Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina[/caption]
I’m laying in bed, satisfied yet sick as a dog (with my doggie laying at my feet, empathizing with my state). I have just returned from one of the most amazing, powerful, truly changing trips that left me drained of energy. There is this amazing thing that happens with my body, a defense mechanism of sort that I’ve perfected since I was an elementary school student - that kicks into ‘sick mode’ as soon as I am overwhelmed with life/study/work/relationships. Adding to that: deeply spiritual, cleaning, meditative and bonding experiences that happen on a mountain kirtan (spiritual music) retreat, and you have one very sick, I-need-someone-to-care-for-me girl.
Mommy, I don’t think I’m feeling well…[/caption]
But do not worry, this story has a happy ending - I do get better eventually. The days spent in agonizing sickness feel like years, sure, but they are also moments dedicated to resting and pondering about life. One of those pondering moments led me to this very article! Not only did I desire to share my wonderful, albeit very detoxifying, experience with the world, I came to a great realization while laying in bed, pitying myself. I realized I am, undoubtedly, an expert in sickness! That defense mechanism never fails me. And I have some tricks up my sleeve on how to get better, mentally and physically!
I must give myself a tap on the shoulder, no matter how sick I am, I most certainly do not get ill as often as I did when I was a child and youngster, and maybe even more significantly - I bounce back from my weakened state impressively fast! I have plenty of sick days logged to compare, and the simple conclusion is - I am getting better and better with age.
This quote by Hippocrates get’s me every time! I live by this philosophy.
And it becomes that much more obvious when I’m ill. My body and my mind, my internal system indicates what I should by eating by my food cravings when I’m ill or fasting. I long for grapefruit, tea, calming soup, not pizza, fries, or ice-cream. Oh Mr. Ice-cream - your, usually delightful, image gives me absolute creeps when I have a sore throat!
When I’m sick, first thing is re-evaluating my food intake and making it cold or flu-flighting! And second is using natural medicines to aid my recovery.
I do not like the taste of ginger, don’t get me wrong. I had to learn this one, and I continue to consciously implement it when the times get though. But _ginger _is simply fabulous, one of the most amazing well-rounded natures cures.
First off, chewing raw ginger purifies the sinuses, makes your lungs expand and provides a good burn for the sore throat, killing the bacteria and dispelling the mucus.
Ginger tea is the bomb! Wanna make it explode louder? Add lemon, cayenne pepper (bam!) and honey if you are that kind of a vegan/vegetarian. From all animal products, I think honey absolutely does not have negative effects on human body (or bears, for that matter) and all of its versions are amazingly healing (bee pollen, royal jelly, and my favorite - propolis). If your conscious says no, skip it. But if you eat it, this is the time to kick it up a notch - a spoonful of honey helps cure sore throat (again that least favorite feeling in the world for me!).
And finally, add ginger powder to everything! Period. Even when healthy.
An obvious one, but still worth mentioning. As soon as I feel the cold front sneaking on me, I start to amp up my lemon intake. Easiest is in teas and water, but can add to foods (rice and salad taste so much better with a lemon squeeze). Grapefruit is my favorite citrus fruit and I somehow do not eat enough of it, but it’s so good when you’re sick. According to ayurveda, grapefruit is obviously sour but also of bitter taste - which combats kapha or mucus in the body. Oranges, mandarines, eat all you can when sick!
Delicious pink grapefruit[/caption]
Another one you’ve probably heard of, but it cannot be stressed enough. I, for one, can’t drink water when I have a sore throat, it’s too cold and uncomfortable. Making teas around the hour is extra strain (for me or the lucky soul that get’s to take care of me when sick! - it’s usually Zen), but it’s a must. Even adding hot water and some tea to your bottle is enough, but you must have access to hydration at the tip of your fingers, without having to get out of bed every time you need a drink - because guess what? You won’t drink enough. Raw squeezed citrus, ginger, veggie juices are absolutely fabulous when sick if you can get your hands on them. Diluting with some warm water won’t hurt the enzymes if your throat needs it.
Yes, raw foods are awesome for your body, but they do take more energy to digest for certain body types (regardless of the enzyme situation in your stomach). Therefore, rule of thumb is easily digestible foods when you defense system is busy, well, defending! Raw or not, make sure it doesn’t bloat you or create gas, thats a sure sign of undigested foodstuffs. Most fresh fruits (avoid bananas, because of kapha or mucus), light salads mixed with lemon and EVOO dressing, without too many ingredients. Mono meals are the way to go to give your body a rest. Proteins and fats are hardest on the digestive tract when you’re immune system is down.
