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How I Treat Croup & Upper Respiratory Infections Naturally…

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Croup & Upper RespiratoryMy oldest daughter has come down with croup-it’s the second time this winter.  The first time she got it I wasn’t prepared.   She’s never sick, then pre-K started in the fall and BOOM-we are all sick ALL. THE. TIME. 

So far we have been able to treat our illnesses naturally and haven’t gotten so sick that a doctor was necessary.  My aim is to keep it this way! 

This post will give you an easy protocol in treating upper respiratory issues as well as croup. 

I had a go at making my own sore throat popsicles-I’ve included a relatively easy recipe that will taste yummy and fill little bellies with healing honey and essential oils.   I also have added a recipe for cough drops! 

Fear not-in most cases croup can be remedied and cut off at the pass before it gets too serious!

What is Croup?  

According to the Mayo Clinic, “croup is an infection of the upper airway, generally in children, which obstruct breathing and causes a characteristic barking cough”

Croup usually is a result of a virus like the common cold.  The croup itself is actually not contagious. Croup can be extremely scary for a child and the parent because it can interfere with a child’s ability to breath.  

Luckily, the older a child gets, the less issue they have with croup.   Children that have had RSV often suffer from croup more than a child that has not.

My Natural Protocol for Croup & Upper Respiratory Relief-

  • Steam followed by cool air-If you don’t have a steamer use your bathroom-turn on the shower as hot as it goes, shut the door and set with your child, encouraging them to breath in the steamy air.  After the steam, bundle them up and take them outside-if it’s warm you can always open the freezer and have them breath.  whether it’s air conditioning, the freezer or winter air, it soothes the chest and opens the airways.
  • Essential oils-My recipe for Homemade Vapor Rub is a soothing remedy that can be used to relieve congestion.  Diffusing Marjoram is said to break up congestion.  Using a blend of Rosemary, Lemon, Peppermint, Clove, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree can help decongest and soothe.  I recommend diluting essential oils with a carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil.  You can rub their back and chest with this blend.  I do not dilute when I apply to the feet.  The feet are powerful and applying essential oils there can do wonders. Refer to my Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils for more information.
  • Diffusers/Humidifiers- Diffusing essential oils can be an amazingly effective way to rid the body of croup.  Dry air can wreak havoc on every function in the body.  Humidifiers are an excellent way to infuse the air with moisture and soothe dryness.   I do not use a humidifier-I don’t have a clear answer for this but every time I pull our’s out, we get worse then we were.  I question whether we have mold somewhere in the house and the moisture activates it-Be aware of this.  I do diffuse however.  I prefer THIS diffuser.  Diffusing Frankincense and Marjoram in your child’s room while they are sick goes a long way.
  • Staying up right-Laying flat can cause the congestion to increase-Prop your child up with pillows even while they sleep.
  • Honey-warm raw honey can do wonders for a scratchy throat.  It will coat and soothe.  Honey is antibacterial, anti viral and anti fungal.  It contains antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins and enzymes.  WARNING-babies 1 year and younger should not be given honey under any circumstances.

    According to Mayo Clinic,

    “Croup is an infection of the upper airway, generally in children, which obstructs breathing and causes a characteristic barking cough.”


  • Fever!  I love talking about FEVER.  As a young mom I can remember going into panic mode when my oldest got a fever.  My husband would be spouting off about seizures and I would be terrified and confused as to how to proceed.  FEVER IS OUR BODIES WAY OF FIGHTING OFF ILLNESS.  Our bodies were wonderfully made-if we let them-they can heal themselves most of the time.  A fever works by heating up our insides and making our bodies an unfavorable environment for foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria.  Granted-fevers can get too high and there is cause for intervention, but for the most part, fevers are good and we should stand back and let it do it’s job.  I am not a doctor so don’t take my word for it-do your research and use your intuition.  Here are some awesome articles from a doctor that explains the benefits of fevers-HERE, HERE and HERE.   In my opinion, put the Tylenol away and resist the urge to break the fever.  Monitor your child’s temp by all means, but rejoice in the fact that that little body is working as it should!  As a side note-while a child has a fever they should be very lethargic and not hungry.  This is normal.  The body shuts down when it is fighting.  Don’t force them to eat, but encourage them to drink water.  I wrote a more in-depth post on fevers HERE.
  • Popsicles!  Kids love popsicles!  I made my own cough drops but in order to make hard candy your mixture must be boiled until the temp. reaches 300 degrees-that high temp negates most of the healing properties of essential oils and honey!  So, I realized I could pack popsicles full of good stuff that my girls will readily slurp up! You might also want to make my Probiotic Popsicles!
  • Homemade Cough Drops

