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The Surprising Natural Treatment for Colds, the Flu, and Even Norovirus

oregano oilMy toddler is sick. Again. At this point, mommy intuition can tell me hours before the first symptoms appear that illness is impending. I saw it in his eyes this weekend, when we were already snowed in and raging with cabin fever.

Any parent knows that kids, especially the little ones, get sick all the freaking time. Every time we recover from one bout of illness, another one makes its unwanted appearance. We do whatever we can to prevent colds and other bugs, but we’re obviously not scoring high marks considering the rap sheet of colds and viruses we’ve already rung up this year.

The two things we haven’t gotten, knock on wood, are the flu and the stomach bug. I want to do everything we can to keep the flu and stomach bugs at bay. Though I’ve ramped up our cold and flu prevention strategies (we use Elderberry syrup and even the two-year-old knows how to wash his own hands), we could still use some help when it comes to kicking the colds to the curb instead of letting them drag on and on. Goodness knows we had a family norovirus party last Christmas that wasn’t pretty.

Good news is there may be something that can possibly treat and/or prevent colds, the flu, and that pesky, stubborn norovirus all at once. Even better, it’s not some crazy drug; it’s natural. And it’s probably in your kitchen. Oregano. More specifically oregano oil (which maybe you don’t have in your kitchen, but you should. Better yet, your medicine cabinet). While I do give this to my son with the doc’s okay, most sources do not recommend giving this directly to children. It’s still a good weapon to have in your arsenal: if you don’t get sick, you can’t pass it the cooties on to your kids, right?

Oregano oil has been touted to help alleviate symptoms associated with colds and coughs, asthma and allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, and even skin problems. It may help with respiratory tract infections, psoriasis, dandruff, and cold sores, as well as act an anti-fungal agent, fighting off fungus like Candida albicans (which causes candida), and also as an antibiotic, fighting often-resistant bacteria like staphylococcus. Oregano is rich in vitamin K and antioxidants. It also has iron, manganese, fiber, vitamin E, and calcium. And I thought it was just to make my spaghetti sauce taste good.

Research out of the University of Arizona even found that the chemical that makes oregano smell like a pizza could actually have sanitizing/anti-viral properties as well. The chemical, called carvacrol, is reported to have a unique way of breaking down the outershell of a virus, then allowing other antimicrobials to come in and attack effectively. This is particularly useful when it comes to fighting the vomit-inducing, common winter stomach bug known as norovirus. It’s a stubborn virus that isn’t killed by all sanitizers or cleaning agents, making its spread all the more common in places like cruise ships and hospitals.

What to know about oregano oil:

(Please consult a qualified health professional before taking or using this or any herb. I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on the Internet.)

1.) There are many, many varieties of the herb. Origanum vulgare is the variety thought to be the most beneficial.

2.) Oil of oregano is potent; don’t take it directly. Instead, dilute it in water or juice, or take it in pill form. Apparently, it doesn’t taste so hot either.

3.) To potentially ease cold symptoms or a sore throat: Try a few drops of oil in a vaporizer or in water or juice.

4.) To sooth skin or ease problem areas: Mix drops of oregano oil into another more gentle carrier oil (like olive oil), and rub on problem areas.

5.) It’s typically used in the short term. Alive suggests four to six drops per day for up to seven to 10 days.

6.) Execute caution, and know the risks! Oregano can cause allergic reactions in people with allergies to similar plants like basil, hyssop, lavender, marjoram, mint, and sage. It can also interact with the medication Lithium. It should not to be used by pregnant women or children.

7.) Where to find it: You can find oregano oil in capsule form (such as Source Naturals, Nature’s Way, or Swanson Vitamins) or in liquid form (such as Mountain Rose Herbs or NOW Foods). Note: different brands have different concentrations of carvacrol, the active ingredient. Be sure to read labels.

Have you tried oregano oil? What do you to do prevent or treat illness naturally?

Photo credit: Heather Neal

 

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