Now that we're preparing to enter into the season of the Procession of the Holy Cross, we, like our ancestors before us, will begin to pray for a healthy fall and winter. To make sure this is possible, we will stack the odds in our favor by stocking up on things for our family medicine cabinet. Every household will surely have certain things that they specifically prefer to keep on hand to suit their own particular needs, but here is a list of some of the things we like to have on hand in our home.
For the house:
*band-aids, all sizes, preferably waterproof
*isopropyl alcohol *antibiotic ointment / antibacterial spray
* burn spray *ipecac
* witch hazel *latex/plastic gloves
*tissues *roll of gauze and surgical tape & scissors
*cotton swabs/pads *herbal salve ( recipe to follow!)
*peppermints (for sick tummies) *allergy medicines and drops for itchy eyes
*epsom salts *coconut oil, for moisturizing and carrying oils * essential oils, especially frankincense, lavender, peppermint, tea tree, and euchalyptus.
For the car:
We take an old baby-wipe container and recycle it into a first aid kit for the car! One year for our summer ECF retreat, the children made these kits and enclosed a card, signed by each child, with a big sticker of a bouquet of flowers. The card stated that we had sent the recipient a "spiritual bouquet"! Father took these on his sick calls and distributed them to the sick of our parish as a gift from the ECF children. After we had made the kits, we prayed together for the healing of all those who would receive our gift! Here are some ideas for what to put inside:
* band-aids, all sizes
* antibiotic ointment
* Alcohol preps (smelling these can stop nausea in its tracks!)
* antisceptic hand sanitizer
* peppermints/ ginger candy
* gallon zipper bags with a paper towel tucked inside ( in the event that the alcohol preps don't work)
For the pantry:
In addition to the traditional pain relievers and cold /flu meds, there are several natural remedies that our family likes to have in place before the cold weather sets in:
*Slippery elm bark, to make tea for sore throats
* Hibiscus flowers, for making a gorgeous red tea with extra vitamin C! This is especially delicious with a little bit of lime or lemon and a some raw honey.
* Peppermint, dried for tea, not only to drink, but to make, and then breathe in the steam! It opens stuffy noses and clears clogged lungs! We like to mix 2 parts peppermint, 1 part dried sage, and a bit of orange rind. The addition of a few drops of various essential oils like eucalyptus and peppermint is an wonderful option. We place it in a large bowl, add boiling water and breathe deeply with a towel over the head until the liquid cools off and you cough like crazy!.
*Raw Honey for use as a cough suppressant as well as a way to introduce local pollen to our systems to ward off allergic reactions.
More Natural Remedies
Here are some more of the natural remedies that our family likes to have on hand in preparation for the cold weather season when colds and flu are threatening. These are all things that you can make during the Dormition Fast, then you might wrap and tag each one with instructions, make up a few little packages to hand out to family and friends when they are under the weather too.
Eucalyptus Shower Bombs Makes about 9 bombs These little tablets are very helpful when noses are stuffed and uncomfortable. Simply place one in the bottom of a hot shower to release the oils as it dissolves, and help open stuffed nasal passages. It is completely safe and will clean your drain as well!
In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups baking soda and 2/3 cup water. Add about 25-30 drops of eucalyptus essential oil and mix until the mixture resembles a thick paste ( looks like spackle, smell will knock your socks off...just warning you). Spoon the paste into muffin tins lined with cupcake papers and set out to dry overnight. In the morning, they should pop out of the tins and be able to be easily handled. ( if not, just dry one more day). We will make a big batch of these and wrap each one in its own little plastic bag.
Honey Lemon Marmalade You may think that our favorite use for this jam is on our toast in the morning, but no! We love to put a teaspoon of it into hot tea when we have come down with a cold. The lemon gives us some needed Vitamin C, while the honey is soothing on a sore throat. During the coming winter, you may put a jar of this in a basket with a box of your favorite tea bags as a get-well package for someone in need.
3 cups prepared fruit:
1 1/2 cups water,
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups sugar
2 cups honey
1 box powdered pectin
Using a box grater, shred the peel from the lemons into a large sauce pot, being careful not to get any of the white pith under the skin. Then add water and baking soda. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place 7 clean jelly jars into a pot of water and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Keep these hot at all times, removing from the water just before use. Section the lemons, reserving the juice, and place all of it to the pot with the grated rind. Simmer this for 20 minutes, then measure to ensure that there are 4 cups. Add pectin and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar and honey all at once, stir to blend and bring back to a rapid boil once again for one full minute. Remove from heat and ladle into hot prepared jars, fit with sterilized lids and bands and invert jars for 5 minutes. Turn the jars upright and allow to cool, checking to see that the lids have popped to ensure a proper seal before storage.
John’s Wort Healing Salve
Do you remember how we gathered these precious little yellow flowers on the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist back in June? The infusion we made with the olive oil has surely turned a wonderful, deep red by now and is ready for us to use to make a helpful healing salve. To make it, we strain and measure our oil to see how much we've got, then we put about one fourth of that amount of beeswax with it in a saucepan and slowly melt everything together on the stove over low heat. When it is melted, we take it off the heat and add a teaspoon or so of raw honey to the mixture (honey is known for its antiseptic properties and adds nicely to the smell of the salve!) and stir to combine. We then pour the salve into a container with a tight fitting lid to keep it until we need it. It is the very best winter skin moisturizer I have ever used and I plan to make a double batch this year just for that reason. In our house we have found that this salve usually heals little hearts and minds of injured little ones much better than it heals scrapes or injuries, and that there is much more peace of mind for the little patient who has made use of it! Truly miraculous indeed! ;)
When I was a child, my parents had a beautiful elderberry bush in our front yard. We used to take summer picnic lunches beneath its shade and pick and eat the tiny, beautiful, black berries. Little did we know that the berries contained so many immune-boosting compounds and vitamins! It’s no wonder we hardly ever got sick! When I became a mom I remembered these beautiful little berries from my childhood and incorporated them into muffins, pancakes and pear fritters for my own little ones; but just to be sure to keep their healthy benefits all throughout the long winter, we made some of this syrup to keep on hand and take by the tablespoon at the first sign of a cold.
1 cup fresh ripe elderberries, or ½ cup dried
2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger root
2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
1 star anise
3 whole cloves
3 cups water
1 cup raw honey Bring all of these ingredients, except for the honey, to a boil in a large pot. Reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Strain well, pressing out the berries, and allow to cool a while until only warm. Add the honey and stir to incorporate. Pour into a sterile jar and use by the Tablespoonful as needed. You can keep it refrigerated for about 6 months.
Honey-Lemon Cough Drops
These little drops are so very fun to make and eat that you may find that the children are coughing a lot more than usual when they know they are in the refrigerator! ½ cup coconut oil
½ cup raw honey
Zest of one lemon Place ingredients into a mixer bowl and whip until fluffy. Spoon into candy molds, ice cube trays or onto parchment paper, and refrigerate (or freeze for about 5 minutes) until hardened. Put the drops into an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator to use when you have a sore throat.