Tag Archives: colds

DIY saline nasal wash


Just in the past week two people have asked  me for my homemade saline nasal wash recipe, so  I know it’s time to post it on the blog.

You  may already know that I like  to make a lot of my own  natural products, and this is no exception! Often, it is easier than you think.  You get to  control the ingredients,  many of which you may have at home or can easily purchase. It is empowering, can be fun,  creative and frugal too.

Benefits of saline nasal wash

Most of you are probably familiar with nasal sprays and  have used a saline wash or spray at some point on yourself or with your little ones.  Here are some of the more common uses and benefits of a saline solution:

  • Daily nasal washes can help reduce symptoms for people with chronic sinusitis and allergies
  • Clears out thick mucous and helps reduce nasal congestion by thinning secretions
  • Helps to relieve nasal dryness
  • Reduces coughing and other symptoms of post nasal drip
  • Soothes inflamed membranes
  • Helps clear stuffy congested noses for infants and babies  who cannot yet blow their  own noses. Have you ever tried to nurse a baby with a stuffy nose? They cannot, they need their little noses to be cleared and this is a gentle and effective method. This can also help reduce and relieve their cold symptoms.

Saline solutions are similar in composition to that of our body and can actually cause less tissue damage and be more soothing than plain water. Obviously we are not talking here about pouring   a cup of salt into a cup of water…ouch – that would sting! It is all about ratio.

What is xylitol ? why do I add it?

Xylitol, is a sugar alcohol and is naturally found in low concentrations in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables and can also be extracted from fibrous material such as corn husks and birch.  Xylitol has long been used as a natural sweetener, although  there is some debate as to it’s  health benefits as such, mostly due to  the methods of it’s production.  There is also research showing that xylitol can help remineralize enamel and help prevent cavities.  Some of the early  studies conducted in Finland in the 1970s were already  showing the effectiveness of xylitol on the prevention of cavities.

Xylitol has been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria by preventing them from sticking to the tissue. Bottom line, if they can’t stick they can’t cause infection.  Xylitol helps to reduce germs, irritants and pollutants.  So, adding xylitol to a nasal spray makes the saline solution even better!

 Some people add essential oils to their nasal washes and people often ask me about this.  While some oils are very effective at combating bacteria and preventing infections, many of them are not safe to use internally, especially with babies and kids and some oils can cause irritation as well as allergic reactions.

There is so much more information about xylitol and it’s uses for oral health, upper respiratory infections and even otitis media, but this post is really about adding it to your nasal wash.  If you are interested in reading more, HERE is an article about some of the uses with case reports.


1 cup of boiled water  – It is very important to use boiled filtered or distilled water for this, since the amoeba that could be present in regular water can pose a real danger.

1/2 tsp salt – for infants I use 1/4 tsp – I use natural Real Salt like  this one

1 tsp xylitol

A pinch of baking soda

mix all the ingredients  in a glass jar and cover. After it has cooled  pour into smaller squirt bottles or spray bottles.  Use as often as needed.

Aromatherapy – Thieves oil

I was going to do an introduction to essential oils, but with the cold and flu season upon us, it is time to get some Thieves oil.

Thieves oil is actually a blend of 5 essential oils.  Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon,  Eucalyptus and Rosemary. These 5 oils together have antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties. If that isn’t enough for you,  Thieves oil was actually tested by Weber State University in Utah, in 1997 and found to kill 99% of airborne bacteria when diffused in a room!

Some interesting History

 legend has it, that a band of thieves used these oils to protect themselves, while robbing the dead and dying  during the 15 th century plague. Upon being caught, they were supposedly saved from death by revealing their secret weapon against catching the plague. Whether or not this is true, we do know that this powerful blend can keep colds and flu at bay!

How do I use it?   

Thieves oil can be used in a carrier oil and massaged on the bottom of the feet. Since it is such a strong oil it needs to be diluted before applying on the skin. Also, always do a patch test first, since some people may be sensitive to some of the oils. A good ratio is 6-12 drops added to 1 ounce carrier oil. You can use grapeseed, jojoba or even almond oil as a carrier oil.  I would always start with the lower amount, especially for kids. This oil is not recommended for children under two.

