Placebo effect? Maybe, but who cares?

When my 9-year-old sees me headed his way with my homeopathic flu kit he always says the same thing: “Here comes mama to poison me.”

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Of course, I’ve no intention of poisoning him. I’m just consulting the contents of the bag my husband (lovingly) calls my witch doctor kit. The nerve. Just because it’s full of tiny vials with weird, unpronounceable names like gelsemium and ferrum phosphoricum. There’s nothing threatening about it. It’s not like I’m making my kids choke down castor oil or chant strange incantations. (OK, I admit, there’s a little chanting.)

But I don’t think of it as witch-doctoring. While I admit to a general suspicion of pharmaceuticals, I believe there are natural ways to boost health, particularly when you’re dealing with minor ailments. Why not see what you can do with gentle remedies before you haul out the prescription pad?

Of course, I seek medical attention when it’s needed for things like fevers, injuries, or mystery rashes. Why, I’ve been known to show up at urgent care twice in a single day with two different kids! But if I can get someone on the road to recovery with painless (and even pleasant) alternatives, why not do it? Here are some I swear by:

  • Peppermint essential oil is great for clearing a stuffy nose.
  • Lavender essential oil is a sure fix when my boys are restless at night. A couple of drops and they’re asleep in minutes (and it might be the only thing that smells more pleasant to a kid than peppermint oil).
  • Hot lemonade with honey and ginger soothes a sore throat.
  • We have a homeopathic remedy that has headed off more stomach ailments in my house than I can count. At the first sign of nausea or cramping, I haul it out. Nobody throws up around here.
  • I know you’ve heard it before, but homemade chicken stock. A huge vitamin boost and a nice, steamy meal. I think people perk up at just the thought of a hot bowl of homemade soup.

Placebo effect, you say? Maybe. But I am a person focused on outcomes. If I get the outcome I want, who cares?

I know some of you are reading and shaking your heads. And I admit, some of my methods seem a little odd. Last night’s was a good example. After attending a fabulous Accu Yoga workshop I made my daughter sit down and do some accupressure to combat a bad head cold. She played along. My husband avoided us. He found the accompanying music – a yogic chant – a little disturbing. But guess what? This morning she felt better. A lot better. And went off to school with a smile on her face despite another day of bone-chilling cold.

What more could a mother ask?

Any favorite home remedies? You know me, I’ll try anything.

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75 thoughts on “Placebo effect? Maybe, but who cares?

  1. This is a good post. I believe, we as a society, go to the Doctor far too often for things our bodies need to learn how to fight themselves. Too many antibiotics – to much antibiotic resistance and the resulting super bugs… Homoeopathic remedies have been used for far longer than antibiotics and mass produced chemical ‘cures’…as long as the homoeopathic remedies are safe – and prepared properly – why not use them? and then only go to seek Medical Advice for Medical Issues which develop that require medical attention.

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  2. When I don’t feel well I put vicks vapor rub on my feet and cover with socks. It totally helps. I also cut up onions and put it in the room, it’s supposed to take away the germs.

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    • I had a co-worker who used to chew on raw garlic when she felt like she was getting sick. Worked like a charm (but it didn’t make her very popular around the office).

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  3. I’m not shaking my head at all. I always give my daughter the stuff from the pharmacy because I’ve been brainwashed to think I should, but completely believe in the homeopathic way. Would prefer it even. Thanks for those tips. I think I’ll use some of them next time my we are feeling a little under the weather!

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    • You can always do both things – even if you’re treating with OTC or prescription meds it’s nice to have a few other ways to relieve the sufferer 🙂 Thanks for reading.

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  4. What your doing certainly can’t hurt! I do things like this as well, and totally believe in the placebo effect. I’m a strong enough believer where I put a band-aid on nearly everything and automatically feel better- even though I know technically it doesn’t really do anything! Stopping by from SITS.

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  5. Well, I don’t believe in homeopathy per se, but I do believe in placebos and I use them all the time! Did you know placebos work even when you know they’re placebos? Powerful stuff! More of those!

    We do flat soft drinks for all manner of ailments (no honey so far, but I may go there). We also apply ice (it’s the cure-all around here for some reason although I don’t know how it started). The kids respond well to various rituals like dusting off after a fall, pressing or tapping on a bite, rubbing or massage of problem areas, etc etc. Sometimes I think it’s just a matter of allowing the brain to settle so the body can take care of itself. Singaporeans are very good at prescribing (and proscribing) foods for all manner of ills and they’ll give you their opinions for free if you mention what ails you.

    I have tried advocating lots of sleep for most conditions, but I don’t seem to get much cooperation on that one.

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  6. OMG, Sarah! I think you are my sister from another mother!! I am always looking for natural ways to balance the body. Like you I know there are certain times when a doctor is needed but for the most part it an be done naturally.

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    • Do you also obsessively feed your kids whole foods they don’t like and enforce bedtimes with military precision? Sister! I am so “in tune” with balancing my body and the bodies around me it’s almost a full-time hobby. And truth be told, I’m probably one of those moms doctors don’t like. I think they close the blinds when they see me coming. I sense they don’t find my “intuition” helpful.

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  7. I love essential oils – they are amazing! My home remedy is cooking flour until it turns dark brown and using it for diaper rashes. It works like a dream!

