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Treating Common Family Illnesses Naturally

(Disclaimer: The following is part of a handout that I give to my students in my classes on Natural Medicine at Portland Community College. They are general suggestions only and are not meant to take the place of seeing a physician. I often find that when my patients follow these, they tend to get better faster. I am including some herbs or homeopathics though they usually require more specific information to be properly used.)

Constipation - Coughs - Diarrhea - Earaches - Bruises - Insect Bites - Motion Sickness

Common Colds and flus

  1. to eat lightly and drink plenty of fluids - Give your digestive tract a rest so that that energy can go to your immune system
  2. At the first sign of a cold, stop all sugar and dairy
  3. Instead, increase fresh garlic, parsley, ginger and onion in your diet. Fresh ginger tea is an easy way to take ginger. Garlic parsley and onion can be added to salsa, hummus, guacomole (from fresh avocadoes) etc. My kids put the fresh garlic and parsley in toasted pita and eat it as a sandwich when they don’t feel well.
  4. For the sore throat: Gargle with salt and water. Or purchase a kids’ glycerite of Echinacea/(Goldenseal) and gargle with that. Makes a big difference. Goldenseal has antibacterial properties, so it should be used only with signs of infection e.g. yellow or green mucus.
  5. Warming socks (see hydrotherapy page on this website)
  6. Homeopathics: Here are just a few remedies to consider with a cold or flu.
  • Aconite – Aconite is the first remedy to think of when you suddenly come down with a cold. Flushed face, fever, anxious, thirsty for cold drinks.
  • Pulsatilla - whiny and clingy, bland and/or greenish mucus, stuffed up at night, and have most of their nasal discharge in the morning, propped up at night. Thirstless.
  • GelsemiumClassic slow onset of chills and fever with flu. Barely able to hold their eyelids up, weak and achey, don’t want to move. Not thirsty.
  • Arsenicum – This is one of the main remedies for the cold or flu that affects the stomach. Cold, restless, and have an irritating thin nasal discharge that seems to burn their upper lip. Diarrhea when sick, which can burn or be irritating to them. They may sip on several cups of tea.
Nutritional supplements: Vitamin A, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin C, and Zinc.

When to consult a physician:

If you have followed two or more of the previously mentioned suggestions and you still have symptoms after 7 days.

If your sore throat continues longer than 3 days.

If you have a fever longer than 3 days

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Be concerned and consult a doctor if there is severe, unusual pain with the constipation, if the stools are gray, white, or black.

  1. Eat roughage and drink plenty of water. Start adding more vegetables, beans, and whole grains to your diet. Too much dairy, sugar, and fruit juice are constipating.
  2. Laxative tea formulas. Drink some the night before and be patient. Senna and Cascara – use with caution and only if there are other herbs in the formula.
  3. Try the old standby - psyllium husks with 2 glasses of water.

When to consult a physician. If you haven’t had regular daily bowel movements for several weeks, and dietary changes haven’t helped, check with a Homeopathic physician who will help eliminate this predisposition to constipation. It is important to rule out serious intestinal conditions.

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Use a humidifier. Make sure it has been cleaned well.
  1. Use warming socks (See hydrotherapy page on this website)
  2. Avoid dairy, banana, orange juice, sugar, and peanut butter with a phlegmy cough.
  3. Herbal elixors - - 1 tsp every hour.
  4. Food – garlic, ginger, and onions
  5. Immune enhancer - Vitamin A, beta-carotene, Zinc and several 1000 milligrams of Vitamin C daily is another alternative.
  6. Teas for coughs - health food store or Fred Meyers - use two teabags several times a day for two days or until the cough responds.

When to consult a physician - If the cough is getting progressively worse and is not responding to anything you are doing, check with a conventional or naturopathic physician. Coughs can be a sign of many different and more serious medical conditions.

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  1. Diarrhea is frequently an intestinal bug – so treat it as such. In addition to stopping all sweets, eat salty, garlicky broths - chicken soup or miso soup if you are a vegetarian are great in these cases. A little fruit juice is fine as well. The broths help with replenishing fluid and the garlic helps fight the intestinal microorganisms.
  2. If the diarrhea is low grade but persistent, check with a doctor, it may be an allergic reaction to a food.
  3. Treatment for diarrhea –
  • BRAT diet for diarrhea – bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.
  • Eat acidophilus. Forget the yogurt kinds, except Nancy’s. They have so little acidophilus in them; they are not going to help.

When to consult a physician. Chronic diarrhea should be addressed by a physician, either allopathic or naturopathic.

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If you or your child are prone to ear infections and you feel one coming on, cut out the dairy and fruit juices and eat take immune protective food like fresh garlic, onions, and ginger.

  1. Do warming socks. (See hydrotherapy page on this website)
  2. Hot foot bath (See hydrotherapy page on this website)
  3. Alternating hot and cold cloths to the ear – (stimulate fluid in the Eustachian tube to flow and therefore reduce the pain
  4. Start on an immune enhancing formula
  5. Homeopathics: Here are a few to get started with.
  • Aconite – at the first sign of an ear infection after an exposure to windy cold weather,
  • Chamomilla – horrible pain, worse from warmth, the child will insist on being carried, amazingly discontent. It is impossible to please this type sick person.
  • Pulsatilla – a gentle, weepy, clingy person who prefers cold on the ear, is not thirsty, and feels better with a slight breeze as from open air or a fan set on low.

When to consult a Natural Medicine physician. If your child has had two or more ear infections, see a Natural Medicine physician to stop the cycle. Much can be done with herbs, diet, and homeopathy to avoid the antibiotic/ear tube treatments.

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Ice the bruise as soon as it happens. Twenty minutes/several times. I find that with kids, if you put a hot water bottle to their abdomens, they are better able to tolerate the ice to the bruised area. Homeopathic remedy Arnica internally and Arnica ointment topically.

Insect Bites:
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Clean the area where the insect bit you.
Put ice on it.
  • Bee stings are acidic so put alkaline baking soda on the site.
  • Wasp stings are alkaline, so put vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Place a slice of a potato on the area.
  • Make a bentonite clay/water paste and dab it on the painful area. (Bentonite clay can be purchased at most health food stores. Purchase the smallest amount possible as only of a teaspoon is needed per application.)
  • Calendula first aid ointment is great, too.

Homeopathically- These are the most common but not the only remedies used for insect bites.

  • Use Ledum when the area stung feels cold but the person wants something cold like ice put on the area.
  • Use Apis if the part is hot and the person wants cold on it.
  • Staphysagria is for large irritating mosquito bites.
  • If the pain is shooting up a limb, use Hypericum.

Motion Sickness
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  1. Crystalline ginger
  2. There are many wonderful homeopathics for this. I suggest that you borrow a book on homeopathy from the library or purchase one.

 Good Brands of Herbs

Eclectic Herbs - Gaia Herbs - Herb Pharm - Herbs for Kids – Source Natural - Wise Woman Herbals

Sources of information on Natural Medicine in general:

 Natural Medicine Chest



Fresh garlic, onions, parsley, ginger

Crystalline ginger

Hydrotherapy supplies

Cotton socks, wool socks, basins


Herbal cough elixors

Herbal teas: cough, constipation

Homeopathic Remedies

Aconite Arsenicum Cantharis Gelsemium Hypericum Nux Vomica


Nutritional Supplements

One bottle containing: Vitamin A, Beta carotene, Zinc and Vitamin C


Aloe vera gel Tea tree ointment

Arnica ointment

Calendula ointment






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About the Doctor

Dr. Juniper Martin
11825 SW Greenburg Road,
Suite A2
Tigard, OR 97223