Last month Raleigh caught Impetigo. It’s a nasty little virus that is basically strep on the skin. If you’ve never had a run in with this count your lucky stars because it was rough. Skin stuff is always a bit more challenging on Raleigh, though, because of his severe eczema. The GAPS diet has changed a great many things in these almost 15 months, but we know the skin will be the very last to heal.
We celebrated 10 years of marriage in early August but got to have a pre-anniversary stay-cation celebration the last weekend in July courtesy of my mom and step-father who kept the kids. We went over the second night to see them real quick, and I noticed what I thought was a cluster of bug bites all over Raleigh’s right arm. They had just been to the zoo, and I thought maybe something had crawled into his sleeve and just gone to town on his skin. Nope. It was the beginning of the impetigo virus.
Fast forward two days, they’re back home with us and the alleged “bug bites” have spread significantly and were beginning to pop and ooze. Sorry, should have warned you ahead of time! I knew this wasn’t eczema or bug bites, so I went to Dr. Google for answers. Other than being told he was dying and Armageddon was imminent, I was pretty certain after reading absolutely every article on common childhood rashes that he had something called impetigo.
That afternoon I started to feel a tingle in my throat. It had been about a 48 hour window from first noticing and touching his burgeoning outbreak to noticing the tingle in my throat. I knew I was coming down with the strep throat version. From early afternoon that Sunday to around 4 or 5 p.m. that night, I went from feeling something coming on to having a full-fledged swollen and painful throat. Goodie goodie gum drops.
This also happened to be the very last week we had Sam home before he had to return to school. Woke up Monday morning feeling completely rotten, the impetigo was spreading all over Raleigh like rapid wildfire, because OF COURSE, kids catch the grossest things that spread easily and quickly. It just wouldn’t be any other way. Sam took Raleigh in to be analyzed, and I began to wade into all the natural home remedies I knew would help me beat strep throat naturally without antibiotics.
Years ago, before we dove head first into natural living, Evelyn had a string of months/years where she caught strep throat over and over, and we treated her with antibiotics only to have it return a few weeks later. It was miserable, and I wish I knew then what I know now. If I did our story wouldn’t hold as much weight. We were meant to walk this path for a reason.
When I finally decided to follow the rabbit down the hole into natural living, I happened upon The Healthy Home Economist. If you don’t read her stuff you should. She is fantastic, and I’ve learned so many things from her, and I continue to do so today. She has a natural remedy for strep throat that leaves out the antibiotics. I was sold, and I was ready with the protocol waiting in the wings for the next time strep would strike.
Sam’s experience at the pediatrician was a bit frustrating. Raleigh’s pediatrician is an integrative doctor who has always supported us on GAPS and helped push us toward natural remedies with antibiotics for only life-or-death situations. I’m typically the one dealing with the Dr visits and she knows me well, but because I was also sick Sam had to go. Apparently impetigo had been going around our area, and she didn’t need to see much of Raleigh to confirm my diagnosis. She also didn’t hesitate to insist Raleigh be put on antibiotics. Sam pushed back and informed her how we had been already treating him at home with apple cider vinegar baths, followed by a coconut and tea tree oil treatment all over the skin. His diet already lended well to expedite healing. He wasn’t eating dairy, he wasn’t eating sugar. He did not have a high fever, or really one at all, he was not lethargic. He was eating, drinking, having bowel movements and urinating and sleeping. His appetite was slightly diminished, but we came to realized he had weathered the worst of the storm at my mom’s house during our stay-cation. There was nothing making me think he needed antibiotics. This was not life or death.
After informing the Dr of our protocol she backed down a little. I was sure we could get him over the hump, really he was over the hump, except for the spreading aspect of the impetigo. That was truly the most difficult part of the experience because Raleigh is always itching. Sometimes itching out of habit, other times out of feeling an actual itch. But it caused the impetigo to spread from one arm to the other, to the knees and feet, toes, butt and legs. It was a bit exhausting. Ok, it was really exhausting. Just when we thought we had seen the last pustule pop, crust over and clear another one came up. Gross. I know. So we kept up the baths, multiple baths, and re wrapping areas of skin to keep him from itching as much as possible as we reapplied the coconut and tea tree oil. I will say, the ACV baths and the oils did work well. The bacteria didn’t stand a chance being exposed to both. I was really pleased. I do also understand why they prescribe antibiotics for this. It would have stopped it in it’s tracks by day two. “But at what cost?” was the thought going through my mind. His microbiome is a battlefield, and we’ve been fighting hard for it.