Pineapple, lime, kale and carrot juice in the perfect color of poop - just like I’m feeling right now![/caption]
I can call myself girl in the raw all I want, but when the viruses strike, I’m girl in a bowl of soup I am. I can’t live without soups, even at my highest raw moments, I would eat one at least weekly. They are a must for vata types (air and ether), warm and light. No heavy stews, lentils or beans. Cream soups, not maxing 4 ingredients, and clear soups with noodles and hearty veggies are my staples! Try a carrot ginger for a double flu-fighting boost!
The following are my must have ‘medicines’. I can’t remember the last time I took an antibiotic! I may buy a cough syrup now and then, but I must be in a really bad shape, and I usually shop Whole Foods when available. In fact, most of these should be available at any WFM or a nature store.
My hero. My savior. My knight in a shiny armor. My mom discovered (and later sold at her wellness center) GSE as the best natural antibiotic, over 12 years ago! And I am proof it’s all it promises to be, as I’ve been using it religiously with all types of minor and even some major health issues.
I get the liquid extract and fill up veg caps with it – the flavor of extract is simply _nasty! _About the most bitter awful thing you will ever try! But that’s where the potency is. They come in pre filled form, in that case it’s a powder, and in my (stomach’s) opinion not as strong.
When very sick, my formula is 2 caps every two hours (yes, often!) or at least 4x a day, or every six hours. Always drink with a lot, seriously lot of liquid. My ayurvedic doctor recommends an hour before, or two after meals.
Oh yes, and there’s an added benefit - you will run the loo like anything if you drink it regularly! It purifies your whole body, starting with the intestines! Just fyi.
This is the natural stuff, that will not damage the skin in the nasal passages or affect the good mucus. If you can take a dip in the ocean and inhale some water, that’s probably the best way to go! I also like inhalers, which brings me to the next point..
The essential oils are great for the lungs and sinuses. Growing up, my mom would boil water, put a few drops in it and cover my head with a towel, while I was ‘in treatment’. It’s the best! Any ointments mixed with these oils (even Vix), rubbed on your chest and back will ease the breathing and coughing.
Aha! This is not a wide known fact. I have tried gargling anything and everything (doesn’t sound good.. but what the heck! It’s true) because it’s the most immediate relief for the painful throat. I think salt water is good stuff, but olive oil provides like a coating layer that is both antibacterial and healing at the same time. It definitely requires some getting used to, and you should watch not to swallow it too much (unless the pain goes deep), but this is the good stuff! It really helped me heal so much faster this time around.
I found this one online and tested it a few times. It’s a mix of apple cider (another great aid in stomach issues, coughs and sore throat related illnesses), lemon juice, cayenne and honey. Again, sub the last ingredient with maple syrup if a strict vegan. Maple has more minerals than agave, it’s proven to be healthy since I’ve done a master cleanse so I think it’s the best option to replace honey. I drink this concoction to relieve coughing, but it aids a sore throat just as well!
Did you really think I wasn’t going to mention it? Yes, even if it’s the lightest form of yoga imaginable, but as soon as you feel up for it, do a few stretches. No, do not walk into a full studio with a leaky nose, please :) Just roll out your mat, or even do it on your bed!
Twists: great for detoxing. My favorite? Reclined twist with eagle legs.
Inversions and fish pose (matsyasana) : amazing for relieving congestion and headaches!
Pranayama: a must for raising energy levels and prana (life force) in the body.
Yoga in the mountains of North Carolina[/caption]
Hope these tips help you next time you’re forced to take a break! No matter what you take, make sure you get rid of all sources of stress and subconscious pressure and really, truly take the time for yourself and heal consciously.
UPDATE: This time around, I had a heavy fever by the second night of my sick-leave, thinking it has struck hard and I’ll had to take a week off. By the third or fourth day, my sore throat was completely gone (once the fever kicks in, it means the body’s natural defenses are working so pains tend to lessen, but the fever affects the head instead). The sore throat was replaced with a dry annoying cough I haven’t experienced in a long time, but again it only lasted two days. The whole affair was over in about five days total! Much quicker recovery than I would have suspected initially, and I thank my natural remedies for it!