I'm often asked how I stay healthy. My long term healing plan keeps me well on a day-in-day-out basis. I also have tips and tricks for acute situations, like beating a cold or the flu. I use the healing strategies below when anyone in my family begins to feel under the weather. In fact, often when the boys' friends start to feel something coming on they will ask me for some vitamins, herbs, or a special healing tea.
Here are my Top 10 Natural Cold and Flu Remedies. These tricks are for situations that arise every now and then, and will work extra well if you follow your own regular healing plan for the chronic situation that is “life”.
It's important to stay well hydrated all year long, and especially when sick. I stay hydrated by drinking plain old filtered water, as well as hot water with lemon. Be sure to stay away from caffeine when you are feeling under the weather as it is dehydrating, and may give you a false burst of energy, rather than allowing you to feel the fatigue that is a congruent warning signal from your body.
Winter (and some climates in general) can be very dry. We are lucky to have a whole house humidifier (in the house we built) that keeps the air in our home around 25% humidity. When one of the boys comes down with something I put a humidifier in the bedroom, to lubricate air passages during sleep. I learned this from my own parents. They put a humidifier in my room when I was growing up whenever I was sick.
My homemade Ginger Licorice Tea is a family favorite that I've made for the boys since they were toddlers. I also keep echinacea, goldenseal, and Wish Garden's Kick Ass Immune in my pantry. I have essential oils of eucalyptus and peppermint in our showers, so we can throw in a few drops when we're congested. My friend Helen recently also introduced me to “shower bombs,” little tablets to put on the floor of the shower that contain more potent amounts of essential oils. Additionally, I love this amazing propolis spray from Bee Keeper's Naturals which is the perfect natural remedy for a sore throat.
If you've gotten to the point of getting a headache you may need to drink some electrolytes to further rehydrate your system. I use stevia sweetened electrolyte packs and take two per day when I feel like I'm coming down with something, I also continue to use them if I catch a cold or the flu (which rarely occurs). They're very helpful in staying ahead of dehydration. In addition, the boys often use them on hot days when they have sporting events.
Drinking “Jewish penicillin,” i.e., chicken soup, nowadays known as bone broth, is a fabulous remedy for colds, sore throats, and flu, as it contains vitamins and minerals. I keep a few quarts of my homemade chicken stock, in the freezer at all times, not just for cooking, but in case any of us come down with something. The last time I had the flu and began to recover, the first thing I wanted to eat when I got my appetite back was my Chicken Soup with homemade, grain-free Matzo Balls.
We take huge doses of vitamin C when we're not feeling well. The boys will take up to 3,000 milligrams per day orally, and I take up to 5,000 mg per day of this as well. If I'm feeling absolutely awful, I go to one of my doctors and get an IV of vitamin C for up to 50,000 mg.
We also take Vitamin D when we feel as though we are getting sick. One of my favorite doctors told me that taking 30,000 IU of vitamin D when you feel a cold or the flu coming on can stop it in its tracks. Of course, this would be absolutely dangerous to do on a daily basis, but given how infrequently the boys and I get sick it is safe for us to do. My husband keeps a bottle of vitamin D in his briefcase to have on hand for meetings at the office and when he travels.
I take 30 mg of zinc prophylactically every day during cold and flu season. The boys are so cute about taking vitamins and supplements when they don't feel well. My older guy will say, “Mommy, is my vitamin care package ready?” if he is starting to feel a tickle in his throat but has a baseball game to play. I include the aforementioned vitamins in it as well as zinc.
When all else fails, I do a brief fast and eliminate all sugar, even from natural sources. In general I have become very careful about the amount of sugar that I consume. When I say sugar I refer to foods such as honey and fruit. Even though this is natural, unrefined sugar it is still the sweet stuff that causes inflammation. I am especially vigilant about this when there is any type of sickness going around as sweet foods can lower your immune response. Sometimes I drink green juice (no fruit, extra ginger) or chicken, or beef broth if I wake up a bit congested. Somehow doing this small fast for a few hours can wake up the body's immune system. The energy freed up from digestion goes toward fighting off a bug.
Sleep is of course important ALL the time. And I make sure the boys and I get plenty of rest year round. We discuss our stress levels together and what we can do to alleviate stress (especially during their final exams) and the first thing that generally comes up is sleep. The boys are great about getting to bed as early as they can and they also sleep late most weekends. I am rather disciplined about my sleep as well, and when I get sick I cancel everything I can in order to stay in bed as much as possible. Rest is amazing medicine!
As you can see from my Top 10 Natural Cold and Flu Remedies, learning self-care can help you on both a daily basis and also whenever you are coming down with something. These tips are fabulous for my family and have helped us recover from cold, sore throat, and flu since the boys were little.
What are your strategies when it comes to fighting off an illness? What tricks do you have up your sleeve? Leave a comment and let us know!