Does cold season have to be cold season? As part of All-School Night in September, the Steiner Parent Association organized a panel of wellness experts connected with our school community to speak about “How to Stay Well This Winter.” Dr. Lara Setti, Margaret Rosenthaler, R.N., Dr. Kristine Olsen and Emily Kasten shared advice and experience from several healing modalities about how to keep your children well, when to keep them home from school and how to help them get well soon when they do get sick. (Click on each speaker’s name above to link to video.)
In addition to their specific recommendations, we’re happy to share a few more time-tested recipes for thriving this winter, suggested by members of the panel and our Steiner community.
Anthroposophic medicine is a form of medical practice developed by Rudolf Steiner that combines spiritual insight with practical diagnosis and healing to address the body as a whole. One aspect of a healthy winter home life is keeping homeopathic remedies on hand that stimulate the body’s self-regulating abilities to start the healing process. When dealing with winter colds, Aconite can be useful during the first 24 hours after onset, for children and adults.
If you struggle with stress, Ignatia Amara 200c is a go-to remedy. For stress brought on by something sudden, a dose of Aconitum Napellus 200c is also quite helpful. Thanks to parent Jenna Goodman for these suggestions.
Less Stress and Stressing Less
Family chiropractor Kristine Olsen offers these strategies for stressing less:
- Find rhythms for your family’s eating, moving, resting and sleeping, and keep them as consistent as possible
- Reduce or eliminate low net-gain foods such as sugar, caffeine and dairy; choose fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens
- Reduce or eliminate screen time from your family lifestyle; remove social media and email from your phone and turn off notifications
- Spend time outdoors every day
- Be creative: write, draw, play
- Meditate, journal and practice gratitude with your kids
Dr. Olsen also recommends these resources for less stress:
- Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver
- Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne (available in the Steiner parent library)
- Loving What Is by Byron Katie
- Thrive book series by Brendan Brazier
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- The Slow Home podcast
Lemon Calf Wrap for Fever Control
With respect for fever’s role in fighting illness, Anthroposophic nurse Margaret Rosenthaler recommends this lemon calf wrap to reduce a high fever naturally – for example, when a child is feverish and unable to sleep. With a sharp knife, cut a lemon (preferably organic) in half in a bowl of warm water. One at a time, press each half flat on the bottom of the bowl and cut from the center outward, in rays. Scrape the rind with your knife tip to release the healing oils in the skin of the fruit, then press the juice out of each half of the lemon – the bottom of a teacup works well for this.
Keep the covers on, and make sure your patient has warm feet (rub them briskly to stimulate circulation or use a hot water bottle to warm).
Soak strips of cotton or silk in the warm lemon water, then ring them out. Wrap each leg completely from foot to knee with these damp compresses, then quickly wrap wool material (a scarf is great) around the foot and leg in the same way (a big pair of wool socks works well in a pinch). Pin or clip the ends of the wraps in place.
Help your patient rest quietly for 20 minutes, or until the compresses are dry (which they should be if originally wrung out enough). Continue for an hour if needed, allowing for a pause before resuming. If, after one treatment, the child seems comfortable, there is no need for another treatment. And if your patient falls asleep, no need to wake them to remove, just keep them warmly wrapped.
For more natural remedies and nourishing treatments, Margaret Rosenthaler recommends the book Caring for the Sick at Home (von Bentheim, Bos, de la Houssaye and Visser), available in the Steiner parent library. Other helpful guides include A Waldorf Guide to Children’s Health (Glockler, Goebel and Michael) and Anthroposophic Medicine for all the Family (Sergio Maria Francardo, MD).
Tumeric Wellness Lemonade
Tumeric has antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It cleanses the liver (which can be helpful during fevers), boosts immunity, and enhances circulation (also helpful during a cold or flu). Here’s a delicious recipe recommended by parent Amy Humes, from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin. Locally, fresh turmeric root can be found at Guido’s and The Berkshire Coop in Great Barrington, and at the Farm Store at Hawthorne Valley. You can replace the fresh root with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried turmeric powder – and try replacing the citrus with steamed milk of your choice for a healing warm drink for winter.
(Makes 3 1/2 Cups)
- 2 tablespoons of finely grated, unpeeled fresh turmeric root
- 1 teaspoon of finely grated fresh ginger
- 3 cups of boiling spring or filtered water
- Tiny pinch of sea salt
- 2 tablespoons of raw honey
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1/4 cup of fresh orange juice
Put the turmeric and ginger in a heatproof jar or pot and add boiling water and salt. Steep uncovered for 10 minutes and then stir in honey until dissolved and strain into another jar or pitcher. Allow to cool to room temperature, then stir in lemon and orange juice. Drink as is, or chill in the fridge first. If you store it in the fridge, this drink will last up to a week.
Steiner’s legendary early childhood teacher emeritus, Jo Valens, is a wealth of love and wellness. We consulted her about ideas for winter fare, and she has shared one of her favorite recipes for a delicious vegetarian borscht:
Chop the vegetables, melt the butter and saute your onion until transparent. Add potato, beets and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1/2 hour. Allow to cool before blending in small amounts in a blender. Return to saucepan, add remaining ingredients and season generously. Reheat to serving temperature. Stir in sour cream just before serving and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Yum.
A wonderful recommendation for us all is “The Waldorf School Book of Soups,” which Ms. Valens helped to write.
Nurse Margaret Rosenthaler reminds us that the two most important ways to stay well in the winter are daylight and warmth – so bundle up in your warm woolies, go outside and play – it’s good for you!