Recently, it seems a lot of folks in our area have been catching a cold or flu going around. My partner and I also caught it, but we are lucky to have our go-to practices in our arsenal to fight off a cold quickly. Are you curious what a holistic doctor does to heal from a cold as fast as possible? Read below to find out!
1. Prioritize quality sleep - Not getting enough sleep is by far THE fastest way to deplete the immune system and make you vulnerable to getting sick. Therefore, getting quality sleep is the FIRST and foremost thing you should be doing to strengthen your immune system! If you are actively fighting off a cold, try to aim for more sleep than usual - listen to your body and rest when it needs to. Now is NOT the time to drink caffeine to "power through" when your body knows it needs rest. You can get better quality sleep with these tips:
Darken the lights in the room, and keep them dim as you are preparing for bed. Wear a comfortable blindfold to block out other lights if needed.
Use a white noise machine to help block out distracting noises
Keep a humidifier near your bed to keep your nose and throat airways moisturized, which can help with coughing and congestion
2. Supplements! Instead of reaching for conventional cold medicine, we take supplements to boost our immune system's ability to fight off a cold. We can't always rely on getting enough of these substances from our food alone, so taking supplement forms helps ensure we are getting effective amounts to help our bodies. Here are some of my favorites:
Vitamin C - about 2000-3000mg a day
Vitamin D - 5000 IU per day
Quercetin - at least 500mg a day
NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) - 600-1200 mg per day
Herbs: Echinacea, Garlic, Elderberry, Turmeric
3. Chiropractic - While you probably shouldn't see your chiropractor while you have a fever and could spread illness to others, it is a good idea to get regular chiropractic care to strengthen your immune system all year round, and to help recover faster. Regular chiropractic care has been shown to boost your immune system by up to 200%!
This number comes from a 3-year study conducted by Dr. Ronald Pero, Ph.D., chief of cancer prevention research at New York’s Preventive Medicine Institute and professor of medicine at NYU. In this study of 107 individuals, patients who received regular chiropractic care were found to have up to 200% greater immune competence than those who did not receive chiropractic care, and up to 400% greater immune competence than patients with cancer and other serious diseases. Several other research studies have demonstrated that chiropractic care also has positive impacts on various cellular markers of the immune system.[2-5]
4. Wim Hof breathing - I've written about this several times before and I'll do it again. Wim Hof breathing has been shown to boost the immune system and shorten recovery/healing time - not just for colds, but for many other kinds of illnesses or injuries, too. It really is like a super-boost to your immune system. Best of all, it's FREE! I try to do a session of 3 rounds of 25-30 breaths each at least once a day while fighting off a cold. Because it can be so energizing, I only do it in the morning or mid-day (not at night-time before bed). You can follow along with a video of this breathing exercise here.
5. Vegetable soup - When my partner and I were both recovering from a cold, we made a vegetable soup from scratch that was incredibly healing and soothing. When your body is fighting off a cold or infection, it needs to focus its energy on the immune system, so eating simple healthy foods that are easy on your digestive system helps your body use its energy where it's needed most. For our soup, I used carrots, sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, tomatoes, cabbage, lentils, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Here's a recipe you can follow, and adjust it with whatever vegetables you have on hand: https://www.whereyougetyourprotein.com/instant-pot-vegetable-soup/
6. Cut out the crap - you DON'T want to be eating junk food when you have a cold, as this will slow your healing time. This includes sugar, fried foods, processed foods like potato chips, and heavily processed meats like most sausage and deli meats. Even dairy would be good to avoid for now, since it may worsen congested sinuses and a runny nose. Avoid alcoholic beverages, and limit caffeine intake until you are feeling better.
"What about fruit or orange juice?" Fresh fruit is wonderful and nutritious, but it's still a good idea to supplement vitamin C in addition to eating fresh fruit. You would need to eat 19 oranges in order to get 1,000 mg of vitamin C, or about 40+ oranges to get the 2,000-3,000 mg per day recommended above! Orange juice can be very sugary and doesn't have the same nutrition and vitality that fresh oranges have (unless they're freshly juiced), so I personally avoid it.
7. Garlic & Honey Tea - This is a cold remedy I learned years ago from an elder Caribbean woman, who swore by it for relieving colds quickly, and I find it to be a powerful and healthy addition to my other practices. Although I don't have specific research studies for this, the medicinal benefits of garlic and honey have been well-documented and studied. The basic recipe goes like this:
1-2 cloves raw "purple" garlic, lightly crushed (garlic cloves with a purple-ish outer skin)
A spoonful of Manuka honey (or local honey)
Hot water - enough to pour over the garlic to make a small cup
Optional additions: fresh-squeezed lemon juice, ginger, culantro herb
Combine all ingredients: crush the raw garlic cloves and pour about 4 oz. of hot water over them in a cup, add a spoonful of honey (and other additions, if using), stir and steep for a couple minutes, and drink! The raw garlic taste will be strong, but it's powerfully medicinal.
Please note, this is generalized advice and is not a substitute for the individualized care provided by your physician.
If you or your loved ones are dealing with a cold, I hope you can use some of these tips to heal as quickly as possible!
-Dr. Masae Hori
Pero R. “Medical Researcher Excited By CBSRF Project Results.” The Chiropractic Journal, August 1989; 32.
Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA, Injeyan HS, McGregor M, Harris GM, Ruegg R. "Enhancement of in vitro interleukin-2 production in normal subjects following a single spinal manipulative treatment." Chiropr Osteopat. 2008;16:5. doi: 10.1186/1746-1340-16-5.
Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA, Injeyan HS, Ruegg R. "Spinal manipulative therapy reduces inflammatory cytokines but not substance P production in normal subjects." J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2006;29(1):14-21.
Selano JL, Hightower BC, Pfleger B, Collins KF, Grostic JD. "The effects of specific upper cervial adjustments on the CD4 counts of HIV positive patients." Chiropr Res J. 1994;3(1):32-39.
Ormos G, Mehrishi JN, Bakacs T. "Reduction in high blood tumor necrosis factor alpha levels after manipulative therapy in 2 cervicogenic headache patients." J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2009;32(7):586-91.
Kox M, van Eijk LT, Zwaag J, van den Wildenberg J, Sweep FC, van der Hoeven JG, Pickkers P. "Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 May 20;111(20):7379-84.