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Top 10 ways to kick a cold’s butt before it kicks yours

November 18, 2010
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Holistic cold remedies

I haven’t been truly sick in over two years. I mean, sure, a sniffle here and there, but nothing that has me on the couch for a week with a box of tissues.

Let’s see, what was different two years ago? First of all, I was still working in advertising, a daily drain on my being. I was eating whole foods, though mainly a vegan diet and not enough dark, leafy greens. Hmmmm. And I rode the subway every day.

I got sick fairly often back then, come to think of it.

Well, this week I started to feel a bit run down. Dragging. Not hard to imagine given pregnancy, moving and trying to sell our place. On Tuesday night my head felt a little thick, my throat a little sore. I woke up the same way. Uh-oh. Not now, I thought. I can’t get sick now! I have open houses to deal with, and packing and we’re going to go to Kripalu next week before Thanksgiving and on top of it all I can’t/don’t want to take medicine!


But today, two days later, I’m feeling much better. And that thickness in my head has retreated instead of blossoming into a full cold or flu. How’d I do it?

Here are my top 10 secrets for naturally kicking a cold’s butt before it kicks yours:

1. React, dammit!
You know that feeling you get just before you get a cold? Pay attention! Now is the time to take a sick day and rest! If you wait, it’s going to just get worse. That’s a promise.

2. Sleep it off
Seriously. If in that early stage you can take a day off and just sleep all day – and using the computer while lying on the couch doesn’t count – you are going to really help your body fight off the cold.

3. Cut that mucus with a knife
Ok, not a knife. But I adore Bragg’s apple cider vinegar for it’s ability to cut through and clear mucus congestion. Would other vinegars work? I don’t know, honestly. Bragg’s is unpasteurized, so the live cultures are probably key to this effect. As soon as you start feeling thickness or heaviness in your head, drink a glass of water with a splash of Bragg’s. Repeat often.

4. Go Neti! Go Neti!
I can’t say enough about my neti pot. It’s most useful to use it before you are majorly clogged up. As a preventative measure, it can be used daily. Once I start feeling icky, I use it 2 or 3 times per day. It cleans those pipes out! But the salt water can be drying in cold weather, so follow up with a bit of sesame oil in each nostril. I use a Qtip with some oil on the end, and apply to the insides of my nostrils.

5. Drink a healing broth
Make your own healing tonic from any vegetables or chicken bones you have on hand. Be sure to include some garlic, ginger, dark leafy greens and a piece of kombu. When you don’t feel like eating much, broth is incredibly nourishing and healing to your body. A steamy hot bowl or mug will also help your sinuses open.

6. Make ginger tea
Combine a piece of ginger root with water in a pot. Boil, then simmer 10 minutes. Add a touch of raw local honey or lemon and drink.

7. Get steamy
Take a hot shower or bath and breathe in that steam. I also like to run hot water over a washcloth and press it to my face. Feels heavenly.

8. Drink heavily
Except it’s gotta be water. The sugar in juice isn’t going to help you get better and neither will caffeine. Drink loads of water to flush your system.

9. Avoid dairy
Dairy creates excess mucus in the body. So don’t drink milk or eat cheese right now.

10. Sleep some more
I’m serious. That’s the best thing you can do. And I don’t care if your boss doesn’t like it!

Good luck making it through cold season! If you have any other tips to share, please leave them in the comments.

Lastly, don’t forget to enter to win a free box of Uncle Sam’s healthy breakfast cereal…contest is closing soon.

  • Stella

    Ooh, I’ve never used vinegar as a knife (smile), but I will now! Oh, and I agree about the broth thing-there’s nothing better than steeped healthy goodness. Nice list, Michelle! Hope you feel totally better-I’d imagine you do…

  • Esther

    I’m glad you posted this! I was searching your archives for neti pot info a couple weeks ago (I’m always congested for WEEKS after being sick!) I’m now a big fan of the little pot.

    Feel better soon!

