A Bonzai PSA and Open Call, For ‘Sick Season’

October 13th, 2009 - filed under: Furthermore » Inspiration

Hey there cats and kittens! Just a check-in here, to make sure we’re all taking care of ourselves right now. As you know, Autumn is my favorite time of year, but it’s also cold and flu season! And this year, with SARS or swine flu or monkey pox or whatever it is trying to kill us all, it’s looking to be an especially rough few months.

But there’s a lot of natural, non-invasive ways to keep your immune system going strong. The first is to make sure you’re eating right. I know we all want to chow down on comfort food when the cold weather sets in, but don’t forget the essentials like brightly colored fruits and veggies, plus lots of dark leafy greens. Luckily citrus season is right around the corner, so we can all make these – you know, for our health . . .

Aside from eating right, you can also load up on the good stuff via supplements. I’ve been feeling a bit low-energy lately, so I’ve been doing a daily packet of electrolytes + Vitamin C + bonus vitamins in water (there are a variety of brands). It’s tasty and keeps any lurking bugs at bay. On top of that I down my daily multivitamin and a few other supplements.

When I’m feeling like I really might be getting sick, I take a power dose of Vitamin C. That’s 1000 milligrams, 3 times a day, for 3 days. But don’t go longer than 3 days at this dose! Zinc is also an immune booster, and great to have on hand.

This year I’ve really begun exploring medicinal teas, for all sorts of afflictions. At the moment I’m drinking a ‘cold care’ herbal blend that’s simply delicious. Many brands offer a ‘throat coat’ or ‘sore throat soother’ type tea, that can really help ease a scratchy and swollen throat. Look for products with licorice root, ginger, and of course echinacea. If you’re not into store-bought stuff you can always boil some hot water with lemon juice and maple syrup. This wonderful (and cheap!) home remedy is perfect for calming an angry cough.

If things get really bad, I recommend investigating a neti pot. I’v never used one myself, but I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews. Hopefully I’ll never need one (knock on wood), but if I ever end up with a serious sinus issue, you can be sure the neti pot will be my first line of defense.

So them’s are the Bonzai basics for making it through sick season, the natural way. But what about you guys? What precautions do you take? What are your best home remedies, your most effetive tips and tricks? Sharing is caring guys, so bring it on!

And remember: ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS! (with plain soap + hot water; leave that antibacterial crap alone)

  • Kate

    Probiotics. The core of your immune system lives in your gut – and things like alcohol, stress and antibiotics can wash out your healthy intestinal flora. I do my best to take probiotics daily and I am rarely ever sick.

    Garlic is also supposed to be an amazing health booster, but I think it’s mainly your breath scaring off germs ;-)

  • Heather

    Vitamin D is a big one for me. It’s recently been implicated helping with everything from fighting off colds to decreasing the overall risk of death by cancer.

  • Laura

    Neti pots are great! I recommend using it daily as a preventative measure, because it washes out all the germs in your sinuses before they can make you sick. I know many people who have incorporated the neti pot into their daily hygiene routine.

  • http://homegrowntexan.blogspot.com Homegrown Texan

    I agree with what Laura said. Now I just need to practice what I preach. ;)

    I use a product called Opti-Biotic if I feel myself coming down with something. It really seems to help keep things from turning into a full fledged illness if I catch it early, or knock it out quickly if I don’t. I also pop an oil of oregano capsule as soon as I start feeling down.

    And don’t forget the easiest, cheapest thing of all: drink plenty of water! It will help your body flush out toxins and if you are having any sort of mucous issues (cold or allergies), it will help thin out the secretions so they make you less miserable.

    Also, for those lucky souls who don’t live in the desert like I do and are starting to run your heat, don’t forget your humidifiers at night! It sounds counter-intuitive, but the dry air will actually cause your body to counteract it by producing more mucous. Yuck!

  • Julie

    Probiotics are great but it’s important to remember that if you already have an infection which requires antibiotics or if you are infection prone, they can be very dangerous as they can make you antibiotic resistant.

  • http://www.travellious.com Austin

    I’d second the suggestion to eat garlic. When I start to feel sick, I eat two whole cloves raw. Sometimes I’ll also take astralagus tablets (it’s a mushroom extract) and it’ll help to ward off a cold.
    Neti pots are also great, like everyone else said. They clean out your sinuses and, as a bonus, keep your nasal passages hydrated.

  • Kate

    @Julie – I’m not sure I understand…probiotics are good bacteria. Antibiotics wipe out all bacteria, good or bad (ie, penicillin is nothing more than a bacteria that wipes out everything). The idea being that if you have a bacterial infection, your good bacteria would be able to fight it off. The bacteria in your gut support the health of your intestinal wall, which keeps disease from spreading. Antibiotics do the opposite.

    Can you elaborate on what you’re discussing?

  • Julie

    I don’t actually know too much about it. I am an organ transplant recipient on immunosupressants and I have been told by my doctors to never, ever take probiotics and the reason I was given was that it can make you resistant to antibiotics.

  • http://www.herveryown.com akeeyu

    Studies have been done: Honey with a little lemon juice whisked in is just as effective as commercial cough syrup.

    As a bonus, you don’t have to worry about timing doses, and it doesn’t taste like used motor oil!

