Supporting the Body Before, During, and After Illness

Today, I want to talk about the practicals of being sick. We are not just going to talk about during illness, we are going to talk about before, during, and after, because after is really vital, too. This this blog post is long, but every sentence is dense and helpful to you as you support yourself and your family through illness.  

We also have a video on this subject.

Before Illness 

Before we start having symptoms, how do we prevent it? How do we keep our kids from getting sick at school or at daycare? There are a few categories of things we need to remember. Number one, toxins and malnutrition are what cause disease.

“Disease is a reparative process. Shall we begin by taking it as a general principle that all disease at some period or another of its course or is more or less a reparative process, not necessarily accompanied with suffering, an effort of nature to remedy a process of poisoning or of decay which has taken place week weeks months or sometimes years beforehand, unnoticed…”

Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing

What if we don’t have to go through a major restorative process and get sick? What if the restorative process is very small, or we do it on a regular basis? If you eat well and get good sleep, we know it’s true that you don’t get sick as often.  

Feeding Foods, Fun Foods, and Fake Foods

But what does it mean to eat well? It means you have enough nutrition for your body.  Check out our video on “Feeding Foods, Fun Foods and Fake Foods.” We need Feeding Foods. Not just real food, but food that feeds with dense nutrition that is bioavailable for our bodies. If we have dense nutrition in our bodies, we will have cells rebuilding themselves easily, we will have a strong functioning immune system. The immune system does not just defend us from germs. The immune system repairs damage and is involved largely in the process of detoxification of toxins. If we feed our body, it can function well and not be broken. If our body is not broken, it doesn’t have to repair or restore itself (or at least as often). 

“Bad food,” sugar foods, too many carbohydrates, and too much of the wrong foods has two problems. One, those foods take the place of feeding foods. If you eat a whole bunch of blueberries, which are perfectly fine foods, your stomach is now full and you didn’t eat whatever you’re supposed to be eating for your body’s nutritional needs. So, one of the main problems with eating too many fun foods is that they take the place of nutrition. There is, of course, a secondary problem with processed foods, dyes, processed sugar and carbohydrates: they simply mess up our gut microbiome (as well as toxins potentially coming in). 

Reduce General Toxic Load 

So if we eat nutritional food, we won’t have as many toxins. But there are lots of other places where we obtain toxins. So we need to reduce our general toxic load. Avoiding fragrances in dryer sheets or fake soap scents, not putting a lot of chemicals on your skin, getting the chlorine out of your water, getting the mold out of your house, etc.. Your body has to work hard if there’s a lot of chemical exposure happening. If your environment is cleaner, the body will have more room to restore. Then hopefully you don’t have to go through what Florence Nightingale describes as the “restorative process.”

We can avoid toxins as much as possible, but we also need to help the toxins come out. You are breathing in toxins, drinking toxins in your water, and putting it on your skin. We are surrounded by toxins. How do we remove toxins? 

Gentle Detox Methods:

  • Detox Baths: Using either Apple Cider Vinegar, Epsom Salts, baking soda, or sea salt, add ½ cup to a cup in a bathtub for 15 – 20 minutes or more. The skin is a detox organ, and we can use it to get things out.
  • Supporting Our Liver: We eat liver to feed our liver. We cleanse our liver with beets. Juicing beets, beet kvass, and eating beets like vegetable medley or beets with sauerkraut are all options. When your liver is cleansing toxins, the toxins don’t stick around, and a larger restorative process is less likely.
  • Rest: Rest is important! The sleep you get before midnight is 2 to 4 times more healing, restorative, and reparative to your body than the sleep you get after midnight. Bedtime does matter for both kids and adults. Try to go to sleep before 10 if possible as an adult, and between 7- 9 as a child, depending on the age.
  • Stress Avoidance: First, understand what stress is. Stress is really our body having to work harder than it would in an environment of ease. For example, cold weather is stressful. When it’s really cold outside, our body has to work harder to keep ourselves warm than when it’s an 80 degree day. Being sick is stressful. Having large emotions like grief or anger is stressful. Change, like entering the new schedule of the school year, is stressful. When your body is tired and hungry, everything is more stressful. When your body is rested and well-fed, the same things are less stressful. It’s important to notice and acknowledge your stress, plan where possible, and take time to rest and recover.

