Category Archives: Caring for the Ill

Support for Seasonal Ilnesses

10151019349176860As always I refer readers back to my Caring for the Ill post for a primer on how to take care of sick family or friends. Last year’s flu post offered many additional ideas.  Please check those out.

As there are many reports of H1N1 circulating, I thought I should mention that elderberry is especially effective against the H1N1 virus. Elderberry is a traditional antiflu remedy which seems to work through the mechanism of binding with viruses before penetrating into the walls of cells, consequently preventing the their spread.. The authors of a study published in the journal Phytochemistry concluded that “the H1N1 inhibition activities of the elderberry flavonoids compare favorably to the known anti-influenza activities of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu; 0.32lM) and Amantadine (27lM).” (Bill Roschek, 2007, p. 1255)

Interestingly enough, the CDC did in fact formulate this year’s vaccine for the H1N1 strain, along with an H3N2 strain and a Influenza B strain with the Yamagata lineage.  It is pretty close to last year’s vaccine only the B strain is different and some people got a quadrivalent vaccine which included a  B strain of the Victoria lineage.   But the H1N1 strain still seems to rearing its ugly head this year, even amongst the vaccinated.

Fire Cider  Don't leave home without it.

Fire Cider
Don’t leave home without it.

RSV is considered a seasonal epidemic and that is what our family got hit with this year.   I have to say I prefer this one to last year’s norovirus, but it is still no fun, especially for very little children.    Steve and I managed to pump the fire cider and the Vitamin D and avoid becoming ill but it hit our poor kids before we knew they had been exposed.  Respiratory Synctial Virus (RSV) exhibits symptoms similar to a cold.  It does not respond to antibiotics and unlike influenza, there is no vaccine, so this one is one we have to learn to deal with.   Symptoms are similar to those of a cold- runny nose, sore throat, cough, earache.    Having been around it before,  I will say that this seems to be a particularly wicked strain causing significant symptoms in older kids and hospitalizing babies around here.     I found that the boys really experienced the most relief from their symptoms when they were kept in a steamy environment and given frequent lymphatic massages with our aromatic chest rub.

 I would really like to offer you a few additional tricks other than those I’ve mentioned in the aforementioned articles, that can be made with ingredients you can buy at the grocery store .

As you may  recall I  really prefer warm broths, for hydration.  Here is another  tasty broth that can be used to make soups for the convalescence period so you might want to double the recipe. Barley is a traditional restorative broth.

Barley Broth

1 chopped onion and 2 leeks
1/2 cup barley or steel cut oats
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried shitake mushrooms
coarsely ground sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 quarts wsater

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over really low heat. Stir in the chopped onion and leeks. Cook until the chopped vegetables are translucent and soft, but don’t let them brown. Pour in water and add barley, spices and dried mushrooms. Simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Turn off heat and let the mixture infuse for as long as you want. I usually make mine at night and let it sit overnight. Strain and serve in a mug.

baked lemon and honey For  sore throats…

The boys complained of a lot more of a sore throat than usually I’ve experienced with RSV, in the past,   but that could be because of pressure from swollen lymph, too.    Still it can’t hurt to mention that sage tea with lemon can be soothing to sore throat. 

You can also bake a lemon, spread it with honey and give it to someone to suck on.

Horehound candies are a traditional remedy for relieving inflammation of sore throats.

Another trick for fevers…

Finally I thought I would mention one last idea for fever support.  As I mentioned frequently in the past, I don’t suppress fever.  In fact, the immune system  functions most effectively, in preventing future reinfection,  at about 102 degrees, so I choose to support fever and attempt to minimize the discomfort that it causes.  In addition to using cool compresses, another traditional practice which can be used to pull the heat away from the head and upper body, is a calf wrap.    I would use rose vinegar or lemon juice for this.   You can make a quick rose vinegar substitute by mixing 1/4 cup rose water with 1/4 cup vinegar.  This is an old anthroposophic medicine trick that I learned possibly from the book You are Your Child’s First Teacher or one of the other Waldorf books I read when the girls were little.   

Calf Wrap

1.  Add 1/2 cup rose vinegar or lemon juice to a basin of warm water.

2.  Soak two long strips of cotton in the solution These should be long enough that you calf wrap them from the knee to the foot

3. Wring the strips of cotton until water no longer drips from them and wrap the foot and the leg up to the knee.

4.  Take long strips of wool and wrap the feet and legs again. This is another good use for old sweaters. For children you can just cut the arms off the sweaters and pull them over like a sock.   

5.  Position your feverish “patient” comfortably in bed and change the cotton strips out when they get cold.  If you would like you can lay something under the patient to protect the bedding from getting wet, but honestly the wool keeps most of the damp from seeping out.


Bill Roschek, R. F. (2007). Elderberry Flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry, 1255-1261