  • Kate

    @Julie – I can only speculate as I am not a doctor, but I’ll give it my best guess…

    Probiotics build a strong immune system. They strengthen your gut bacteria (and thus, your intestinal walls to prevent bad bacteria from spreading into a nasty infection). As an organ recipient, your body may be constantly fighting to reject this new and foreign organ (as the body was designed to do – that’s why we bleed, get zits, growths, etc). In your situation, you need to suppress your immune system to keep your body from rejecting your ‘new’ organ. This would make you the exception to the rule on probiotics :-) Good eye for following the doc’s advice there!

    For folks who do not need to suppress their immune system, probiotics are a great way to build up good bacteria, strengthen your immune system and to easily kick colds, flus and other antigens in the butt!

  • http://thegreengeek.webs.com Courtney

    I’m seconding Zinc! When I was younger and I got sick, my mom would keep me on a constant low dose of Vitamin C. Eventually she found out about Zinc and added that. We found out that the C actually made my colds worse because it would dehydrate me and keep the fever going. So I just make sure to add Zinc to my daily supplements if I feel something coming. Also I eat yogurt (Yoplait) almost every day. I’m thinking of replacing it with Keifer, since it’s full of probiotics!

  • Julie

    Ah, sorry, disregard. Unfortunately, my health situation is so complicated that I just can’t research all the elements of every piece of advice given. Thanks for the clarification.

  • http://blueqigong.com Tai

    For preventative a in lose form, brewed into a tea. I like to add Gogi Berries to sweeten it and Reishi is excellent too!
    And for those who are sick at the moment like myself I recommend these two great items. For those who do get a sore throat. I really like the Chinese remedies. So other then Acupuncture and the prescribed herbs I get from my Acupuncturist. I also like to take Herbal Honey LoQuat Cough Syrup. This stuff taste great and feel good on the throat too, when it’s all irritated, mucous and scratchy. And, Watermelon Frost, they call it a breath freshener but it cools down any irritated sore throat. You can buy these at your local Chinese Herbal Shop.

  • http://blueqigong.com Tai

    Astragalus got erased from the above text! Brew it with Gogi and Reishi!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    Wow you guys! Amazing, thank you for all the awesome answers. I can’t believe I forgot some of these.

    I eat tons of garlic regularly, but I have been known to swallow whole cloves in times of illness or ailment. There are other, more feminine applications as well, but we won’t go into that here. ;)

    Probiotics are also great, but can be tough for vegans to get depending on your location. If you can get your hands on coconut yoghurt or coconut kefir, that’s wonderful stuff. Soy yoghurt will do as well. Vegan or not, make sure you get live active cultures that come from a fridge. The shelf-stable pills won’t cut it.

    And Vitamin D! I take it every day but forgot to mention it. Sooo good for you, especially in the sun-less months.

    And neti pots and lots of water and zinc and herbs and herbal teas too! I think Im going to get a neti pot and begin using it preventatively. It’s kind of fun, all this hyper-aware self-care. A good habit, nurturing oneself. =)

    As for the honey+lemon, again it’s a great remedy for nonvegans. Obviously not for me, which is why I suggested lemon+maple syrup, but it is good for those who eat it. Honey can help protect against seasonal allergies as well, if you get it from a local apiary (not that I promote the use of honey, but it is true).

    Anyway, such great discussion here! Keep the remedies coming guys! And THANK YOU!!!

  • http://www.creativeanomalie.com sarah

    Echinacea. I swear by it – you can take it as a liquid (eyedropper full in water or juice) or pill form (cheaper). The key is to start taking it as soon as you feel a cold coming on and continue it long enough to prevent the cold (when you think you’re ok, continue several days extra). Or start taking it as soon as the first coworker in your office picks up a bug. Although it’s a great immune system booster it’s not something you should take all the time.

  • Staar

    I swear by spicy soup, mega doses of Vitamin C and if youve already gotten sick a good hot toddy with whiskey, lemon and honey. Usually if I feel a cold coming on I just switch from my vegetarian diet to something more vegan ie I cut out dairy. Also wearing a hat in the cold months is really important.

  • Meghan

    Thieves oil, woo! I feel like there probably isn’t much scientific basis for it’s usefulness, but if nothing else, the placebo effect is strong for me. :-P

  • http://tumbledesign.com Nicky

    There is a very interesting article about Vitamin D and immunity here: http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/9/28/h1n1-vitamin-d3-and-innate-immunity.html

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    Thanks guys! Keep it coming! =D

  • Aislinn

    I personally believe that I haven’t gotten sick in a long time due to my daily neti pot and probiotics. My immune system improved the day I started taking a probiotic, and my neti pot allows me to breathe with ease every morning. I live in a huge metropolitan city and work in a university with lots of illnesses going around, but those two things + healthy eating seem to keep me going germ-free! :) Can’t imagine my life without a neti pot.

  • Jeff

    Do no take high doses of Zinc to fight a cold, it can cause permanent loss of smell.

  • C Dandrea

    I love recipes for natural products. However, please verify with your vet before using Xylitol in anything that goes into a dog’s mouth (ie: using the toothpaste recipe above for a dog.) My understanding is that it is highly toxic to dogs.