Ingredients for Halls Cough Drops:

Active Ingredient: Menthol 5.7 mg

Inactive Ingredients: caramel color, FD&C blue 1, FD&C red 40, FD&C yellow 5 (tartrazine), flavors, glucose syrup, glycerin, malic acid, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, potassium citrate, soy lecithin, sucrose, water

There’s a lot of YUCK in those.  As I stated above-heating honey and essential oils to 300 degrees can greatly reduce their healing powers, but-having something to suck on can really soothe an achy throat.  

I made my own and they turned out AMAZING!  For an in-depth tutorial on how to make cough drops at home go HERE.

Beware-there is A LOT of sugar in this recipe.  Hey-if it soothes their throat and makes them happy, once in a while is OK!

Cinnamon Honey Cough Drops

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 TBSP. butter
  • 5-7 drops Shield Essential Oil (or OnGuard-DoTerra or Thieves-Young Living) (find it HERE)

**Put 5-7 drops of Shield on your mixture once you’ve heated it to 300 degrees and poured it on a buttered cookie sheet or Sil-Pats.  Once it cools just enough to thicken, fold in edges, being sure to mix in the essential oil.  Work very quickly to stretch out in a long rope and cut small bite sized pieces.  Let cool.  Refer to this LINK for pics that explain this process better.**

cough drops

According to Mayo Clinic,

“Croup is an infection of the upper airway, generally in children, which obstructs breathing and causes a characteristic barking cough.”


According to Mayo Clinic,

“Croup is an infection of the upper airway, generally in children, which obstructs breathing and causes a characteristic barking cough.”


Sore Throat Popsicles

  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
  • 2 TBSP Coconut Oil (find it HERE)
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 cup Berries ( i use an assortment of organic blueberries, raspberries and strawberries)
  • 1/4 cup Raw Honey or Manuka Honey
  • 5 drops Lemon Essential oil (find it HERE) (optional)
  • 1. Blend all ingredients in blender
  • 2. Pour mixture into molds and freeze.  Find molds HERE.

FYI-I did not have molds so I took a chance on our local Walmart and had to get REAL creative.  I ended up with weirdly shaped ice cube trays, plastic shot glasses and push up pops.   If you end up like me and have a sick kiddo at home and are roaming the aisles of Walmart (in the winter, no less) you can find push up pops in the ice cream aisle and shot glasses with the soft drinks.   Amazon has great molds, but if you need to make these ASAP-go to Walmart!


push up pops

**DISCLAIMER** I am not qualified to give advice on medical issues.  I am writing from my own experience and research.  I am very slow to take my children to the doctor or put them on antibiotics but I am not suggesting you do the same.  Every parent knows best for their own child.

xx, Jenni

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Jennifer Phillips

Jennifer Phillips

Jennifer Phillips worked as a licensed aesthetician for over 8 years before creating the green beauty blog, Jenni Raincloud and her natural skin care line, J. Raincloud Organics. Jennifer has been blogging full time for 9 years and loves to gain and share knowledge on how to achieve beautiful skin the natural way.

24 thoughts on “How I Treat Croup & Upper Respiratory Infections Naturally…”

  1. Thanks for this post. Both of my boys came down with croup, the littlest being 11 mo so honey isn’t a option, but I hadn’t thought about freezer pops. When the hubs comes home tonight I am making them for the boys. Thanks!

  2. These are very helpful!
    When my daughter had a mild case of the croups, I went to the natural pharmacy in my area. They gave me oral drops that I gave her every 15 minutes until I saw improvement. It was called “Croup CP” from Natural Creations.
    Needless to say, I wasn’t giving it to her for very long! It worked almost immediately!

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I’m dealing with a breathing problem and it’s so horrible and having to experience how it is first hand, I can’t imagine how children feels when they go through it. I’m already seeing a doctor but I’ve always been on the look out for remedies that can relieve breathing problems. I like the remedies that you posted here I think they will work not only for Croup but also for anyone experiencing breathing problems. I’ll definitely add this to my collection. Thanks again for this I wish you and your daughters good health.

