The Cure for the Common Crud

05 Jan

The CDC has been tossing around the word “epidemic,” which accurately describes the state of ill-health most folk appear to have begun the year 2015. The flu has touched the lives of many of my friends. Hospitals overflow. Urgent Care waiting rooms fill to maximum capacity, and all I could do was hope I didn’t contract what’s going around.

I have a compromised immune system. Most cancer survivors have them, even if they have been cancer-free for years. My lungs are particularly weakened after living in Sevierville, Tennessee which borders the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You see, all of those cars carrying millions of visitors, they dump a whole lot of particulate matter into the air. Delicate lungs were designed to breathe clean air, not exhaust.

So when my husband returned early from a trip looking like road kill, I immediately increased my daily Vitamin C intake to an unheard of level. Vitamin C doesn’t store up in the liver, so more is better when coming in contact with germs. I also began running the humidifier. Colder outside temperature means a drier environment inside the home. We turn on the heat and dry out our sinuses.

At the first sign of a throat tickle I went to the doctor, explaining that if she didn’t give me a steroid shot and antibiotics I would, repeat would, get pneumonia. I had been there before, ten years earlier in Tennessee where sinusitis morphed into bronchitis that became pneumonia. I hadn’t been sick in years, but I knew my body. I was in a weakened condition, especially after the death of my mother, and my recent car accident.

The doctor refused.

Taking the Z-pack she offered, I continued the Vitamin C warfare, adding B vitamins, zinc, and chicken broth with garlic and black pepper. Vicks vapor was my friend. I had to – at all cost – keep the infection out of my lungs.

Nothing worked.

I awoke with excruciating headaches. My teeth hurt. My sinuses were so tight that I began each morning by hanging my head over a pot of water I now kept boiling in the kitchen. Eventually I resorted to nasal spray which offered limited relief.

Well-meaning friends gave me their own home remedies:

Lemon juice



Vitamin C

Vicks rubbed on the feet



Thieves’ oil

And don’t forget . . . Rum

And I tried them all, except the Thieves Oil. For those who aren’t familiar with this concoction (and I am no expert so bear with me), Thieves Oil is classified as an “essential oil” which is created from herbs and olive oil. The herbs are infused in the oil. We humans take a couple drops of this oil every day (before we get sick), and these tiny droplets boost our immune system.

Or in my case, replenish.

Sounds like snake oil doesn’t it? For the record, if you are new to my blog, it takes a lot for me to “Drink the Kool-Aid.” I don’t jump on any bandwagon or current trend. In fact, if there is a current trend odds are I am going to sit back and watch everyone else waste their money. Example: iPhone, Starbucks, Miss Me Jeans and mall shopping. I simply do not follow trends.


I educate myself and then if it something works I tell y’all about it.

Enter Shannon Gowland. Shannon is herbalist and the owner of the Roswell Farmers Market. She’s the mother of two kids, and if you want to learn more about her click her FB link. Now Shannon doesn’t know that I am writing this blog post. She hasn’t paid me to endorse her business; she isn’t that kind of gal. She is-in a word-authentic. She doesn’t just offer Organic food, she offers Biodynamic products (which I really don’t understand other than you can rest assured the food is really good for you and free of chemicals and other nasty things).Here is what I know. Shannon personally inspects where things come from. She grows the herbs used in the essential oils. She doesn’t use chemical fertilize. Now I could have purchased Thieves Oil from a giant monster mega company way out west (name withheld); or, I could purchase it from someone who had cultivated the plants herself.

I chose this woman-owned business . . . the one who cultivates, presses and squeezes every drop of healing goodness possible into her product.


Because at the end of the day I really do not trust mega-businesses. I prefer to deal with someone on the local level whenever possible. I trust Shannon. Because let’s be honest, the ingredients could come from anywhere.

After the traditional Z-pack failed (by now I was feeling worse), I contacted Shannon and asked if she had something for my symptoms. My head still throbbed. My teeth hurt. Ears were tight. I could not sleep more than three hours a night due to incessant-unrelieved-coughing. And, I had just canceled a speaking engagement because no one- absolutely no one- wants to listen to an author gasp for breath.