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  8. My mom used to give us concoctions after looking at our eyes and reading her irisology chart. We make fun of her endlessly for it now and cringed whenever we saw her heading our way with that stuff! LOL

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    • My mom’s version of that was the Merck medical manual. She hauled it out and diagnosed us based on our symptoms, and let me tell you – some of it was scary stuff! However, I have to say she was right a good percent of the time, which is the thing about moms.

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  9. Peppermint essential oil is great for clearing a stuffy nose. Good to know! thanks for this tip because if its one thing I can’t stand its a stuffy nose! I always have trouble sleeping. Thank you #sitsblogging

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  10. I grew up on pharmacy, but when I got grown and had kids of my own, I did find there are many ways to naturally alleviate some symptoms for the kids, without having to give them something w/ingredients I can’t even pronounce.

    I didn’t know peppermint was good for a stuffy nose, but that makes sense.
    #SITSBlogging

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    • I did too – I probably would not have managed without antihistamine, for example. But pharmaceuticals are pumped out so fast these days, and in such volume! It’s a business, and we are consumers.

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  11. In today’s day and age where big brand pharmaceutical companies are putting literally WHATEVER in drugs deemed safe I think that homeopathic remedies should actually be the first step!! Just because the FDA has approved something does not, but any means, that it will not have negative consequences later on in life. I think that this point is very evident in food production. Keep on with the homeopathic!!! Your kids will thank you later on in life. And hey, if there is ever an apolcolypse you will be the designated doctor 😉

    #SITSblogging

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  12. I’m a HUGE believer in homeopathic remedies. I’ve been studying that stuff for about 12 years now and I consider myself my own doctor. I almost always am able to cure all my sicknesses w/o going to the doctor! You go momma!!

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  13. Hmm… my son is restless EVERY night! Maybe I need to try some lavender oil. (Seriously, the kid is not even 4 years old and he stays up, in the dark, in his room, until almost 10:30 every night and pops out of bed before 7. It’s crazy.) How do you administer the oils?

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  14. I am an RN. But I love holistic care. There is a place for medicine and it can save our lives, but my family uses herbs often, and we also use a chiropractor. I have been looking into essential oils. My friend is a massage therapist and recommends them. 🙂

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    • I have great respect for doctors but the way our medical delivery system is set up you’re lucky to get 20 minutes with them and they have little time for discussion or questions.

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  15. We always go for the natural remedies first and in most cases they’re effective. Love the hot lemon and ginger and essential oils are something we use almost every day.

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  16. I totally agree! We are much better off using all natural products and I try to use alternatives as much as possible. You need to do what is best for you and your family!! Shaunna @Tempting Thyme

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  17. This is excellent information and a good forum. I believe in homeopathy and naturopathy as well as using food to aid in healing the body.

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    • It’s just my two cents – I’m not the person to put the science around it – but I’m all about practical solutions, and these work for us. Love having everyone else weigh in!

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  18. My mom used to put vinegar on my sunburn. I hated the smell when I was a kid, but it was soothing. When I had a cold she would put Vick’s Vapor Rub on my neck and pin a towel around it. One of my co-workers says her mom put the Vicks on her feet.

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  19. So thrilled to find another mom who uses natural approaches to healing her family. Homeopathy is so amazing (as are essential oils, herbal healing, etc…) I have a background in Traditional Chinese Medicine – Chinese Dietary Therapy and holistic nutrition. Our bodies are amazing instruments of self-healing, if properly assisted! Happy to have discovered your blog via #SITSBlogging

    Stephanie
    http://www.naturalgirldiary.com

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  20. I’ve been sharing natural remedies via Pinterest and Twitter for some time. I believe medicine has its place but we often grab it without seeking other options. It’s nice to hear that your children cooperate without complaint! 🙂
    #SITSBlogging

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  21. I am a huge supporter of home remedies because call me crazy-but all those possible side effects of medications kind of freak me out!! It leaves me wanting to keep the ailment for fear of the alternative that I could get from taking the medicine! I don’t know much about holistic methods, but it is something I would love to learn more about. When my allergies are really bad I do try to drink as much water as I can stand and that does seem to help clear my head a lot more quickly. Can I ask what your homeopathic treatment for stomach problems is?

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  22. I love your approach here – that sometimes drugs and doctors are necessary, but sometimes the natural approach is all we need! How do you use peppermint oil to relieve nasal congestion? It’s something I struggle with and I’d love a good natural remedy for it! Thanks for sharing your tips!

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  23. After years with a chronic neurological condition for which a little brain surgery and copious amount of pharmaceuticals are necessary (UGH!) i have found the greatest pain relieve by learning great biofeedback and breathing techniques. Considering there’s not a day that goes by without varying degrees of chronic pain, I use very few pain relieving pills (I do have some on standby as the thought of going the ER for pain management doesn’t sit well). There are many cultures that rely on homeopathic methods (quackery as some would call it) for the majority of their doctoring. Kudos to you mom for teaching your kids that believing in feeling better can be the biggest key to actually feeling better. Great post!

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  24. I love using home remedies! There’s a reason they’ve last for so many years. My mom always says she thinks the pharmacy industry fills the media with negativity because home remedies are bad for their business. 🙂 Regardless, you carry your witch bag with pride and keep sharing your little vials.

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