What to do when you do not know what to do.
It is a cold, grey, winter day… and this is exactly how you feel. When you get hit hard (or feel like you are going to), how can you bounce right back up? Whether it is the flu, a stomach virus (yuck!), or a gruesome sinus infection, here are eleven natural remedies that will help you recover! Yes, taking Tylenol or Advil works, but I prefer to put as little medication in my body as possible. For a more in-depth study on this approach, refer to Kelly Brogan’s book, A Mind of Your Own.
Consume oil of oregano // Oil of oregano contains phytochemicals that support the body’s resistance. When you feel like you are coming down with something, or are already ill, take four to six drops. It does not taste great, so dilute the extract in water or mix it with olive oil to dress a salad. This oil is also an effective anti-fungal and antiviral, and is great for GI tract issues.
Use a humidifier // The cold winter air is dry. We know that. Be like geriatric Seth Cohen and fill your humidifier nightly. You will no longer wake up with a dry nose and throat, and will be less prone to bacteria, which do not travel well in moist air. Additionally, your skin will not be like that of a reptile — it will be supple like a baby’s bottom.
Sweat // Sweat purges the body of toxins and bacteria, while retaining calcium for your bones. If you are under the weather, yet feel well enough to get your sweat on, hop on a cardio machine or do a few Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) to get blood flowing and create heat. Endorphins will relieve any antsiness you have from lounging all day.
Have a wellness shot (also known as an immunity or a Rehab shot) // What is in it? Ginger, lemon, cayenne, oil of oregano, and turmeric. Ginger helps settle an upset stomach and warms up the body, mitigating fluish symptoms. It also helps break up mucus and relieve a sore throat by bringing heat to the area. The benefits of cayenne are similar, in addition to alleviating a fever and digestive issues. Lemon is satiated with nutrients and boosts immunity while detoxifying the body. You can find this or similar health shots at most juice bars.
Create your own shot:
Juice 1/2 lemon and 1 inch of ginger // add a pinch of cayenne // add 5 drops of oil of oregano // add a pinch of turmeric. I love chasing the hot shot with a slice of orange, as I learned at Earthbar in Brentwood, Los Angeles.
Make yourself a special tea with warm lemon juice, ginger, honey, and mint // The old wives’ tale of warm lemon and honey soothing a sore throat is even tastier (and effective) with mint and ginger. Mix lemon juice, juiced ginger (or finely chopped to a paste), honey, and fresh mint. Heat on low for eight minutes. Drink warm. The sweet and tart combination is soothing.
Hydrate // Water: no description needed. Coconut water: my favorite is Zico, which is pure coconut water and no added ingredients. It has the least [natural] sugar per serving compared to other brands. If you prefer the no-sugar electrolyte and mineral option, I love adding a packet of Vega Sport electrolyte hydrator to my Essentia water. Tea: green tea kombucha, mint, or this turmeric ginger blend is my absolute favorite. It is calming and satiates your taste buds. Avoid sugary drinks such as Gatorade and fruit juices (unless they are cold-pressed from your favorite juicer; try to avoid fruity ones as they have a higher sugar content).
For an upset stomach, eat binding foods // Keep the diet bland. Darkened toast (the char absorbs the toxins that are making you ill — although consuming too much burnt is not good for you either), rice tea, and plain (preferably gluten free) crackers are great. When you are feeling a little better, move onto sodium-free chicken broth with gluten free pastina, or old-fashioned chicken soup (but hold off on the matzoh balls until you are feeling yourself again).
Though rice tea sounds particular, it is a treat. Recipe via Reader’s Digest: boil 1/2 cup of rice in six cups of water for about 15 minutes. Strain out the rice, then flavor the water with a dash of honey. Drink warm.
Use a ribald, but efficacious, sinus rinse // Keeping your nasal passages and sinus cavities clear is the key to breathing well and to getting out all the icky making you sicky. Letting this mucus live in your body can cause post-nasal drip and a subsequent cough, bronchitis, and even pneumonia! There is of course the infamous Neti Pot and Sinus Rinse Kit, which I prefer. I will spare you the details.
Pop a tube of Oscillococcinum // A homeopathic remedy popular in Europe, but effective in the United States, too! It should be taken at the first signs of feeling ill, and helps alleviate flu-like symptoms, speeding recovery.
Avoid amagenic foods // “Ama" in Ayurveda means toxic. Avoid gluten, dairy, and sugar, which all provoke inflammatory responses in the body. Inflammation makes internal organisms more susceptible to contracting and producing bad bacteria or a virus.
Steam or infrared sauna // Sit in your in-home steam room (or go to Equinox). If you find yourself having a coughing fit in the middle of the night, run a hot shower and create your own steam room! Another great option is an infrared sauna session. You sweat and release toxins — what could be better!? Check out New York's Gravity or HigherDOSE, The Springs in Downtown Los Angeles, and Triyoga in London’s Chelsea.
It is easy to want to jump right back into life as soon as you feel better. Yes, you have a lot to catch up on, but you may fall even sick[er] and can spread contagions. Instead of returning full-throttle, monitor yourself and reevaluate morning and evening. Make sure that you are fever-free for at least 24 hours before leaving the house or resuming focus-demanding activities. Recommence physical exercise slowly — your body just spent time healing itself; it needs to be respected for how strong it is.
Here is to a healthy season.
Please note that I am neither a doctor nor do I have a medical or homeopathic certification. I am sharing techniques which work best for me. Additionally, I have no relationship with any of the brands or products mentioned in this article. They are all products I use and support personally.