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Herbal Home Remedies for Colds, Flu and Whooping Cough

This time of the year, back to school and changing weather all signal one thing: COLD SEASON!

The Sell family is not immune, though we strive to be one of these years. When our family got hit hard just two weeks ago, we felt it out for a couple days to see what we were dealing with. As Ethan and I progressed through the coughs and sniffles, Andy, Liam and Elly remained immune. Within a week, however, Andy succumbed to some sort of cold variation that was completely different than Ethan's and my symptoms.

Within a few days, he was coughing very hard and deep. One day he was laid out completely and that's when we started looking online for symptom descriptions. I found a site on the Mayo Clinic website. There we saw that most of what he was suffering matched up to Whooping Cough, or Pertussis.

A home diagnosis is not as reliable as the sort of diagnosis a doctor's office would give, seeing as they take swabs and samples to verify in a lab. However, given the general public fear of this bacterial infection and the way we've seen whole families quarantined by the county, we decided to play it safe and keep Andy at home. Whenever there is a case of whooping cough, it is blasted all over the news and people are urged to get in right away for the pertussis shot or a booster, especially kids.

We don't believe in vaccinating our kids. As I write that, I realize I'm stating it like a religion, but that's how militant the government and local health authorities have gotten about vaccination. You pretty much have to say it goes against one's religion in order to get a "pass" for your family. That's messed up. One of the minor reasons we are homeschooling is so we don't have to compulsorily shoot up our kids for public school.

Many of you might believe differently about this and that's ok. I'm not here to make converts. Andy and I have simply done some research and looked deeper than the photocopied handouts from the CDC that we always get at each well-checkup. Being spoon-fed anything is not always Truth.

That being said, we didn't want one of several things to happen upon a doctor's visit:

1. Being forced to explain our kids' lack of "up to date" immunizations when it's none of their business.

2. Possibly being quarantined when we have no plans to leave our home anytime soon anyway.

3. Causing a major "outbreak" fear mongering of the media and hospitals.

4. The only thing doctors give for pertussis is antibiotics which we avoid at all costs anyway, since even one dose severely damages the essential gut flora necessary for proper immunities in the first place.

Whew. That was a lot. I'm getting to the point of this post, trust me!

While Andy lay resting in bed, I took a break to look up some herbal remedies for whooping cough and learn more about the infection online. I came across a wonderfully written blog article at Natural Home, a sister publication of GRIT magazine. We love Natural Home for its many eco-conscious building ideas and home accessories. One of their bloggers, Heidi Cardenas, had some ideas for licking the cough right at home with some common household spices and herbs. Her ideas explain the individual benefits of a variety of herbs and spices, each with its own cough-fighting properties.

Here is her link: Natural Home Remedies for Treating Whooping Cough

When I read the short post to Andy, he said..."That sounds a lot like the ingredients for mustard."

And so began our experiment: Mighty Mustard. Below, Andy details the ingredients and prep.



The flavor is intense. You may have to tweak it based on your level of taste comfort. Do this with water; you want a consistency like a thin paste or a slightly thick mustard. It will be slightly grainy and the onion and garlic will be very fragrant.

Use high quality, organic and raw whenever possible, especially the onions, garlic and ginger as they are the powerhouses of this recipe.


1/4 Cup turmeric

1 half head garlic, peeled

1 Tbsp mustard

1/4 white onion

1 Tbsp mustard seed

4 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp mineralized sea salt (we use Redmond's)

3 Tbsp fresh ginger (finely grated and compressed)

4 Tbsp Bragg's apple cider vinegar

water to taste/texture

1 Tbsp cinnamon

Add all but water to food processor and blend on high until VERY smooth. Slowly add the water until you are at the desired consistency. If the sharpness is too strong, cut it with another tbsp or two of honey. If it is still too intense, cut it with more water. Flavor mellows with age so the more you make the more palatable it is. Stays for up to a month in the fridge.

Take one tablespoon four to five times per day, or once every four hours when ill. Take as a condiment for preventative care whenever you are well.

The reason we are even sharing this with you all today is because it worked miraculously! Andy wanted to call it Spicy Death Kill because the intensity of the flavors melding together, but he dutifully took one spoonful every few hours washed down with a glass of water. We began this experiment late morning and by evening, he was showing a reduction in coughs by two thirds and when he did cough, it wasn't the deep body cough of the pertussis; it was a phlegm extracting cough. The garlic, ginger and turmeric are all expectorants, as well as anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-spasmodic.

The next day Andy continued the regime and he was nearly back to his normal self with energy, vibrant color and very few whooping-type coughs (though some still crop up).