There are lots of other things that you could find helpful, like doing elderberry syrup daily, applying diluted Thieves or On Guard essential oil on the bottoms of the feet every day before going out, and the like.

Caring for your body for free!

Financially, a lot of people are currently under strain. A lot of things that keep us well are free or inexpensive. Soup is very inexpensive and one of the most efficient ways to cook. Getting to sleep early is completely free. Taking a bath costs a little money but not very much, especially if you purchase bulk Epsom salts. Grounding outside in the grass after you get home from work or school or before bed is free. There are so many ways that we really can keep our body well that are simple and inexpensive.

During Illness

Is the body winning?

If you are sick, or your child is sick, you have to ask “Is their body winning or losing?” And “How do I support their body?” 

If they are breathing fast,having trouble breathing, vomiting or having loose stools to the point of dehydration, or have the wrong level of consciousness (like fainting or unresponsive), that usually means the body is losing. Our culture is not taught this differentiation, so we can get very scared about certain symptoms even when the body is not losing. Bleeding out, vomiting, dehydration, loss of consciousness, or turning blue are the things that you need to seek medical assistance quickly. Most of the time, if those things aren’t happening, you have time to figure out how to help your body or your child’s body.

Supporting your body when it’s winning

  1. Give your body rest. Sleep. Help your body so that it’s resting and as calm as possible. 
  2. Stay hydrated.
  3. Eat good nourishing food, especially during illness. No sugar, low carbohydrate foods, meat, stock, and soup. It is okay if we eat less when we’re ill, even for kids. It’s often good to rest the digestive system. 

Your body will tell you what to do.

If the body is winning, it’s going to do very active things like make a fever, produce mucus, or have a rash. Getting stuff out and moving it around is all good.

If the skin is doing stuff, it’s often telling you to do a detox bath. If your mucus production is happening, it’s telling you to blow your nose or cough. And make sure to spit it out, do not swallow it again! Consider using a Neti Pot. For kids and adults, doing Mullein steam tents, and/or a castor oil pack on the chest, liver, or the abdomen (depending what’s going on), and doing the hydrating technique of just little sips of water or stock every 5 minutes to avoid triggering vomiting. 

Calcium lactate

Most of the time, we do recommend using calcium lactate. It often brings the fever down, but does not force it down. If the body wants it high, the fever stays high even with calcium. The reason we recommend calcium lactate so often is because most of the time the hypothalamus has enacted a fever to pull calcium out of the bones so it can be used in circulation. We give calcium to the body so it doesn’t have to pull it out of our bones. Often, when the body gets calcium lactate, the hypothalamus says “Thank you, that’s all I needed!”, and the fever goes away for a while. When the fever comes back, your body needs more calcium. So give more! You’re never going to overdose if you’re dosing per the body’s symptoms. We’re going to give small amounts at a time. Most kids need a quarter to a half of a tablet at a time. Adults might need two to four at a time, depending on how we’re feeling. Also, look at other minerals your body may need, like magnesium or trace minerals. If the calcium is not working anymore, reduce the dose to a maintenance amount.

Back to Florence Nightingale’s words: “All disease at a period or another is more or less a reparative process, not necessarily accompanied with suffering.” 

The suffering part of disease that we are so used to can be mostly mitigated. The body’s doing a hard thing in getting rid of illness. If we learn to listen to the body as best as possible. 

Don’t just do it once!

Frequency, duration, and persistence are the important words during an illness. A lot of people have one day where they’re spot on – eating no sugar, going to bed early, taking a bath or two, and eating stock, caramelized onions, or something like that. They feel great! So then they stop, and symptoms return. Persistence and frequency are really important. For example, if you do cod liver oil, and symptoms improve for five hours, do more doses of cod liver oil. I give you permission as parents, or as a person of your own body – when your body is telling you something or you’re feeling like you should do something, do it! You do have the ability to have good intuition for your child and yourself during illness. This takes practice. I’ve been sick many times since I have started my journey of healing. It’s been 10 years since I’ve started learning the language of my body, and I’m getting better. Sometimes, I mess up. Sometimes, I don’t understand what my body wants. Sometimes, I choose to not listen and I push myself too hard or work too hard. There is a lot of grace, but you can do it. You can do it and you can work on it. 

