I was inspired to write this week’s blog after talking to my sister on the phone. She was sick with a horrible cold and had laryngitis, 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. Therefore, here are some 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 probiotic pills, and have the doctor check your vitamin d levels (if you are deficient in vitamin D, you will constantly get sick). If you do all of these things, you may be able to avoid getting sick in the first place. However, if you have caught the dreaded cold, are suffering from allergies, notice hoarseness or laryngitis developing, or just feel slightly sick, perhaps I can help you.
Often times Laryngitis is brought on by seasonal changes, illness, or breathing in dust or chemicals. However, did you know there is also nerve pressure in the bones of the neck that can cause the same reaction?
- When you 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. Sip slowly over and over, and this should help soothe your throat. (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 great for sore throats/laryngitis). While doing this, I try to relieve the tension in my upper chest and neck/back by massaging it. 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 Epsom salts, as this will open your pores and help you sweat out toxins. Many natural food stores now carry mustard bath, which also works well. You can do the same thing at home by peeling a grapefruit and adding 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 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 & C. Taking Elderberry tablets 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, there 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 a Cold or Allergies:
- When I lived in China, if you got sick, they would take a lot of fresh ginger, cut it into chunks (no need to peel), and add to a saucepan. They would then add a 2 liter 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. Drink this like tea. The sugar in the coke increases the ginger burn and makes you sweat like mad. Really helps you sweat out a cold and break a fever quickly. Also, great for sore throats. You can get the same effect using water, ginger and brown sugar, if you prefer. (The coke was too sweet for me).
- Another supplement, which I find particularly useful, is Bee Propolis. Just a few tablets help clear allergies and sinus phlegm, and calm a stomach. It also builds up your immune system. However, don’t take daily, as this is very heating to the body. Just take 2 tablets, twice daily.
- 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’s great for a sore throat, or sinus phlegm. This is a habit you can do daily. It will help with digestion, helps to flush toxins out of the body, and some studies suggest it can help with weight loss as well.
- Use a neti pot. Most people are now familiar with this device. However, I use Alkalol in my Neti pot as well. You can buy the Neti pot and Alkalol at any pharmacy. I make a mixture of sea salt and baking soda, and store it in a travel bottle. When I want to rinse my sinuses, I use about a teaspoon of this salt/baking soda mixture, mixed with about 2 tablespoons of the Alkalol. Then, add warm water, stir, and rinse nose. The Alkalol helps to bring down swelling in the sinus passages. It’s truly miraculous and helps with pain too.
- I have 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 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. 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 tablespoon of sea salt in it. Then, I remove from the heat, and grab a big towel. To the pot, I add 3 drops of each of the following essential oils: Sage, thyme, cinnamon, and clove. 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 at this time. 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. The maid told me to buy garlic, chop it finely, put it on a tablespoon, and swallow down with water, as if taking pills. (Do not chew it). Within moments, it opened my sinuses. You can also take it in pill form, if that is more convenient for you.
Good luck and breathe deeply!