I celebrated Christmas by being sick with a head cold. Sore throat, sinus pressure, runny nose, and feeling overall yucky. Being sick is never fun. Luckily, I usually only catch a cold once per year. When symptoms start I ramp up supporting my immune system in a few different ways. I’m often asked by my clients what my favorite natural remedies are, so let me share exactly what I did this past week.
Before I dive in I want to mention that if you frequently have colds or the flu, it may be a sign of HPA axis dysfunction or adrenal fatigue. Being under long-term stress can weaken your immune system. Chronic stress increases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol’s job it to help your body deal with stress in a number of ways, one of which is to reduce inflammation. When cortisol is always high due to long-term stress, it can actually suppress the immune system and leave you more vulnerable to infections. If you get sick on a regular basis, before trying these natural remedies, you might want to start with a comprehensive hormone panel to check your cortisol levels.
In general, you want support your immune system by living a healthy lifestyle. This means eating healthy foods, avoiding food allergens and sensitivities, getting adequate sleep, having just the right amount of movement, limiting stress, reducing sugar, and supplying your body with needed nutrients. All of these things together help support your body when you’re exposed to a bug.
When I initially notice a symptom (this time around it was my throat), my first natural remedy secret is zinc. Having some zinc within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms helps to shorten the length of your cold. The theory is that zinc keeps cold viruses from multiplying and setting up shop in your nose and throat. I like Zand Elderberry Zinc Herbalozenges but it is important to get the right amount of zinc. I use four lozenges per day (20 mg zinc gluconate), but be sure not to use more than eight lozenges per day as the package recommends (2). I don’t recommend high doses of zinc for more than three days because high doses of zinc over time can actually start to suppress the immune system.
On mornings when I don’t feel so hot, I’ll have a cup of Echinacea tea with extra lemon. Echinacea is a popular herb that helps support the immune system. Being sick is a stress for the body and when under stress, our body uses vitamin C more rapidly. The added vitamin C from lemon helps replenish the body’s supply. Add some raw honey for its antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial activity (1). Much of this is due to the natural vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants, and other important nutrients found in raw honey.
My natural remedy daily routine also includes one shot of Fire Cider, a couple spoonful’s of I-Boost Herbal Sauerkraut by Pickled Planet (for a good dose of probiotics too), and a dose of oregano (3). The Fire Cider and Herbal Sauerkraut contain ingredients like horseradish, ginger, garlic and cayenne that support the immune system and break up congestion. Oregano contains antioxidants for immune system support and certain phytochemicals that act as powerful antimicrobials. This powerful herb can be purchased in pill form like with the OregaMax and is also an ingredient in the Pickled Planet sauerkraut.
A few other things to consider:
Sleep! Your body uses a lot of energy and resources to fight off illness, which is why we get so tired when we are sick. Listen to the clues your body is trying to give you and rest. Out of all the advice I can give, sleep is probably the best natural remedy I can recommend.
Hydrate! An important thing to do when you have a cold is to replenish fluids lost from sweat, urine, and decreased food intake. My favorite fluids include filtered water, hot tea, and bone broth. You could also try my Immune Boosting Elderberry Lavender Latte.
There are many things that you can do when you get sick, but these are my personal go-to remedies. How do you usually battle illness? Let me know in the comment!