Slay The Sickies (#5 Is My Favorite)

Is it just me, or has everyone been beaten down by intense colds and flus this year? ðŸ¤’

When I lived in Boston, having an epic cold once or twice during the Winter/Spring season was the norm. But when I moved to CA almost 15 years ago, I was shocked by how seasonal illness would ravage people here too ... especially when "Winter" meant 50 degrees and sunny at it's worst.

This year, I've noticed that people have been REALLY sick. All the time. One infection after another. And now Spring has sprung, allergy season has started.

Ouch.

I must admit that I was sick a LOT as a child. My parents tell me that I once had a brutal case of bronchitis that lasted an entire year. I was on antibiotics ALL the time, which set me up for my eventual health crash. I remember getting epically sick during undergrad and grad school, but looking back, that wasn't necessarily surprising based on how I treated my body. I ate a nutrient-poor diet (Ramen and cereal), drank like a fish (3+ times/week), was chronically stressed, and either exercised too little (undergrad) or too much (grad school).

Back then, I really had no idea how to take care of myself.

Thankfully, that has since changed. I've learned a LOT of tricks to keep myself healthy, even when I'm surrounded by sick people 😷 . This season, I've felt a sore throat or tickle come on several times, but I managed to nip it in the bud before illness took hold in my body.

How? Read on for all the ways I love to "slay the sickies". 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links; if you visit Amazon through these links and purchase a product, I'll get a small commission. However, the price does not change for you! 

CHAGA

1. chug the chag

There are many variations of this drink, including the potent Fire Cider, but sadly my body does not tolerate raw onion, garlic, or cayenne. So I modified the recipe to work for me, and I must admit that it is much more palatable than fire cider.

The minute I feel even the slightest tickle, I chug the CHAG - citrus, {raw} local honey, apple cider vinegar (ACV; with the mother), and {fresh} ginger.

Here's the recipe:

🍋 Dice 1" piece of fresh ginger into small pieces
🍋 Steep ginger in hot water for 5 min
🍋 Add juice of 1/2 lemon or {blood} orange
🍋 Add 1 tsp raw honey (or Manuka honey) 
🍋 Add 2 Tbsp raw ACV (apple cider vinegar)

This wonderful immune-boosting beverage is great even if you succumb to illness - you'll need the Vitamin C, and ACV is great for thinning mucus.

2. ditch the sugaR

Sugar potently suppresses the immune system in multiple ways: 1) by competing with Vitamin C due to its similar chemical structure, and 2) decreasing the ability of immune cells to engulf and destroy bacteria or viruses. So even though a sugary pick-me-up seems like a good idea when you're feeling run down, it's best to avoid it completely. Instead, fill your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, especially berries and dark, leafy greens for their antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Sip on hot tea and bone broth, or better yet, your grandmother's chicken soup recipe to nourish your body and soul.

3. herbs, vitamins, supplements, oh my!

While I prefer to get my vitamins and minerals from food as much as possible, sometimes you need some extra support. This list is NOT exhaustive by any means, but these are my go to's to zap illness:

Buffered Vitamin C: I take 1-2mg of PERQUE Potent C Guard daily in water (in the evening) when I start to feel sick. It has an effervescent flavor that's enjoyable! Unlike other Vitamin C supplements, it is pH balanced, completely buffered 100% l-ascorbate without the junk or fillers in other Vit C supplements. It also contains a balance of essential minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.


Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for immune health, and has been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections. While you can get your daily dose of Vitamin D by spending time in the sunshine, some seasonal climates (hello dark, stormy winter!) and hectic work schedules don't allow for basking in sun rays all day. I keep my Vitamin D levels topped off by taking 5000 IU Vitamin D/K2 by Thorne. Work with your doctor to determine if Vitamin D supplementation is right for you. (Hint: MANY of us are Vitamin D-deficient!)


Lauricidin. Derived from monolaurin in coconut oil, Lauricidin has potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal activity without having a negative effect on desirable gut bacteria. It has been shown to prevent infections before they start, and for treating viral infections including Influenza.


