1. Get Moving
I know you don't feel like it. But the ONLY way to get past this is to encourage your lymph system to get immune cells in, and trash out.
-Take a hot showers
-Use a netti pot
-dry yourself briskly!
-snuggle into warm clothes
2. Take Stock and Make Stock
Start making hot water, on the stove or in a crock pot, and a tea kettle. I am forever freezing chicken bones and this is the time to use them. Dig around in your fridge and freezer to see what you might add to that hot water. If you were thinking ahead, you may have some veggie ends like carrot tips and celery butts and parsley stems frozen against a future soup, in which case toss it all the pot with the bones. Otherwise, just the bones will do fine, with some salt and a wee splash of vinegar. And a few seaweed leaves, if you have them. Then just put the pot on low with a lid and forget about it until tomorrow.
Like #1 up there, keeping your lymph moving and thin is super extra important now, so we need to stay hydrated and warm. With that hot tea kettle water from #2, make yourself some tea- I keep it easy with instant dandelion or ginger tea, or one of these mushroom lattes that help your immune function and are DELICIOUS. Also, dig out that container of miso you forgot about in the back of your fridge (I'll share other ways to enjoy miso some other time) and drop a spoonful in a second mug. Add a sprinkle of kelp and poof- you have soup. Drink up.
4. Feed a cold, starve a fever
Here's my take on this saying, really one of the only thowbacks our culture has left of a traditional medicine system. Colds are low-grade attacks on our bodies, and we pull out all the stops to fight it- mucus to trap and drain, fatigue to conserve energy, aches as destroyed cells pile up in our lymph glands. An army fights on its stomach, so if yours is calling for fuel, go for it.
Keep in mind, you are working HARD to fight this off, and it takes energy to digest food into that fuel. Choose simple, nutrient-dense, easy to digest options, which are primarily soft, long cooked, and uncomplicated foods. Soups, stews, roasted vegetables, eggs, applesauce, porridges- you know, the really healthy stuff. Dairy, sugar, large quantities of grains, raw foods will all use too many resources or actually feed the bacteria causing the cold. Help your body out.
If you reach fever stage, I believe your body is throwing all available energy at raising your temperature to basically cook your illness right out of you. Support that with hydration, warm clothes, lots of simple resting, and fasting as you feel you need it. Now's the time to really check in and see what you're up for and in need of. It'll take your stock from #2 at least 24 hours to simmer into a mineral-rich broth that will feed your depleted immune system, so nap your way till then.
Don't be surprised if you sleep for 12 hours or more. Don't be surprised when I suggest you go to bed before it's dark out. Give yourself the chance to recover. Just do it, please!
6. Recovery wasn't done in a day
Our culture does NOT value convalescence. But I do! And I get it, it's hard to all for recovery when we're so pressed with obligations and responsibilities from all sides. But if you keep your energy output to 70% MAX for at least 2 days after you start feeling better, you'll actually be able to recover to at least your pre-cold energy levels in record time.
A woman was recently telling me about a strange rash she developed on her upper back. After a few rounds of doctor visits, she was finally told that it was coming from a virus that gave her an upper respiratory issue 3 months prior to the rash! Enough people had had the hacking cough AND didn't actually recover from it, leading to identical rashes on the outside of their lungs months later, that the local physicians were recognizing the symptoms- and recommending steroids. I recommend recovering fully in the first place.
Drink your broth, make it into vegetable soup, eat your simple foods, allow for more time to do routine things, take naps, and when your symptoms start to recede start the clock- you still need at least 2 days of this easier pace to be well again.
My herbal teacher Maia Toll used to talk of a certain kind of energy, best likened to a cast iron skillet upside the head 😉 You know what I mean.
Motherwort is one of my favorite cast iron skillets. And she has the best name: Leonurus cardiaca, Lion Hearted!
Intensely bitter, she will make you swing your head away from her tincture like you've been slapped. But, well, sometime we need that. She's very grounding, a reality check. But at the same time, she's that gruff grandmother who will also envelop you when you truly need comfort. She's an herbal hug, caring for your heart and soul, ready to swat your dupa when it's time to get back on track.
Up close, her flowers look like tiny lion's heads, jaws open in a roar, fangs exposed. She's good heart medicine ♥ and I love her almost even more as emotional medicine. We all need this kind of unconditional and tough love sometimes.
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
This is a public space, so my writing reflects my experiences and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.
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This website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical, mental health or healthcare advice. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose, treat, heal, cure or prevent any illness, medical condition or mental or emotional condition. Working with us is not a guarantee of any results. Paula Billig owns all copyrights to the materials presented here unless otherwise noted.