Thursday, December 17, 2015

Onions Are "Owesome"!

Believe it or not, I abhorred onions until very recently. Yes, my war on onions goes way back to a most unfortunate meal I ate right before a class that led to some very embarrassing stomach gurgling *shudder*. Oh yeah, I HATED the mere sight of a slimy, smelly onion. Of course that all went out the window after I had kids and dealing with these smelly bulbs joined the ranks of the many (many) sacrifices I have made as a mother.

I have mentioned the healing power of onions a few times in previous posts but recently I used them for K's chesty cough and was again amazed at their power!

Onions, which are high in sulphur compounds (sulphur rich foods are noteworthy for helping the body to detox) are naturally anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. If that didn't persuade you, here are a few different ways you can use onions to alleviate common childhood ailments:

The Onion Poultice for Coughs/Lung Congestion

This remedy is a miracle! I know I say that a lot but such is the power of natural remedies. In the case of lung congestion, for e.g with bronchitis or pneumonia, the secretion-inducing power of the onion = much needed relief! There are a couple of different ways of making it, depending on the type of cough.

For a dryer cough, slice up a raw white/yellow onion, (red works if you don't have any other but ideally white or yellow) warm it up slightly in mildly heated oven and lay it in a piece of muslin or cheesecloth, wrapping up to make a pack. Bounty works too! Use medical tape to secure and then again to secure it to your child's chest and watch the coughing dissipate! Inhalation of the fumes of the onion are what work to make this an effective remedy.

For a junkier cough, slice the onion and simmer it in a little water until soft. Drain and make it into a pack apply to your child's chest, as above. This method enables more of the liquid to be absorbed through the skin and therefore has more therapeutic effect; this is needed for a more serious infection and when there is a lot of congestion.

Onion Honey Cough Syrup

Another cough remedy can be made by combining raw, yellow/white onion (preferably organic) with raw honey. You basically slice the onion and layer each piece with some honey in a bowl. Let it sit for several hours/overnight and voila! You have a homemade cough syrup that tastes good and is remarkably efficient in calming that icky cough. Add in a little thyme &grated fresh ginger and you're packing an even stronger punch! (although younger kids might not take to the taste as well)

Onion Juice For Ear Infection

You can also use the onion's antibacterial properties to heal an ear infection and lessen the pain. Squeeze out some juice after heating the onion in an oven - you only need a few drops. Use a medicine dropper to administer and make sure the juice is not too hot! (exception: if the ear is leaking fluid/pus then it is likely that your child's drum is perforated in which case you should not put any liquid inside the ear).

Onions for Sprains

Use an onion poultice to treat a sprain! Similar to the remedy above for a cough, heat some slices of onion in an oven or in a pan with a little water, wrap into a cheesecloth and apply to the sprain, leaving on for a couple of hours.

And here's the kicker....

Onions For Insomnia

I would have laughed at you if you told me onions could help you sleep. L-A-U-G-H-E-D. Jeer not, my friend, because this truly works. Every time I used the onion poultice on  my kids, I realized that they would go to sleep in a jiffy, much easily than the otherwise tormenting hour of constant fidgeting. Just this past couple of days, when I applied an onion pack on K's chest, I noticed that he would sleep really quickly. Intrigued and determined to prove J's jeering wrong ("yeah, right" he said), I started to do some research and found that smelling an onion before sleeping is actually conducive to sleep. Seriously!

Leaving you with one of my favourite parenting mantras  "Stay in your lane"  or when I have my French hat on (and I'm a tad irritated with my little ducklings):

MĂȘle-toi de tes oignons!

(which means "Mind your Own Business" but let's just go with the literal meaning which is "Mind Your Own Onions....)


Friday, May 1, 2015

C Is For Colic But Catnip Too!

Ah the joys of having a newborn with colic! Crying, colicky, cranky, cantankerous, complaining critters! (can you tell that my kids are studying alliteration in school at the moment?). Colic is, by far, the most talked about baby ailment out there and one that drives poor newbie parents practically insane. Actually, it probably drives not-so-newbie parents insane as well. 

What is it?

Merriam-Webster defines infant colic rather unhelpfully as "a physical condition in which a baby is very uncomfortable and cries for long periods of time". Gee, thanks. That's very useful information. Add to that the equally unhelpful input from pediatricians saying that the cause is "unknown" and you've got very frustrated parents & an even more frustrated baby on your hands

What can I do about it?

