Groaning, I fight into a sitting position, look around and breathe deeply into my dizziness. “Wow, I’m so hung over… looks like I threw quite a party! I hope everyone got home okay.” Then I remember. That confetti scattered all around my feet is not confetti at all, it’s balls of tissues glued together with buckets of my yellow snot. I remember I’m not hung over… I have a wicked cold.
Ironically, when I get sick, I completely forget how to unsick myself. All the tips and tricks leave me as abruptly as a sneeze. My brain’s not trying to sabotage me, it’s just been assimilated by a million microbes– viruses that are giving it their best shot. They must know they’re going to lose. We’ve been through this before, they and I. They must know I will always prevail because I am my immune cells… my neutrophils and macrophages and my Natural Killer cells… they are me and they always win.
And if those viruses are destined to die, why shouldn’t they have one last party? Maybe that’s why I forget my health-promoting know-how. Maybe it’s not incompetence or self-sabotage… maybe it’s compassion.
For those who are harder of heart and want to deny viruses their final bash, here are a bunch of way to unsick yourself:
- Wash your hands with soap (not hand sanitizer, since it trains bacteria to become resistant to antibacterial chemicals). Soap literally tears apart the outer surface of most microbes.
- Drink plenty of water. Your body needs to be fully hydrated for immune cells to reach battle sites, for waste & free radicals to be carried away and for nutrients and anti-oxidants to be delivered. The blood and lymph need to be flowing like fervent rivers. The drier the skin (especially nostrils and throat), the more easily bacteria & viruses gain entrance into your body.
- Sleep. This is more important than most anything else. During sleep a body rests so it can fight bacteria and viruses more vigorously. Detoxification also happens during sleep (clearing out harmful chemicals produced during battles with microbes).
- Antioxidants through food: Antioxidants produce the bright color, strong taste and vivid smells that we love in our fruits and veggies. In every single case, there is more than one chemical to thank- antioxidants never work alone. For example, oranges contain at least 20 compounds, only one of which is what you usually see in vitamin C supplements (ascorbic acid). Ascorbic acid in supplements doesn’t even come from oranges… it is made in a lab… and one of the ingredients is nail polish remover. Good food sources include: citrus fruit (orange, lemon, kiwi, grapefruit), guava, cantaloup, cruciferous veggies (broccoli, brussels sprouts), tomatoes, red/green bell peppers and seaweed. For those who want a supplement, rose hips or camu-camu are excellent choices.
- Laugh! 🙂 When you laugh, your thymus (the endocrine gland seated above your heart) releases a burst of immune cells! Do this with a good friend, Will Ferrel, George Carlin, or a Laughing Yoga class. You can also lightly tap on this area for a couple minutes, three times per day (aka, the Thymus Thump).
- Bone Broth delivers gelatin & a full spectrum of minerals. Gelatin nourishes the gastrointestinal tissue (where 80% of your immune system is!) and minerals allow the body to keep all of its chemical reactions humming and popping. As a bonus, bone broth also contains glucosamines, which promote bone & joint health AND collagen which makes for healthy and sexy hair, skin and nails AND the amino acid glycine, upon which the liver relies to do its detoxifying duties… AND it’s delicious! Sold? Wanna know how to make it? Here’s a recipe. Do please try to make your broth with bones from animals allowed to roam free to eat their natural diet of grass & are not given hormones, antibiotics or steroids.
- Avoid foods that distract or hamper the immune system, like sugar and gluten. Sugar disrupts communication between your cells– your immune system is a team that needs to talk to each other. Sugar is like static between walkie talkies. Gluten in itself is a trigger of the immune system, whether or not you’re officially allergic or sensitive to it. It’s a very difficult molecule to break down and often gets confused as a foreign invader. (See more at www.GlutenGlut.com)
- Chillax. Isn’t it annoying when people say that? Sadly it’s great advice when you’re ill. Any stress, whether caused by relationships or work or as a result of an overly-pushy internal voice, is detrimental to your health and immune system. A study by the University of California discovered that couples who calmly discussed a relationship problem increased their white blood cell count within 15 minutes. That phenomenon surely also occurs at work between coworkers and between the voices in your head.
- Meditation allows the body and mind to sync… not the rational to-do list mind, rather the subconscious mind, where the real brain power lies. Meditation also lowers inflammation, which allows the immune system to focus on any invading microbial freeloaders. Meditation is tough. Really tough. But like anything, practice pays off.
- Echinacea contains chemicals that stimulate immune cells (called phagocytes) that physically dismantle bacteria and cells infected by viruses. Echinacea can also be taken to help heal cuts and resolve fungal infections.
- Netti pots are really awkward… but that warm salt water flushes out the disgusting gunk lodged in your sinuses, along with entire colonies of illness-causing microbes that are thriving in it! Just take it slow at first to get the hang of turning yourself into Noseagra Falls.
- Probiotics. You have 10x more bacterial cells in and on your body than you have human cells. (Are you really human?) As long as the “good” ones outnumber the “potentially bad,” you’re golden. For example, e. coli is known as a nasty pathogenic bacteria, but it’s natural and healthy for human guts to contain a little bit of e. coli. In small numbers, they actually do good things for us! They cause harm when their population blooms and that is enabled by what you eat, drink, do and feel. Taking a good probiotic and eating fermented foods freshens up your supply of beneficial bugs and keeps the “potentially bad” ones under control.
- Elderberry Syrup boosts your immune system with phytochemicals that dissolve viral proteins. The berries are poisonous raw, but when simmered into syrup and spiked with honey, they will keep you rocking and rolling all winter long.
- Fire Cider will kick a cold’s butt, but you have to plan ahead. Fire Cider has to brew for 4-12 weeks to reach full strength. Find some specific recipes for Fire Cider here. In the shorter term, blend any/all of the following ingredients into a paste, mix it into a base of coconut oil and warm water and shoot it down like it’s 1999:
- Fresh lime/lemon
- Raw honey
- Turmeric (fresh root if you can find it)
- Minced raw onion/garlic
- Minced ginger
- Chopped fresh hot peppers
- Add raw apple cider vinegar, or chase with a shot of diluted vinegar (to protect your esophagus and enamel).
- *Some of these ingredients are not appropriate for people with certain conditions. Also, some of these ingredients could exacerbate an autoimmune condition while it’s flaring… contact me for more info on this. Kids younger than 2 should not be given raw honey.