Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Self-Reliance in Cold and Flu Season

I just had a driveway conversation with a neighbor, and he mentioned how upset one of his granddaughters was about a recent doctor's visit with her children. At a $25 deductible for each child , plus $40 medicine, plus the huge insurance fees they already pay regularly -- it was discouraging. You feel pretty helpless, because your kids are sick and your only alternative is a doctor's visit and all the money that comes with that. There is no choice. You're stuck. My own personal experience was much the same before I learned some of the basics about integrative medicine in a series of local classes.

I'm going to tell you the way our family has managed to have our two youngest children never take an antibiotic and our two oldest sons only take antibiotics once each in 15 years, which my daughter discovered in one of her college classes, is a rare thing, indeed. I look at using herbs and other alternatives as one of the most important things we do in our family to be self-reliant. My first thought now is always, "What can I do at home to fix or improve this health issue?" Be assured that we do get sick, just like everyone else, but how we respond is a bit different now than when I was in that young mother's shoes I mentioned. If you're having money problems or just want to learn to be more self-reliant, you might be interested.

At first sign of a sniffle, my youngest daughter now goes to the cupboard and takes a capsule of echinacea, some vitamin C, and an herbal respiratory medicine I buy in the health food store -- usually one of Dr. Christopher's formulas, such as Resp-Free or Sinus Plus. She takes these three times a day, and I have her increase by a capsule or two if she feels things are not getting better. (Echinacea is an immune system enhancer, and you can buy it even in local grocery stores.) When the kids were young, we gave them these things (or children's versions for the same purpose) in a liquid form -- of course, we followed the directions on the packages.

If she keeps getting sicker and it looks like she might be getting an infection (sore throat, etc.), my daughter chops up a bud of raw garlic, puts it in a spoon and swallows it with water -- never when she is going to be around people, for obvious reasons. Garlic is not social! When the kids were younger, we'd put the minced garlic in some honey and they'd eat it.

I know, I know. Raw garlic seems extreme and more than a bit "weird". I thought so, too. My cheap genes won me over, plus it actually worked, which surprised me. Consider the cost of a bud of garlic versus a capsule of a prescription medicine or even standard over-the-counter medicines. Consider, also, the peace of mind of always having on hand just what you need for most of those respiratory illnesses and not having to take sick children to the doctor or to wait, but instead to be able to act at the first sign of a cold or flu. We take the raw garlic three to four times a day (similar to an antibiotic dose). I don't know the ins and outs, but I understand that garlic has antibiotic properties. Again, no raw garlic if we have to be around people outside the family. :) We'll sneak in the garlic in the afternoon and evening on those days or take some chlorophyll, which is a natural deodorizer (also available at the health food stores).

Yes, you will see my daughter cough or sneeze and have a runny nose, just like everyone else -- ask the kind sister who supplied a handful of tissues to my daughter on Sunday. The herbs, however, allow her body to overcome the virus without getting the secondary infections and with none of the side-affects of standard medicine. The virus runs its course (usually in a few days) and it's done -- no doctor's visit and no expensive prescription. If we realize quickly enough that we are getting sick and take those herbs I mentioned three times in a day, then we usually do not get sick. If we wait even an hour after we first feel the signs of a cold, then we do get sick, but we use the herbs. I hasten to add that if I feel prompted to go right to the doctor, that's where we head.

What I've told you above has saved our family loads of money. The herbs do cost something, but you can usually get them a lot cheaper than the store price you usually see. You can 1) watch for them to be on sale locally and stock up, or 2) go to a website and order. (Be sure to check out the shipping charges and makes sure the site is secured for a credit card. Usually, even with shipping, it's cheaper online.)

As the debate about the health care system rolls on, I have become more and more aware that no matter what is decided, for both the health of my family and the finances of my family, I need to learn more that will keep us out of the doctors' offices more often, beyond eating fresh veggies and exercising. It's just realizing that, yes, you do have a choice, after all, and you are not stuck. I have decided to learn more and be more proactive (aka "self-reliant") in helping my own family.

Thank heavens for doctors when we need them! I just hope that if I learn more, I won't need them as often. I've proven to myself over 15 years that I actually can do a great deal, in ordinary illness, to help my family. The results speak for themselves.


Bonnie said...

Great post!

Heather said...

You're awesome! Love the post and can't wait to apply it in my family. THANKS A BUNCH!!!