It seems like everyone is sick right now–my coworkers, my girlfriend, even half of the bloggers I follow. When I woke up on Monday, I didn’t feel well, but I still went to work. I had a busy week to prepare for and couldn’t afford to miss a day. When I tried to sleep on Monday night, it was a disaster. I was too hot to sleep in the bedroom. I ended up sleeping in the coldest room in our house under a thin blanket, and I still had to stick my feet out because I was too hot (ok, so I always stick my feet out when I get too hot). I tossed and turned and flopped and occasionally slept.
When I tried to get up on Tuesday, I felt like death. A trip to the doctor landed me with a packet of antibiotics and the diagnosis of a sinus infection and an upper respiratory infection. Ugh. I have worked really hard over the last few months to get my gut health under control and I really did not want to upset that balance by taking an antibiotic. I made the decision that I would try 3 days of natural remedies, and if I was still sick, then it meant I really needed the antibiotic.
Here’s a peek at my treatment plan:
- Zinc supplements. I typically take a zinc supplement as a part of my “I got glutened” treatment plan (for a great post about this, check out this one by Amanda at Celiac and Allergy Adventures). But, in addition to it’s gut-healing properties, zinc is also a great way to support your immune system. Some studies have shown that high doses (75 mg) of zinc were able to shorten the length of the common cold by up to 42%. My supplements were 22 mg each, so I took between 44 and 66 mg each day for 3 days.
- Vitamin C (but not at the same time as the Zinc). Most people can tell you that vitamin C is good for you and that you should consume it if you are sick. What I did not know was what dosage would be appropriate. Before I came down with “the plague , I happened to listen to this blog post about At Home Lab Testing on Dr. Lo Radio. In it, there was a great discussion about how vitamin C is used by every cell in the body and how much a person needs in a day (and how to determine your dosage). It turns out that an average person needs between 2 and 9 grams of vitamin C each day BUT ONLY if they are healthy. A person who is stressed or sick can require up to 10 times that dose. There is some additional information in the Dr. Lo podcast about the importance of a buffered (with minerals) vitamin C supplement, but I didn’t worry about this for a short-term high-dose. I managed to get in about 8 grams of vitamin C each day for 2 days, and 4-6 grams on the third day.
- Honey, lemon, coconut oil “tea”. Honey is anti-bacterial, coconut oil is anti-viral, and the hot lemon water is nice and soothing on a sore throat. When I went back to work on Thursday, I switched to hot green tea with honey for the same effect with a little caffeine boost.
- Soup with chicken broth. It would have likely been better with actual chicken in it, but it has been shown in a scientific study that chicken soup has a real effect on a cold.
- A steamy shower. Coughing up a lung does not feel nice. Kitchen Stewardship had a very timely post this week about treating pneumonia in toddlers. Now, there are NO TODDLERS in my house, but her advice was still appropriate for helping me clear out my lungs.
- Sleep! Go to bed and let your body take care of itself. I had to take two days off work and spend nearly all of that time in bed sleeping or resting (read: watching Jurassic Park or playing Jurassic Park on my iPad).
And the results? I felt well enough to go back to work on Thursday, and I feel even better today. I don’t really have a voice at the moment, but it is coming back slowly. The antibiotics are safely stored away for emergencies 🙂
What are some of your trusted natural remedies for colds and flu-like sicknesses?