Getting Over a Cold or the Flu
I’ve had so many of my friends asking how to prevent a cold/flu (specifically how to get rid of one fast) so I figured I may as well share some quick, homeopathic tips & tricks before this winter season takes you down. These smart moves will give you relief fast while also strengthening your immune system for the long term - unlike the sugar-laden, OTC meds at the drugstore that supply gut-killing pain relievers like Ibuprofen. Let’s get to it!
1. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Take it easy! At the first sign of coming down with something, GET YO BOOTY IN BED. While you may think pushing yourself to get your holiday to-do list checked off is a priority, letting your body rest and recharge is one of the fastest ways to get you back to feeling well.
As we sleep, our bodies relax, repair, and regenerate, and evidence shows that a good night’s sleep boosts immune function and helps filter T-cells into our lymph nodes. Our lymphatic system is essential for defending our bodies from external invaders, so sleeping well can help you fight that cold fast. Are your symptoms keeping you up at night? Try using an extra pillow to raise your head. It can ease sinus pressure and help you breathe easier. If you have trouble falling asleep in general, I’ve provided some quick tricks that you can check out here via my instagram where I dive into sleep hygiene!
2. STAY HYDRATED
Hydration is key as it can help clear toxins from the system and will replenish fluids lost from sweat, urine, and decreased food intake. Drink plenty of filtered water, bone broth, coconut water and herbal teas to help you rehydrate and increase electrolytes…no sugar laden Gatorade please. Getting plenty of fluids thins your mucus and breaks up congestion. It also prevents the headaches and fatigue that dehydration causes. I recommend getting a reusable, BPA-free water bottle (I have a big hydroflask and carry it everywhere) to fill up on water. Skip the alcohol, caffeinated soda (soda in general), and coffee at your holiday parties which ultimately dry you out.
3. TAKE A HIGH DOSE OF VITAMIN D
Adequate amounts of vitamin D are essential for immune function. Unfortunately, modern day jobs keep us at our desks away from the sunshine, which is why the US population is suffering from chronic, low levels of Vitamin D…especially my SF people.
One of the best things you can do to strengthen your immune system is to regularly supplement with vitamin D. Check with your doctor to see what dosage is right for you. If you’re already not feeling well, my naturopathic doctor recommended 20,0000 units the first day you are sick and 10,0000 the next three days. Slowly scale back to your maintenance dose. It’s a good idea (in general) to check your nutrient levels with a comprehensive blood test yearly and find a naturopathic doctor you work well with. Feel free to email me for referrals!
4. INCREASE YOUR PROBIOTICS
Considering that your gut is the largest part of your immune system, you want to support it to stop this cold in its tracks. I recommend doubling up your usual dosage of your probiotic and loading up on gut-friendly fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut. Make sure to get a probiotic that is lab tested and certified like this one. This ensures the bacteria strains will survive stomach acid…the ones that need to be refrigerated will absolutely not survive your stomach acid and/or bring any kind of gut relief. If so, it’s purely a placebo effect.
5. UP YOUR B VITAMINS
A good methylated B vitamin will support your adrenals and your body’s natural detoxification processes. When your immune system is active (from being sick), B-vitamins support this energetic and metabolic process by helping your body get back to homeostasis, thus speeding up your recovery.
6. HAVE SOME COCONUT OIL
Coconut oil contains Lauric acid, which is antiviral. Bacteria do not cause the flu, so immediately taking antibiotics is not only bad because it causes resistance and kills off good gut bacteria, it’s also not helpful. I love adding coconut oil to tea when I have a sore throat or cough.
Stress is inflammatory. And we know that deep breathing practices and meditation can have profound effects on the body, from lowering blood pressure, to lowering inflammation and improving immune function. Even a 10 minute guided meditation can have profound effects.I suggest using the “calm” or “headspace” app if you have trouble meditating on your own.
8. AVOID SUGAR
If you’re not feeling great, ditch those holiday cookies no matter how cute they are! Besides messing with our blood sugar, and feeding the bad bugs in our gut, sugar suppresses our immune system and leaves us more susceptible to infections like colds and flu.
9.Take a hot Eucalyptus shower
Breathing in steam may moisten a scratchy throat and nose (also helps with achy muscles from the flu) and adding eucalyptus specifically helps thin and drain mucus because of its decongestant properties. You can also add essential eucalyptus oil to your diffuser and breathe in the medicinal properties all night.
10. Rinse Nose With Warm Salt Water
Salt-water rinsing helps break nasal congestion, while also removing virus particles and bacteria from your nose. Here's a popular recipe:
Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in 8 ounces of warm water. Use a bulb syringe or netti pot (you can easily find this at whole Foods, on Amazon, or any natural health store) to squirt water into the nose. Hold one nostril closed by applying light finger pressure while squirting the salt mixture into the other nostril. Let it drain. Repeat two to three times, then treat the other nostril.
11. Don't Fly Unless Necessary
The change in air pressure will add unnecessary stress to your already stressed-out respiratory system. Flying with congestion can also temporarily damage your eardrums, specifically the take off and landing. If there’s no way around flying, I suggest carrying and using a natural nasal spray before take off and landing as well as chewing gum and yawning until you achieve the “pop” sensation in your ears to relieve pressure.
12. Eat Infection-Fighting Foods
Here are some good foods to eat when you're battling a cold or flu:
Bananas, rice, and a ginger + lemon tonic in hot water soothes an upset stomach and curbs diarrhea
Vitamin-C containing foods like bell peppers, oranges, carrots, etc. (The human body converts beta carotene into vitamin A (retinol) - beta carotene is a precursor of vitamin A. We need vitamin A for healthy skin and mucus membranes, our immune system, and good eye health and vision)
Blueberries also curb diarrhea and are high in natural aspirin, which may lower fevers and help with aches and pains. Not to mention it’s a great source of anti-inflammatory polyphenols
Spicy herbs like chili peppers, cayenne, etc. to open sinuses and help break up mucus in the lungs
Cranberries may help prevent bacteria from sticking to cells lining the bladder and urinary tract
Mustard or horseradish may helps break up mucus in air passages
Onions contain phytochemicals purported to help the body clear bronchitis and other infections...don’t eat if you have SIBO
Black and green tea contain catechin, a phytochemical purported to have natural antibiotic and anti-diarrhea effects
I hope you found these tips helpful! If you have any questions about specific supplements, brands (or just want to say hello), feel free to comment below!