Hello, me hearties! Today’s topic came about because I’ve had two phone calls from friends in the last week regarding the same issue: the ugly, the dreaded, the hideous…strep throat. My friends called me to see if I might have some herbal remedy to get them (and their littles) through. With this in mind, I’ve put together some ideas for you this winter as you’re threatened with sore throats, colds, and whatever other kind of nasty thing buzzes around hopping from place to place through the cold months.
I am not a doctor, I am not an herbalist (“a” herbalist for the UK-ers as you prolifically pronounce the “H”) and I barely play one on TV (my Grandma's podiatry office thinks I am secretly Charlie from Revolution, they swear she is my twin and take pictures of me to send to their spouses. No autographs, please.), but I’ve read up on such things and have a few ideas.
Let me begin by saying that strep is horrid and you don’t want to mess with it. If you are concerned, you get thyself to your appropriate health care provider. I am not giving you physician advice. I am merely relaying information to you that may be useful in a stressful strep-throaty or other time of unwell-ness. So, basically, don’t sue me, I’m only here trying to help. Thanks.
Now. Down to business.
This first bit of help comes via my 99 year-old Grandmother. Yes, I said 99. Her mother before her was only 102 when she passed from this life to the next. I guess she might know a few things about life and this here world and this one comes hot off the presses from true vintage old-fashioned remedies. This will help you bust through your symptoms and if you have a regular old horrible torturous sore throat, it will eradicate it in a few days. I have not tried it yet with the strep variety, but I know it will help the symptoms of the generic awful sore throat type.
It is simply this – get a coffee mug, cover the bottom of it with a very thin layer of salt. I go for the kosher salt, personally. Fill up about 1/3 of the mug with distilled white vinegar. Fill the rest of the mug with the hottest water you can ever think that you might possibly be able to bear. Stir the concoction until the salt has dissolved and gargle that beast of a thing until you’ve emptied the mug. You can do this as often as you need to. I often find that at the end of this horrible taste combination (to me, anyway) is the benefit of actually having relief from the aliens who are living in my throat, ripping out the insides of it with diamond-tipped daggers and pencil-sharpened talons.
If you’re wondering why on earth this disgusting mix works, it is because of the two components and their vicious trauma that they inflict on the bad-guy germs. There is a theory that holds that germs/bacteria/things unfriendly to your body flourish in an acidic pH environment. An alkaline environment is inhospitable to them and makes them curl up into little balls and cry themselves to sleep. Or something like that. It is essentially a chemical onslaught of shock and awe to those nasties.
The other aspect, the salt, is the physical bully in the fight. At a near molecular level, NaCl (table salt) is very angular and sharp-edged. These are the lances, the daggers, the swords, the light sabers and the fists of the mini-world of germs. They do physical damage to the nasties, rendering them broken, sliced, decapitated and decimated. Good for you, bad for them.
The combination is a dual assault on the nasties-front. One point for the good guys.
Now some of you are reading and saying, wuh-wuh-wuh-wait a miiiiiiiiinute! Why don’t you just go get some antibiotics and get it over with? Yes, I know. Antibiotics do kill the bad streppies (and the other nasties), but some people don’t want to go that route. They want to avoid that if possible to attempt to keep their immune system stronger, etc. The long-term effects of repeated antibiotic use are disturbing (with all those super-germs and what-not) and some people nearly prefer the consequences of an illness to the possible consequences of taking prescription drugs. I am not saying that antibiotics are always the devil, but they really aren’t always Superman, either. (I thought I might explain, just in case you were wondering why on earth I hadn’t suggested this idea in the first place.) Antibiotics are a whole post in and of themselves for another time.
Meanwhile, back to the topic.
Sometimes you’ve got drainage with the sore throat thing – and if that’s the case, you better grab your Neti pot and clean that junk out. If you only have a blue plastic one, okay, but think about investing in perhaps a stainless steel or ceramic one. Antibiotics aren’t quite the devil, but plastic quite IS.
