Forgive me, divas, for being MIA for a few days. When the weather changes and the sandstorms begin the dust settles on and anything and everything we own and with that dust comes “bugs” (viral little beasties) for which my usually iron-willed immunity is no match. In plain English, I woke up a few days ago with a cold. Not just any cold either. I felt like a walking Nyquil commercial. Sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever……. and no rest. My eyes were so teary that my husband insisted on knowing why I was crying. He got the message loud and cleared when I sneezed on him a few times. (I covered my nose in my defense.)
I LOATHE taking OTC (or prescription for that matter) medicine for cold because a) they only mask the symptoms and b) because they don’t even mask the symptoms all that well in my case. Many have a laundry list of side-effects and many of those medications interfere with other medications or are just plain dangerous when mixed. Remember, there are more deaths from drug interactions than from diseases. As for me, with OTC medications, I am left jittery yet sleepy and every time I try to fall asleep I jerk quickly awake, dry mouthed yet still “drippy”, and my head feels like there are 5000 tiny mariachi musicians playing in my head with an elephant sitting on my head. Not a great feeling; even worse than the cold itself. I avoid them them like the plague.
I do have some tried and true recipes that I have used for many years that get me through pretty much any allergy, cold, or flu from mild to wild.
1. Sleep. My #1 recipe for getting over a cold or flu is sleep. I must take three or four naps in a day when I am under the weather. I find it the quickest way to let my body find its own pathways to healing.
2. A Neti Pot and Celtic Sea Salt (nasal or sinus irrigation) to flush the nasal passages and thin mucous is a Godsend for allergies, cold and congestion. It has been prescribed in Ayurveda for centuries to reprogram the body’s natural mechanisms against nasal infections such as hay fever, allergies, sinusitis and other upper respiratory complaints like sore throats and coughs, post nasal, drip and inflammation of tonsils and adenoids. To use your Neti Pot, dissolve one cup (8 oz.) of warm (NOT HOT) water with 1/4 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt. (You can use Neti Pot Salt but I find this is an unnecessary expense. DO NOT USE TABLE SALT.) Tilt head to the side over sink. Place the Neti Pot in the top nostril and slowly pour water into nostril. The water will flow out of the opposite nostril. This may take awhile in the case of nasal congestion but it will happen with a little patience. Repeat on the other side.
3. Nasya Oil helps to clear and lubricate the sinus passageways, relieving acute and chronic sinus problems such as allergies, mucous congestion, dry nasal passage, and snoring. Nasya also helps to relieve headaches, migraines, stiff neck, fatigue, insomnia, and stress related problems. It reduces anxiety, clears and strengthens the mind, and stimulates the nervous system. There are many commercial preparations on the market but I make a very simple one at home.
2 tbs. untoasted sesame oil (organic if possible)
1 tbsp. grass-fed ghee (this is optional but super nourishing for the nasal passages)
10 drops eucalyptus, lemon, or other essential oil you find pleasing (optional but the scent of sesame oil can be overpowering)
Mix ingredients in a small jar with a dropper. Shake well to combine.
To use: Apply daily, preferably in the morning or in the evening before bed, after neti pot use (if using), by tilting head back and placing 2 drops in each nostril. Blocking one nostril, inhale the oil into the sinus passages deeply. Repeat on the other side.
During a time of cold or flu, this can be done several times a day.
3. Lemon, squeezed into hot water with honey (or a little hot whiskey if you are particularly fluish), cut and eaten, peel and all (make sure you buy unwaxed and organic or soak in boiling water for 2 minutes before you eat it), is a great way to boost your Vitamin C levels which help keep the body hydrated and boosts immunity.
4. Homemade cough and cold syrup allows the body to relax the mucous membranes and relax, getting the rest it needs. It soothes sore throats, alkalizes the body (which means cold and flu viruses cannot thrive and die sooner), and relieves pain that always comes with a particularly nasty cold or flu.
To make your own homemade cough and cold syrup combine the following ingredients, mix well, and drink, as needed.
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (raw, unfiltered and organic such as Bragg’s if possible)
1-2 tbsp. raw honey (local if possible) (Use 1 tbsp. for thinner concoction)
1 clove garlic, grated (optional)
1 tbsp. water (optional) I do not use water because I prefer to coat my throat with the honey. For children it might be wise to use the water to cut the sweetness and dilute the mixture.
5. Chicken soup has really earned it’s nickname “Jewish Penicillin” with the anti-bacterial and anti-viral heavy hitters of onion and garlic married to the supercharged immunity boosting powers of bone broth used in most homemade chicken soup recipes. Add to that the hydrating effects of the liquid and the “steam” helping to loosen nasal and chest congestion and you have the ultimate comfort food for when you are down for the count.
6. Enzymes from fresh vegetable juices can heal you from the inside out by nourishing your digestive tract encouraging the friendly bacteria to thrive boosting immunity. Vegetable juice also helps restore the alkaline/acid balance which makes it harder for cold and flu viruses to survive.
If you do succumb to cold and flu instead of reaching for an OTC medication with more side-effects than symptom reliever, give these home remedies a try and see if they don’t help you heal faster and make you feel better!