Osha and Ginger Oxymel for Your Child’s Chest Cold

I don’t know about you all, but this has been one rough winter for us, sickness-wise. Back-to-back colds followed by sinus infections followed by stomach bugs…is it my karma?

Being sick as a grown up is hard enough. But, when desperate, you CAN take more potent over-the-counter remedies like ibuprofen or antihistamines. Generally speaking, these are a no-no for little ones. So what do you do when you see them so sick and miserable? Cuddle the cold away?

Luckily, Mother Nature has a long list of effective-yet-gentle herbs that can ease your baby’s suffering. These can be given in the traditional forms, but good luck getting your toddler to drink tea or swallow a tincture.

Enter today’s star: the oxymel.  It is a Greek word: “oxy” meaning “acid” and “mel” meaning “honey.” The acid we are talking about is apple cider vinegar, which contains acetic acid.

Apple cider vinegar on its own has myriad uses and benefits, both internal and external. It has been studied for its effect on blood glucose levels (Brighenti et al, 1995), coronary artery disease, and blood pressure (https://nccih.nih.gov/health/chelation). Certain medications containing acetic acid are used to treat skin conditions, infections if the ear canal, and vaginitis. Furthermore, it has been shown to be a potent anti microbial agent, even against stubborn gram negative bacteria when used topically in a 3% concentration (Ryssel et al, 2009). And then there is the long list of folk uses:

  1. UTI remedy
  2. Facial toner/acne remedy
  3. Head lice killer
  4. Digestive aid
  5. Restless leg alleviant
  6. Detox/fat loss aid

…just to name a few. So, long story short, we are already on our way to a potent home remedy.

Then there is honey. Sweet, soothing, and medicinal. It is an established anti-fungal and antimicrobial, which is why it seems to never go bad. And, most importantly for our oxymel, it has been shown to be MORE effective than dextromethorphan (that’s the “DM” in a famous over-the-counter cough syrup) in treating nighttime cough in children (Paul IM, et al, 2007).

So, you could basically mix honey and apple cider vinegar and have an excellent cough syrup, no herbs required. But I like herbs. So let’s boost this oxymel to amazing heights with…osha root.

Osha grows wild in Colorado. It is in the celery/parsnip family, and greatly resembles Angelica, Cow Parsnip, and…poison hemlock. The latter and osha also often grow right next to each other. For this reason, I do not recommend foraging for this one unless you have a lot of experience. The root is completely different from hemlock. Osha is a brown taproot with a distinct maple and celery aroma. But nonetheless, I wouldn’t risk it. You can purchase osha online. Since it is local to Colorado, you will get the best price from www.herbsandarts.com. They are a wonderful local metaphysical and herbs store that ship all over.

Osha root is pricey, I will admit. Depending on the time of year, you can spend $25 on an ounce. But it is EFFECTIVE and one ounce makes quite a lot of medicine. It is an amazingly effective bronchodilator. You can FEEL it relaxing that tightness in your chest with an almost menthol-y, analgesic effect. Osha studies are sadly lacking, but empirical data support its use for cough and chest inflammation. And personal use gives it a thumbs up, too.

If osha is unavailable or not in your budget, you can also use elderberries, elder flowers, or linden leaf and flower. All are safe for children and have their own actions against colds.

I have also added ginger to this oxymel for taste, warming, and to help with any tummy upset due to the ingestion of mucus that often happens with a cold. So, here is the RECIPE:



  1. Organic raw honey*
  2. Organic apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 oz osha root, dried
  4. 1 tablespoon ginger root, fresh or dried
  5. Pint mason jar


Place osha and ginger in mason jar. Fill two thirds with honey, one third with vinegar. Cover with lid. Shake to mix. Leave in a cool, dark place for 4 weeks. Strain into an amber colored bottle and store in medicine cabinet.

*Honey should not be consumed by anyone under the age of one due to the risk of botulism

One teaspoon of this was effective for my son (he is almost two). He liked the taste and I noticed a difference almost immediately-no joke. The beauty of this is that you cannot overdose on it. Give it as-needed with no fear of drowsiness or any other unpleasant side effects.

