What to do When You’re Under the Weather
What to do when you get sick? Well it seems to be that time of year! Everyone around me seems to be getting sick, myself included. There is a nasty virus going around that is leaving people not feeling well and battling a cough for upwards of 4 weeks! Seeing as most of us cannot take 4 weeks off of work or school I am going to go over some tips for how to battle back!
Viruses…what are they and why are they so mean
A virus is an infectious organism that lives in its host (us) and replicates there. Viruses need us to keep proliferating, however most viruses can live on surfaces for anywhere from minutes to hours. I am sure many of you have gone to the doctor before and been told “it’s just a virus, go home and wait it out”. This happens because there are not pharmaceutical drugs that target viruses such as rhinovirus (causes the common cold) or non serious influenza (there is tamiflu for more serious strains). It is important to not press for antibiotics when you have a viral infection because they WILL NOT WORK and can help create resistant strains of bacteria, which make infections harder to treat.
Check out Do Bugs Need Drugs, a public health program in British Columbia for more information and resources on this topic
How to Feel Better Faster
The best way to feel better is to not get sick in the first place! Practicing preventative medicine is key to avoiding getting multiple illnesses over these long cold winters
1) Wash your hands. Yes everyone knows this, but sometimes we need a reminder ☺
2) Get Enough Sleep. It is not just the bugs that cause the problem. If your body is strong and able to fight off the attack you will not get sick. Part of not getting sick is avoiding the bug in the first place, the second is to have a strong defence (immune system) if it does attack. One of the best ways to support your immune system is to get enough sleep! Aim to be in bed by 10 pm
Now, what to do once the bug has already set in!
3) Avoid Sugar. Viruses and bacteria use sugar as a food source so it helps to avoid it until you are feeling better
4) Avoid Mucous Forming Foods. Dairy namely, the less mucous you have to cough up, the better
5) Ginger. Ginger is a warming herb and it is anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea with anti microbial properties. Make a pot of tea with an inch of grated ginger, a dash of cayenne pepper a tsp of honey, another great anti microbial and enjoy
6) Honey and Onions. This makes a great cough syrup, especially for children who are too young to take conventional cough meds (just make sure they are over 1 year old, as there is a risk of botulism when consuming honey before 1). Cut up half and onion and cover it with honey, keep in the fridge and take 1-2 tsp as needed. Onion has great anti-viral properties and it tastes surprisingly good!
7) Warming Sock. Sounds crazy I know… but it is actually not too bad. What you do is take a pair of cotton socks, run them under cold water and WRING OUT (that part is important). Put on a pair of wool socks over top and go to bed. Your body will warm the socks up overnight. This helps to stimulate the immune system and to ease congestion.
Viruses are one area where herbal medicine shines. There are many herbs that work well for the common cold and influenza. Which herbs to take depends on the virus and your symptoms. Book an appointment with your naturopathic doctor, to get you back on the mend in no time
Dr Alexis Reid