So maybe you've noticed your neck is a little more stiff than usual, there is a slight pounding at the back of your head, you feel like you could sleep forever, or you've begun to feel a slight tickle in the back of your throat. Whatever the first clue is, you've just realized you're on the verge of getting a cold. It happens...we're human. There's nothing worse than that moment you know you're getting sick. But have no fear! This is where Traditional Chinese Medicine comes in.
STAY HYDRATED: This is a no-brainer. Drinking warm fluids will nourish your body as well as help expel the pathogen. But make sure it is warm! No, not even room-temperature water. And if you are drinking tea, make sure there is no caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic and will actually dehydrate you even more.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP: Sleep early and as often and long as you can when you first start feeling a bit sick. It'll help your body push out the pathogen and strengthen your yang qi. Even an extra 30 minute nap during the day will help immensely.
SUPPLEMENTS: Load up on Vitamin C and mushroom supplements (like shiitake, cordyceps, etc...).
SWEAT: One of the best things you can do when you feel yourself coming down with something is make yourself sweat. If you don't have access to a sauna, try a hot bath or shower. Sweating will open up your pores and release the pathogen that is stuck inside. Don't do this for too long if you are feeling very weak, however, since sweating too much will deplete the body's qi.
In order to know what types of foods and drinks you should consume, it is important to categorize your cold into either of the two categories below. (These are general symptoms, you do not need to have all of them, and it is okay if you have more than the ones listed here).
WIND HEAT: More fever than chills, sweating, headache, yellow phlegm and yellow tongue coating, thirsty, dry and sore throat.
WIND COLD: More chills than fever, no sweating, white or clear phlegm, white tongue coating, itchy throat, aversion to cold.
LOOK INWARDS: Take a moment to sit down for some introspective meditation. When you are sick or in pain, your body is trying to communicate with you. Ask yourself what your body is telling you. Are you working too hard? Avoiding a task or painful emotion? Not paying enough attention to your body or your emotions? Sit down, take a few deep breaths, and give your body space to expand and feel. I guarantee the answer the pop into your mind within a few minutes.
WHITE FLOWER OIL: Chinese white flower oil is a life saver when you are sick. Rub it on your back and neck for stiff muscles. You can even put it in a diffuser and let your room smell minty fresh. White flower oil has specific herbs in it like peppermint and menthol that will open your pores and sinuses so your body can push the pathogen out.
GET ACUPUNCTURE: Acupuncture and cupping are great ways to eliminate cold symptoms almost immediately. Head to your local acupuncturist as soon as you feel symptoms coming so they can "release your exterior" and your body can release the pathogen that is fighting inside.
HEALING SOUNDS: The healing sound for the lungs is "ssss". Take a deep breath and exhale through your teeth to make a snake sound. Repeat with a few more breaths and do it a few times per day. This will strengthen and expel pathogens from the lungs.
FOUR THIEVES OIL: This essential oil blend of lemon, clove, cinnamon, and eucalyptus is the perfect remedy for preventing or relieving cold symptoms. It was actually used in the past to prevent the infection of the bubonic plague! Place about 10 drops into a diffuser, rub it on the back of your neck, or bring it with you throughout the day to inhale the warm and cleansing aromas. Diffusing it in your house or room actually purifies the air of bacteria and pathogens while also clearing out any congestion you may have.
AVOID: Alcohol, any food or drink that is cold, greasy, or hard to digest will clog your digestion system and prevent your qi from fighting any cold that is trying to make its way into your body. Also avoid any cold and windy weather and strenuous physical or mental work.