11 Ways To Treat Colds and Flu

Sick as a Dog?

You’ve been struck down by a nasty viral infection and you’re home, sick as a dog. Ever wonder why the expression exists? Well, it’s because of that disgusting tendency, common to many dogs, to eat indiscriminately… fish heads, tube socks, watermelon rinds, ice scrapers; when you put almost anything in your mouth, well….chances are that you vomit a lot.

So, you probably didn’t eat your co-worker’s tube sock, right? You probably did, however, touch your face and deliver a virus to a vulnerable mucus membrane (mouth, nose, eyes), or perhaps you happened to be lucky enough to be around when the trajectory of germs was blown from your neighbor’s infected orifice. Either way, you’re sick. So now what?

How about starting with some words of hope. Check out what this revolutionary thinker had to say about being sick:

There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before. – Henry David Thoreau

Thanks for the positive words, Henry David! So, how can we manifest these wise words, and be sure that once we’re back on our feet we’re stronger than before? 

When our body shuts down, perhaps it’s time to stop for a second and have a little reflective huddle with ourself. What if we used this time to reflect upon the pace and the quality of our lives? Take a moment to watch some scenes in slow-motion and figure out how we can improve the triple axles we attempt every morning.

What if being sick is one way to make us better?

Being sick blows – but try not to fight it. I only suggest this because I am guilty of throwing a pity party when I’m sick; after being confined to the four posts of my bed for a day, I’ve gotten so upset by my reality that I end up feeling worse. I always get around to accepting the fact that sickness is a natural part of life… then I milk it! When else do you get the chance to demand organic fruit-sweetened popsicles, comic books, and foot rubs.  And sleep for long stretches. Close your eyes and let that starry and silent blanket of sleep envelope you and do it’s fine work; before you know it, you’ll be back, bigger, better, and stronger.

So, after you accept the fact that you are going to miss the 4 day ice fishing bachelorette party in northern Maine, and after you accept the fact that your body is demanding down time, here are some suggestions on how to make being sick more bearable. And how to make a bad-azz return.

11 Ways To Treat Colds and Flus (and Come Back Stronger)

1. Take a moment to reflect on why you got sick. Is it due to chance? Or were you pushing yourself? Working hard, playing hard, sleeping little? Be honest. If you were burning the ol’ candle at both ends, quit it. Your immunity is often a reflection of the state of your health.

 To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.  – Buddha

Sorry to state the obvious, but getting good sleep, getting exercise, maintaining healthy relationships, and eating well can greatly influence your immunity. Look, even Arnold agrees!

The best activities for your health are pumping and humping. – Arnold Schwartzenegger

2. Drink bone broth. Here is the most simple recipe I could find, and here is some more detailed information with a variety of recipes. Please note, since this of utmost importance: I first roast the bones I’m going to use; if you skip this step, then consider making the broth in a garage/shed if that is available, because it DOES NOT SMELL GOOD when the bones aren’t first roasted. For real. It’s pretty nasty. Also, the best thing to do is to make this when you are feeling well and freeze it. You aren’t going to want to be boiling bones when you are sick, but sipping on the warm broth won’t be too hard. For you vegetarians… you could try garlic broth. Here is a good recipe from Dr. Andrew Weil’s website for making your own garlic broth.

3. Got the flu? Try black elderberry (Sambucus nigra). You will most likely run across the extract as a product called Sambucol. Some studies show that taking the pleasant-tasting extract can cut the length of your illness in HALF! And really, it tastes wicked yummy. Wildwood Medicine carries Sambucus nigra, so if you need some, come on in. Note: Elderberry has been studied in the treatment of flu, not the common cold.

4. Stay home. If you are sick,  don’t go to work. Or to that party. Sleep is the most important medicine for you right now, and it’s best if you’re not shedding your virus all over the place.  Note: If you work for one of those terrible institutions that have an insane policy on sick days, and you fear for your job if you stay home, I’m sorry. That’s not right. The unethical party in this situation is your employer.

5. Light exercise for light cold. Self-explanatory. “They” say (research) that very moderate exercise (a one mile walk) is okay, and could even be beneficial, for those with a mild cold. Sick as a kitten? Go for a walk.

6. Get on a Chinese herbal formula for your symptoms. There are some GREAT herbal formulas for all the great things that come with being ill. Diarrhea? We got it. Headache? Bingo. Body aches? Yup. Residual congestion, post-nasal drip, sore throat, chills? We got it all. Come on in for a custom herbal formula.

7. Get on an herbal formula before you get sick. Are you one of those people who gets sick all the time? Do you running screaming from the room every time someone coughs? Are you allergic to everything, stuffed up all the time, and constantly worrying about your sore throat? I’ve seen some great transformations in my patients since being an acupuncturist, especially when it comes those those who come in and say: “I catch everything that goes around.” In Chinese medicine, that is called “Wei Qi xu” or “Protective Qi Deficiency”; with acupuncture and a constitutional formula, we can support your immunity and get you to the place where you feel comfortable the next time a booger-faced kid offers you a soggy Cheerio (I probably don’t have to say this – but DON’T EAT IT!).

8. Stay away from sugar and artificial sweeteners. If you crave juice, cut it with sparkling water or plain filtered water. High doses of sugar can  lower your immunity.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t eat fruit, or allow yourself a little sweetness. Just make sure you aren’t overloading on sugar, which many people will do/crave when they are sick. As for artificial sweeteners – avoid them. There is nothing redeeming about artificial sweeteners. Try stevia, which has a way better safety profile than aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose.

9. Have some chicken soup!  A study was conducted at the University of Nebraska where researchers exposed neutrophils, the white blood cells that fight infections but also cause inflammation, to diluted chicken broth. The movement of the cells was slowed down when exposed to the chicken broth!  Chicken broth is also thought to help clear the nasal passages and fight inflammation. So, sip on some soup, or at least some broth.  Hopefully, someone knows that you’re sick and is waiting outside your door, right now, with a steaming pot of homemade chicken soup. If not, here is one of my favorite recipes.

10. Meditate/Use creative imagery. You are stuck in your bed anyway, right? Take 10-20 deep breaths, then relax your body from your hair follicles down to the tips of your toes. Or, imagine yourself getting better. I like to picture tiny bolts of white lighting zapping out the viral invasion. Sometime I imagine Samwise and Frodo and the struggle they had to go through to fight evil – there is always someone who has it worse, right?

11. Sunlight. If it isn’t freezing, or going to cause a nasty draft, open some windows for a second to get some fresh air. Sometimes getting sick makes you feel like the boy in the bubble. Blech! At the very least, open the shades and let some sunlight in.  The power of natural light is, well, powerful.

So, there you have it. I truly believe that you can get through this, and I believe that while you are in hibernation, you can shed the old skins that may not be serving you anymore.  Hope you feel better soon!