With the help of nutritional balancing, it's been a really long time since I've been sick (knock on wood!), but there's been a ton of germs and various illnesses floating around in my area. This time of year, fluctuations in temperature, changes in diet and increased stress or depression can lead to exacerbated symptoms and lingering sinus infections. We have to work a little harder to rest intentionally and nourish our bodies.
So, I've decided to compile my list of the best all-natural go-to remedies. I truly believe that the body is designed to heal itself, it just needs the right types of support and TLC!
You may not feel like going to your usual yoga class or practicing inversions, but there are lots of yoga techniques that support the stuffy nose, foggy head or painful sinuses.
Lion's Breath pranayama is one simple breathing technique that can clear out junk from the throat. (It's not a great one to practice in public, but it's useful nonetheless) It basically involves stretching the tongue out as far as you can while taking a forceful exhalation through the back of the throat. It feels really good and is definitely worth trying.
Acupressure and facial massage help to drain the sinuses. Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that the tips of the fingers and the tips of the toes correspond directly to the sinuses. It's amazing what a little fingertip massage or pressure can do for the sinuses. I also usually recommend gentle massage with the fingertips across the face, sinuses and behind the ears down the throat. You can explore many different methods that might feel good for you and when you find a tender spot, push into it for a few breaths.
Practicing meditation while you're sick is a useful way to gain insight into what your body really needs. Being sick requires us to slow down anyway, so it's also a logical time to listen. If your body were a metaphor, what is your body trying to tell you through this sickness? How did you end up here and what can you learn from this time?
Mucous congestion, no matter where it occurs in the body, is always related to overstimulated nerves, inner tensions and unrest, triggered by over-straining, being pressed for time, being aggravated or experiencing fear. - Gertrud Hirschi
Regardless of what your diet usually is, now is the time to really nourish your body with healing foods. Cut out all processed foods, sugar and dairy. Your body needs all the help it can get. Every time a foreign ingredient, additive or pesticide gets into your body, it loads down the liver and kidneys. Sugar weakens the immune system and dairy can often increase mucous build-up.
Add in lots of nourishing soups, and all cooked or steamed vegetables. Cooking vegetables is actually more nourishing when you're immune system is compromised in any way. When you're sick, tired or stressed, your digestion is not prepared to properly digest raw vegetables. Cooking them breaks down the cell wall so that it can be more easily digested and absorbed.
While you're sick, cut out coffee and soda, drink tons of water and add in herbal tea. There are TONS of different types of tea that can soothe your throat, boost your immune system or help you to sleep. A few of my cold-busting favorites are Ginger, Echinachia, and Sleepytime Extra.
As opposed to regular broth, bone broth is a more nutritious and immunity-boosting variety. To make a simple batch of bone broth, put chicken, turkey or beef bones into a crockpot and cover with water. Cook for about 24 hours to draw all of the fatty nutrients from the bones. I like to save bones from meat in a freezer bag and once the gallon bag is full, I know I have enough for a batch of broth. (Here's a full recipe and directions)
Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar is one of my biggest and most helpful tips. It's antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and will instantly clear your sinuses and act as a natural expectorant. ACV is also healing for your digestive tract and helps to balance the natural acidity of the stomach. I usually just take a shot, but you can also dilute a shot in warm or cool water with raw honey.
Just like tea, there is a wide variety of essential oils that can help you in many ways when you're sick. One of my personal favorites is Peppermint or the DoTerra Breathe blend to open sinuses. I like to put it on my throat or chest, the bottoms of my feet or add a few drops into a hot shower.
DoTerra OnGuard is a blend of oils designed specifically to purify and boost immunity. So you can drink it at the first sign of a cold, apply topically to pulse points or feet and diffuse it to kill air-born bacteria, allergens and mold. Plus is smells amazing, so it's mood-boosting. :)
If you're interested in learning more about essential oils, I sell doTerra oils. Ask me anything!
An often overlooked aspect of being sick is our attitude about the entire experience. It's so interesting and helpful to change your perspective about being sick in the first place. Do you find that you "don't have time to be sick" or want to power through it for your own pride? Do you prefer to milk the sickness for all it's worth because it's the only rest you've had in weeks? Just as valuable as why you got sick in the first place, consider how you're handling the process.
Yoga teaches us to neither pull toward or push away from any experience or sensation. Practicing non-attachment means that we do not allow outside circumstances to effect our peace. A good way to think of a cold or sickness is that it's just passing through and maybe it's offering you something to learn in the meantime.
Hope you're feeling well! Comment with thoughts or questions!