Tuesday, December 8, 2009

These days, we can work through anything!

Have you seen the new commercial for Delsym cough medicine? It shows people struggling to live their lives with the misery of an awful cold -- then they pour down some syrup and suddenly they are filled with energy and relief and are doing things like running marathons, playing in the snow, and cooking dinner for 20. Okay, so maybe I exaggerate a little...but you get the idea. It struck me as funny this time because it was suddenly so apparent how the message about illness is always the same: do whatever it takes to mask the symptoms for a few hours so you can carry on at your usual pace, or perhaps at an even faster rate since now you're all hopped up on medicine! To quote the Electrolux commercial out of context, we must always "be even more amazing" (clearly I watch too much television now!). What about a commercial that shows sick people staying in bed? drinking teas and bone broth? keeping warm? staying away from excessive stimulation and just resting? Even if they still have to be depicted taking some chemical cocktail with a chaser of high-fructose corn syrup and red dye number 3, at least they could be resting at the same time! But no! we must work no matter what happens, no matter how crappy we feel, no matter how sick we are.

In the past couple of months I have had two colds (the 2nd occurred after eating a cupcake, go figure - this is why I eat sugar about twice a year now instead of daily) and I have at last concluded that mainly it's from stress. After a certain point, my body somehow knows that the only way it's going to get me to rest and stop running like a hamster in a wheel is to break down for a little while. I am pretty sure that without these forced rest-holidays I would go full-tilt for years on end. Before the first cold in late October I hadn't been sick in a year, and I was definitely due for some lying-in time. I believe in taking something when you need it (like cough syrup if your cough won't let you sleep), but aside from that I think it's generally best to let your body work things out for itself, with the help of some nourishing bone broths, lots of fluids, and lots of rest. And maybe a break from the cupcakes. :)


  1. Do you know of any foods or other natural remedies (legal ones, that is ;) for helping cope with stress? Because I need them!

  2. Ah, stress...something we all seem to have too much of these days! I have a few recommendations:

    1) take some time away from the source of stress -- this is harder for us marrieds-with-children when the source of stress is something like a teething child or a tired spouse, but if you can at all get some downtime just for you, be sure to make it a priority.
    2) take high-vitamin cod liver oil. See my other posts about this and just start doing it. When we are under stress our bodies become depleted of vitamin A, and CLO is the best backup source that we can take as a daily supplement. Vitamin A is needed to convert cholesterol into our hormones, and hormones will help keep us calm and on an even keel. Also, the high levels of vitamin D in CLO will support the immune system. Vitamins A and D work synergistically and really do help keep us well even in difficult circumstances or in the face of fatigue, stress, germ exposure, and cold weather.
    3) avoid stimulants as much as you can. These include things like sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods (which contain many additives), and white flour -- easier said than done around the holidays when we are constantly eating cookies, drinking hot chocolate, and having drinks at parties! These foods put stress on the body, deplete us of important nutrients and minerals, and have the effect of jolting the adrenal glands to make them produce extra energy. This can end up making us feel even more stressed out because our adrenaline response is constantly activated. Think of it this way: each time you stimulate your adrenal glands, they continue firing for a full 24 hours. So if you have coffee every morning, guess what? your adrenal glands never get a day off. This spells big trouble when you come under additional stress, because your adrenals are likely fatigued and you will be tempted to stimulate them even more than usual to keep yourself going.
    4) fats from animals raised on grass are an important source of the cholesterol mentioned above which helps our bodies make the appropriate hormones. These fats are also great sources of the all-important vitamins A and D (also mentioned above). Focus on foods like butter, cream, egg yolks, lard, chicken fat (think chicken skin & roasting drippings!), and other meat fats. Fat from oily fish is wonderful as well. [When it comes to dairy, choose raw if you have the option, but if not always get organic, grass-fed & unhomogenized if you can, and never ever ultra-pasteurized.]
    5) treat yourself to something relaxing...like a special caffeine-free tea (try to get something that has only herbs, flowers, and fruits in it -- no natural flavors or other additives), a warm bath, or a massage.

  3. You mentioned cough syrup in your post, and I wanted to also add some ideas we use for dealing with a cough if one does set in: raw honey (like buckwheat honey) mixed with raw apple cider vinegar or lemon; organic chopped onion boiled in raw honey and then strained; etc.

    What do you think, Hannah?