    Olivia Clark

  4. Eucalyptus, peppermint and Rosemary can all cause respitory distress in children, and no matter how pure your brand is, they should. It be used on children. Frankensence,oil of oregano, fir, or other oils would be beneficial without the chance of making things worse! For some reason my device won’t let me paste a link here, but Google it please!

  5. You’re not crazy. Cool mist humidifiers DO make croup worse. You’re quite observant. A lot of people don’t pick up on that. Smart move. I was actually wondering if the diffuser was doing the same thing. Maybe not?

  6. The best and most effective essential oils for croup for our family are thyme, marjoram, and eucalyptus citridora (from what I have looked up this is the safest for kids.. If someone wants to complain about the unsafe use of eucalyptus, then you can. But I think a kid not breathing is worse and I have had no negative effects with croup. I only use it with croup). This works better than anything out there because there is nothing out on the market for croup. All a person can do is go to the Dr. They will give a breathing treatment and steroid shot. I get results in less than 8 min. and seem to need to reapply every 2 hours.
    Croup has been a major issue for our family. My 2nd son started to get croup at 18 m. and he still gets it even though he is 8 yrs. It was bad and scary. Cold air, steam, vitamins, and homeopathy didn’t work. All of a sudden he would wake at 2:00 in the morning with croup. He never had a fever. He would be struggling to breathe. I grew to HATE croup. I would have to take him to an after hours clinic to get a breathing treatment and steroid shot on average 3 times a year. I shuddered to do it. But what other choice was there? Wait to see if he stopped breathing altogether? A couple years ago my husbands boss gave my hubby a sample of thyme and marjoram. When my son got croup, I diluted it and put it on him. He only had croup 1 night instead of the 2 he always had..and he didn’t have to go to the clinic. These essential oils have changed croup at our house forever! I have only had to take him to the clinic 1 time since then. If I hear that something in his throat before bed (his voice just has a certain slight sound when he talks) or a cough that seems uncharacteristic for him, I put them on him and can keep it tamed by applying it every 2 hours during the night. I have safely used it (highly diluted) on an 18 m. And on my 4 yr. old. For more severe cases, I diffuse it in their room at night just to make sure croup doesn’t take a turn for the worse. My kids have never had a fever with croup, so I can’t address the fever problem. Their croup usually disappears during the day and then get croup at night. Sorry for how long this is, but I know how awful this illness can be. Hope this helps someone.

    1. Carie,
      We have had similar episodes with my son. I use essential oils, but I also have found breathing the steam of hot water really helps. Trying to steam up the bathroom is not as quickly effective for us as boiling a pot of water. I pour the boiling water into a big bowl. Then, I put a towel over his head and the bowl to catch all the steam. I also put my head under the towel so he is not afraid. We breathe the steamy air and it works really well. After about 20 minutes, he is breathing much better. I also bundle him up and go for a drive. We roll the window down and the cool air really helps as well.

      1. Jenni,
        Which essential oils have you liked? Unfortunately, steam always makes his croup worse. We had a few people recommend it because it helped their kids. Cool air helps him sometimes. I remember one night on vacation in California when he was 2. The air conditioner helped save us.

    2. Thanks so much Carrie!
      I have a question……can you please tell me how many drops of marjoram & thyme use use and how much carrier oil for your 18mth old as I have a 15month old & 3year old. I don’t want to make it to weak so it’s not effective and don’t want to make it too strong! Thanks:)

      1. Lauren,
        Here is a good site about dilution rates for children and their ages. Personally, with my young kids I am in the “diluting more is better” when it comes to my little ones. I bought a bottle and put oil and essential oils in it to have handy (it doesn’t drip out. I take the stopper out to pour it out).When my 18 month old had croup and I was worried that maybe it wasn’t enough, I would put on a little more.

        Here is another site that talks a little about diluting for adults
        I really like aromaweb for common sense advice. Their safety info is great and allows me filter out advice seen on various sites. Some of the advice on other sites isn’t very safe and can cause sensitization.

        Here is their info about thyme and marjoram.

        Hope this helps. If you have more questions, or if it doesn’t work, please tell me.

    3. I got croup bad when I was a kid, and my mom would make us put our head in a steam tent on the stove with eucalyptus oil in it. It’s not bad for kids if it’s diluted. It works wonders!
      I just wish there was a recipe for the respiratory blend you posted that shows how many drops of each oil into a roller ball to use instead of having to buy that blend. If you know of it, please let me know!

  7. You need to get rid of your humidifier! Get a new one! They usually get mouldy inside and every time you use it, you spread mould and that’s why you het worse.

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