Hiraman/Getty ImagesYou think you may have a cold (or worse, the flu): what now? First step: Try to figure out if you have a cold or the flu, or maybe something else entirely. Next, take steps to feel better, whether that’s what doctors and nurses do for colds or traditional cold remedies. But what do wellness experts do when they start to get sick? We asked four holistic health experts for tips on relieving cold and flu symptoms. Here’s what they recommend.
Stay healthy by following a balanced diet high in vitamin C. It’s been shown to potentially decrease the severity and duration of a cold—if you have enough of the powerful antioxidant in your system before you get sick. In addition to citrus, good sources include broccoli, green and red peppers, and cantaloupe. Remember, too, to drink plenty of water and 100% fruit juices to stay hydrated.
— Gail C. Rampersaud, RD, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
The Integrative Medicine Pro
When you first feel a cold coming on, suck on zinc lozenges (zinc acetate or gluconate). If you’re around sick people, add some garlic to your diet, as well as medicinal shiitake, maitake and reishi mushrooms. They may stimulate the immune response. Tomatoes and other lycopene-rich foods may help, and chicken soup also helps loosen mucus.
—Dwight Mckee, MD, a specialist in medical oncology and integrative and holistic medicine in Aptos, California
The Meditation Guide
Transcendental meditation (TM) has been shown to improve immune function. In TM, your mind and body experience a state of deep relaxation. The level of rest is deeper than what you get during the deepest sleep. As a result, the body repairs itself over time in a very efficient way.
— Stuart Rothenberg, MD, director, Transcendental Meditation Health Professionals Program in Washington, DC
The Acupuncture Expert
Acupuncture isn’t a substitute for conventional prevention and treatments (a flu shot, enough sleep, a healthy diet, exercise, stress management). But acupuncture can help you feel balanced. [Acupuncture is also used to treat a variety of conditions you wouldn’t expect.] If you get sick, and if your doctor is comfortable with it, see an acupuncturist, who might use needles on your face, arms, chest and back. This may lessen the severity and duration of colds and flu.
— James Dillard, MD, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine
You can take steps to prevent colds including washing your hands and using hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol after shaking hands or holding frequently touched objects. Colds and flu are usually spread by hand contact, not coughing and sneezing. At the same time, you can try to make your body less hospitable to these bugs with a robust intake of fruits and vegetables, and seven to nine hours of sleep daily. And follow these 10 steps doctors use to avoid getting sick.