Comforting & Healing a Sick Child


Originally posted 11/22/11

Mustard Seed kind of freaked me out yesterday morning. After being all weepy Sunday night and saying her upper thighs hurt her, I foretold she would be sick on Monday. (After 7 years, a mom starts to catch on to the pattern.) I expected sore throat or runny nose. Instead, what I got was Mustard Seed coming to our room crying and saying that she was sore all over. She crawled in bed with us and said she’d had to crawl to the stairs because she was too weak to walk, that she was too weak to lift her head so I could move my arm, and that it hurt to turn over. Poor thing.
Now, I’m not a mom who relishes going to the doctor. I want to avoid antibiotics at (almost) all costs, and I don’t give Robitussin or even Motrin and Tylenol anymore. (At some point, I’ll post more about why.) Since I know that’s what the doctor typically says to do, and I know I probably won’t do it, it seems like a waste of time.

But 7-year-olds are not supposed to be sore all over, especially not to the point of crying, so this seemed like a instance where it would be good to consult a doctor, just to make sure she didn’t have meningitis or anything. Also, I later noticed a rash on her belly that was exactly like the rash of a friend we were with last week while she was sick, as well as a different rash on her legs which may have just been mosquito bites but they weren’t raised.

We decided to visit a general practitioner we’d never been to (on a friend’s recommendation) because Mustard Seed’s pediatrician is a 40-minute drive to the Med Center. With this doctor, we literally could walk to the office. To make the long story short, the office was so 1960s, in the very best way, and the doctor, who was very laid back and friendly, said the rash looks kind of virus-y, but it could be atypical strep, so now I’m waiting on culture results to come back. (Come ooooooon, virus!)

All this got me thinking about the things moms do to comfort and heal their sick children. When I was little, there were some standard things: Ginger Ale, Luden’s cherry “cough drops” (read: candy, hehe), yogurt, popsicles, Vick’s VapoRub, and a vaporizer humming in my room. Later, when I was a teenager, I got smoothies from my dad or Gatorade or TheraFlu from my mom. Did they help? Meh…the jury is out. Did they comfort me? Absolutely! And just knowing that my parents or my grandmother were fussing over me, buying me special things I only got when I was sick was nice.

When Mustard Seed is sick, we have some rituals, some of which are just for the comfort and some that I have seen really work.

