I was inspired to write this blog after talking to my sister on the phone. She was sick with a horrible cold and had laryngitis on top of it, so it prompted me to sit down and think about cures that have worked for me over the years.
We all get sick at some point, especially those of us who spend hours flying back and forth on a plane, staying in hotel rooms, or working with others in close proximity. This time of year, with frequent temperature changes and strong northern winds, it is especially difficult. Here are a few tips for staying healthy or recovering quickly.
The basics: Drink plenty of water (8+ glasses a day), get regular sleep, exercise at least 3-5 times a week, take daily probiotics and have the doctor check to see if your vitamin d levels are low. (If you are deficient in Vitamin d3, you will find you constantly get sick). If you do all these things, you may be able to avoid getting sick in the first place. However, if you have caught the dreaded cold/flu, are suffering from allergies, notice hoarseness or laryngitis developing, or just feel slightly sick, perhaps I can help you.
Often times, laryngitis seems to be brought on by seasonal changes, illness, or breathing in dust, chemicals, or molds. However, did you know there is also nerve pressure in the bones of the neck that can cause the same reaction?
When I start to feel hoarse, the first thing I do is buy fresh ginger, honey and lemons. I boil water, and make a tea of freshly grated ginger, the juice of a lemon, and a touch of honey with hot water. This should help soothe your throat, if you sip slowly. (If you can find raw MANUKA honey, it is made from the flower of the tea tree, and has amazing antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties, making it invaluable for sore throats/laryngitis). While drinking this tea, I try to relieve the tension in my upper chest and neck/back by massaging it with my hands, or by rolling on soft balls. Take note of any tight knots, and try to work them out, as this can lead to almost immediate relief in some people.
If possible, soak in a hot bath with some epsom salts, as this will open your pores and help you sweat out toxins. Many natural food stores now carry mustard bath soaks, which also works well. You can even make a home version- peel a grapefruit, and add the skin to your bath water. The oil from the skin is released into the water, and will almost cause a gentle burning sensation to the skin, as it helps heat your body and stimulate circulation. (It also smells GREAT).
Place a hot compress on the front of the neck, and a cold one on the back of the neck, at the base of the skull. This will help stimulate blood flow, to help you recover faster.
Increase your vitamin a, d, and c. Taking elderberry supplements can also help, as they work to stimulate the sinuses and moisturize your nasal passages.
I am a firm believer in acupuncture, but that is not always accessible to people. Therefore, here are a few pressure points you should know about: If you are hoarse try pressing at the following locations. (Press a few seconds, release, and repeat, or rub the area in a small clockwise circle).
-Press the outside corners of the mouth.
-Press just above the Adam’s Apple in your throat.
-Press the hollow space in front of each shoulder (about half way down to the armpit).
-Press the hollow at the base of the neck. This is the small circular indentation at the center of your neck when you look in a mirror.
FOR COLD OR ALLERGIES:
Every culture has their own cure for colds. My mother swore by rubbing Vicks Vapor rub on your chest and wearing a wool shirt and scarf over the top. When I lived in China, if you got sick, they would take a lot of fresh ginger, cut it in chunks (no need to peel, just wash), and add it to a saucepan. Add water and a little brown sugar (or, they usually used a bottle of COKE), and boil for 25 min or so. Keep an eye on it. It starts to get a bit thick, and can easily boil over if using the coke. Drink it like tea. The sugar in the coke, or added with the water, increases the ginger burn and makes you sweat like crazy. It really helps you sweat out a cold and break a fever quickly. It’s also great for sore throats. Just stop drinking when feel better… it’s a lot of sugar.
Another supplement which I find particularly useful is bee propolis. (Be careful with this if you have any current health issues). Just a few tablets can help clear allergies, and sinus phlegm, and calm a troubled stomach. However, do NOT take daily. It’s very heating to the body
When you are first coming down with a cold/allergies, if you drink warm water with 1-2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar in it, you can avoid getting sick altogether, as it changes the PH balance in your body. It is great for a sore throat, or sinus phlegm. This is actually a habit you can do daily. It will also help with digestion, flush toxins out of the body, and some studies have even suggested it can help with weight loss as well.
Ear candling: If you have never heard of it, it’s an old tradition originally used in China, Tibet, Egypt, and by the Hopi Indians. Hollow looking candles are inserted in the ear and lit. The gentle warmth of the candle burning can help heat the wax in your ear, improving hearing and also clearing your head and drying out allergies/inflammation. It’s extremely relaxing, but should be done by a professional.
Use a neti pot: Most people are now familiar with this device. (It’s a nasal douche). I make a mixture of sea salt and baking soda, and add a little to warm, distilled water in my neti pot. Stir and rinse nose with it. I take this a step further, and often use something called ALKALOL in mine with the salt solution. It quickly brings down inflammation. However if you have a recurring sinus infection, my naturopathic doctor suggests you do the salt mixture with water, mixed with a very small amount of BABY SHAMPOO. Rinse sinuses. This will NOT sting, but will get thru the biofilm layer in your sinuses, so you are able to reach the bacteria, or infection causing the issue. DO NOT USE MORE THAN once a month. VERY DRYING!
I have also begun to practice Qigong, which is the study of life energy. If your sinuses are congested, stand up tall. Take a deep breath and see how your sinuses feel Then, raise one arm in the air, palm facing the opposite arm. Hold it in the air about 10-20 seconds, and then continue to breathe deeply. Be aware of how your sinuses change. Then, lower that hand and raise the other. Repeat. Just by stretching your arm and releasing energy, your breath will change. Now, hold one arm out in front of you, and tap on the top of it from the shoulder to the wrist. Repeat on the opposite arm. You will feel your lung/air start to open up and move freely. This is just a simple thing to do several times a day to help you avoid sickness.
Steam over a pot of water with essential oils in it. If I am feeling swollen in my sinuses, throat or dealing with lung congestion, I simply boil a pot of water on the stove with about a teaspoon of sea salt in it. Then, I remove from the heat, and grab a big towel. To the pot I add: 4 drops of thyme, cinnamon and clove essential oil. Throw the towel over your head and steam. It may burn at first. You will notice you are very sensitive wherever you are congested. Keep breathing in the steam, and eventually the pain goes away, and you can stop steaming. The salt gently dries out the sinus membranes, while the oils bring down swelling and fight infection.
Garlic is your friend. I caught a horrible head cold while in Italy, and the maid told me to buy garlic, chop it finely, put it on a tablespoon and swallow (don’t chew) with water. Within moments, it will clear your sinuses. You can also take it in pill form, if more convenient.
Good luck and breathe deeply!