My preferred method of use is the diffuser.  Remember, these oils have been shown to kill airborne bacteria.  2-3 drops is all you need in a  room diffuser. There are quite a few different diffusers, electronic mist diffusers, scentball plug in diffusers and the simple candle lamps and ceramic diffusers . So there you have it , so many choices. I have a few ceramic and candle lamps as well as the plug ins. I have not yet tried any of the misters, but there are some good reviews.

It is a good idea to use a diffuser for 15-20 minutes a few times a day, especially  during peak season.


Recipe please

Thieves oil can be bought, but I have a great recipe for those of you who like to make your own.

Thieves oil recipe

  • 40 drops Clove oil
  • 35 drops Lemon
  • 20 drops Cinnamon
  • 15 drops Eucalyptus
  • 10 drops Rosemary

Mix all the oils and store in a dark glass bottle.

That’s not all folks     

There are other uses for Thieves oil, It can be added to a spray bottle filled with water and used to spray counters, bathrooms and other surfaces.  Add one drop of Thieves oil to every 1 ounce of water.                Add a few drops to the laundry to disinfect and freshen.                                   Thieves oil can even  be sprayed on mattresses and pet  bedding too.

Have you used Thieves oil? Have you used the ultrasonic mister? I would love to hear about your experiences.


OSHA to the rescue!

Monday, it could only happen on a Monday. Rushing all morning to get the kids to their homeschool martial arts class on time. Making sure the youngest had shoes. Getting everything done before the downpour. We were finally on our way home. While driving via a different route, I noticed a clothes donations box and did a quick turn around, happy I could drop off the couple of bags I had in the back.
A pretty good Monday after all.
One of my sons helped me open the trunk and get the bags out and I started throwing them in…at the same moment I felt something sharp in my side. Then, I saw them coming out of the clothes drop box…..WASPS!!!!aaghhh!!! I screamed to my son to close the trunk and get into the car fast and I ran as fast as I could too. Thankfully, he actually listened right away and was so fast that no wasps got inside the car to sting any of the other kids! As soon as I sat down, I was overcome with PAIN! Ouch, wasp stings, Really. Do. Hurt. I felt like screaming, but remembered I had a car full of kids and yes, they were my kids and we homeschool and all that, sooo, I need to set a good example of being calm and might as well turn it into a “learning experience”.
So I took a few deep breaths in and exhaled calmly ( somewhat calmly) and asked my other son to please pass me the first aid kit.
Yes, I do carry a first aid kit around.
Yes, it is an herbal first aid kit too 🙂
I opened it up and rummaged through band-aids of all shapes, colors and sizes, you know you can never have enough band-aids. And there it was. That small 1/4 oz cobalt blue glass bottle of Osha root tincture. I took about 2-3 dropperfuls and also poured some on the sting. I took another droperful about 10 minutes later and applied it externally again. At that point the pain was subsiding and the redness and slight swelling were slowly receding. I had taken a pen and made a mark around the initial inflammation to show my kids, how to tell if swelling is progressing or receding. Such fun to have real life lessons like these, I am not sure who was having more fun… :-/

Anyway, as the saying goes, all is well that ends well. Drama of the day was now over and I was free to drive uneventfully home and carry on with the rest of the day. I will add that I knew I was not allergic to wasps and bees, having been stung before, so I was not in danger. I do also, usually carry benadryl and an epi-pen around too, since one of my sweet boys has a peanut allergy.

I first learned about Osha root, Lingisticum porteri from herbalist Susun Weed; and more about its applications in first aid from herbalist 7Song. This plant grows wild in the beautiful Rockies, typically at the higher elevations. One of its primary uses is for insect bites and stings, due to its anti venomous properties. Osha also has antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It is also used as an expectorant, for colds, sore throats, other respiratory conditions and even altitude sickness. While not everyone loves the flavor, I do! It is a little like maple syrup sans the sweetness. I always envision adding it to a cold brew coffee for a unique taste. For a cough, it could be made into a delicious syrup.

Osha is very useful in first aid due to its many applications. It is more practical and convenient to schlep less and take just the few herbs that you can get more uses out of. A small bottle of Osha tincture can easily be slipped into a small purse or diaper bag and voila! You are then prepared for any scrapes, stings or other not so fun things you might encounter along the way.