I have something really embarrassing to tell you.
I, Healthy Stacey, got sick.
I’m talking runny nose, a throat so swollen it hurt to swallow, dead tired but couldn’t sleep because I stayed up all night long hacking up a lung sick.
I know, I know. But you’re so “Healthy.” How did you get sick? (I’m imagining this in the voice of Adam Sandler, followed by “Hoobidy doobidy.”)
Well, I’ve narrowed it down to either the potentially germ-infested blanket I took from the flight attendant on my way to Mexico or the fact that I got stuck in a torrential downpour on my way to the yoga class that I couldn’t miss, and instead stayed sopping wet through every Chaturanga Dandasana.
That’s neither here nor there. The point is, I got sick, and then I got better WITHOUT taking any drugs.
I’ve never been a big fan of Tylenol Cold & Flu, Robitussin Cough Syrup or any of the other hard-hitting OTC drugs out there. They make me super drowsy and I hate to think what other side effects they’re having on my body. Oh. And as far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong), cough and cold remedies do not shorten or cure illnesses; they just ease the symptoms along the way. But in doing so, they take a lot more processing from my liver than, say, a spoonful of raw honey would.
So if I can reduce my symptoms in other more natural ways that don’t make me drowsy, don’t tax my liver AND actually make my immune system stronger for the future, then I’m all for it.
If you take them, I get it. No judgment. Promise. I just decided that me being sick would be a perfect opportunity to do a little self-experimenting for you guys.
The Experiment: Kick this sucker without meds – just immune-boosting food and supplements, and see how long it takes.
I dug a box of Tylenol Cold & Flu out of the medicince cabinet and put it on the counter. Partly as an "in case of emergency – pull this lever," but also as an extra boost of motivation. Challenge: accepted.
Here’s how it went down.
Throat is feeling swollen. I can feel something coming on. But it’s not full-blown quite yet. At this point I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that the first thing I needed to drink was bone broth.
Food Medicine # 1: Bone Broth
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Bone broth is a magical elixir. Simmering the bones of healthy animals releases nutrients and healing compounds that you could NOT get just from eating the meat.
Moreover, whatever foods you add to the broth will be better digested and absorbed into your system. So for my special Get Better Bone Broth, I added a few key nutrients also known to help immunity.
Garlic for its immune-boosting, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory effects. Ginger and cayenne because they are warming to your system and help relieve congestion.
Get Better Bone Broth Recipe:
- 1 cup of homemade bone broth – see recipe here.
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Heat up bone broth and coconut oil (I do 1:30 in the microwave, in a mug)
- Mix in your sea salt, garlic and cayenne pepper.
- Drink up and repeat every day until you feel better (2 times a day if you’re up for it!)
When your throat is hurting, you can’t get enough liquids in your system. Not only does it feel good on the throat, it helps loosen congestion. So on this first day, I was always drinking something – whether it be broth, water or my homemade Kick In the Pants Tea made with my good friend ACV.
Food Medicine #2: Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar. It may be acidic, but it actually helps to alkalize our overly acidic bodies. A body that is more alkaline will be better at fighting off colds.
I started taking this concoction years ago when I first found out about the benefits of ACV and it’s never steered me wrong. You’ll see that I’ve used a lot of the ingredients I used in my Get Better Bone Broth for the same reasons (with the addition of lemon for its anti-viral benefits and raw honey for its antioxidant, antimicrobial, throat-soothing benefits, and because it makes EVERYTHING taste better). But this tonic is a little more accessible for those of you who aren’t quite ready to hop on the bone broth bandwagon.
Kick In The Pants Tea
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar (I like the Bragg’s brand)
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- ½ freshly squeezed lemon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½-1 teaspoon raw honey
- Boil water in tea kettle
- Add all other ingredients into your mug
- Pour hot water on top and stir
I get a horrible night’s sleep and my throat feels more swollen the next day. I double up on the bone broth (which feels like heaven on my throat; with just one sip I feel the swelling going down and the sinus pressure easing up).
I supplement my broth drinking with Breathe Easy Tea from Traditional Medicinals. (Another favorite for swollen glands and sore throats is Throat Coat, I just didn’t have any on hand).
That night, I decided I needed something to ensure that I would sleep through the night. Enter saffron.
Food Medicine # 2: Saffron
You know that spice that comes with your spice kit that kind of looks like red spider legs? That’s saffron. It’s apparently the most expensive spice in the world. That's why they only give you a little bit in each jar. But the thing is, you don’t need much to get it to work. This stuff is powerful.
Yes, I already had some from a spice kit that was gifted to me so, for me, there was no cost. But I looked it up on The Spice House Chicago website, and saw that you can get it by the gram for $12.08. And a gram is plenty for this purpose.
Saffron spice is produced from the saffron crocus flower (Crocus sativus) and it is actually the insides of the flower that catches the pollen. Among its MANY other benefits (used for asthma, cough, loosening of phlegm, gas, depression, Alzheimer’s, dry skin, PMS symptoms, fertility, and more) it has also been shown to have mild sedative properties. Meaning, when you drink this stuff, and put your head on that fluffy pillow, it hits you. Or at least it did for me. I felt instantly relaxed and lulled to sleep.
After a lot of searching around the internet, I came across about nine different people all claiming that they had “the best” way to make saffron tea. So I threw up my hands and just decided to do my own thing.
Using full fat coconut milk (real milk would be even better because it has tryptophan in it, but I didn’t have that), cinnamon for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant qualities, raw honey for its antioxidant, antimicrobial and throat-soothing benefits and cardamom (I’m sure it has benefits too, but I just thought it would taste good with it), I created “the best” Saffron Sleepy Tea.