Fear not, newbie & non-newbie parents for there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel! Here are some tips for helping you & baby get through those seemingly endless periods of continued crying (I'm overdoing the alliteration):

#1 (and my most favourite) Catnip & Fennel Extract 

This was a lifesaver for me when baby K was born. Even though he thankfully didn't cry for very long periods of time, he did give us a hard time before sleeping and was very difficult to calm down at bedtime. Just a drop of this wonderful extract in some water/breast milk/formula and he would stop crying instantly and nap for longer periods of time. Catnip, a herb, is known for its calming properties as well for promoting digestion and relaxation so it's a perfect remedy to have on hand for a baby. Fennel, which I've mentioned in previous posts, is also a wonderful carminative and helps expel gas. You can take the extract yourself if you are hesitant to give to baby although in my experience, colicky periods were, for me, the one exception to the exclusive breastfeeding rule.

# 2 I Love You Massage

Promoted by Dr.Sears, this neat little trick also helps babies expel gas (& poop, so beware!) and can help relax their tummies. The premise is basically outlining the letters I, L & U (get it?!) on baby's stomach in a clockwise direction. Warm up a little bit of olive/almond oil and for an extra oomph, add in a drop of lavender essential oil in between your hands and start below the navel right above the diaper. Trace the letter I upwards from below the navel and then again, but this time moving across the top of the baby's tummy after to form a letter L. Lastly, you trace an upside down U, starting again from below the navel going up to the top of the tummy and coming back down again. Do this a few times and be amazed at the explosion that follows!

#3 Homeopathy

Homeopathy can be tricky because remedy selection is key and with babies, it's often hard to discern one symptom from another. However, find the right remedy and the results are fantastically quick! Here are a few of the more common colic remedies but it's always best to buy yourself a Homeopathic Materia Medica/Repertory and look up all your child's symptoms to identify the right remedy. I always give my kids their remedies in water and if after a couple of doses there is no difference, then select another remedy.

  • Chamomilla - keynotes are anger/throwing things, one cheek red & the other pale, unbearable pain, grass green stool and better when carried but only temporarily. 
  • Colocynthis - baby is doubled over with pain and draws legs up. Firm pressure on the stomach helps as does passing a stool.
  • Dioscorea - this is the opposite of Colocynthis since babies who need this remedy arch back like a banana with the pain. They are better upright and from stretching out.

Let's change those cranky, complaining critters into calm, collected children shall we?!


Monday, April 27, 2015

Every Cloud Has A (Colloidal) Silver Lining!

The title of this post fits me to a T and holds more meaning for me than the name suggests! I am a sworn optimist and so looking for the positive is what I do but more importantly, having a range of natural remedies at hand when my kids are sick (being a need-to-be-prepared-in-every-situation type of gal) just makes me feel even more positive. Of course the pun on the word silver was the icing on the cake and we all know how much I love cake. And icing.

So, when my naturopath recently recommended a product called "Argentyn 23" to help kill any nasties in my body that were causing hives (long story, separate blog post warranted!), my mommy antenna perked up and started doing the rounds to see how I could incorporate it into my first aid box

Colloidal Silver (the word colloid means a solution in which particles, in this case silver, have been dispersed and do not settle) has been used for many, many years as a natural antibiotic. In fact, physicians used to use silver to cure infections until antibiotics were invented and in ancient Rome & Greece, people stored liquids in silver containers to prevent spoilage. Silver lost its popularity in the 1940s with the advent of antibiotics since those were easier to use and had a longer shelf life. In recent years, however, silver has regained its popularity due to the discovery of new ways to extend its shelf life and the improvement in ease of use.

Despite its efficacy, there has been a lot of controversy about using Colloidal Silver, primarily due to the fear of it causing 'argyria', a condition that causes the skin to turn blue. Fear not, my friend as this product will not turn you into a Smurf!!! My reading/research has shown that this only happens with Colloidal Silver 'imposters' and that too at very high levels of ingestion which go far beyond the recommended dosage. Always use a reputable company/brand but if you are still cautious, do not give it to your child daily as a preventative and instead limit use to when you are in need of fixing a stubborn infection. One of the biggest pros of this product is that it has no taste. When your child has high fever and dosing with garlic, GSE or even Vitamin C is hard, this is a very good quality for a natural remedy to have! You can even give "Argentyn 23" to toddlers (I would not give it to a child under 1) and just limit the dose to 1 drop a few times a day when they are really sick. I recently used it to help Z get over a chest cold and it cut her illness time in half, not to mention she took it happily vs. the garlic honey I usually give that makes her run for cover!

