Advice for the Common Cold

I am in bed sick today.  It started the other day when I went to do my afternoon meditation. That twenty-minute meditation turned into a two-hour nap with a heating pad. The fact that I was chilled to the bone should have been my first sign because it was a warm day in Hawaii and there was no reason to be that cold. Not to mention, I almost NEVER take naps.

So here I am two days later and now my head is stuffy, my throat is scratchy, I am exhausted, and I can’t seem to get out of bed for longer than a half hour without feeling like my legs are going to give out.

My husband was sick last week with these exact same symptoms. I thought I could avoid it. I am a vigilant hand-washer and borderline OCD about washing dishes, emptying trash cans, wiping countertops, etc.  But I think six nights in a row of his nose blowing, his hacking cough and his sub-standard containment of germ-spreading did me in. He claims that "he did his best" to keep his germ-fest contained. When I told him that it was a “C+” at best, he was offended by this grade and argued, “It was more of a B-."

I wondered to myself how many times have I gotten sick since I started writing this blog. So I decided to do a search.

It turns out I’ve only written about it once. I think I did get sick more than that, it just didn’t fall on a Monday. I know I got my husband’s cold last year in March too. Almost exactly the same circumstances. So there is a pattern here.  Men are not as good at keeping their germs to themselves.  A gross exaggeration and I have no evidence of this, but it makes me feel better as I am feeling sorry for myself today… and I need someone to blame.

I have a pretty strong immune system, and some pretty good natural remedies to boost my immune system when I feel like I am fighting something (or if I ultimately come down with something).

As I mentioned before, there is no better line of defense than good old-fashioned hand washing.

But if that fails, and you feel like you are coming down with something, here are some things that I do:

Get plenty of rest. This is hard for me because I am so active. I don’t like canceling plans (especially tennis and yoga).  But rest is best… and boring.

Drink plenty of fluids. Clear fluids are best (e.g., water, chicken broth, vegetable broth, herbal tea, etc.)

Avoid dairy products and alcohol. Cut back on sugar (as best as you can). Dairy products contribute to congestion (mucus).  Alcohol and sugar weaken the immune system.

For a sore throat, my favorite lozenge is the Original Ricola Herbal drops. They do have sugar, but I make an exception for these. I find that if you suck on these lozenges regularly in the first 48 hours, most scratchy throats disappear. Mine is almost gone.

For immune support, I like Herbal Wellness Resistance drops. You can buy them at Whole Foods and most health food stores. Four “squeezes” (dropperful) in whatever liquid you prefer four times a day.

I like using them with Emergency-C, but I don’t recommend more than two Emergency-C packages per day.  So you will need to find some other liquid that covers the taste (like a small amount of juice or herbal tea with honey.)

Eat protein. Protein fights infection. If you are vegetarian or vegan, I would avoid dairy-based proteins if you have any congestion.

Don’t eat “cold” foods if you have a cough or post nasal drip. The body has to work twice as hard to “warm up” the cold beverage and it can often cause the bronchial spasms. Ice cream or milkshakes are the worst for a cold (even though they taste so good). Room temperature water is best. Warm soup and herbal tea are also excellent.

So now it’s time for me to take my own advice: another dose of herbs in a cup of tea and a bowl of soup.

I will be skipping my yoga class this afternoon and canceling tomorrow’s tennis match which makes me very sad, but all will be worth it if I am feeling normal in a few days.

Hope you are all staying well and enjoying your three-day weekend.  Meanwhile, I will continue to blow my nose and passive-aggressively glare at my husband for giving me this cold in the first place.