tea with lemon and honey, a natural remedy for illness


Natural remedies for everyday illnesses

I wish that being a doctor meant that my family and I would never get sick. Unfortunately, viruses, bacteria and other sources of illness do not discriminate based on profession. Here’s what’s in my toolkit to keep us going in sickness and in health.

Natural remedies for cough and sore throat

  • Tea – teas with ingredients like licorice and slippery elm have throat-coating properties that help reduce irritation.
  • Honey – its throat-coating properties can soothe sore throats and suppress coughs. Have some on a spoon or stir it into tea.
  • Echinacea* – can reduce the duration of cold symptoms, particularly if used during the first day or two. It is available as tea, drops or pills. 
  • Elderberry syrup* – has antiviral properties, making it helpful for colds and influenza. Follow dosing on the package.
  • Pelargonium* – a plant used in some natural cold/cough remedies. It shortens the duration and severity of colds.

*Try each of these individually and see which you like best; don’t use all three together.

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Digestive home remedies

  • Ginger – helpful for upset stomach, nausea and motion sickness.  Available as a tea (look for medicinal brands), or try candied ginger when you’re on the go.
  • Probiotics – live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your digestive system. Probiotics can help with diarrhea caused by infections or related to antibiotic use. Available as supplements and in foods like yogurt, miso paste, kombucha, kimchi and raw sauerkraut. 

Topical products for soreness and skin irritation

  • Arnica cream – sooths muscle aches, pains and bruising.
  • Tea tree oil – an anti-inflammatory agent for bacterial or fungus infections. Use it for spot treatment of acne and for athlete’s foot.
  • Calendula – soothes skin irritations like eczema and diaper rash.

Natural remedies for sleep

  • Tea – try chamomile tea in the evening as you are winding down.
  • Lavender – an aromatherapy oil used for calming and relaxation. Safe for both young children and older adults. 

Natural remedies for anxiety

  • Set aside five minutes before starting your day for slow, deep breathing. Think about the day ahead, what you are grateful for and the people in your life
  • On the way to school, teach your kids to use breathing exercises to help them prepare for the day ahead. Slow down breathing by inhaling for four seconds and exhaling for six seconds. This activates the part of the nervous system that calms us.
  • Choose calming music to listen to on your way to and from work or school.
  • Spend a few minutes after work to prepare for the transition home. Put to rest the unresolved issues at work and shift your focus to your family.  

A note about safety:  Tell your doctor about any herbal remedies or supplements you are taking. Consult your doctor before adding herbal remedies if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking prescription medications.


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