I’ve been under the weather this past week suffering from a cold. In our western culture we tend to rely heavily on pharmaceuticals and blindly take whatever the doctor prescribes without ever questioning if those drugs are really necessary. Many of our ailments can be cured or suppressed with nutrition, rest, hydration, and overall care of our bodies.
I’d like to share a story about a woman in my program (The Institute for Integrative Nutrition). By the age of two this woman was prescribed 11 rounds of antibiotics for ear infections. Years later the woman came to learn she had a dairy intolerance the whole time and could have avoided her infections had she known that or had the doctor thought to check for other problems with her health. The antibiotics ended up stripping her immune system leaving with her problems, mainly constipation, for 25 years.
Often, like with this woman, we don’t look at the full picture in terms of health, and are quick to take anything given to us by a doctor or found on a shelf to cure ourselves. In developed countries’ children get prescribed, on average, 1-20 different types of antibiotics by age 18. Sometimes antibiotics are necessary, but overusing the drugs can often be more harmful than helpful. Now, we shouldn’t be taking antibiotics for a cold anyway, but just wanted to share that info. Sometimes medicine and a doctor’s opinion is necessary, and I’m not saying never to trust either. Just remember our bodies are like gardens that need love and attention. If we listen to our bodies and look for signs we can sometimes figure out what it is we’re really needing or missing.
I’d like to share though some natural home remedies you may not have thought of to help you with your colds this cold season:
1. Mind Over Matter– This is my first step, because it’s the best place to start when you feel yourself getting sick. There is a reason for the placebo effect; Our mind can trick our body into healing itself. Whenever I start to feel a cold coming on I try to tell myself as much as possible that I’m not getting sick. It’s difficult, but the more I convince myself I’m ok, the quicker I seem to heal. Try it out and pair it with the other remedies mentioned below.
2. Drink fluids– Our bodies are comprised of 85% water and our brains are made up of 73% water. Keep yourself hydrated to flush out toxins. Also drink hot water/tea and broths. Chicken soup is especially powerful and has been proved to reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms and clear mucus. Here is an interesting NY Times article about chicken soup: The Science of Chicken Soup
3. Lemons– I love to drink my water or tea with lemon. Lemon has high levels of vitamin C, antioxidants, and flavonoids to help fight colds, the flu, or other bacterial or viral infections. I actually try to drink water with lemon almost every day, because there are so many other benefits like liver cleansing and weight loss.
4. Garlic– If you eat garlic raw and not cooked, then garlic is the food of choice while fighting the cold, flu, chest infections, digestive disorders, and fungal infections. Garlic is a strong antioxidant with antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agents. Since you likely don’t want to just chew the garlic on its own, try making a leafy green salad with crushed garlic and olive oil. Squeeze some lemon on the salad too.
5. Coconut Oil– Since my previous post on the benefits of coconut oil, I have learned this oil is far more versatile then I ever thought possible. Seriously, it can be used for nearly everything, including kicking a cold. Coconut oil contains an abundance of vitamin E, which helps with not only anti-aging and hair and skincare, but also increased brain function and energy, metabolism, hormonal balance, thyroid stimulation, and lower cholesterol balance.
6. Echinacea– Pick up some echinacea in the form of liquid extracts, juices, capsules, or teas to find your cold or flu. Echinacea is immune strengthening and has been used for other conditions like bladder infections, blood poisoning, strep throat, and headaches.
In addition to my home remedies, just remember to get plenty of rest to give your body time to heal itself. Take care of yourself, bundle up and don’t go outside in the wind with wet hair like I did!