu medications “fight” are the very tools your body is using to rid yourself of the disease! Fevers, sinus drainage, and even feeling icky all have an important role to play in your recovery. The less you try to suppress them (for the most part), the better.

Increase water intake, rest, and sleep, and hand washing:

These common sense habits are still some of the most helpful things you can do for your body in order to beat out a bad bug (not to mention prevent illness in the first place!).

Garlic:

Garlic is an amazing and powerful herb! It is a natural anti-fungal, anti-microbial, and anti-bacterial agent - pretty much everything you need to fight off any illness. In order to release the healing properties of garlic (found in the phytochemical allicin), you need to crush a fresh, raw clove of garlic and let it oxidize for a few minutes before you ingest it. I like to crush it onto a piece of buttered toast, or into a mug of steaming miso or chicken broth. Since heat dissipates the healing properties of garlic, yes, you do have to consume it raw for all its amazing immunity boosting properties. I sometimes just cut up a clove and swallow it whole like a pill. I've even gotten my 6 year old to take a clove crushed up in a tablespoon of raw honey.

I also use garlic topically to combat illness. Its healing properties are absorbed through the skin and are quite effective. Since garlic has some pretty potent chemicals in it, you need to be careful to protect the skin from chemical burn. Lotion, Petroleum jelly, or even lanolin will work. I make a garlic salve out of the following ingredients:

 

GOOT recipe (Garlic Olive Oil Treatment): 
3 TB coconut oil 
3 TB olive oil 
3 TB FRESH chopped garlic
Melt coconut oil over low heat. Mix in the other two ingredients. Now, some people blend in a blender and then strain the bits of garlic out before storing it in a glass jar in the fridge. I personally just mix it all together with a spoon and then store it (no one in my family is picky about little chunks of garlic clinging to them). Goot can be stored for a couple weeks in the refrigerator. Put the Goot on the soles of your feet (which are great at absorbing), with some dedicated "Goot-socks" to keep it from spreading everywhere. If you’re fighting a cough or sore throat, slather it on your chest and neck. This is a great remedy for little kids, because it doesn't require forcing them to ingest anything.

Terrible Tea: 

I have converted many nay-sayers with my Terrible Tea. There are lots of variations out there, as it's a fairly common folk remedy. 

Here's my recipe: Laura’s Terrible Tea

 

Juice of one lemon
2 TB unpasteurized raw apple cider vinegar
2 TB raw honey 1-2 cloves of freshly pressed garlic
dash or two of cayenne pepper
1/2 c hot water
This has become my husband's go-to immunity boosting substance. He makes himself a mug of it almost weekly, as a preventative measure. I have even gotten my kids to drink it, if I omit the cayenne and double the honey! Raw honey is packed with anti-viral and anti-bacterial goodness, so I don't try to limit it like I do all other sugars when we are fighting something off.
Honey "Popsicles":

Speaking of honey, this is a great way to get a vital preventative into your kids. When someone in our family starts feeling "pukey" or we know we've been exposed to a stomach bug, out comes the activated charcoal. Activated charcoal binds to toxins in the body and escorts them out before they can get absorbed. I empty a capsule of powdered activated charcoal into a small bowl, mix it up with a spoonful of raw honey, and pop the spoon into my child's mouth. It tastes like a great treat and is delivering vital goods to the gut.

“Special Socks” and Castor Oil Packs: 

These are two awesome tricks my Naturopath taught me. Here’s a link to both treatments (http://www.drstadtmauer.com/Articles/Articles%20folder/Hydrotherapy_Art.html). Definitely check them out! He explains what they do and why they are useful. Our bodies are made for self-healing, and these simple remedies can really aid its fight against the bad bugs.

Gypsy Cold Care Tea:

I adore this tea. Nothing makes me feel more soothed and taken care of when I’m sick than a hot cup of Gypsy Cold Care Tea with a generous dollop of honey. It’s slightly sweet, slightly minty, and very restorative.

Chestal Cough syrup:

This children's homeopathic cough suppressant from Boiron is simply the most effective cough syrup I've ever used.

Essential Oils:

I could write another whole post about the amazing uses of essential oils in immune boosting! I diffuse them in a candle burner or drop into a hot bath, cleanse our surfaces with homemade sprays, as well as use them topically and internally. My favorite oil mixes for cold and flu season are called Thieves and R.C. from Young Living (I can usually find what I need on Amazon). Not all essential oils are equal; you do get what you pay for. I appreciate that Young Living's oils are up to therapeutic, food grade standards.

Last but not least...

My biggest advice is this: Find a Naturopath. This has been life-changing for me. The philosophy of alternative medicine is to work with the body’s natural defenses to improve immunity and overall health. Unlike allopathic (or Western-minded) medicine, which tends to just focus on and treat symptoms, alternative medicine considers the entire body, mind, and spirit as it seeks to aid in healing. This holistic approach really speaks wisdom to me, and my body has responded very well to its practice!