Updated: May 27, 2020
After a weekend of celebrating my Masters graduation and traveling to and from St. Louis in less than 48 hours, I woke up this morning feeling bleh. My muscles were a bit achy, my head hurt, my throat was scratchy, and I wasn't feeling up to getting out of bed. I rarely get colds anymore because my mitochondria are metabolically fit and I hardly ever eat sugar. However, from the stress of training for my 108 mile bike ride, finishing up my masters, traveling, celebrating, and the day-to-day stresses of running a business, my body needed a break. And this resulted in me feeling not so hot.
I always talk about the importance of listening to your body. Coming down with a cold is one way to understand that you're putting your body under too much stress and need to slow down (see "what causes colds" below). This was a reminder to me that I need to give myself time to recover ~ which is exactly what I'm doing!
What causes colds?
No one really knows for sure, but from my own experience, a diet high in sugar paired with times of limited sleep/excessive stress/excessive exercise leads the body to get a bit worn down and ultimately cause a cold. When you are sick, your body is experiencing a lot of oxidative stress (free radical damage). A big part of the healing process includes reducing that oxidative stress as well as cutting off the energy supply to bad bacteria and providing your body the rest it needs to fight off the cold!
Today, I'm sharing my routine and the supplements I use when I come down with a cold. This is my tried and true method for beating the sniffles and cutting the length of symptoms down significantly!*
Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C
Like I mentioned, your body is fighting some serious oxidative damage while you're sick. Vitamin C is used to recharge your body's powerful source of antioxidant called glutathione. If you don't provide the "battery" for glutathione, it can run out of juice and stop fighting the free radicals which can lead to longer more severe symptoms. When you're sick you're running through a TON of glutathione, so providing equal amounts of vitamin C during this time is important! I use 1 packet (1000mg) Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C every 2 hours while I'm sick to make sure that I get enough to recharge my glutathione. You can use regular vitamin C, but it won't absorb as well and you may get bowel intolerance as a result (read: tummy issues). Trust me, it's worth the few extra dollars to get a much better product.
You can order Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C on Amazon!
Note: If you are taking medication, make sure to talk to your doctor about increasing your vitamin C intake as it can increase the length of time medications are in your system.
This is one of the most effective ways to fight off a seriously aggressive cold or flu. Raw garlic contains a compound called allicin that acts as a natural antibiotic. AND what's great about garlic is that since it contains many other compounds other than the active ingredient, your body doesn't build antibiotic resistance from using it! This can be a difficult one to implement because raw garlic is strong and tough to eat on it's own, but if you can stomach it, it'll significantly reduce the amount of time you're sick. In fact, one study found that those who use garlic as a treatment experienced 1.5 days of cold symptoms versus 5 days with the control group.
You can use a garlic/allicin supplement instead of raw garlic on it's own, but I've found the most effective (and most economical) way to use it is pure garlic. I suggest using fresh garlic and mincing one clove then eating it with a cracker (I usually never recommend crackers, but in the case of garlic, it's helpful!). You can repeat this throughout the day as needed and until you feel better. To help reduce garlic breath you can also chew on organic parsley! It's also easiest to take the raw garlic with food in your stomach.
Black Elderberry Black Elderberry has been used traditionally to help reduce the length and severity of colds. One study found that using this supplement reduces the length and severity of colds and the flu. The mechanism of how it works still needs to be researched, but studies are showing that it is an effective supplement to take especially while traveling.
I use the Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry supplement.
Echinacea is a plant that has been used since the 1800s. In fact, in the early 20th century, Echinacea was the most frequently used and prepared plant in the U.S. It works by increasing the body's white blood cell count to fight off infection. There are mixed reviews on studies regarding Echinacea's effectiveness, but these studies never take into account quality of the supplement used. When choosing a supplement, one way to know that it's high quality is whether or not it induces drooling (yes, drooling) after you've taken it. If it's high quality, then you should be producing a lot of saliva for a few minutes.
I use Gaia Organics, but Standard Process has a great product as well.
Celtic Sea Salt
If you've been reading my articles or following me for a while, then you know that you should be using this each day already. Check out THIS article for further information on why! With colds and flus, muscle aches are a common side effect. By using Celtic Sea Salt, you're not only improving your hydration status, you're also decreasing the incidence of muscle cramps.
Get some rest... seriously
No, you are not weak or lazy because you are taking a break. If you aren't feeling well, the more you push yourself to keep up with your crazy schedule, the longer you'll be sick and with more serious symptoms. So until you are fully recovered, DON'T workout, DON'T commit to social obligations, and DON'T feel bad about it! It's still important to get outside if you can and go for a walk to help stimulate your lymphatic system and get rid of your cold. But don't push yourself any more than that!
Remember, when you're sick, it's your body's way of telling you to slow down, take a break, and/or get rid of foods that are hindering your immune system (and most likely your goals too). Use this time to take stock of how you feel and what your body truly needs.
*I am not a doctor. The recommendations I'm making including the supplements I suggest are from my own experience. If you choose to use any of the supplements or tools I mention, make sure to consult your doctor or nutritionist who are familiar with your health history.