Oil of Oregano. Oil of oregano contains two powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compounds: carvacrol and thymol. Over 800 studies reference carvacrol in PubMed, and it has been shown to successfully treat bacterial infections, fungal infections, parasites, viruses, inflammation, Candida, and allergies. I take Gaia's Oil of Oregano capsules as soon as the sickies start to invade, and for up to 2 weeks. Not recommended for pregnant women.

4. Go for the essentials

Use of essential oils can be a powerful way to support immune health. While there isn't extensive research showing the efficacy of essential oils in treating illness, it has been shown that inhaling steam with chamomile essential oil relieves cold symptoms, whereas tea tree oil has antiviral properties. There are several ways to use essential oils, including:

  1. Diffuse in an essential oil diffuser.
  2. Inhale hot steam: add 4-5 drops essential oil to a pot of boiling water. Carefully lean over the liquid with a towel over your head, and inhale the hot steam.
  3. Place a drop or two onto a warm, damp washcloth and place onto your chest or forehead to relieve pain and congestion.
  4. Add 5-8 drops into your bath for a soothing, relaxing effect.
  5. Dilute into a carrier oil (like sweet almond oil or olive oil), and use directly on the skin.

Many single essential oils have been suggested to be helpful for easing cold/flu symptoms, including:

  • Tea Tree (decongestant)
  • Pine (clears nasal passages)
  • Lavender (calming, antimicrobial)
  • Peppermint (expectorant when inhaled)
  • Thyme (antiseptic)
  • Lemon (high Vitamin C content)
  • Eucalyptus (decongestant)
  • Rosemary (decongestant)
  • Frankincense (cough, phlegm reduction)

I personally love to use essential oil blends when I am feeling sick, and my go to's are the Purify and Breathe Ease blends from Rocky Mountain Oils. I place a few drops onto a chunky scarf and wrap it around my neck so I can breathe in the vapors.

5. Check your mindset

Without a doubt, your thoughts create your reality. If you feed your mind with negative and anxious thoughts, low and behold negativity and anxiety-inducing experiences will enter your life. It never fails. I have used affirmations and the power of positive thinking to avert several illnesses this cold and flu season. The moment I started to feel a sore throat coming on, I told myself the following:

  • My immune system is STRONG and ABLE to ward off infection.
  • I am so appreciative of my immune system's ability to keep me healthy.
  • I am listening to my body so I can give myself the care and love I need right now.
  • I am worthy of being healthy, balanced, and strong. I AM healthy, balanced, and strong.

And so on. I brought my awareness into a state of appreciation for and trust in my immune system, and proceeded to follow the other tips here to practice self-care and self-love. Last year, I powerfully used this to ward off what felt like was going to be an epic cold (and turned out to be for others around me who were so unlucky to succumb to it). Remember, your mind is powerful beyond measure. Nourish it with thoughts that support your health and wellbeing.

6. DE-stress & get some rest

It's no coincidence that you get slammed with a nasty cold or flu when you have too much on your plate, or are experiencing a lot of physical or emotional stress. Your immune function is severely compromised by chronic stress, and a powerful antidote is to REST. Take your foot off the gas pedal, clear your calendar, ask for help, and take that mental health day ... before you have to take a sick day. And remember that nap you never seem to take? Make that your top priority, in addition to getting 7-8 quality hours of sleep per night (or more if you're exhausted). I also recommend taking a critical eye to your schedule to see where you may take certain stressful responsibilities OFF your plate in favor of more restorative ones, like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, journaling, listening to music, or even allowing yourself a night of Netflix binging. Often we begin to feel exhausted and run down by stress BEFORE getting sick. If you start to cultivate body awareness by checking in with yourself on a daily basis, you'll likely intuitively feel a need to amp up your self care. Listen to the call of your body - it will never steer you wrong.

If you are looking for natural ways to boost your body’s defenses during cold and flu season, these are my favorite tried and true methods. Please note that these suggestions are not replacements for other proven methods for fighting colds. If you have severe cold and flu symptoms that do not decrease with these or other cold remedy suggestions, please consult your physician immediately.

With love 💗,
Shannon

* Slay Photo Photo Courtesy of Cara Alwill.