Fight Cold and Flu Season Naturally
Fall is officially here, meaning cold and flu season is swinging into full force, and seasonal allergies are reaching their peak for some people.
How do I know this? Well there are some obvious signs such as the leaves changing colors and falling from the trees, or the Halloween decorations that are painting every house and storefront these days. And for anyone who still watches regular cable TV, commercials promoting flu shots, cold medicines and allergy relief are being broadcasted more frequently.
Years ago, I suffered from seasonal allergies and the occasional nasty sinus cold. I would load up on symptom relievers, such as DayQuil, NyQuil, throat lozenges, Mucinex, and Tylenol or Advil for my painful ear aches.
Now I take nothing.
No, really. I no longer have to take any over the counter symptom relievers because I don’t suffer from seasonal allergies anymore, and I haven’t had a cold or the flu in so long that I can’t even remember the last time I did (keep reading and I’ll tell you why).
I’m not superhuman or anything. I still occasionally feel the shift of the seasons in my body – my energy is lower some days, I get a slight runny nose or tickle in my throat when Spring or Fall bring about new allergens in the air, and I even feel the onset of what might be a cold from time to time.
BUT my symptoms are tolerable and I can stop them naturally.
When we take over-the-counter (OTC’s) medications we have a false sense of healing our body in some way, but what we’re really doing is just masking the symptoms until our body is able to make a slow and full recovery. This is why over the years allergies, colds and flus become more intense, frequent, and longer in duration.
When we mask symptoms with OTC’s we’re ignoring our body’s call for help.
As annoying as a runny nose or postnasal drip can be, it’s your body’s way of saying, “Hey, something is really stressing me out right now or I’m under attack. I’m trying my best to fight it off, but I could really use your support and help.”
We’ve been taught to “push through it” when we get sick or feel under the weather. We use OTC’s to numb the pain so we can still go to work and take care of all our responsibilities, except for ourself. But what is the price we pay in the long run for continually taking this action?
Nobody ever reads the warnings or the side effects list on an OTC medication. I mean, they’re over the counter so they must be safe, right?
OTC’s come with a laundry list of negative side effects that can occur acutely or chronically over time. Here are just a few OTC’s side effects highlights that we commonly overlook …
- Acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) – liver damage
- Ibuprofen (aka Advil or Motrin) – peptic ulcers and kidney damage
- Decongestants – high blood pressure or blood pressure spikes
- Antihistamines – damage to heart muscle and the central nervous system
Large or small, long or short, any usage of OTC’s impacts the body’s ability to function normally and disrupts its homeostasis (balance). They do not boost our immunity, they block it.
OTC’s also are one of the number one contributors to leaky gut (aka intestinal permeability or dysbiosis), and guess what happens when you have a leaky gut?
A leaky gut increases your risk for allergies, colds and flus.
The gut is where 80% of your immune system lives, so if it’s dysfunctional guess what else is going to be dysfunctional? Your immune system, and your ability to fight off allergies, colds or the flu.
When the intestinal lining is compromised you’ve lost your first line of defense internally. Foreign invaders such as allergens, bacteria and viruses are able cross the gut barrier and get directly into the bloodstream.
One of the first health improvements my clients usually notice very quickly in our work together is that they don’t get sick anymore, or when a cold starts to come about it doesn’t fully develop and they make a very quick recovery from it.
It’s not magic, it’s just allowing the immune system to do its job.
The very first thing I focus on with ALL of my clients is digestive support and repair for 3 very important reasons:
- To boost the immune system, which lives in the digestive tract
- To increase nutrient availability for the body
- To reduce inflammation and stress on the body
Healing your gut is the key to sustainable health success, but healing the gut is a process which requires consistency. It can take months or even years to fully recovery in some cases.
In order to heal the gut you have to consistently:
- Avoid inflammatory and toxic foods such as gluten, dairy, sugar, soy and alcohol
- Get rid of gut bugs such as parasites, bacteria and yeast (candida)
- Add in foods and supplements to help repair the integrity of the gut, such as digestive enzymes, fish oils, L-glutamine, probiotics, collagen peptides, bone broth and fermented foods
Healing my gut is what has made my seasonal allergies virtually non-existent and given me the superhuman powers to fight of a cold or the flu before it even really gets started.
However, my immune system obviously wasn’t always able to do this. I suffered for years before I started to take action on healing my gut, and when I did the results weren’t immediate. It took time. In the in-between time of healing I still had to find ways to lessen the pain and suffering without using OTC’s that would just set me back gut health-wise.
I began to slowly transition away from gut damaging OTC’s and introduced more natural therapies to boost my immune system and my body’s own defense system.
Some of my favorite natural remedies for allergies, colds and the flu include:
- Taking a supplement with quercetin and/or nettles leaf for allergies – this is something I do automatically when the seasons change to boost immunity
- Combo of peppermint essential oil (diffused or topically) and arnica (ingested or topically) for tension headaches, migraines or aches/pains
- Vitamin C, D and Zinc to fight off viruses and the flu – taken preventatively or acutely
- Oil of oregano and/or garlic as a supplement for anti-microbial properties to kill off bacteria and prevent colds or sinus infections
- Ginger or peppermint tea and bone broth for upset stomachs
For even more ideas on natural remedies to relieve your symptoms and support your immune system in defending you naturally check out these other resources:
- Wellness Mama’s Natural Remedies for Illness – she even makes her own cough syrup
- Chris Kresser’s How To Prevent Colds & Flus Naturally OR The Truth About The Flu Shot & What To Do Instead – how to prevent and treat colds or the flu naturally
- Dr. Mercola’s Flu Attack! How A Virus Invades Your Body – how the flu happens and how to avoid it
We forget that OTC’s haven’t always been around yet our ancestors found natural ways to ease pain, suffering and symptoms. Natural remedies are still relevant and still work in our modern day world. We just have to seek them out.
Aside from using natural remedies and healing your gut, there are a few other really important things when it comes to having the strength and stamina to fight allergies, colds and the flu naturally – making sure to eat nutrient dense foods, getting good quality sleep, exercising, drinking plenty of water and taking time to de-stress on a daily basis through meditation or some other type of modality.
Bottom line is, you don’t have to suffer or mask your symptoms with superficial remedies. You can become your own health boss and thrive in this world any season of the year!
P.S. If you want to heal your gut and avoid allergies, colds and the flu all-together, then let’s chat! Schedule a complimentary Ideal Health & Weight Discovery Session here.