Great. My husband is sick. If I’m not careful, this means I’ll get it too, and I just don’t have an extra time slot in my schedule to deal with a cold/flu. No, we didn’t get the flu shot. Give us some credit, we’re not stupid 🙂
With arctic air upon us (at least, as arctic as it gets in Texas–which can be surprisingly cold at times), I thought it’d be helpful to outline our plans of attack and lines of defense against the bugs, and what you can do if one gets ahold of you anyway.
First, let’s face it: prevention is the best cure that ever lived. That comes down to simply taking care of yourself. It starts with the basics: a decent diet, exercise, and basic hand-washing. This is what I do.
* Follow a preventive diet. Don’t consume dairy or sugar, because these foods inflame mucus-producing cells and cause more mucus production. They also provide a great breeding ground for bugs. Take extra vitamins. Now that my husband is sick, I’ll do the following.
* Instead, eat foods that are easy to digest. Current research indicates that 80% of your immune system is in your gastrointestinal tract. If your energy is tied up digesting a ton of food, you won’t have enough energy left over to fight bad guys.
* Astragulus – this is my front runner, my quarterback, my secret weapon. It’s an herb commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to build the immune system. I tend to forego echinacea; it’s not that it doesn’t work, but its job is to stimulate the immune system. It will only stimulate what is already there. Most people are immune-deficient, which means that there is not much there to stimulate, and echinacea will only provide limited benefit. Astragalus is the better alternative because it builds the immune system from the ground up.
* Vitamin C – never underestimate the old standby. You’ll need more than a Centrum pill, though. You’ll need more than a standard 250 or 500 mg dose. That’s child’s play; your body will burn through that in an hour–or less, if it’s busy fighting off an infection. You’ll need a much larger dose; exactly how much will vary. I like to start with 10,000 mg per day if I’ve been around a sick person but I’m not showing any symptoms.
* Water! I will generally take in a gallon of water per day when preventing getting sick. It’s a great detox mechanism that doesn’t stress the body very much and will help prevent illness by flushing you out.
* Sleep! If you don’t get enough sleep, you can’t regenerate, you can’t recuperate from stress, and you can’t repair or heal. Muscles get tight, brain chemicals get depleted, and the body becomes inefficient. Winter seasons or living with someone who is sick is not the time for your body to be functioning at below-optimum levels. So give in, turn off the computer and TV, and hit the sack.
* Exercise – keep your body active and balanced by moving around. Active people tend to be sick less often than sedentary people.
* Home hygiene is extra-important, if someone in your house is sick. Keep separate areas between you and the sick person. Wash your hands before and after touching things they’ve touched, and suggest that the sick person does the same. Don’t share food or utensils, and don’t drink out of the same cup. Sanitize the air with an effusion lamp. Use regular rubbing alcohol, not any type of fragrance oil, which could be irritating to the respiratory system, especially in those who might be allergic or sensitive. Wipe things down, keep them clean.
* Stay regular with your chiropractor. This is perhaps THE most important component of staying well. Spinal adjustments have been shown to boost the immune system by 700%. I don’t get sick at all if I’m adjusted regularly.
So you got sick – now what? Despite your best efforts, you may get a bug anyway, if your body is weak enough or the bug is strong enough. Here is what I do:
* Astragulus at the first sign of drainy throat sensation. Sometimes this can stop it in its tracks, but it takes a lot. Tincture variety is best.
* Fenu-Thyme from Nature’s Way, 4 capsules. This is your non-drowsy Dristan or Sudafed. It won’t make your nose quite as dry, per se, but it does help unblock the congestion in a big way. I like the Nature’s Way combination because it’s convenient, but truthfully, fenugreek and thyme are common culinary herbs that when used together, have a synergistic effect (i.e. their combination is better than the two taken separately) that is especially powerful for beating congestion. These herbs work their best when not stale or over-processed, so get them from a good source.
* Kali Muriaticum, 30c is a homeopathic remedy that is VERY effective for unblocking the sticky, stubborn buildup that is loose enough to come out but is to thick to budge.
* Bayberry tincture is a fantastic congestion-unblocker that is especially useful for those unique situations where your sinuses are so blocked that you have to resort to breathing through your mouth and no amount of nose-blowing brings any relief. This herb won’t dry you out, so to speak, but more importantly, it thoroughly breaks up the congestion so that you can then blow it out–for good. Definitely my secret weapon for those nights that would otherwise be sleepless with labored breathing. Do NOT take too much of this herb, however! It is a powerful emetic (i.e. it makes you puke) if you consume enough.
* Megadoses of Vitamin C now. I find that I take anywhere from 20,000-35,000+ mg *per day* at the first sign of evidence that the bug is starting to take hold.
* Ginger and any other “yang” herb I can find. Ginger is awesome for colds. Tea is best; gingersnaps don’t count…sorry 🙂
* Water! For the same reasons as above. I often pee every hour when fighting something.
* Sleep! For the same reasons as above.
* Take garlic. Not only is it fantastic for cholesterol and anti-aging, but it has fantastic immune-boosting properties.
* Very importantly, I go on a very restricted diet. Only warm, nutritious foods that are easy to digest. Think steamed veggies, soup without MSG, oatmeal, herbal teas, etc. No dairy, sugar, beef, or wheat.
* Most importantly, I see my chiropractor right away. I get much better, and much faster.
Obviously, there are some no-nos. Here are some things to avoid.
* Sugar – creates mucus and a bug-friendly environment. Saps your body’s energy.
* Dairy – inflames the mucus-producing cells in your body, making them secrete more mucus, and making you feel worse.
* Alcohol – alcohol steals vitamin C away from your body, impairing your immune system and interfering with your body’s natural everyday detoxification processes.
* Smoking – has the effects of alcohol and dairy combined.
* Flu shot – this actually hampers your body’s functioning, due to the fact that it’s a cocktail of toxic ingredients that only load your body full of crap. They’re overrated and they don’t do much anyway. In fact, their proponents have finally had to admit that they haven’t had any effect on flu mortality.
* Cold air – saps your body’s energy and makes you feel worse.
* Stress – same as cold air.
* Beef, potatoes, etc. Heavy foods are tough to digest and they occupy your GI tract such that it doesn’t have any energy left over to fight the bad guys. And don’t eat too much of even the good food, for the same reasons.
* Massage therapy – this is NOT the time or place for massage. Massage will simply spread the virus around your body. While its relaxation properties and GI function enhancement are good, wait until the worst is over. Besides – it’s not much fun being face down when you’re already plugged up anyway.
* Oranges are too yin and acidic, and they don’t deliver the blast of Vitamin C people thought. In fact, some oranges have zero Vitamin C, due to growing processes and fertilizers used, etc. They take too much energy to digest and they’re fairly pro-inflammatory, which also increases mucus production.
Remember that all is not lost at the first sign of a cold or flu. I have kicked several bugs that tried to take hold, and looked like they were going to win, to the point where I was sure I’d been beat. Don’t give up hope. Don’t tell yourself you’re sick at first. Sometimes I’ve won out simply by telling myself and my body that it’s not going to do this, I don’t have time to be sick. Other times I have closed my eyes and visualized the crappy buildup in my throat getting blown apart by a positive, bright white light. It worked in 10 minutes. Visualization is quite powerful if it’s done in time and it is genuine. Become a warrior this winter; don’t give up the fight! 🙂