Thyme is a natural herb used to treat inflammation. (I actually steep thyme in witch hazel for a facial astringent to rid me of zit-ification.) When I had a crazy sinus infection, I took Fenu-Thyme and holy cowzers, that worked like a charm. It also made me smell like I was eating pancakes out of my armpits, but that’s another story.So check your local health food store for that herb mix capsule. Don’t go mixing stuff up yourself – herbs are very effective and I don’t want you getting sick from being haphazard and trying to wing it.
My naturopath had something called “Throat Spray”. I didn’t get it because I haven’t needed it (yet), but that might be something you want to check out. Great name, eh?
Another great help is garlic. Yes, you might like garlic bread, but I’m talking go ballistic on the garlic. Roast up an entire clove and pop that sucker in your mouth like it’s a Godiva truffle. You may end up smelling like a train wreck, but that baby is powerful and you will feel better. It can also be used preventatively, if you’re feeling just the eensiest bit like you might be coming down with something, hit it and you’ll be free and clear of the nasties (and probably other people since you may end up reeking, but at least you’ll feel well enough to go to the ball, Cinderella.).
Something you DO NOT want to do WHATSOEVER AT ALL is to consume sugar in any form. Stay away from the bacteria’s food like it is the bubonic plague. If I am ill’n, I do not drink juice, eat ice cream, inhale truffles, put syrup on my pancakes, eat sauce that contains sugar, sneak a cookie, or any form of the likes of that. Neither aid nor abet the enemy.
Some people have had good results with a combination of honey, cayenne and garlic. I am so overcautious that I’d say yes to the cayenne and garlic and skip the honey because it is sweet and I would be scared I might feed the nasties. Yes, I know, honey is anti-microbial and has wonderful properties, but I just personally go ultra-cautious on it and avoid it (since it’s in the sugar family) while I’m not well. Maybe that is idiotic, but that’s how I roll.
Something you can do to help build your immune system is to make some Bieler broth. It’s not broth in a traditional sense (because I think most people think of chicken/beef/bone, etc. when they think broth and this has none of those things). This is a combination of green veggies, somewhat steamed and put through a blender. You use the water it was steamed over so you are not losing any of the nutrients. It is made with zucchini, green beans, celery and parsley. Basically, you steam up some zucchini and green beans until they are ultra-bright green with an eensy bit of water. Put the celery and parsley in as almost an afterthought for a minute-ish then dump the entire pot into your blender (water included) and turn it into green sludge. If you’re doing it the true Bieler way, you don’t use salt, pepper, seasonings or anything. You just pull up your big girl undies and grin and bear it. I can tell you that this crazy green “soup” works like nobody’s business.
Another idea – kombucha. If I am feeling a little off, I drink a glass of kombucha and I feel better. This boosts your immune system and also fights on the side of alkalinity, so you get some extra bonus in there. This is great if you are having belly trouble. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve felt a bit odd in the gut and chugged a cup, made myself sit down on the couch and relax for half an hour and been back to my running around spaztical self within the hour.
Another immune booster and cough calmer – elderberries. A lot of health food stores sell them in dried form. They look like tiny peppercorns. You can make a cough syrup/immune booster with these little powerhouses. Dump in a tablespoon or so into boiling water and steep like tea. You can grate some ginger into it for your throat. Some people make it last longer by adding some alcohol as a way to preserve it. I keep this concoction in the fridge. A lot of people add raw honey to it, also. My favorite, Crunchy Betty, has a recipe for you!
Anyway, I hope that you do feel well throughout the winter (summer for my dear Australians), but if you don’t – see if you might feel a lot better using stuff you’ve already got in your cupboards.
However you slice it, be a good advocate for your own health. Don’t sit back and treat it like a train ride. Research, read and become well-informed so you can hop the bench and get in the driver’s seat.
Be well, my friends!
Peace, love and may you have victory over the nasties,