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The drizzly grey weather seems to chase us indoors in search of a wool wrap or warm fire. Often such late fall days coincide with seasonal "colds" or flus that leave our bodies chilled and tired. These short-lived illnesses force us to rest, renew a focus on our bodies, and often to seek nurturing and care.

When doctors send us home advising rest and fluids for minor afflictions, what do we have in our home stores to support revitalization? What can a family gather to help us weather colds? From creams, salves, oils, and aroma therapy to soothing "props", to comfort foods, to warmth, water, and hand washing to vitamins, herbs, and/or homeopathy, we can gather many items to create wellness baskets for nurturing our families.

With newspaper headlines declaring this one tough flu season, I inventoried the homemade remedies in our hat box cum wellness basket. I decided to shop for a few more items, and contacted Whole Foods.  Noelle Moss of Whole Foods Santa Rosa offered to connect me with her Whole Body Department Team Leader (the fabulous Leondard) to help me learn more about available products- a service the Whole Body Department staff are happy to do for any family.  

Our family now has on hand the following wonderfully soothing items: 

Creams, Salves, Oils and Aroma Therapy

 “Green goo” or “Magic Medicine”

 Arincare Gel

 Eucalyptus oil

 Dry Skin Lotion

Building my wellness basket starts with a good store of healing salve, which we call “Green Goo” or “Magic Medicine.” Sono-Ma Nina Goodwin helped me wildcraft St. John’s and plantain from the banks of the Eel River last summer as core elements of our healing salve recipe. Other healing ingredients include: calendula and comfrey from my garden, olive oil and beeswax. We put this cream on all skin abrasions.

As an alternative to a homemade salve, Whole Foods gave me a sample of Boiron, Inc’s Arincare gel, which claims to provide pain relief for muscle aches, stiffness, and bruises. We’ll give this one a try for Bryles’ next bump!

Olba’s Oil replaced the Vick’s my mom used to give us for coughs. This natural product offers “aromatherapy in a massage oil and inhalant.” While Bryles finds it too strong for his chest or temples, he doesn’t object when we sprinkle oil on a tissue and tuck it in his pillow.

Dry skin sneaks up on our hands every winter. Santa Rosa based ShiKai offers “Borage Dry Skin Therapy” as a local and natural solution. I got a freebie through a swag bag at the Lunafest and a recent Whole Foods store tour. I love it!

Soothing Props

 Boo Boo Baby

 Lemon Neck Wraps

 Rice Sacks

 Blankets

 Stories

While moms and dads wish kisses solved all problems, sometimes we need to call in support from soothing props. One great distraction and novelty for a crying child is the adorable “Boo Boo Baby.” Sono-Dad Paul Kaiser just crafted one for his son Lucas in our Children’s Play Garden Waldorf group.

Sometimes comfort comes in other simpler forms. Grandma Mary showed me how to make a neck wrap with crushed lemons, wool, and silk to warm and soothe my throat. My neighbor, Miss Teapot, blessed me with a rice sack teddy bear as welcome gift for Bryles. My adopted mom crafted a wool and fleece blanket set for my birthday one year. We give great reverence to the soothing properties of these gifts, and wrap ourselves in their warmth. We cuddle and share stories of these women or the other angels in our lives – virtually calling on their strengths to help nurture us from afar.

Whole Food's Leonard also recommends Bucky brand neck and body wraps for those of you who'd like to start your own warm "rice sack" traditions!  The body wrap look's like a toddler's body pillow - imagine the toasty dreams your little one could have snuggled up with that!

Comfort Foods

 Tea - Traditional Medicinals

 Chicken Soup

 Honey

 Lemon

Let Sebastopol-based Traditional Medicinals soothe you this winter with a range of wonderful teas (and other herbal products.) I can’t live without Throat Coat tea when I have coughs and sniffles.

While some may argue the medicinal properties of chicken soup, people agree that warm soup soothes the throat, heats the body, and provides needed nourishment. Try “Mom’s Cold Season Chicken Soup” from Elise at Simply Recipes.

I also like to snuggle up in a blanket and sip comfort from a mug filled with honey and lemon water. Mother Earth News reports that honey is an excellent wellness tool. Its inherent anti-bacterial properties make it a wonderful wound healer and throat coat. Read more here.   Lemons are also said to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

Warmth, Water, and Handwashing

It turns out that granny is right! Keeping warm, drinking lots of water, and frequently washing our hands are important tasks for maintaining health and recuperating. Support your health throughout the day by forming a habit of always toting a hat, scarf, water bottle (Whole Foods Whole Body staffer Leonard recommends Klean Kanteen), and hand sanitizer such as our local EO’s lavender scented version.

While my son often tries to throw off his hat as he runs out the door, I chase after him and put it back on. Thomas Poplawski says in Renwal Magazine’s “‘Button up Your Overcoat’ Warmth and the Healthy Development of the Young Child:

a child’s body “has a finite amount of energy to use for growth, both for the growth of the body as a whole and for the development of the brain and inner organs. Keeping the body warm allows the greatest amount of these energies to be devoted to this task. When the child is not sufficiently warm, the growth forces are used up in maintaining body temperature, and the processes of outer and inner growth is affected.” (Read more of Poplawski)

Vitamins, Herbs, and Homepathy

Your family doctor can help advise you about what vitamins, herbs, and homeopathic remedies may support your family. Once you are ready to shop, Whole Foods is a great provider of high quality, local and/or organic products – detailed video included here:

(video: “Protecting your family from flu with herbal remedies - 10/30/09 - San Francisco News -”)

 You can find out more about how Whole Foods can support your family by participating in the:  Store Tour for Moms at Whole Foods on December 9th from 10:30 – 11:30. (Please RSVP to secure one of 6 remaining tour slots to Noelle Moss.) I received a great swag bag full of samples and coupons on my recent tour! Note: everyone can benefit self guided tour via a copy of the Santa Rosa Store map and Whole Food’s coupons found in the “Whole Deal” publication offered in front of stores as shown here:

For those schooled in crafting home herbal remedies, some common plants such as mint may come in handy as a part of your repertoire. Our family is also taking daily elderberry drops, to fend off this season’s flus.

Share your family’s ideas for a well winter by sharing your comments and photos now!


  1. Crissi Dillon // November 20, 2009 at 1:26 PM  

    Who wouldn't feel better after receiving one of those Wellness Baskets? I almost want to get sick just so someone can give me one! What a great idea!

  2. Sono-Ma: Holly White-Wolfe // December 11, 2009 at 12:22 PM  

    My dear friend, Sue Deane, just connected me to this great article which further supprots the idea of warmth. Written by the famous "Waldorf Mamma" you'll love the photos and words of wisdom here. Thanks, Sue!

  3. The Magic Onions // February 21, 2010 at 5:45 PM  

    Wow... wonderful info and ideas!! A sick basket is such a great idea!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Blessings and magic,

    ps - thanks for your sweet well-wishing words for Mr T... he's feeling so much better. On the mend, Yay!

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