Sunday, January 8, 2012

Home Remedies: Croup and Cough

Thanks to Traditional Foods for use of the image.

Bonnie, one of our readers, is watching after her grandson, Benjamin.  The poor kiddo is having terrible croup issues and she was wondering if I knew anything that could give the poor boy some relief until he can see the doctor on Tuesday.

Well, first off, I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV (same with naturpath), but I do know from relatives whose children have suffered from croup that there are a couple of simple things you can try that seem to really work to give the kiddos some relief.

1)  Cold air.  My sister-in-law spent many a night out on her front porch with her son when he had croup.  The cold air helps to reduce swelling in the airway and helps to alleviate the symptoms.  This is also an approved medical method that pediatricians will tell you to do.

2)  A warm mist humidifier.  Wal-Mart sells the Vicks ones for cheap from what I understand a lot of people say they've had success using these.  I'd try adding in a couple of drops of Eucalyptus oil into the humidifier too as that'll help to alleviate congestion (Eucalyptus is what menthol everything is pretty much made with, so you know what the scent will be like :).

3)  Put some Vapor Rub on their feet and stick their feet in socks at night.  Believe it or not the vapor rub will evaporate upwards and seems to work better than slathering it on their chest.  I was skeptical about this one, but used it on the kids the last cold we had and it worked wonders. Here's the recipe I use.

Home Made Vapor Rub (source: Mothering.com forum)

I made this myself and loved it, but put some of the adaptations I made in the recipe instructions below :).

Directions:

Combine in a 1/2 pint wide mouth mason jar:
  • 1/8 c Olive Oil (I had good quality beeswax so this ended up doubled for me)
  • 1/8 Tbsp Mango Butter (or any semi-soft or hard butter)...I used Shea Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Beeswax, chopped
Microwave 1 minute, stir, & repeat in 30 sec intervals until beeswax is completely melted.

Blend in:
  • 1/2 Tbsp Vit E (you could also use vegetable glycerin)
  • 20 drops Eucalyptus Oil (I used about 30 or so)
  • 10 drops Peppermint Oil
  • 10 drops Sweet Orange Oil
  • 10 drops Lavender Oil
  • 10 drops Tea Tree Oil
Pour into a  holding container and slather on as needed.  Even my husband was amazed how much this stuff smelled and acted like vapor rub.  With no petroleum bi-products or weird chemicals (and it doesn't break my son out...major bonus there!).

If you're looking for a bit of a simpler recipe to use I'd go with this one...

Cooking Traditional Foods has a recipe for home made vapor rub HERE that looks like a good one, doesn't require the semi-hard butter to be added and uses readily available essential oils (look to All About Herbs or Natural Pantry to find them locally I'd say).

4)  Other remedies that I'm not familiar with.  Homeopathic remedies are thus far out of my field of experience, so I'm going to link you to a couple of resources that goes over some of them...


5)  Good old modern medicine!  If you are worried about your kiddo doing something like stopping breathing or something, please get them to the ER!  Preventive remedies are great and all, but in emergency situations modern medicine is there for a reason.  Personally when my son's cough gets really bad, exposure to possible allergens or irritants to his skin or not, I reach for the good old albuterol vaporizer his doctor had me use on them when they had terrible coughs as babies and still use to this day (and no, neither of my children have asthma...it just helps to break up all the crud in the chest and open up air passages).  She always makes sure I have current supplies of albuterol to give them breathing treatments if needed (which is seldom).  It's a wonderful device that has kept both of my children out of the ER a couple of times.

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