Shannon delivered an oil (the Thieves Oil has a patent on it now . . . sigh), she also included a bag of tiny crystals which would open my nasal passages and lungs.


Note single crystal on top of bottle and another one in the far right below the bowl. A tiny-yet pungent- cure.

Oh boy…. Crystals. Really?

Just the word crystals invoke images of the Rainbow group which descended upon the mountains in the 80s, but I digress. At this point I didn’t care if the cure contained frog toenails and octopus tentacles, I had to get better!

The cure was simple; begin with one drop of oil diluted in broth.

One drop.

Seriously? A single drop!

C’mon now. I feel terrible. Terrible.

Do y’all know how small a single drop is?

Skeptical, I waited for the drop to leave the tiny bottle, looked at it for a minute, then downed the liquid.

Even more skeptical, I dissolved a portion of the crystals. Shannon told me to dissolve them all, but she also explained that they were strong . . . pungent, and must be used with care. And since I like to make things last, I shook two tiny crystals and placed them in a small glass bowl.

Bringing the steaming bowl to my face I inhaled, turned my head and exhaled. Immediately. Instantly, my sinus cavity was open.


I felt so much relief that I actually said the word aloud.

Last night, for the first time in a week, I slept through the night. NO coughing.

I was so excited that I had to share the news with you.

Because if you have had the crud you know what it feels like to struggle to breathe. You know that the nasal spray only works for a limited time. You have been desperate to try anything.

This morning is my second dose of essential oil. Today I am to increase my dosage to two drops and take this three times a day. I like the taste of it because it feels like I am restoring my health one drop at a time.

And you know, there must be something to this crystal and essential oil thing because my sinuses have already begun to expel the nasty yellow infection which has caused me so much pain. But perhaps the best part is that I did not order from a big company who does not know my name, I supported a working mother (whose price is half by the way) and I am already feeling better.

NOTE: After this post, I received messages from people who were angry that I opted to purchase the essential oil from a local herbalist instead of ordering from a giant monster mega company. Please note that at NO time did Shannon imply that she was providing Thieves Oil. In fact, she explained clearly that she does NOT sell, or mix, thieves oil, but creates a product made specifically for her clients based on their needs. So for those who have left comments (which I deleted), shame on you for trying to attach your negativity to my blog.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches; Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. A Hardscrabble Christmas. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. Email her through her website at She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.


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5 responses to “The Cure for the Common Crud

  1. Rachel Morgan Carpenter

    January 5, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Excellent post, Renea. I will be looking for that at the local Health food store.

  2. AuthorJoePerroneJr

    January 5, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Patient: “How long will it take for my cold to go away, doctor?”
    Doctor: “One week if you take this prescription, seven days if you don’t.”

    Bottom line? Rest, lots of liquids, humidifier, etc. and wait a week or so…

    Fun post. Really enjoyed it!

  3. Deborah

    January 5, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Plants formed the basis for health care long before our modern penchant for questionable chemicals. I am so glad you have a friend that was able to help you find some relief! Probiotics and fermented cod liver oil work great for the crud too.

  4. Joan Spicer

    January 6, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    My sister spent the last years of her beloved husband’s life traveling from Vegas to Baja California and Cancer Centers in Mexico, studying herbal remedies for cures of what ailed them and for increasing the strength of their immune systems. One for Crud also involved Olive Oil mixed with minced Garlic and Onion with Apple Cider Vinegar. You ingest it by the spoonful or can use as a salad dressing, thereby making it more palatable and adding fresh vegetables at the same time. It immediately started having an effect on my sinuses and opening my chest/lungs. This is also helpful for a variety of other maladies, such as healing wounds and burns and infections, etc. the cost is minimal. I used the jarred minced garlic in the fridge, as I was too sick to drive to the store for fresh.

    • Stacey Baum

      January 10, 2015 at 5:53 pm

      I love this post. I also love The Roswell Farmers Market and Shannon. I frequently call upon her expertise and do most if not all of my shopping at her store. Thanks so much for supporting our wonderful locally owned businesses.


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