Sam’s last week home was a bust, but I’m so thankful it happened with him home because it enabled me to rest and sleep and pound the garlic! I followed the Healthy Home Economist’s protocol pretty closely, but I added in a few other remedies that I know aided my body in beating the strep virus.
That Monday I didn’t take it seriously enough. I only took garlic 4 times and very spread out. I was incredibly exhausted and mostly laid on the couch. That night things got worse, my throat felt more swollen, the roof of my mouth and my throat turned a bright red and just felt like someone had burned me with a flame. It was raw and terrible. So when I woke Tuesday morning, I knew I had to increase the garlic. From waking, I began taking a clove of garlic, pressed into a spoon and exposed to air for around 15 minutes, every 30 minutes. Yes, you read that right: EVERY THIRTY MINUTES I ate garlic. It was intense to say the least. Right before I swallowed the garlic I sprinkled some cayenne pepper on top. Tossed that bad boy back, chased it with a few sips of a green juice or a teaspoon of applesauce. Garlic breathing dragon of epic proportions! That was me.
I started dosing myself with high amounts of vitamin C. I took one teaspoon twice a day mixed in water that added up to about 5,200 mg. I did this for two days until I got diarrhea. I knew I had reached my limit and backed off. I removed all dairy and sugar except for when I felt hungry I ate extra fruit for more vitamins and minerals. I had berries, papaya, and peaches on some homemade kefir for the good bacteria boost. I also ate a pastured egg cooked in a lot of coconut oil, pouring the extra oil on a slice of rye sourdough to soften it. The coconut oil has many healing properties to it too. I kept up with my cod liver oil supplement to help with the inflammation. I gargled with ACV 1-3 times a day and drank some mixed with water a few times.
In the mornings I drank green tea with collagen peptides instead of coffee, and made a batch of chicken and vegetable soup with good bone broth. I used the propolis spray we keep on hand to help with the histamine reactions Raleigh has, 2-4 times a day as well, sucked on an elderberry and zinc lozenge and took a turmeric supplement 3x a day. This thing was not going to take me down.
Wednesday morning when I woke there wasn’t much of a change in how I felt, and I knew I would have to keep up with the garlic and cayenne. I was feeling pretty dang discouraged, and Sam even told me I should go to the doctor at one point. But I knew I could beat it. So I kept at it, same regime for the entire day except for two hours mid-day when I was in and out of sleep. By the end of the day, I was feeling as if I had turned a corner. I could feel real hunger pains returning, but I still felt incredibly weak and tired. I also had a great deal of mucus building in my body.
Thursday I woke up feeling like I had gotten past the worst of it. My throat was still a bit swollen, but the white patches had begun to fall off or disappear, and the red, rawness in my throat was lessoning. Good thing too because Sam went back to school that morning. I was thankful I felt well enough to care for my kids. That was a real blessing. I still continued the garlic but spaced it every hour instead. I continued eating very nutrient dense foods and left the dairy and sugar out of my diet.
On Tuesday and Wednesday I also took two incredibly hot epsom salt detox baths. I drank ginger tea while in the bath to aid my body in releasing toxins. I started oil pulling as soon as I could tolerate swishing the coconut oil in my mouth and did it daily for at least a week. It really helps detox but also pulls out that mucus I was dealing with.
The entire ordeal lasted from July 29th to August 6th. I felt a true exhaustion for a bit longer than a week though, and it took 5-6 days for my throat to completely go back to normal.
Two to three days into my regimen, Evelyn spiked a low-grade fever and a sore throat. I managed to get her to take fermented garlic three times before she broke down and refused. From there, I let her fever just go. It never got higher than 100.5, but I’m pretty sure it hung out there for two full days. I treated her heavily with smoothies full of fruits and extra vitamin C and coconut oil. She also took extra doses of elderberry syrup and the propolis spray. She seemed to get over hers faster than I did.
Would I do it this way again? 100% yes. Was it easy? Heck no. As far as immunity goes, if I’m understanding it correctly, we should have immunity to this specific strain. That excites me. And really, our bodies are meant to fight things off naturally; that is how God created us. It builds our immune system to do so.
Have you done this? I’d love to hear how you did it!