6 days later, I’m finally feeling human. Colds can be so rotten! I felt so awful on Tuesday and Wednesday – headache, runny nose, achy, tired, sinus pain, sneezing. UGH. Everyone gets colds, and after this round I want to share some ways to get through them easier, and how to help them not turn into the 6 week sickness, or bronchitis, or worse….
I grew up in a Yoga Ashram where getting sick was considered “cleansing” and an opportunity to throw off toxins and heal the body. I still think of sickness in this framework to some degree, and as such embrace having a cold in the following ways (once I am willing to accept I am, in fact, sick, which is another story.)
I like to view mini-sicknesses like colds, flues, and other bugs as opportunities for a mini-detox. As soon as I realize I am sick, all cow dairy, sugar, alcohol, corn, beef and gluten are eliminated. I also try to wean off caffeine by only having 1/2 cups of black tea as needed for caffeine headaches. This automatically gives my immune system a huge boost to fight off the offenders (see my food sensitivity blog post.) It also allows my liver, intestines and kidneys to do a little detox of their own, cleaning up old metabolites while other systems fight off the cold. This helps me heal faster, and makes me feel even better once the cold is done! I also often lose a couple of pounds while being sick.
What does this leave to eat? Lots of fruit, rice, steamed veggies, rice cakes and 100% fruit jam, gluten free toast, butter (even tho its cow I allow this), nut butters, eggs, organic chicken, goat milk kefir or yogurt if craved. I just made a butternut squash, ginger, chicken broth soup with kale, apples and lemon this sickness. I also found a coconut milk, agave sweetened vanilla ice cream when I was craving something cold for my throat. And lots and lots and lots of herbal tea. With raw honey, and lemon.
Botanical Medicine is *very* important for treating colds. Most colds start out as viruses and then develop into bacterial infections after the immune system has been worn down. Unlike drugs, herbs can be antiviral AND anti-bacterial at the same time. As soon as I start feeling sick, out comes the elderberry syrup that lives in my medicine cabinet. 2 tsp 2-3 times a day, AND once a day for my girlfriend so she doesnt get sick. Start taking lots of vitamins – everything you have. Take your C’s, B’s, multivitamin…. your immune system is weak and needs support. Olive leaf is a great anti-microbial to take at any stage of sickness. The trick with herbs is to take alot, early. As in, 2 caps three times a day for the first week, rather than 1 cap a day for 3-6 weeks of sickness. Traditional Medicinals has some great teas with a good mix of acute care herbs. I drank Cold Care PM night and day, with lots of honey as well as lemon ginger tea and echinacea tea.
A side note on echinacea – this herb is anti strep as well as antibacterial and antiviral and antifungal. Its actually a great herb for colds and flues *when taken right away.* Echinacea seems to work better for some people than others as well. If you are going to use this botanical, start taking it as soon as you feel sick in high doses. Once you have been sick more than 5 days, it is no longer as effective *unless* you are fighting a strep infection.
If you can, go see an acupuncturist immediately. Acupuncture can do great things for helping a cold to not settle into your lungs, and move it through you faster. I’m certain it also helped this cold not become a sinus infection and just stay at the superficial level. I see Hadley Clarke of www.zenkaiacupuncture.com although http://www.jadeintegratedhealth.com also helped me when I had a serious case of bronchitis last year.Chinese herbs are also very effective when prescribed by an acupuncturist, however they are not meant for self-prescribing.
Finally, REST. Sometimes I think I get sick when my mind or body really needs down time. Call in sick, and lie in front of the TV, or in your bed all day. Pad around in track pants and socks and drink tea and moan on the couch. Facebook, nap, eat soup, but don’t do anything productive. The body *really* needs time to heal, and repair, and fight the good fight, and cant do that if you are also trying to teach or lead or answer phones or tend bar or save the world do all the other active things we all do in a day.