While we're not in the clear just yet, there's definitely light at the end of the winter-weather tunnel. The days are longer, the temperatures are higher (albeit just slightly), and you're busier than ever. Just when you think cold and flu season is over, bam, you're hit with a pesky sickness of epic proportions: sniffles, coughs, achy bones, the works. But what to do? You don't have time to take off from work, and your social calendar is piling up by the minute. To help get you back on your feet (and, yes, this is a bit of a personal mission for us as well), we did some research to uncover the remedies that actually work to get results fast.
Keep reading for our expert-approved antidotes.
1. Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture helps reset your nervous system and nourish your body through the insertion of hair-thin needles. "When the little needles enter your body, it's considered an 'invasion' during which your entire nervous system wakes up to 'attack' the needles," says Mona Dan, a leading acupuncturist and owner of Vie Healing in Beverly Hills. "The sympathetic (exciting) and parasympathetic (relaxing) parts of your nervous system begin working at peak performance to fight against the invasion." Think of it like an inner-body workout to keep everything running smoothly. "Including Chinese herbs also gives your blood strengthening elements for your overall immunity. Healing your body through these modalities before the change of weather is essential to keep up with the seasonal changes without getting sick," notes Dan.
2. Get Outside
"If weather permits," Dan says, "Allow yourself to sit outside and catch some rays. It'll boost your vitamin D levels and help your body naturally relax and fight against those little bugs." If there's no sun in sight, opt for an ion therapy lamp that mimics those helpful rays. It'll leave you feeling rested, refreshed, and nourished all over.
3. Be Smart With Your Food Choices
When you feel a cold coming on, your meals do make a difference. "Food can vent the body of illness and can help boost your blood to fight colds off," Dan notes. Make sure your portions are small so your body can work on fighting germs rather than overly exerting itself to digest a large meal. Include fermented probiotics in your diet (like a shot of kombucha after each meal to help your digestion, and thus, your immunity). "Avoid cold and raw foods and beverages," instructs Dan. "That includes salads and iced drinks. They constrict your body's blood vessels which leads to less fighting power. Try shots of ginger and wheatgrass, but stay away from large amounts of pressed juices for that reason."
4. Skip Your Workout
Keeping your energy levels up is paramount, and it's best to do so through eating the right foods and avoiding your usual workout regimen. "Your body is signaling that it needs rest, and exhausting yourself through intense workouts will not help," explains Dan. "Listen to what your body is saying! This is the time for nourishment. To help your energy maintain a good balance, avoid raising your stress levels, and give yourself a couple days to recharge."
5. Stay Warm
It sounds obvious, but make sure to wear a scarf and keep your neck covered when you feel a cold coming on. "In Chinese medicine," Dan says, "the nape of the neck is where pathogens enter the body. Keep your belly and low back covered as well. Try to avoid sitting in front of cracked windows or fans, which will help you avoid fluctuations in temperature." Similarly, make sure you're fully dry and warm before leaving the house post-shower. "When washing your hair, dry it completely before falling asleep or leaving the house. That way, your temperature stays regulated and your body remains balanced. Also, if you do take a bath, include some Epsom salt to help detoxify."
6. Go to Sleep
"Your immune system weakens if you don't get enough sleep," explains Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network. "Feeling tired and stressed can slow down your immune system. When fighting off a cold, you need it running at its best. Getting the proper amount of sleep can help to fight off bacteria and viruses, because if our bodies are run-down, they are more susceptible to germs."
7. Don't Get Too Close
This is a bit overzealous, but it is important to avoid close contact as much as you can. Parikh suggests, "Try to use your own pen when signing for credit card purchases, or use alcohol-based hand wipes when leaving a store. Wipe down surfaces where viruses linger, like doorknobs, stairway bannisters, microwave or refrigerator handles, remote controls, cell phones, and even computer keyboards."
Now find out how our editor got rid of her cold in less than 24 hours.