Saffron Sleepy Tea
- ½ cup of water
- 1 cup of full-fat coconut milk or whole milk (ideally grass-fed)
- 7-10 strands of saffron
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon raw honey
- Boil ½ cup of water in a pot on the stove
- Add saffron and cover pot for 10 minutes
- Now add milk, cinnamon and cardamom and turn heat up to medium
- Stir until warm
- Add in honey
- Pour into a mug and sip, repeat and go to sleep.
The snot tap has turned on. The swollen throat has finally released itself and the nose is running like crazy. I have a love-hate relationship with this part. I know that the release of all the fluid means that it’s all coming out and I’m on my way to getting better. But it’s still a disgusting snotty drip.
My good friend (and supplement superstar), Monica, recommends to me a product called Quick Defense from Gaia Herbs. She says it works like a charm if you take it at the onset of symptoms. A little too late for that, but I figure, it couldn’t hurt and it offered a lot of immune-boosting benefits.
Food Medicine #3: Green Drink
Like magic, my Green Vibrance just happened to arrive in the mail that day. I had ordered it a week or so ago as an addition to my Fertility Diet. Again, this came highly recommended to me from my supplement superstar up there. Monica recommends it to everybody she knows because of its high quality ingredients and the marked difference she feels in her energy levels when she takes it in the morning. One of her friends who suffered from a lower immunity started taking it per Monica’s recommendation and found a huge difference. In fact, it’s only when she stops drinking it that she gets sick again.
Hmmm. Fertility food AND immune booster. What is this stuff?
Well, in a really small nutshell, it’s a greens powder. But the makers of this particular product have gone to town with the types (and high concentrations) of nutrients they've packed into each scoop. Organic kale sprouts, organic broccoli sprouts, organic spirulina, chlorella, organic beet juice, organic parsley, organic spinach, organic carrot, green bean, zucchini and Rockweed sea vegetable are just the beginning. It also offers a host of other supplements to support digestion, bone strength, circulation, liver and immunity. It’s kind of like taking a multi-vitamin, a green smoothie and NZT all in one. Just kidding about the NZT (5 Gold Stars to anybody who can name this movie reference in the comments).
What I love about this, is that it takes out a lot of the thought that goes into smoothie making. I personally like to add a lot of extra boosts to my smoothies beyond the greens and the fruits. But not everybody has the money or the patience for that. Especially when sick.
- 1 scoop of Green Vibrance
- 1 inch of turmeric root
- Dash of pepper
- 1 inch of ginger root
- 1 teaspoon bee pollen
- 2 scoops of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
- Frozen pineapple
- Almond Milk/Coconut Water (I mix the two together)
- Optional: Superfood toppings becasue it makes it fun to drink (I used my favorite Superfood Crumble from Elemental Superfoods)
- Put almond milk/coconut water in a high speed blender
- Add in Collagen Peptides and Green Vibrance
- Add in remaining ingredients
- Pulverize until smooth
- Add toppings
- Drink up, breathe in, breath out, feel better!
Feeling better today. Nose is still running, but the glands in the throat feel back to normal and I can see the end of the rainbow. Last night, I did some extreme self-care. Meaning, I put all my energy into myself – and put everything else on hold.
Food Medicine #4: Homemade Soup (with a side of Self-Care)
Self-care. It's a real thing. Seriously. When you take care of yourself first, everything else falls into place.
I don't do it very often. It usually takes extreme cases like me being sick for it to happen. So I went to town. I canceled plans with friends. I slowly and gently cleaned up things that I no longer needed and replaced batteries to a clock that stopped ticking years ago. I put my favorite men on Spotify (Sinatra and Mayer) and watched girly, cheesy movies without shame. I nestled into my rattiest but softest sweat pants. And, finally, I made myself this very special soup just for me.
Dreamy Creamy Carrot Soup
- 2 carrots
- 1 teaspoon ghee
- 1 inch of turmeric root
- 1 inch of ginger root
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/3 can of full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup of homemade bone broth
- Sea Salt
- Optional toppings: Crispy chicken and chopped scallions
- Peel and chop carrots
- Saute in ghee for 5 minutes-ish, until softened and a little browned
- Heat bone broth up on stove, bringing to a simmer over medium heat
- Stir in remaining ingredients
- Pour in high speed blender and pulverize until smooth
- Add toppings of your choice (I happened to have leftover chicken that I sautéed in more ghee until it was crispy, plus a dash of chopped scallions to add a bite)
I feel SO much better. I literally woke up, inhaled through my nose, and clapped my hands because I could smell again! My friends, I swear, I felt better than I did before the cold even began.
I still start my day with Gaia Quick Defense and a cup of bone broth for good measure. Then make another Green Vibrance smoothie for breakfast. I stare at the Tylenol Cold & Flu that has been sitting on the counter just in case of an emergency, and stuffed it back in the back of the cabinet where it belonged. Then did a little happy dance because DAMN, I’m good.
Alrighy folks, what do you do when you get sick? Do you feel the same way I do about OTC medicine? Or are you all about it and want to prove me wrong? Bring it on. Comment below.
p.s. The links I provied are affiliate links. But because my Amazon Affiliate account lay inactive for too long, they've kicked me out. They may work in the future, so I still feel like I should let y'all know. Hot mess. I know.
p.s.s. Pin this baby! You know you'll need it come Cold & Flu season!