Friday, October 1, 2010

Treating Pertussis Naturally (And How To Get Rid Of A Terribly Nasty Cough Without Drugs)

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It is no secret that we choose not to give our children all of those routine vaccinations, with reasons stretching beyond the scope of this post.  So I suppose it should not have been a surprise to us that they should contract pertussis (aka "the whooping cough") from our natural living, anti-vaccinating farmer friends who were recently dealing with it in their own family.  I wish we'd have known it was going around just a bit sooner... 

Faced with one sick child, and 2 more showing beginning symptoms, we had to prayerfully decide how we were going to respond. Choosing to treat our children holistically rather than with a course of prescription antibiotics has proved to be a successful alternative for us.   After reading up on the disease as much as I could, I began to gather herbal antibiotics and other supplies to attempt a natural course of treatment, and it has worked.  Combatting pertussis in this way has been much more labor intensive than a routine dose of antibiotic, but I believe the results have been just as good (if not better), and the children are far better off not having their beneficial gut bacteria destroyed in the process! 

When it struck:

It started when Jude got a mild cold, then quickly became a cough that had a mind of its own..striking at will and often turning him red in the face as he would gasp for breath between "episodes".  These would last 6-8 seconds or so each time, and recur multiple times throughout the day, never ceasing to break my heart.  The nighttime hours were even worse, as the fluids would drain into his throat and cause even more trouble.  The girls were soon to follow, though thankfully upon starting our treatment rounds, all 3 of the kids have been able to limit their coughing to mainly nap and bed time, and Jude, after 3 weeks, is barely coughing at all.  Praise God!  It is said to last 4-12 weeks on average, so I am sure that the Lord and his natural treatment methods have certainly played a large part in their "rapid" recovery, even though it has felt like forever!  

My desire in sharing this story with you has been to bring glory to God, and to share with you what has helped to heal our clan while bringing symptomatic relief, as many of these remedies would work equally well on other types of coughs, colds, respiratory infections, and the like.   

Natural Remedies For Cough and Cold: 

Homemade GOOT Rub
This simple yet effective recipe has been our go-to during times where we just can't get the kids to swallow their "medicine".   Click here for my photo tutorial.

Honey- Straight off the spoon

Honey itself is a great alternative to traditional cough syrups, and much easier to take!  For the most health benefits, including antibacterial properties, honey that is raw (bought at a health food store or better yet, from a local bee keeper) is preferred.  All of the following recipes also contain honey, though glycerin could be substituted for use with children under one year.  

Antibiotic Cough and Cold Syrup
I use this primarily as our antibiotic, but it seems to help keep coughing at bay as well.

1/4 cup raw honey
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 entire bulb of garlic, peeled (locally grown has more potent antibiotic properties)
1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger root
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, as tolerated)

Blend all ingredients until as smooth as possible.  Store in fridge for 2 weeks.  May be given 3-4 times a day a tsp. at a time, and increased as long as no intestinal discomfort is noted.  I've heard it said that you should keep a steady stream of garlic in your system for a full five (5) days in order to attain its antibacterial effects.  My girls take this without a fuss, though my 1 yr. old is another story!  Not for children under one year.  Based on this recipe by Naima Manal.

Herbal Throat Coat/ Expectorant
*This recipe has been updated since the original posting.  I have slightly changed the amounts of herbs and now recommend simmering the slippery elm separately from the other herbs and then combining at the end.  This makes it MUCH easier to strain the remaining herbs and make a smoother, easier to take syrup!!*

This recipe is simple to make, despite its seemingly long list of ingredients.  I try to give the kids a tsp. or so after each coughing episode to soothe their throat passages, reduce inflammation of the airways,  help eliminate phlegm and prevent cough.  1 Tbsp. would be appropriate for an adult.   Mountain Rose Herbs carries all of these ingredients at a very reasonable price.  I'm glad to have them on hand for the coming winter months!

1/4 cup peppermint tea leaves
1/4 cup licorice root, cut and dried
1/4 cup lobelia
1/8 cup flax seed
2 cups water
4 Tbsp. vinegar
1 cup honey

1/4 cup slippery elm powder
2 cups water to mix with slippery elm powder

Combine all ingredients except honey, slippery elm bark and 2 cups water.  Simmer for two hours.   In a separate pot, simmer the slippery elm powder with additional 2 cups of water for 1 hour.  After two hours, strain out herbs from remaining liquid, then add honey and slippery elm powder/water mixture. This recipe makes quite a batch, but will last in the fridge for several months.  The original recipe by Mrs. Miriam Wengerd uses glycerin instead of honey, and is found in this book.  Next time I make this (which will be very soon, as I'm almost out), I will also add 1/4 cup of echinacea for its antibacterial properties. 

Elderberry Syrup

Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, this is a terrific immune booster.  Homemade with raw honey, it is very cost effective, holds antibacterial properties, and actually tastes good, too!  We all take several teaspoons of it a day.  My daughter always asks for more.  I am excited about using this as an alternative to the more expensive (and possibly controversial) use of colloidal silver.  

1/2 cup of dried elderberries  (also available from Mountain Rose Herbs)
1 cinammon stick (optional)
5 cloves (also optional)
1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
2 cups of water
1 cup of honey (raw if possible)

Combine all ingredients besides honey in a pot, cover and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat to a simmer, then leave covered until liquid is reduced by 1/2- usually about 20 to 30 minutes.  Strain into a bowl, pressing all the extra juice out of the berries!  Add honey.  Store in fridge for 2-3 months.  Here is a great video tutorial showing how it's done.

A few other helpful allies have included:

A Vicks humidifier.  I use olive oil in the top dispenser with a few drops of eucalyptus oil added, and it disperses throughout the room to relieve congestion and soothe little (or big) lungs alike.  

Fresh air whenever possible.  Though in my experience, the cool autumn winds have actually aggravated their coughs greatly.

A stethoscope.  Having one of these is a great way to keep check on my kiddos lungs, making sure I don't hear any raspy or wheezy sounds (an indication of pneumonia).  

Also, it is best to avoid all dairy products with the presence of a mucousy cough, as these tend to produce mucous in the body, and can make the cough worse.  

Cold beverages can shock the system and trigger coughing too, at least they have really done so with our kids!  I've been leaving the water out to room temperature which seems to help quite a bit.

Update 11/2/10- We just recently purchased a rebounder, and these are supposed to be fabulous for stimulating the lymphatic system.  Not only that, but they're great for those cooped up winter months!  (I can already tell it has been worth the money!!)

I hope this information has been helpful to you.  As always, I welcome your prayers for health and healing, and I pray you, too will be under His protective care! 

This post is part of the Home Remedies Carnival at Keeper Of The Home.