  • Zibi

    Great list. Thanks for the tip about the sesame oil, I never would have thought of that one :)
    The ginger tea and soup broth work like magic! (I just posted a recipe for a slow cooker version last week).

    Hope you’re feeling better :)

  • Rose @ The BMK

    Great tips! Extra rest is my #1 preventative measure!

  • sophia

    I’d like to add one more thing: avoid chocolate and nuts. God those things do baaaad stuff for your throat. I’m under the weather these days too: chills, headaches, sore throats. Stupid me, I had half a can of chocolate-covered nuts yesterday and woke up 10 x worse.

    I’m glad you’re feeling better though! Right now I’m avoiding chocolate, and sucking up some throat taming tea. :-)

  • Erica

    Amen! I am all about rest and fluids! Never knew the vinegar trick though. I used to get sick ALL the time. Since becoming a veg & getting my tonsils out (I really think it was the combo)- I, knock on so much wood, haven’t really gotten sick sick.

  • Joanne

    These are some excellent tricks! I’ve done the apple cider vinegar one before and I swear that stuff can cure anything!

  • redmenace

    Just had my flu shot. Keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks for these great reminders!

  • Eleanor @ Make Friends With Food

    Hope you’re feeling better today!
    I drink a splash of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar every day, even if I’m not sick. I also take cod liver oil in the wintertime. Knock on wood, I don’t get sick very often. I’ve tried the neti pot a few times but it didn’t do much for me. Sometimes I drip hydrogen peroxide in my ears instead… seems to help!

  • vered

    Great advice, especially extra sleep and lots of fluids. I couldn’t agree more.

  • Sage

    Great post and suggestions for this time of the year; I have to pick up a bottle of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar; I used take ot all the time but it somehow fell off my radar; thanks for the reminder.

  • Penina @Feed Your Roots

    Great list! It’s amazing how big of a role rest and fluids play in fighting off a bug. I also like to take AHCC when I feel something coming on. That seems to help too.

  • GirlonRaw

    Congrats on the pregnancy! How far along are you? It seems everyone I know is pregnant, I think it must be when you yourself are pregnant you notice everyone else around you is too.

    Great tips!

    i too haven’t been sick in such a long time and I attribute my healthy diet to it, whilst everyone else around me drops like flies!

  • Lisa Miller

    Michelle, thank you so much for these tips! I started getting sick right before I read your post and have been successful so far in keeping this bug at bay. The apple cider vinegar seems to be doing the trick, along with gargling w/salt water a few times a day and taking my supplements (especially NAC!). Your tips are awesome!! Thank you! :-)

  • Lori

    I love your top 10 list. Ginger tea is one of my very favorites. I drank it a lot in Brazil where the fresh ginger was plentiful for us. Another great version is to make a similar tea by adding the flesh of a passion fruit. So good!

  • Marisa

    Funny, I just posted a similar blog today. In my house, we’ve all been fighting colds and coughs. I agree with everything on your list! Also try boiling 1/4 c apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup water and inhale the steam–great for congestion! I also swear by Young Living essential oils. I like Thieves and R.C. blends. R.C. is great for congestion and just rubbing it on your chest and neck helps a lot! Congrats on the pregnancy!

  • Sarah A

    Great list! What is “kombu” and where do you get it? When you put it in the broth do you eat it? Or just drink the broth? :) Thanks!

  • Amy @ purewellnessamy

    Eating raw garlic is usually my go-to remedy. I’ve never heard of the apple cider vinegar trick – thanks for mentioning it! Great list!

  • Dan

    Great list. thanks michelle :) BIG fan of the acv (apple cider vineger) what i usually do immediatly before even pounding water is; (on an empty stomach) mix about 2 TSP of acv with 2 TSP of raw local honey into a shaker or a empty drinking bottle with a cap, shake up really nice and sip that (very little sips almost mists down your throat) to act as a mini nuke down your throat- killing off any bad bacteria in your throat, and it works like a charm for me :)

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