🦠 Germ-Fighting Tricks from a Wellness Witch
4 lesser-known tips to gracefully move through a cold or flu
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Happy Pisces Season, Friends
I don’t know why I felt the need to capitalize all of that—and skip punctuation—but I’m leaving it as is. Grammarly ain’t complainin’.
My big news of the week is that our Northen Lights Farms website is up and running! Please share with any medical cannabis patients you know in Downeast Maine :)
I’m typing this with a faint dusting of powdered sugar on my fingertips as Jason’s been whipping up beignets in the kitchen and delivering them to my writing room door. Mardi Gras vibes abound…
This, plus the maple sap boiling down into syrup on the stovetop are just a few signs of spring that have been lifting my spirits recently.
I also seem to be approaching the finish line of the cold I mentioned last week. The dang thing ended up lingering way longer than expected. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten sick, and I kind of forgot what it was like. After quarantining like a boss for two years, I imagine my immune system was a little out of practice.
A bunch of folks around here are down with some virus or another. In case you’re also feeling the ick, I thought now might be a good time to share some lesser-known tips and tricks for getting through a cold. I’ve been utilizing a lot of the tips I shared about overcoming the winter blues like eating lots of soup and inhaling vapors of eucalyptus and mint from stove-top simmer pots.
This list has a few new ideas that are specifically geared toward getting over a cold.
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If you don’t know about elderberries, yet, please allow me to introduce you. The small, tart, dark purple berries have long been used as an herbal remedy for the common cold and flu. They’re scientifically proven to reduce cold and flu symptoms by an average of 50%.
Here’s another study that showed reduced cold symptom severity and duration in air travelers who took elderberry extract before flying. The key is to take the elderberries before you get sick or within the first 48 hours.
Typically, I supplement my daily nutrient uptake with elderberries when winter (aka cold and flu season) sets in. Last year, I made my own batch of homemade elderberry syrup using this recipe on Homestead and Chill (one of my favorite blogs—check out their sourdough recipes if you bake).
However, since I didn’t add alcohol to the syrup and Jason wasn’t taking it, I ended up throwing a bunch away before I could finish it. I’ll probably freeze some or add whiskey next time to preserve it. I really don’t see myself tryna get sauced on elderberry syrup.
Yeah, I gagged just thinking about it.
Although I didn’t get around to making my own syrup this year, I did get a free tub of elderberry gummies in my most recent Thrive Market order. Thankfully, they came just in time for me to start bolstering my immune system before I felt the first symptoms of a virus I must’ve picked up at some point on my trip to NJ a few weeks ago. I think my body sensed it coming because I felt compelled to buy Vitamin Water for the first time in years before my flight home.
That brings me to my next recommendation…
2. Vitamin C and Zinc
Zinc and vitamin C are already fairly mainstream immune boosters, but I thought they were worth mentioning. Like elderberries, these supplements are most effective when taken before or at the first signs of a cold.
Of course, it’s best to get your essential vitamins and minerals from whole food sources. Depending on where you live, that can be tricky in the winter. In my neck of the woods, vitamin C-rich foods like strawberries and red bell peppers are waaaay out of season.
I take a daily multivitamin throughout the year to cover nutrients I know I have a tendency to run low on (like B12 and D), but it doesn’t contain vitamin C or zinc. For those nutrients, I turn to a Garden of Life supplement. I keep these zinc + C pills stocked in my supplement arsenal because they make PMS a lot easier when I take them 5-7 days before my period starts. They also worked great in supporting my immune system while it fought off the offending virus.
3. Herbal First Aid Salve (for the schnozz)
I went through at least four boxes of tissues over the last two weeks. I don’t know about you, but this level of nose-blowing leaves my sensitive sniffer skin red, cracked, and sore.
It’s not cute.
Not only does cracked and irritated skin feel awful, but it also weakens your immune system’s first line of defense. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it plays an important role in protecting your insides from harmful invaders.
To combat this, I slathered my schnozz in this herbal first-aid salve by Wise Mountain Botanicals.
The result? The skin on and around my nose is soft with no signs of dryness, redness, or peeling. I was able to blow my nose without pain, and the fragrance of the salve acted as a natural decongestant.
I want to note that the ingredients list on my salve is slightly different from what’s listed on the site now, but I’m sure it’s just as good.
Wise Mountain Botanicals is owned and operated by a wonderful woman named Amy in Mount Shasta, California. I’ve been to her home garden and have used a wide range of her products for several years. All the plants she works with are homegrown or ethically harvested, and she’s a legit botanist who wears a t-shirt that says, “Introverted but willing to discuss plants.”
In addition to the first-aid salve, I always keep her muscle and joint relief salve in stock. Her botanical perfumes are amazing, and the Ambrosia Facial Elixir is a real treat!
4. Gentle Movement
This one may not be right for everyone, but I found that gentle, low-key movement helped me feel a lot better. Today was the first day I went to the gym since February started, but I made it a point to roll out my yoga mat and do something easy and restorative with Adriene pretty much every day.
I also continued to walk my dogs every day, keeping it short when I needed to.
It’s a common belief that bed rest is the best thing when you’re feeling run down—and, depending on your individual health, that may very well be the case. However, our bodies are fully equipped with everything they need to heal themselves. Your blood is what carries the nutrients, immune cells, oxygen, and all the other good stuff around your body. Moving your body increases blood flow and lymph flow. This, in turn, stimulates healing.
Now, I’m saying all this with the overarching recommendation that you consult with your healthcare provider about what kind of activity is safe for your unique body.
Did you know sinus congestion can cause tooth pain?
I’ve been experiencing tooth pain and sensitivity for the past couple of weeks, especially while walking my dogs. At first, I thought it was due to the cold air or the whitening toothpaste my husband bought.
When switching pastes didn’t make any difference, I turned to google and found out my head cold was the culprit. Yep, that’s totally a thing.
The nerves in your sinuses extend to your upper teeth. When I tilt my head forward and press on my brow, I feel pain in my upper teeth on the same side. Pretty trippy.
That’s all for now, friends! I hope you’re staying healthy and warm.
I love you!
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