What I really loved about the silver though was the fact that you can also use it topically for a range of ailments. Drop a little into ears for an ear infection, a little into the eyes for conjunctivitis, put some on eczema patches to help heal the skin and I have even heard from some mothers that they used it to heal their children's yeast infections!

Leaving you today with a recycled quote from Gandhi :-)

"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold or silver" (unless it is of the colloidal kind)

~Silvery S~

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Why, Wet Socks Of Course!

I feel like these past posts, few as they have been, have all started with an apology for not posting very often! Needless to say, with 3 kids, a full-time job and a household to run, it's been slim pickins' around here for moments to quietly sit, reflect and write. I can't even use the restroom in peace, people! Still, here I am today, sitting on my laptop among the chaos that is spring break, (seriously, who decided that kids needed that many holidays from school??) determined to pound out at least a few paragraphs of pearly wisdom. Stay with me!

We've had a bit of a rough winter on the East Coast this year. Lots of snow, chilling temperatures and to rub it all in, it's mid-April and Spring seems to be waving from around the corner and then disappearing into the shadows again. All this makes for a germ fest extravaganza that my 3-child-body just doesn't have the stamina to deal with. Oh yes, the slogan "Winter is Coming" has taken on a whole new meaning in this household which is why my most recent discovery, the Wet Socks Treatment, has me dancing up and down in joy. Yes, you read correctly, wet socks. No, that's not figurative, it's literal. No, the word wet does not have another meaning in this context. Yes, it involves wearing wet socks. Intrigued?! Read on......

Z got her usual bout of chest cold when the chill set in last November; unfortunately we were on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean and despite bringing along my handy, dandy 'tools', she was miserable and of course that meant so were we. On a side note, a cruise is the best place to be with a child that is sick because all your entertainment and food are a few (indoor) steps away :-)

Sorry, I digress. Back to the socks. Where was I? Ah yes, I tried all my faithful remedies but they all let me down. Z had high fever and the chills for a couple of days and I was getting desperate. My mind started to work overtime and I remembered reading about a treatment on several holistic blogs. The reason it was so suitable for this situation was the sheer simplicity of it - all I needed was a pair of cotton socks, a pair of woollen socks and water. If you're all out of your favourite natural remedy and you have a sick child who's miserable, this treatment is a GODSEND!


  • Run a pair of thin, cotton socks under very cold water, wring out and keep in the freezer for a few minutes or alternatively you can keep them soaked in ice cold water and wring before putting them on
  • Warm your child's feet in hot water or give them a hot bath for at least 10 minutes (this step is essential, don't skip! See below for reasoning)
  • Slip on the wet socks immediately followed by the woollen socks
  • Send your child straight to bed for the night with both sets of socks on & a thick blanket (and go have that piece of chocolate cake you so need right now, ooh try this great recipe for a mug brownie, courtesy The Pin Junkie)

In case you're wondering why you would be stupid enough to put a pair of cold, wet socks on a sick child, let me be quick to explain. The coldness of the socks activate the body's circulation so that it works hard to warm the feet and in doing so, stimulates the immune system and white blood cell count to fight whatever yucky germ it has been invaded by. Also, IT WORKS!!!! I have tried it numerous times since that awful, November day and have had success with it each time. It is best employed as soon as you see signs of a cold or flu set in and most effective when done for a few nights in a row. My kids actually ask for it now! The warmth of soaking their feet in a bucket of hot water relaxes them (you can add essential oils of lavender or chamomile to help) and they get a complete kick out of wearing the cold socks too! The coldness doesn't last more than a few minutes, that's how quickly the body kicks itself into action and it's not uncomfortable at all (trust me, my kids would be screaming bloody murder if it was).

You can try this for fever, congestion, respiratory issues - for any time your child needs an immunity boost really!

Don't be 'a wet sock',  put one on instead!


Update 4/27/15: For those of you with children under 2, you can try this method too with a slight modification! My naturopath recently gave me a handout that explained how to do the wet sock treatment with younger children. Instead of soaking your child's feet in a hot bath, you basically put on 'warming' socks first (thin socks in hot water, wrung out) and cover with the woollen socks for 5 minutes and THEN put on the cold socks followed by the woollen socks before putting your child to bed for the night. If however you see that the socks haven't warmed up after an hour or so, take them off and give your child's feet a vigorous massage to warm them up again. I can't wait to try this with K!