Mood and illness

As long as your child is still breathing and they are not dehydrated (which is defined as a wet diaper at least in the last eight hours), and even if they are fussy, crabby, sleepy, or sluggish. They’re fine! They’re allowed to be feeling off – they’re sick. Bad levels of consciousness are obvious: things like hallucinating, unconsolable high-pitched screaming, eyes rolling back in their head, consistently having seizures.

It doesn’t have to be complicated

Use the basics that you know. Lungs love fat. We need to eat lots of fat for our lungs. Mucus is thinned from hydrating fluids like water, stock, electrolyte drink, and tea. Fruit juices and Pedialyte do not count as hydrating fluids because they are sweet. Castor oil applied to any part of the body brings blood flow and will cause movement of fluid meaning the mucus will get thinner, your gut will go, you will clean out things. A Mullein steam tent is very soothing. Meat stock is nourishing and hydrating. Salts and electrolytes are very important for keeping hydration, which helps your body to function well.

Listen to what your body’s doing and support it. Trust that the body knows what it’s doing. If mucus is running, don’t stop it with a decongestant. Help it finish running by blowing or spitting it out (and protect your nose skin so it doesn’t get raw). If your body wants to sleep, trust it and let it sleep. If the body doesn’t want to eat it very much, just stay hydrated with little sips and some salt water. 

Reality of Life

Sometimes we have jobs or situations where we really can’t be sick. It is a sad reality of our world at times. First, evaluate honestly. There’s a difference between feeling like you can’t take a day off, and really not being able to take a day off. Whenever possible, respect your body and allow it the time of rest it is asking for. But if you do need to stop the illness, know that you’re probably going to prolong your overall illness time. This is because you stopped what the body was doing. Sometimes we have to, that’s the reality of our world. But as much as possible, try to avoid this.

After Illness

Don’t stop!

Do the same things you were just doing at approximately the same level for at least a week after you’re well. Take a detox bath every day for the next week or two. If you’ve been doing cod liver oil, you might not need to quadruple the dose like you were doing on that really hard day, but you might need to double the dose for a few days to a week.

It’s okay to back down to some degree, but we don’t want to rip away the support we were giving to the body. If the body is well supported, the symptoms disappear. However, this doesn’t mean the cleansing restorative process is over yet. 

After symptoms resolve, keep supporting the body with approximately the same amount for a minimum of one week. 

  • Cod liver oil
  • Going to bed on time
  • Not eating sugar
  • Do detox baths and castor oil packs
Extra Ideas to help with symptoms
  • For a child who has a cold with an intense headache, especially at bedtime and it’s keeping them awake, get the mucus moving. Headaches with colds are often caused by mucus not moving. A little castor oil on the face and a lymph massage with castor oil is helpful.
  • A Mullein Steam tent can be helpful. We have a blog post outlining this process coming soon! Streep two tablespoons of Mullein Leaf in a quart and a half of water in a pan with a lid on the stove. Boil the water with the leaves and steep it for a few minutes with the lid on. Take the lid and the person under a blanket on the floor and make a steam tent. Be sure to take tissues with you! Take the lid off and sit there. It will get everything running, and soothes in the process! Do before bed to help with sinus stuffiness. 
  • You can also do a bentonite clay mask. Use a little clay to make a little mud in your hand and put it on your face as a mask. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes and then wash it off. Bentonite clay pulls toxins out and then you wash it off and the toxins go with it.
  • Do lymph drainage with your hands. Check out a video on how to do this here! The hand on your back goes with the back of the hand facing your back. The other hand goes over your umbilicus. After 10 minutes, move your front hand up to your sternum and the back hand stays on the low back where it is.  After 10 more minutes, move your front hand either to the throat or to the face. Sometimes the lymph can’t drain from the head because it’s backed up further down. Clear out the reservoirs a little lower down and then we can clear the face.

I hope you are feeling more empowered to help yourself and your children through restorative process symptoms. You’ve got this!


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