How I Got Over the Worst Flu In Years – Naturally
2013 was one of the busiest years of my life and I ended December with one of the worst flus I’ve ever picked up to prove it. At first I noticed that, even though I was getting plenty of sleep, I was feeling extra tired for days on end. Then I got an uncharacteristic string of headaches. I thought it was due to getting my menses, but I knew something was off… I just couldn’t be sure what.
But then I taught 10 yoga classes in 48 hours (which normally would be rather peaceful, I must say) and I woke up with a super sore throat, more headaches and whole body pain. Once I surrendered to bed, it became clear that my sinuses were infected and my head was full of phlegm (well, now I knew why I was getting the headaches!). I proceeded to have fever alternating with chills, followed by a deep lung heaviness and racking cough.
Needless to say, I felt miserable! But I’m grateful to my body for showing me its symptoms so I could bring it back to balance.
Today is my first day of feeling better (I’ve spent 4 days in bed up til now) and I feel inspired to share how I got my health back, naturally!
I never took anything synthetic. Instead, I stuck to the following basics: I ate no sugar or dairy (foods I was reluctant to give up as fall turned to winter – my bad!), I drank lots of warm fluids – including simple garlic broth and ginger tea, I stayed in bed, I asked for help (such as, “help friends! can anyone walk my dog?”), and kept myself warm. Beyond that…
First things first… I sucked on these:
Not everyone feels that Zinc makes a big difference when fighting infection. But my experience is that when I take it in the first 24 hours of feeling sick, it really helps me feel better faster. If nothing else, these particular lozenges are not sugary – they are made from low-glycemic brown rice syrup – and they really soothed my sore throat and unquenchable thirst in the first two days of my… deep rest period. : )
Second, I did Steam Inhalations every couple hours, followed by cleansing my nasal passages with warm salt water.
It’s called using a Neti Pot – and it looks like this.
Also known as “Nasal Rinse Cups”, neti pots clear the sinuses and nasaly passages. They are available in plastic, stainless steel and ceramic styles of varying shapes and sizes. Clearing nasal passages removes excess mucous that make you more vulnerable to bacterial infections, allergies and chronic or acute congestion. If you’ve already got a whole lot of mucous going on like I did, warm salt water will help break down and remove that excess mucous – out of your head! I must have done at least 10 steam inhalations and 12 neti pot rinses in the first 36 hours of feeling awful. And you know what? It helped sooooo much and made my sinus headache go away within a few hours.
Here’s what to do: Fill a neti pot with warm distilled water and ½ teaspoon sea salt (preferably a good quality, mineral-rich salt) for a gentle saline rinse that provides relief for excessive mucous and/or nasal dryness while rinsing away dust, pollen and other irritants that may become lodges in the sinus cavity.
Lean over the sink with your forehead leaned towards the drain. Place the spout of the neti pot to your right nostril and turn your head towards the left (so that your left ear is now facing the drain). Breathe through your mouth as you allow the distilled salt water to flow in through your right nostril and out through your left nostril.
Repeat on the opposite side. Finish by gargling with the last bit of salt water that is left in the pot – this is especially helpful if your throat is sore! Blow your nose gently, but thoroughly, to purge as much water and mucous as possible.
If you suffer from constant congestion (especially in the morning), you may adapt this as a daily practice, tagging it onto the daily brushing of your teeth. It’s wonderful to do daily when cleansing and for times when a cold is coming on or you’ve been exposed to excess dust and other pollutants. Neti pots can be purchased online and at most health food stores.
What’s a Steam Inhalation?
It’s a humidifier, it’s a facial, it’s a way to break a sweat and a way to build your lung strength, improve your blood circulation, and move phlegm out of the lungs. Since I don’t have a bathtub where I currently live, I use steam inhalations as the next best thing to soaking my whole body in hot water when I need some extra heat and ESPECIALLY when I need to heal my congested lungs.
Here’s How To Steam: Fill a stockpot two thirds of the way full with water. Add some fresh sliced ginger root (if you have it) and bring the water to a rolling boil. Set a place for yourself at a table where you can sit quietly, undisturbed, with both feet flat on the floor and at a level where, when the pot is placed before you, you can easily lean over it with a towel over your head AND the pot. Just before you sit down with the steaming pot of hot water, add whatever healing lung herbs you have around the house or in your backyard – rosemary, lavender, mint, comfrey, lemon balm, mexican marigold and/or calendula flowers are common plants that do wonders for the lungs.
Place the herbs in the hot water and immediately sit before the pot with a towel over your head – this ensures that you “catch” the first volatile steaming oils of the herbs. Breathe as deeply as you can, really filling your lungs with the steam, for as long as you can – try for 10 to 15 minutes. Blow your nose as often as you need to throughout the steam. Things will get released!
Because the steam inhalation liquifies and breaks down hardened mucous, it’s a good idea to use your neti pot right after. Good News: you can re-use your steam inhalation 3 times before discarding.
The Next Thing That Made a Difference – I Ate These.
Vitamin C helps rebuild vital tissues of the body – including the lungs! Only whole food sources of Vitamin C are completely absorbable and assimilable by the body. That’s why I always use Truly Natural Vitamin C by Healthforce Nutritionals. One and a half teaspoons gives you 300mg of totally absorbable Vitamin C. That’s basically the same amount of Vitamin C that you’d absorb from taking 1000mg of a synthetic sourced Vitamin C, but without the need for your body to process out all the unusable parts of the synthetic form. Plus, because whole food sources of Vitamin C are non-toxic, you can take as much as you need and not get sick to your stomach. This one tastes good, too.
I couldn’t take the probiotics those first two days – I felt too sick and nauseous to keep much down aside from fluids. But once I started feeling a little better and gaining back my appetite, I took Friendly Force to start giving my colon (lung’s sister organ) some support for building good bacteria and reducing bad bacteria in the gut. After all, more than 70% of the body’s immunity lives in the gut so “getting sick” IS a chance to purge, purify and rebuild.
Of course, I turned to Ayurveda, too. It’s my thang!
Nasya oil is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for healing, soothing and strengthening the ears, nose and throat. The Nasya Oil pictured is one I learned to make from my teacher and founder of the dhyana Center, DeAnna Batdorff. She learned it when she ran an ashram’s infirmary in Bihar, India. There are lots of Nasya Oil blends out there, though – some less fiery than others. This one, made from ghee, sesame oil, ginger and fresh garlic is pretty strong but it’s one of the best anti-bacterial blends I know. I warm this up and put a dropperful in my ears when I feel low. Sometimes, when I’m really brave, I’ll sniff and swallow a few drops. It’s strong! But it can really fight infections.
Enemas help, too, because they clear out the lower channel of the large intestine, lung’s sister/partner organ. And really any warm, cleansing practice you can think of will help you get well – putting garlic and onion on your food, drinking lots of healing broths, eating Asian pears for sore lungs, eating only when you are hungry, sleeping as much as you can and need to, canceling all obligations so you can focus on complete self-care, drinking water… etc. You get the picture. Use your inner wisdom – you know what to do. But I will share one last healing experience…
One more thing that helped (but I’m especially lucky) – Cuddles from Nurse Spanky.
I hope these remedies help you feel better fast!