6 NATURAL REMEDIES TO GET OVER A COLD
Hello Soulful Travelers, Amanda here! Recently after a bout of travel followed by over stressed and under slept days, I found myself with a runny nose, achy body, and throbbing sinuses. My day to day rituals are rooted in preventative care so I will say there is a small sense of disappointment when I fall victim to a seasonal cold. Then, to add insult to injury, there are the, more often than not, sidebar questions/comments from family, patients, and friends, "Aren't you a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Yoga Instructor? Aren't you not supposed to get sick? I thought you do all those strange natural remedy things so that you don't get sick, does this mean that they aren't working?" Ahh yes, please kick me while I am down.
Heading into last winter I had significantly reduced my stress levels by creating a better work/life balance for myself and I was on-top of eating a lot of immunity boosting foods. Last cold/flu season, I was able to say that I didn't get sick, but this year was a different story. There has been more work on my plate, more travel, and a lot of exciting life changes (and although exciting, life changes bring their own form of stress since now I have to figure out the logistics of how all this "newness" is going to fit into my current way of living). Anytime you're at a low in your life or are in pain, there's the age-old question, WHEN WILL THIS END?! I am no different, so, lets just say I even surprised myself when I was able to nurse myself back to health in just about 24 hours.
If you want to know how I bounced back so quickly, I have 2 things... ONE) Hand-Washing. I work in health care so this one is big for me. When you're sick, and even if you're not, washing your hands with water and soap for 20 seconds can be an effective way can to stop the spread of germs and stay healthy. TWO) Self-Care. I would, without hesitation, say that I attribute most of my speedy recovery time to my preventative daily self-care rituals. The thing with preventative care is that you have to be committed to it when you're NOT down. I am excited that our upcoming retreat in Tulum, Mexico will be a spirited adventure focused on not only yoga and alignment, but also on how to incorporate powerful self-care habits into your life. Check it out here.
If you're reading this, thinking Okay, I get it, I wasn't on top of my preventative self-care, so here I am so sick and cranky that Mexico actually sounds really terrible and for now I JUST REALLY NEED TO KNOW HOW TO PUT OUT THIS FIRE!...Then, you need a hug (new research shows that hugs can prevent the flu) and without further ado, here are 6 ways a yoga instructor and holistic health care professional gets back up when she's down from a cold.
- Reduce Stress| It's 7 pm. I just got done with a 10 hour work day, my body is feeling funny and I have a sinus headache. This isn't typical. Alarm number one is going off in my body. This is when you think, "I don't feel right, but I'll go to bed, and see if I can push through it tomorrow." WRONG. View this as your golden opportunity to make things right again. I've learned that this means my body is begging for me to slow down. I listen and start doing less instead of thinking I am capable of doing more. My first go-to in reducing stress is cancelling all obligations that I have scheduled for the next day. I call my private clients to re-schedule and contact everyone one I know to help cover my yoga classes. In my world of work, I don't have sick days, so there is this minor moment of panic that budget-wise I have just knocked out a day of income. Now there's stress from trying not to be stressed. I quickly get over this by reminding myself that I will be of no service to anyone else's well-being if I don't make my own health and wellness a priority.
- Sleep | It's 7:30 pm, I just got home from work, Niagara Falls is coming out of my nose and I look dead. Next step? Shower and crawl in bed. No phone, no TV, no stimulating conversation, just a focus on DEFINITELY trying to be in a deep sleep between 10pm-2am. Why? Because that's when our body and brain repair and restore themselves the most. Sleep helps you heal and that's acknowledged by Ayurveda and Western Medicine. If I had three hours I could write an entire article on this topic. Oh wait, I did. Read it here.
