WTF | {What the Flu?}

It's been a long winter, amirite? Everything is gray, and the luster of those resolutions we made three months ago has worn off. We are all tired, maybe even a little bitter. We need Spring. (Okay, maybe I'm just projecting this, but really, this has felt like the most oppressive winter I can remember in a while). With the flu epidemic, the waves of GI bugs, and an outbreak of strep at the kids' school, my germ-radar was on high alert by the end of January. Every cough, sniffle, and complaint of a tummy-ache practically caused me to twitch.

I posted something on Facebook at the peak of the flu and stomach bug epidemic several weeks ago with some advice (and a few links to what we have in our "arsenal") for avoiding them. Since then, I've gotten several messages and texts from folks asking for more details, so I figured I would put it here on the blog as well. BUT..in the spirit of transparency- I pulled out all the stops this winter: essential oils, elderberry, vitamin C, Ningxia supplements (more on that later), and detox baths. I did everything short of selling my right kidney on Craigslist to keep us healthy, and the flu still found two of us. That said, I was able to keep it contained to just those two of the five of us, which I'd like to think is a win. These aren't miracle cures or preventatives, but I do think they've helped us avoid the worst of the bugs so far, and they're what I personally prefer. No one has paid me to endorse or post this (I wish, hah).

**Also, many people refer to a stomach bug as the "flu." Super confusing. Influenza ("the flu") and a gastrointestinal "GI" bug are two entirely different viruses. If I refer to "the flu" in this post, I'm referring to the different strains of influenza. And I really freaking hate both of them.**

You might not have jumped on the essential oil bandwagon, and this isn't one of *those* posts, I promise. But if you have (because I've had a few friends who have recently purchased some) here are the three oils that I NEVER let myself run out of (especially this time of year). These are what go into my flu bombs. At the onset of symptoms, I put them in an empty vegetable capsule and take them 3-4 times the first day, and again on the second. Usually by the second day, the symptoms have dissipated to the point that I don't need to take them on the third day. Again, you have to start these at the onset of symptoms and stay on top of them. If you don't have Thieves or Frankincense, Oregano will do in a pinch, since it has such high anti-viral properties.

Wouldn't it be nice if my kids swallowed pills? (Said every parent, everywhere). But they don't. So I use the same oils pictured above in a roller ball, diluted with V6 oil (or some other carrier oil) and apply to the bottoms of their feet each morning and night before bed. (The bottom of the feet is the quickest way for the oils to be absorbed if you're doing them topically).

ALLLL the love for Zylast!! If you haven't heard of it, go here. The kids each have a small bottle in their lunch bag, and we keep one in the car as well. It is so much more effective than the brands you find at the store. We typically order ours from Amazon.

Another disinfectant that I swear by: Alpet D2. I order this from MacGill Nursing Supplies. (Yes, when you hate germs as much as I do, you bypass Target altogether to get the job done). Of course, this isn't an absolutely necessity. You can effectively disinfect contaminated surfaces with household bleach and water. The CDC recommends a solution that contains anywhere from 5 to 25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water. (I typically do 10-15 ml per liter of water. When it singes the lining of my nose, I know it's strong enough!)

Lysol wipes, quite honestly, don't get the job done. Especially if you're dealing with Norovirus or other strains of the GI bug. The only approved Lysol product to disinfect strains of stomach viruses is labeled Brand III. But there are so many other effective products and methods that aren't nearly as toxic.

Also, FWIW, these are the vitamins that the kids take every morning. I've found that having a probiotic in the mix has definitely helped cut down on the stomach issues.

Finally, activated charcoal has a number of different uses, but a common use is the prevention and treatment of stomach viruses and food poisoning. The working theory is that, once in your system, it absorbs the bacteria that cause the illness, and is then flushed out in your stool. Obviously, this isn't something you should take all the time, but it's good to have on hand when you've either been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms o,f a GI bug. We buy this particular brand here, and I can tell you that it's going to be a constant in our arsenal.

What products do you like to have on hand in your household to prevent or treat illnesses? Feel free to leave a comment and add to the list!

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