Colds suck. They leach into our autumn bliss and confine us to health purgatory––somewhere between being too sick to go to work, and not sick enough to just lie in bed. The seasonal sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head so you CAN’T rest plague is brutally annoying.
It seems everyone has his or her go-to method for preventing a cold, and for speeding up recovery. I certainly do. With countless hotel stays and air travel, I am routinely exposed to germs and viruses. By maintaining the health habits below, I have managed to keep my immune system supremely boosted and my body almost entirely illness free.
Here are a few of my immune boosting secrets:
1. I do not use hand-sanitizer with any regularity. Shying away from germs does not always serve us best. Some exposure is beneficial for building immunity. Regular and thorough hand-washing is my tried and true method.
2. Taking probiotics is part of my wellness routine. 80% of the immune system resides in our gut, and probiotics (good bacteria) help to keep our microbiome strong by shielding us from harmful bacteria overgrowth. It is important however that we don’t over do it with probiotic use. If we do, monocultures form in our bellies, where we need massive bacterial diversity. To ensure just the right amount of gut bacteria colonization, I stick to one Progurt Sachet per week. They are convenient, extremely potent, and shelf-stable, and one every seven days is ample.
3. doTERRA OnGaurd beadlets go everywhere I go. Their powerfully antiseptic, antibacterial, and tasty blend of wild orange, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils freshen breath and repel viruses.
4. I never fly without, or miss a night of oil swabbing. It is a simple habit of lubricating my nostrils with a Q-tip swab of coconut oil. Coconut’s antibacterial and antiviral properties ward-off infections. In addition, the oil helps to maintain nasal moisture, reducing the opportunity for seasonal bacteria and allergens to enter through cracked and broken skin.
5. I rest. I take breaks. I read. I write. I allow my body periods of complete serenity each and every day. I listen to my body. If it is nudging me to bed early, I don’t resist. If I am moved to be in nature, I head out for a hike. If it is calling for warm and comforting food, I feed it stews, curries, and other slow-cooked meals. During cooler months, my body wants comfort in the morning so breakfast is hemp seed or amaranth porridge, toast with mashed avocado and olive oil, or a smoothie (sans ice) blended with chai spice.
6. I drink chai, lots of chai that I blend at home. The warming spices of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and black pepper support strong digestive function, which is essential for immune strength. Chai also gently warms our core, keeping our inner environment cozy and more able to resist disease. I also regularly sip on Matcha, a ceremonial Japanese green tea made from grinding the whole leaf into a fine powder. Drinking the powder mixed with hot water ensures you ingest the nutrient properties of the entire leaf, and not just the brewed water. It is supremely high in antioxidants, and I enjoy a cup each day.
7. I regularly consume raw garlic. It is naturally antibacterial and boosts our white blood cell count, supporting disease resistance. To consume it raw without residual dragon breath, add it to a batch of hummus, other dips, salad dressings, pestos, and sauces. You can even juice 1/4-1/2 clove with beets, carrots, apple, ginger, and celery for an immune boosting and delicious tonic
At the first hint of compromised health, I do the following:
- Increase my sea salt intake. Two to three times in that first day, I will dissolve 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink sea salt in an almost boiling cup of hot water. As I sip slowly, I almost immediately begin to feel my sinuses clear.
- I consume more water, herbal teas, and rest as much as possible.
- Take a dose (rarely need more than one) of Umcka Fast Actives homeopathic remedy. They are not completely natural, but once in a blue moon they do the trick to keep me from being bulldozed by a cold.
- Gargle with unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), or sip a vinegar tea made from 1 cup of hot water, 1 tablespoon ACV, and 1 tablespoon honey.
- Eat a lot of soup. I do anyway, but especially at times of compromised health. I also eat more brothy soups. Pho, and soups made with root vegetables, freshly grated ginger and shaved garlic are my favorites. If I do not make the Pho myself, I ensure to only order from a Vietnamese restaurant that does not use flavor enhancers––unfortunately hard to come by, but they do exist.
- Drink cup after cup of turmeric milk (recipe below.)
- Keep my body warm with thick, cozy socks. If I have to be outside on a cold day, I will bundle up with a scarf and beanie.
- Ingest Oregano Oil. This natural antibiotic is a cold and flu killer. I add 5-6 drops to water, and drink it 2-3 times per day until I feel well.
Makes: 1 serving
I am a sucker for hot drinks even in the blazing days of summer, but especially during the colder seasons. This creamy and core-warming hot toddy is perfect for reducing cold and flu discomfort. If you omit the oregano oil, it can be sipped routinely throughout any day to prevent illness and decrease inflammation.
12 ounces plant-based milk (such as almond, hemp, or hazelnut)
1 teaspoon ginger root, freshly grated
1 teaspoon ghee, coconut oil, or grass-fed butter
1 pinch each of ground organic cloves, black pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon (optional)
3/4 teaspoon ground organic turmeric
3 drops oregano oil (use only when fighting a cold or other illness)
5 drops of liquid echinacea extract
1 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
1 tablespoon (or to taste) of honey or a low-glycemic sweetener such as yacon syrup
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, gently warm milk, ginger, ghee, coconut oil, or butter, and spices. Heat through until almost boiling.
2. Pour into your favorite dark-colored mug (turmeric stains), and stir in turmeric, oregano oil, echinacea, vanilla, and sweetener. Sip slowly and enjoy feeling better by the minute!