- Self-Oil Massage (Abhyanga)| This is an Ayurvedic technique believed to have many benefits. Since I've been doing it, I've noticed it has helped increase my energy levels, improve my sleep patterns, nourish my skin, optimize cellular healing, and support my lymphatic system. Supporting the lymphatic system is HUGE, as it plays an important role in your immune response. Upon waking the next morning I peel myself out of the germ infested sheets I am lying in, grab some oil, do my self-massage (which is something I actually do everyday), and take an extra long warm shower. For an extra immunity boost, when I do my oil massage I pay particular attention to massaging the areas of major lymph nodes...neck, armpits, front of hips, backs of knees, and abdomen. Tight muscles can prevent the flow of lymphatic fluid, so while I am in the shower, I let the warm water hit my neck and I take some extra time to stretch these muscles too. Check out the video below for the exact how to. on this one.
- Drink warm lemon water with honey | It's about 9 am and I am starting to feel much better after I put on clean clothes. Now into the kitchen to nourish my body. Staying hydrated everyday is important, but when I am feeling unwell, it is key. I squeeze lemon into my water as a way to naturally add vitamins and trace minerals. Vitamin wise, lemons give you a much needed Vitamin C boost. Vitamin C can act as an adaptogen that helps the body cope with viruses such as colds. If you need 20 reasons to start your day with lemon water, this article will remind you that in the morning our bodily tissues are dehydrated and are in need of water to push out toxins and rejuvenate cells. Honey can be a sore-throat soother and cough suppressant. Here, James M. Steckelberg, M.D. sites a study that found honey to be as effective as a common cough suppressant ingredient, dextromethorphan, in typical over-the-counter doses. Since honey is low-cost and widely available, he encourages giving honey a try. My new favorite tool to use to extract lemon juice is #1 over on the IWR gift guide here.
- Walk| After a few hours of resting, hydrating, and sipping on my elderberry syrup, I am feeling like I need to move and expose my body to nature. I head outside for sunlight, fresh air, and a gentle walk. I contemplate going to a yoga class, but in reality I am in a state where the possibility of being guided into a headstand sounds terrible and even if I go to a restorative yoga class, it's really not polite of me to spread sickness around my yoga studio. Plus, one of the best lymphatic fluid circulating activities we can do is walk. Why? Lymph circulation depends largely on movement and walking engages the majority of your muscles and moves the joints that surround major lymph node centers, thus allowing lymphatic fluid to flow more freely. I like this explanation by biomechanist Katy Bowman, "When lymphatic fluid fails to circulate, the body has a decreased ability to fight off various ailments. “Circulate” is the keyword here. The word implies movement. Here’s the deal with lymph. It doesn't move very well on its own. It doesn't have a great pump like your heart, so the less you move your muscles, the more your lymph resembles scuzzy pond water."
- Elderberry Syrup| I haven't had store bought cough syrup in years because I rely on my homemade elderberry syrup. Elderberries have anti-viral properties and are an old-fashioned and well–established cure for a cold. Years ago, Andrea, from Frugally Sustainable, taught me how to incorporate elderberry into my medicine cabinet. Homemade, this syrup lasts 3 months in the fridge. To be a step ahead of the cold/flu season, I try to make this syrup when I am healthy and well in October/November. If I am caught off guard without this syrup in my fridge, I head on over to Moon Juice Shop and buy it there. I am blessed to live in Los Angeles, if you don't, you can order it online here. If you're into DIY, there are etsy shops that sell kits with all the dried herbs you'll need to make it yourself. I've been meaning to give Free + Native's recipe a try, but below is the elderberry syrup recipe that I loosely follow:
- 1 C of fresh or 1/2 C of dried elderberries
- 3 C water
- 1 C Honey
- 2 T fresh grated ginger (optional)
- 2 Cinnamon sticks (optional)
Directions: Place berries, ginger + cinnamon sticks (if using), and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Smash the berries. Then strain the mixture through a cheesecloth. Add honey. Bottle syrup and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Use: Child: Administer 1 teaspoon per day for prevention or 1 teaspoon per waking hour at the onset of cold/flu-like symptoms. Adult: Administer on same schedule, however increase dosage to 1 tablespoon. Note: Not suitable for children under one year of age.
The content on Integrative Wellness Retreat is for informational purposes only and should not replace seeking medical attention from a physician or skilled rehabilitation services from a physical therapist. Consult with your physician before engaging in any exercise program or before attempting any suggestions described or presented on IntegrativeWellnessRetreat.com.