  • A massage with lavender/almond oil after a warm bath
  • A bath with a few drops of lavender (for relaxation) or eucalyptus (for clearing nasal passages–but just a drop or two to avoid irritating skin)
  • Colloidal silver. This worked wonders for us on a budding ear infection earlier this year. A few drops in her ear at bedtime and in the morning it was gone for good. For throat problems, gargling a dropper-full for 5-10 minutes every hour for three hours seems to really help. You can then spit that out and swallow another dropper-full.
  • Emergen-C Vitamin C packs. I really believe in Vitamin C, but as I’ve been learning more about whole food nutrition (i.e., getting your nutrients from foods), I’ve been wondering if there isn’t a way to get megadoses of Vitamin C from foods while you’re sick. One way could be to get it from acerola powder, which, as I understand it, is just Barbados cherries ground up. They happen to pack a huge Vitamin C punch. But green veggies are also extremely high in Vitamin C. Mustard Seed loves broccoli, steamed or raw, and chard slathered in butter. It seems like putting these into a soup could be a good idea.
  • Herbal tea. Mustard Seed had a cold that would not quit some time last year. The congestion was lingering, and I didn’t want her to get a sinus infection. I went over to Lucia’s Garden in Houston, and they sent me down the strip center to The Path of Tea, where they sell Lucia’s cold and flu blend. It includes elderberry, slippery elm, and cinnamon, among other things, so in other words, it’s an expectorant, soothes the mouth and nasal passages, and dries up the yuck as well. I was amazed at how well it worked. After having just one cup, Mustard Seed was all dried up.
  • Cherry cod liver oil in fresh squeezed orange juice. Ever since reading Nourishing Traditions, I’ve been sold on cod liver oil. My concerns about excess Vitamin A were answered: You have to get a cod liver oil with the right A to D ratio, and one that hasn’t had the vitamins and minerals stripped out in processing and replaced with synthetic ones. Vitamins A and D activate all the other vitamins and minerals, so you really want to make sure you have enough of them when you’re sick. We buy Twin Labs cherry flavored because it’s the only one I can find at the store that’s listed as “Good” by the Weston Price Foundation. Even though it’s just 1-2 teaspoons, I’m not capable of just shooting it plain. I need juice, but putting it in the sugary orange juice concentrate seem self-defeating, so I began fresh juicing an orange. The combo of the cherry and orange is actually kind of pleasant, and Mustard Seed asks for her “treat” and wants more and more. I always think to myself how many mothers of the past who crammed it down their children’s throats would have killed for a reaction like that!
  • Keeping warm. The idea that keeping warm has any bearing on whether you get sick or how fast you heal is something that I really resisted. It seemed so antiquated. My mother-in-law won’t even let me open the refrigerator or step on the tile without slippers when I’m sick! She’s forever trying to cover Mustard Seed’s mouth and nose with a scarf in 60 degree weather. Lately, I’ve come to see there’s sense in this. A recent article in Scientific American talks about the length of the nasal passages of people originally from equatorial regions compared to those from cold-weather regions. People from places with cold weather have a particular area of their nose that’s responsible for warming air before it goes into the body that’s longer than people from warm-weather areas. When cold air gets in nasal passages, it’s drying and it’s easier for viruses and bacteria to grow. People from warm areas tend to get sick in cold weather more easily because their anatomy doesn’t help them. Also, I read an article by Thomas Cowan, author of The Four-Fold Path to Healing, that talks about the necessity of helping your body to fight off pathogens by raising its temperature. He recommends staying in bed under covers in order to help a fever do its job.
  • Chicken soup. A.k.a, the Jewish penicillin. Everyone’s heard that chicken soup can be good for you, and it’s certainly comforting, but there are solid reason why it helps people with colds. Chicken broth has lots of minerals, gelatin and colloids in it that combine perfectly to be used in repairing your body. Unfortunately, Campbell’s doesn’t make it so well, even though they have the one with the princess-shaped noodles (sigh), so I’ve decided to make it myself. This time, I used a “natural” chicken and soba (buckwheat) noodles instead of white pasta. At the end I threw in carrots, zucchini, parsley, and onions for some nice vitamins, and of course, I used Real Salt.
  • Pho. Beef broth is also really healing. Since my husband boiled some ribs Sunday, I used the leftover broth to make some pho, which is a Vietnamese soup. I got a very thin cut of beef, sliced it small and boiled it in the broth. I tossed in some soba noodles at the end, but if I could find some brown rice vermicelli, it would be more authentic. I served it up with raw grated carrots, cilantro and green onions. If I’d had them on hand, we would have done it like our favorite pho restaurant, with basil leaves and mung bean sprouts, too. I don’t have a special pair of scissors reserved for pho, but at that restaurant, they give small scissors to the kids, and they just stick them right in their soup to cut the noodles and meat into manageable pieces. Mustard Seed gets a real kick out of that!

2 thoughts on “Comforting & Healing a Sick Child

  1. chickiepea

    ❤ Totally love this post. Those cherry ludens were my favorite as a kid (no wonder I stayed sick so much- yuck!!)

    Just an FYI on the Emergen-C… I believe those have hidden MSG in them 😦 We were using those a few years ago when I got the heads up from a friend. Don't have hard evidence, but she's a total research nut, so I took her word on it.

    Love your blog (found it by searching for WAPF recipes)

    1. Michelle Post author

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. I’m glad you told me about Emergen-C. As I mentioned, I’ve been suspecting it’s not the best route, so I will have to stock up on an alternative for if we start to come down with something. I’ve been perusing your blog and look forward to reading more, especially about your experience with your daughter’s teeth.


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