Whelp, I got it. That glorious flu that nobody will shut up about. I went to bed on Sunday night with just the faintest tickle of a cough. Come Monday morning, the thought of getting out of bed was pure agony.
How to Get Through the Worst of It
Thanks to decades of being a natural health nerd, I had an arsenal of “tips” and reminders to help me get through it. Mainly…
1. Stay in bed. Stay in bed. Stay in bed.
Have a fever? When you have the flu, your body naturally heats up to help detox out intruders. By taking all kinds of pills to suppress your symptoms, you’re basically telling your body to shut the hell up and slow down the detox process.
Instead, let it run it’s course. Get under the covers, love the chills. Love the fever. Sleep. Sweat it out. Then sleep some more.
2. Drink, drink, drink. (And eat, but not really.)
Again, to help flush the toxins and creepies out of you. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have zero appetite during your flu, and that’s just fine. Digestion takes up a ton of energy, energy that your body needs to take care of this thing and get you back on your A-game.
So if you do have a hankering for a snack, make it a light and simple one like a broth-based or pureed veggie soup (see below) or a plain piece of sprouted grain toast with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Keep it simple – after all, a flu is a great way to drop a couple of pounds. Kidding. But seriously.
How to Get Through the “I Am Through the Worst Of It and Can Kinda Go Back to Work But Still Feel Like Sh*t” Phase
After 5 whole days of dealing with dizzies, fever, and zero interest in doing anything but taking hot baths or staring at the wall, I was finally starting to feel myself again.
Well, not really, but some fancy things you call “pants” and some cream blush at least helped me look like myself again.
The main thing I hadn’t been able to shake is this cough that made me sound like I’ve been chain-smoking since I was 14 (I have not). Here’s what I did to get a handle of this thing once and for all:
1. Load up on minerals.
It’s time to replenish your body with minerals to keep it strong and give it a fighting chance.
While I was cursing my cough, I took every mineral-rich and anti-viral superfood I could get my hands on and tossed them into what I like to call my “Please Make it Stop!” Miso Soup. It’s also a nice thing to make when everyone else around you is getting sick and you want to boost your immune system ASAP.
I recommend adding some or all of the following immunity powerhouses:
- miso: great source of probiotics (“friendly bacteria”) and living enzymes for intestinal health and to help eliminate toxins
- seaweed: a mineral-rich superfood, especially high in iodine
- shiitake mushrooms (or other Japanese mushrooms) for their immune-boosting, antimicrobial, antiviral properties
- ginger, garlic, and/or onions for their natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties
See below for the Miso Soup Recipe.
While the soup was heating up, I hopped on over to Andrea Beaman’s blog, who is kind of the “Messiah” of health coaches. I remember being all giddy listening to her speak years ago when I was a student at Integrative Nutrition, and I never forgot her story about how she shook a 2-week flu in a weekend by using some sensible, holistic ideas. (Basically, “sleep and drink broth”).
And what do you know, Andrea just posted her own handy tips on getting through this dreadful flu season.
She says that “coughing and sneezing is your body’s way of forcefully expelling invaders” and there are some things you can do to help them out.
Here are two of Andrea’s tips that especially helped me say goodbye to that jerky cough:
2) Gargle with warm salt water and…wait for it…oregano oil.
I knew oregano oil is a great anti-viral oil, but never thought of gargling with it! This trick is very helpful right before bed to curb the “middle-of-the-night” hacking that causes you (and everybody within earshot) to lose sleep.
3) Breathe in steam and rosemary oil.
This was glorious – like being magically whisked away to an Alpine spa.
Just run hot water into the sink, drop a few drops of rosemary (or tea tree, peppermint, pine, or eucalyptus) essential oil into it. Then just place your face over the sink, tent a towel over your head to trap the steam, and inhale. If your tap water doesn’t get hot enough, just boil water and place it in a large bowl.
Breathing in these oils can help clear your lungs and bronchial passages if that’s where mucus is hanging out. Fun!
You can get both oregano oil and rosemary essential oil (or tea tree, peppermint, or eucalyptus) at Whole Foods or any health food store.
RECIPE: “Please Make it Stop!” Miso Soup
2 tbsp dried wakame (seaweed)
1 medium yellow onion
About 1-inch of fresh ginger root
About 5-6 shiitake mushrooms
1 bunch of baby bok choy, spinach, watercress, other green (optional)
2-3 tablespoons of naturally fermented miso (I used this one.)
- Soak dried wakame in small bowl of water to rehydrate for about 10 minutes.
- Peel and cut onion, carrot, and ginger into thin slices. Cut ends off mushrooms and slice caps into thin slices.
- Fill a medium pot with about 5 cups of water, toss in onion and ginger and bring to a boil.
- Drain the wakame.
- Reduce to a simmer, add mushrooms, carrots, and wakame and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Toss in greens and let them wilt.
- Turn off heat — it’s important when adding the miso that you don’t use boiling water because it will kill the poor little live enzymes and probiotics!
- Ladel about a cup of the broth into a small bowl, add 1 tbsp of miso paste, and whisk until it’s broken up and dissolved into the broth. Pour the miso-d broth back to the big pot of soup and stir to combine.
- Taste it, and keep repeating the process in step 8 until the soup is to your desired miso-yness. I used 3 tbsp.
- Because I’m crazy, I also added in another tablespoon of grated ginger to the soup before serving.
- You can also add cooked soba noodles for a more filling meal.
Serve and enjoy kicking this flu’s sorry ass.