Cambrian: Opinion

Tips for dealing with ‘The Crud,’ naturally

Dianne Brooke
Dianne Brooke

There is an awful lot of “The Crud” going around right now.

First let me say that whatever I say here now is in no way a replacement for trained medical experience. I have none, but my own experimentation and readings and conversations on which to base this. That said, I’ve been studying herb lore since I was a kid and heard Euell Gibbons espousing the virtues of the pine tree, and then, as a teenager, with my first copy of “Living on the Earth” by Alicia Bay Laurel. That book put me in the mindset to have my babies at home and to live simply. It was the early ’70s.

I have a lot of folks ask me about herbal remedies, and I’m happy to research them out if I don’t know offhand. I have the world at my fingertips now with the Worldwide Web, but one needs to know not only what herbs do what, but how to differentiate between well-practiced suggestions and simply heard-it-somewhere types of reports. I check probably at least 10 or more sites before deciding what might work best. It goes much deeper if you follow Ayurvedic principles, finding your Dosha and which treatments will work on whom. Just as in allopathic medicine, not everything works for everybody the same way, but you need to start somewhere.

First things first, soap and warm water. Wash your hands and keep them away from your face. Attitude is HUGE: It wasn’t until I got in a mental slump (depression) that I contracted bronchitis a few years back. I’ve never been prone to much illness, nor were my kids. But that weakness in my armor let in the big bad bug. If you feel it coming on, reframe, “I’m coming down with something” to “I’m fighting it off!” Words are strong medicine.

Next biggest would be being aware of your body. Whether you prefer to use products out of your garden or run to your MD, getting a jump on illness will often nip things in the bud or at least shorten the duration. Especially with homeopathics, one needs to take them at first sign of a tingle, a twinge, a shift in your deep energy.

When I was a child, I got the measles — twice. I was the only one of four who didn’t get their tonsils out so I had to build up immunity to stuff. However, over 13 years in radio and working said tonsils out daily, I was a little prone to throat maladies. Honey. Honey and raw vinegar in warm water. Warm salt water gargles (one of my mom’s standbys). All good for throat discomfort.

Try a teaspoon of ground sage and a teaspoon of ground Echinacea in a half-cup of boiling water in a covered glass cup or jar. Covering helps keep medicinal constituents more intact. Pour this into a small glass spray bottle to treat your throat every two hours as needed. This recipe actually calls for alcohol (one half-cup), but you needn’t do that if you’re adverse to it.

Marshmallow and licorice root are good throat soothers. Throats and stomachs can benefit from ginger tea: Pour four cups of boiling water into a large jar; grate fresh ginger, some honey and a squeeze of lemon into it and cover. Steep at least 10 minutes. Can drink warm or cold.

Neti pots are a constant recommendation from me, and I just found a Neti pot “booster” at the market: a blend of herbs in a nonalcohol base to add to the salted water in your pot. This technique for moistening and cleansing your sinuses is admittedly a little weird at first but, doing it daily is not a bad thing, especially in cold and flu season!

If it’s already moved into your chest, I find that continuing with the other remedies but adding a good steam helps. Simply put a cup or so of water into a sauce pan and add a drop or two of essential oil (EO). Eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary are all good choices.

A word on essential oils: Read your lables! Many things come cut with added vegetable or nut oils. Depending on your application (aroma therapy or topically applied), this may or may not work. Some people have sensitive skin and should always mix EO’s with some oil. For inhalation, straight is better. Lean in carefully over the steam from the pot, so as not to burn your face! Some people put a towel over their heads. You don’t have to. Breathe in as deeply and slowly as possible.

Best recommendations for flu and cold overall: up your vitamin C, lots and lots of water with either lemon or raw vinegar, anything with elderberry, Echinacea or zinc. I have personally found that oregano oil in capsules works better for me at stemming off illness of any kind.

Eating garlic, soaking in a bath of epsom salts or magnesium flakes (there is a difference) or at least soaking your feet in a bowl of warm water with a handful of the stuff in it are all good choices to try. Add a drop of lavender oil to it if you are heading to bed to help with sleep or peppermint or eucalyptus if you’re not. It will just make you feel better. Hot water bottles are good for earaches and upset tummies (another of my mother’s go-to’s).

So, experiment, see what works for you, do your own research (but make it thorough!), keep a good attitude and stay healthy!

Dianne Brooke’s weekly column is special to The Cambrian. Visit her online at

Remedies and resources

Good sites for remedies: (this gal does her research!) (a well thought-out article)

Herbs and oils I use: (where I learned so much over the last several years!)