Before I became a massage therapist – OK, pretty much starting at age 3 – I would get a cough/cold every few months and the flu at least once a year. And I’d get uglysick for at least 10 days, with a lingering cough to finish things off right. So much for general immunity!
Like physical therapists, or nurses, massage therapists come into very close physical contact with people everyday. When I graduated, I was concerned that I’d have to miss weeks of massage work each year. Unlike working a desk job, rattle-y stealth-coughing while giving a massage is just not OK, even if you’re not contagious any more.
BUT – thank all my lucky stars – something has changed for me. Since becoming a full time massage therapist, I have not had a single cold, let alone the flu. That’s 4 years and counting! I like to thank the wonderful benefits of massage, as my body benefits while I work, as well as my clients’. I’m not the only LMT to notice the same thing :-)
“My body benefits when I perform massage, as well as my clients’ “
Having said all that, I do occasionally feel an ominous scratch in my throat. When that happens, I pull out all the tricks of the immune bolstering trade that I have learned over the years, just in case my massage theory is incorrect (!). And the scratch goes away without inviting any of its nasty relatives to play.
Today, I’m going to share those natural remedy and nutrition tricks/tools with you, because your health is my top priority!
These are a collection of things taken from my mother, friends, colleagues, reading, and self-knowledge. I haven’t put them in a special order, except that I think number 1 is the most important.
“Your health is my top priority”
1. Change your food intake. This is by far the hardest thing I could ever try to do, and it’s always a bit of a struggle. I often look to food to make me feel better when I’m grumpy/tired/bored/you-name-it! But it’s so worth it to cut out solid foods for a bit, especially raw foods. Aside from powering our brain, we use a great amount of the rest of our available energy to digest food (and raw foods take the most energy).
Switching to only liquid foods gives our digestive system a well-deserved rest, and leaves plenty of energy for the immune system, and general rejuvenation.
Bone broths and fresh-pressed juice offer a huge dose of supportive nutrients in an easy-to-digest package, and double as extra liquids. Just make sure the fresh-pressed juices aren’t too sweet and sugary. Blood sugar spikes are stressful on our bodies, and counterproductive.
2. Rest. Yep, you know it. It’s time to slow down, sleep as much as you can, limit all extras, exercise only very gently, if at all, and ideally cut down (even better cut out) on coffee, so you can actually feel where your energy levels are at, and respond as needed.
“It’s time to slow down, sleep as much as you can, limit all extras.”
3. Warm liquids. An old-timey one, and a good one. My go-to warm liquids are bone broths with coconut oil, ginger tea with lemon and honey added (and if I’m really suffering, I’ll add garlic and cayenne pepper to that tea), and Traditional Medicinals Echinacea tea.
4. Ginger, lemon, garlic, raw apple cider vinegar, raw honey. Include these in as many ways as possible in general, but especially when you are not well.
Lemon – Add this to water or fresh pressed juice. It’s refreshing, has nice vitamin C, and bioflavinoids.
Raw apple cider vinegar – it’s all about the good gremlins, so add a splash to some luke warm water when staying hydrated. Lacto-fermented pickle juice will do the same thing, if you have that on hand! Take probiotics also.
Honey – Raw, unfiltered honey is a wonder food (good gremlins again), simply eat a little once a day, when sick, for the enzymes and nutrients there. Don’t add it to hot tea though, as the beneficial enzymes will disintegrate.
Ginger – I grate a thumb-sized lump of ginger, bring to a boil in 3 or 4 quarts of water, then simmer for 15 mins, then let sit for an hour or so. Drink all day as needed. Add some cayenne pepper if you’re feeling adventurous and want to get a sticky cold moving.
“It’s all about the good gremlins!”
5. Bone broths. Chicken soup is a well-known home remedy for colds and flus. I’d wager it’s the chicken stock that’s the real magic there. Use homemade broths/stocks when possible, ideally from the bones of organically raised, pastured chickens.
6. Meditation. Really? When I’m feeling all crummy and snotty and stuff?! Yes, really. Meditation will support your body and whole self via the Relaxation Response. You’ll rest more deeply once you manage to fall asleep with a blocked nose, among other things. Meditation – done right – promotes the ‘Rest & Digest’ state which is the optimal state for your body to heal itself, and will boost immunity.
“Meditation will support your body, and whole self, via the Relaxation Response.”
7. Regular massage. OK, this one is really a preventative measure and not applicable if you are already fighting a virus. In fact, a massage may make your symptoms worse! Your symptoms are simply your immune system doing its job, and massage supports immune function, so yeah, lay off the massage until you are fully on the mend.
Having said that, massage is fantastic in supporting many general systems of the body – including the immune system – via the Relaxation Response (or so we think for now). Get at least monthly massage and you’ll be generously supporting your immune system.
“Get at least monthly massage and you’ll be generously supporting your immune system.”
If you don’t have one coming up, schedule your massage now before a distraction comes along!