Some days, you just know something’s got you. When you feel that heaviness in your head, an aching in your joints or scratching in the back of your throat, it’s clear that a bug has broken through the defenses.
While a nutrient-dense diet, lots of sleep, sunlight exposure and exercise do a lot to keep sickness away, sometimes a short bout with a cold or flu can’t be avoided. When you feel those initial signs, don’t just ignore them and go about your regular routine — you’re sure to exhaust yourself and fall victim to a longer-lasting illness than necessary.
If you head things off early with a few action steps, you’ll be able to support your body to fight that bug off sooner and recover a few days earlier.
Here are eight things to do as soon as you start feeling sick. Likewise, administer these steps to children (or adults who like to be taken care of when they’re sick — you know who we’re talking about) as soon as you hear any complaint of oncoming symptoms or notice them looking under the weather.
First things first, get some broth on the boil. Hopefully you have some already made up in the fridge or freezer, but if not, get that slow cooker going. Simply fill it up with organic chicken bones (or beef, lamb, etc), cover the bones with water and add a glug of vinegar.
Let the broth cook on high for at least four hours, then turn it down to low for an additional four hours or more, up to a total of 24 hours. The vinegar helps to extract all of the minerals from the bones — these minerals, along with the proteins from the meat and connective tissues, will provide essential nourishment to help speed up recovery. When the broth is almost ready, adding some finely chopped carrots, celery and onions, and a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper will complete this simple health-boosting recipe.
A number of essential oils can help bolster the immune system, so get to work with these babies as soon as any symptoms are felt.
Use a few drops of an immune-boosting blend combined with some coconut oil and smooth it on the throat, chest and soles of the feet. A good blend includes oils like wild orange, clove, cinnamon, rosemary and eucalyptus. A blend like this can also be used aromatically in a diffuser to kill bacteria and viruses hanging around in the environment.
Sweating is also considered a good remedy if illness is caught early. Try having a hot shower or bath with essential oils (if using in the shower, simply sprinkle a few drops of oils on the floor). Try any of the above oils or add wintergreen and thyme to promote a healthy detoxifying sweat.
Note that wintergreen and eucalyptus may not be safe for small children.
Raw organic honey is a great cold and flu remedy with naturally occurring enzymes and antimicrobials. This sweet nectar has been proven to soothe coughs and help sleep quality. Simply eat a teaspoon or two, or make a tea with hot water, honey and juice from some freshly grated ginger root. Also try making fire cider to have on hand for when sickness strikes.
The next step in the action plan is to consume some supplements. Try having these along with the broth or soup described above, since this will allow them to be absorbed more effectively. Try taking 50 milligrams of zinc, 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C and some probiotics (or fermented food). Since friendly bacteria play a vital role in a robust immune system, consuming them might help prevent sickness from getting worse. Eating a few fresh oysters with lemon juice is also a great way to get zinc and vitamin C from whole-food sources.
Gargle with salt water
If a sore throat is part of the symptoms, be sure to complete this step. Mix half a teaspoon of sea salt into half a glass of warm water and use it to gargle for at least 30 seconds. Salt is a natural antibacterial that will help get rid of any nasties dwelling in the throat. Repeat this gargle every few hours until symptoms are gone. A neti pot can also help with congestion.
Garlic is a strong antibiotic and antiviral agent, so forget about having minty-fresh breath until this sickness is in the past. Finely chop or crush some garlic and then let it sit for at least 10 minutes to allow the active compound, allicin, to form. Then simply add the fresh garlic to whatever you’re eating. Leaving the garlic fresh rather than cooking it leaves more of the helpful properties intact. Try to eat a clove or two of garlic per day while you’re feeling under the weather.
Get the circulation going
While a virus or bacteria is attacking the body, it’s important to keep blood and lymph circulation going and not allow things to stagnate. This will promote detoxification so the pathogens can get shipped out as soon as possible.
Try a thorough dry-brushing routine to cleanse the lymph system. This is a simple Ayurvedic remedy that involves using a natural-bristle brush (the kind you use to wash your back in the shower) to stimulate circulation throughout the body. Start from the feet and brush upward with short brisk strokes, working in toward the heart. Be sure to focus on areas such as the inner thighs and groin, and armpits and neck, where lymph nodes are concentrated. Lymph fluid is responsible for moving cellular waste out of the system, so dry brushing is a great way to fight illness. As a bonus, dry brushing also reduces cellulite!
In addition to lymph circulation, work on getting the blood moving with a little bit of gentle exercise. Do only what feels good depending on how ill you are. Even a few slow squats or stretches will keep blood from stagnating.
This last one seems obvious, but it often gets forgotten or pushed aside. Sleep is absolutely vital for getting over an illness, because this is the time that the body does lots of repair and detoxification. No one ever got a medal for going to work when they were sick. Clear your schedule and ensure you get ample time to rest.
Now you know exactly what to do next time you feel a bug coming on. Try having a home remedy kit ready to go for when it might be needed. Using any of the above remedies preventatively is also a great way to keep the immune system strong and to avoid getting sick in the first place.
—The Alternative Daily