Recipe: Lavender Rose Bath Fizzies

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Who doesn’t love a bath? A sudsy, fragrant soak is my cure-all for virtually every ailment, from flu to a bad bruise.

Baths have the remarkable ability to be both relaxing and energizing. They are an ancient, world-wide remedy for aches and pains of every sort: the Egyptians enjoyed baths with flowers and essential oils as a luxury and a remedy; the Romans were famous for their public baths; Japanese citizens were (and still are) advised to soak in natural hot springs for good health…and today, still, we acknowledge the healing powers of the bath. In fact, baths are so popular as a natural remedy that there is a word for it: balneology. Cool, right?

There are two features of the bath that lend it its healing properties:

1) Heat

2) Mineral/Herbal/Oil Infusion

While the first may seem obvious, the reason may not be as apparent. Heat, on its own, has remarkable healing properties. Fifteen minutes of heat will increase circulation to an area of tension, allowing the muscles to relax and regain elasticity and flexibility. A hot bath is, therefore, the ideal treatment for tired, sore muscles. Furthermore, heat creates steamSteam opens pores and clears nasal passages. A combination of hot water on the chest and steam inhalation provides exceptional relief for chest colds and congestion.

The mineral/herbal infusion is where the bath becomes a true hero. Already we have seen how plain, hot water has its own healing properties. But there are myriad ways to augment those properties, simply by adding herbs, salts, and oils to the water. The following are just a few ideas of what you can put in your bath for added benefit:


1) Lavender-add 10 drops for relaxation
2) Eucalyptus-10 drops for congestion
3) Jasmine-10 drops for anxiety
4) Rose-10 drops for healthy skin
5) Peppermint-10 drops for energy


1) Epsom Salts-add 1 cup to bath for sore muscles and bruising
2) Baking soda-add 1/2 cup to a shallow bath for urinary tract infections
3) Apple cider vinegar-add 1/2 to shallow bath for yeast/fungal infections


1) Calendula petals for yeast infection, eczema, and itching
2) Rose petals/lavender petals for relaxation
3) Rosemary for circulation and sore muscles

You can mix and match any of the above, too! A nice, compact way to get your oils, minerals, and herbs into the bath all in one go is through bath fizzies, which are SUPER easy to make and lots of fun in the bathtub. Most of the ingredients you can easily find at your grocery store. The more obscure stuff, like the rose petals and citric acid, are linked to websites where you can buy them for a good deal. Here is the recipe:


(Makes 6 fizzies)

1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup Epsom salt
1/4 cup citric acid
1/4 cup corn starch
1 1/4 tsp coconut oil

1 1/2 tsp to 1 tablespoon water
10 drops lavender oil
2 drops red food coloring
1/2 cup dried red rose petals


In a medium bowl, whisk together the baking soda, Epsom salt, citric acid, and corn starch. In a separate bowl (or Pyrex liquid measuring cup for controlled pouring), whisk together coconut oil, water (start with 1.5 tsp), food coloring, and lavender oil. Slowly pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, whisking as you go. Go slowly to avoid reacting all the baking soda. Some bubbling will occur, but don’t let it bubble too much–if you let the chemical reaction complete, you’ll get no fizzing in the bathtub, which is SO sad.

If your ingredients are wet enough, they should clump together in your hand like damp sand. If they don’t, add an additional 1 1/2 tsp of water. That should do the trick.

There are a few options for molding the fizzies. They make special “bath bomb” molds if you want to have the spherical ones. I don’t have one of those, so I use a cupcake pan. I sprinkle the rose petals into the bottom of the tins, then portion out the fizzy mixture into each space until it is nearly full and press it down. I let it dry for 4 hours. They pop out easily enough: just flip over the pan and lightly tap on each space containing the mixture. Or make it even easier on yourself and use paper cupcake liners. They make pretty little ridges on the outside.


I love to give these as presents. (Walmart sells little gift bags with cardboard disk that fit in the bottom that are perfect for these). You can make all sorts of them too: experiment with different herbs and fragrances. You really can’t go wrong.

Now go enjoy a relaxing, healing bath.