My best advice to avoiding seasonal colds and flus is to take prevention seriously. When that first coworker or patient shows up with a cold, that is when I double check am I doing my basic self care of adequate sleep, hydration, and eating well? The holidays are an easy time to slack of on keeping the good stuff in our regular diet. Extra sugar and alcohol can lower our immune system just enough for those pesky cold and flu bugs to gain a foothold. Because of our holiday treats and travel, it is extra important to make sure to get plenty of rest, be diligent about washing hands (especially in the airport/train station and airplane/train).
Colds have a way of working their way through an office, school, and family. When the first person in my close home or working environment succumbs to a bacterium or virus, I start the wet sock treatment, and start doing some working with the herbs and supplements below. If that is not enough, then I go for some Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. I’ll be writing about when and why to get Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture for cold and flu symptoms in a later post.
If you are traveling on a plane or other public transportation for the holidays, consider stocking up on some supplements to take with you and definitely consider the wet sock treatment.
Besides the herbal medicine and acupuncture, here is my home remedy list:
Wash Your Hands: diligently. Enough said.
Get Plenty of Rest: If you start to feel extra tired suddenly, listen to your body and get some sleep. Getting plenty of sleep is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, and especially for your immune system.
Add more Garlic, Oregano, and Ginger to your diet: these three common kitchen spices have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. You can make a pretty darn tasty chicken soup with a ton of garlic with either oregano or ginger. When fighting off a cold, I usually make soups with at least 6-8 cloves of garlic. If you are hardcore about fighting this off, and your stomach can handle it, you can even try eating 1-2 raw cloves of garlic throughout the day. Start small. Raw garlic can definitely make your stomach unhappy. And don’t breath too heavily on your coworkers or family.
Do the Wet Sock Treatment: either right when a close family member or coworker gets sick, or the moment you start asking yourself if you are getting sick. Check out my previous post on the how-to’s of the Wet Sock Treatment here: https://stickoutyourtongue.org/2013/09/09/the-wet-sock-treatment-to-stop-a-cold-in-its-tracks/
Vitamins and Other Supplements:
Tincture of Oregano Oil: add 20-30 drops to 4 ounces of water 3-4 times a day when you first get exposed to a cold, or are starting to feel cold symptoms. Oregano is a pretty darn powerful antiviral and antibacterial. Note: antibiotics only fight bacteria.
Zinc: zinc lozenges or zinc supplements are both a great way to go when you get exposed or start to feel sick
Vitamin C: When cold and flu season hits the office or home, I start taking 2,000 mg every few hours and keep it up for a few days. If I don’t get sick, then I can back off. If I start to get sick, I will continue. Remember to watch for bowel tolerance of Vitamin C. Everyone has a different bowel tolerance, meaning, at some point (usually between 8,000-10,000 mg) people start to get diarrhea from vitamin C. Your bowel tolerance can be much lower than the average or even higher. Just pay attention to your poo and listen stop taking the vitamin C, if your get the runs.
Vitamin D: Research shows that low Vitamin D levels lead to a lowered immunity. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, then you are almost guaranteed to have low Vitamin D levels. Taking a Vitamin D3 supplement of 2000 IUs daily is generally safe in the PNW. If you are considering taking more Vitamin D, it is important to get a blood test to assess where your serum Vitamin D levels are currently. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which means you can actually overdose on it. Sometimes more is not better.