We are not doctors. We don't boast any sort of treatment background; we just know this worked in our family. It's worth a try in yours. You know ol' Gramps had some sort of ointment or oil he always took everyday and swore by it. Mighty Mustard (aka: Spicy Death Kill) might always be in our fridge as an immune building condiment. Perhaps it should be in yours as well!

PS: Don't be pushed into doing anything you are not sure of. The pertussis vaccine doesn't even work effectively beyond three years and when there have been outbreaks, just as many immunized people as un-immunized were sick with the cough. In fact in some cases, more immunized people were sick than those that had not taken the shot. Food for thought, friends: 

For the Young’ens…or those with no heat tolerance like me! 

This is for my friend Jill, who had a very good question. She asked with the last post if there was a way to make the Mighty Mustard a little more palatable for kids not too keen on eating a super spicy condiment. Unfortunately, the mustard itself gets its kick from the very items that are the most healthy for one's body: garlic, turmeric, ginger and onions. While we discovered that the mustard's strong flavors definitely mellow after a day or two in the refrigerator and continue to mellow every day it sits, the Mighty-ness of the condiment remained far too strong for our children to take it with a smile.

Therefore, I had a backup plan for the kids. (And me!) We haven't seen the miraculously quick results of the one-day of treatment that Andy saw with Mighty Mustard, but we have seen results. As well, there is science behind these simple ingredients and they can be found at most health food stores. We found ours at NDC in Oshkosh for those of you local to the Fox Valley.

Remember, homemade or raw is best when you can get it.

Kid-Friendly Tonic for Cold and Flu

1 teaspoon Colloidal Silver (optional*)

1 teaspoon Elderberry reduction (syrup)

4-6 oz orange or apple juice (preferably fresh squeezed, but whatever you can get is fine)

Mix all three ingredients in your child's favorite cup and serve with breakfast. Tell them it’s a berry orange juice and let them have it. Serve up to four times per day for to 7 days.


Above, you can see the brands we found at Nutrition Discount Center last week. Both are super kid friendly and the directions tell you how much to serve based on age. I drank a teaspoonful of the elderberry syrup by itself as it was so tasty but my kids seemed to prefer it "watered down" with juice. Also, they are not sold with child safety caps, probably because it would be hard to overdose on a natural thing like elderberry. Even still, don't let your toddler grab it while you are preparing breakfast. They are smart little buggers and want to do exactly as Mommy does. See below for evidence of Liam's Hitler-esque elderberry experience.


Now that you have the recipe, I'll talk a bit on the health benefits of colloidal silver and elderberry.

Colloidal Silver

Much to our amazement, the slightly yellow water is nothing but silver added to water at the molecular level. That's it! But it's been used for centuries as an anti-bacterial agent and for disinfecting medical tools and instruments. When anti-biotics became prevalent in the 1940's, the use of colloidal silver declined dramatically until in 1975, the medical establishment declared that oral ingestion of the silver had no substantiated claims to helping build up immunities and clear out viruses for colds and flu.

*Now I am not medically trained and I don't have sufficient background to refute or endorse those claims. This is why I put it as optional in your tonic. We use it because we have talked to a couple people who have used it to great success in killing off all variations of the sorts of colds that hit people this time of year. Two actually are trained medical professionals and therefore gave us peace in allowing our kids to have a sip of this unique water.

Something to note here is that we swear by raw milk and will always drink raw milk, which has been consumed by humans for millennia. Only in the 1930's did they decide that maybe it might not be the best and then as the the years passed, it became a "serious public health risk." We have done our research on that and have decided to go with the alternative health community and drink to our hearts' content the un-cooked milk product the medical establishment so adamantly abhors. Not everything the medical community deems “worthless” is actually so.

Elderberry Syrup

This is far less controversial and I only looked it up after two moms in my world recommended it for our kids' colds. Knowing a tad bit on the herbal remedies that elderberries are known for, I looked into it further, lamenting that I had missed the season of harvest right here in my area by only a month or two. (Next year, baby!!)

Elderberry syrup alone is known for its ability to treat those with colds and flu, causing their symptoms to subside days earlier than those who did not take the elderberry. It has strong antioxidants and has even been used for anti-cancer properties in patients. Because it is readily available in the northern hemisphere, it makes sense to me that the berry has been used for so many centuries in North America, Europe and Asia for the curative remedies. Even the medical establishment is beginning to green light this one. :-)

Below is a link to a two minute video put out by Fox News just this past March on the health benefits of elderberry. Enjoy!

Rebekah Sell lives on a small plot of land with her husband, Andy, on which they are hoping to build a sustainable homestead. With a small business and four kids, life is always interesting as Becky and Andy live fully the idea that the journey is the reward. Find her on .