How to Make the Most of Your Sick Days with Natural Remedies

Some days, when I feel a little something coming on, I just up my water intake, throw a little OnGuard essential oil into my tea, take a rest, and keep on trucking. Other times, it comes on like a ton of bricks and you know you’ve got to slow it down.

While it’s sometimes inconvenient, this is really the gift of your body telling you what it needs, overriding the busy mind that likes to take control, and allowing you to get the rest, stillness, and healing required for your body to work its magic and get you right again.

This was one of those days for me. I felt it coming on strong in the afternoon; sniffles, runny nose, coughing, and then by bedtime it was a full blown headache and mouth-breathing situation. I was down for the count, and no prodding from my little guy was going to change that.

Luckily, I have my tools at the ready for days like this, and I jumped into action–er, non-action.

Lift the immune system

First, I went to my Wellness Formula to boost my immune system. It contains echinacea, garlic, propolis, elderberry, astragalus, and goldenseal as just a few of the antioxidants and herbs in its retinue. When sick, it’s best to take multiple times a day to give the herbs the best chance of taking effect.

Heat it up, sweat it out

Next was a hot bath soak in Epsom Salts and eucalyptus essential oil. I also put mixed some Breath essential oil blend with hot water in a ceramic mug and inhaled it as I sat in the bath. The steam combined with essential oils that are menthol, eucalyptol, and cineole-based help to break up congestion in the chest and head and clear the nasal passages. The heat helps to warm the body, much like a fever does, to make it inhospitable to invaders.

Soothing flower tea

Next came a hot cup of chrysanthemum tea. Known as “ju hua” in Chinese, chrysanthemum flowers have multiple benefits, including helping to curb the onset of a cold. I also added a couple drops of OnGuard essential oil to give it an extra punch. Not wanting to spike my blood sugar first thing in the morning, I’ll make myself another cup with honey after a meal to soothe the throat.

Just like mom used to do, but better

Next up is my Breath vapor stick. I used this throughout the night and will continue throughout the day so I can easily keep these essential oils, many with menthol, cineole, and eucalyptol, close by throughout the day. These oils helps clear the respiratory system and have the side benefit of reminding me of the vapor rub my mom used to apply to me as a kid without all the chemicals.

Containing Eucalyptus, Laurel, Peppermint, Tea Tree, and Lemon, among others, this little vapor stick is a godsend. I can even sneak it onto a sick kiddo once he falls asleep so he can get some relief during the night.

Rice all day

Later on, I’ll make myself some jok or congee, also known as rice porridge. This is a soothing, nourishing food that acts as a great base for almost any ingredients. In my experience in Thailand, it was often served with pork meatballs, bamboo shoots and ginger.

In mine, I’ll be keeping the ginger and adding shallots, mushrooms, bone broth, and ghee for some healthy fat. I’ll add in some heating spices to keep the warming effect of my other treatments going. I also like to add some fermented greens that you can often get at asian grocery stores and some wakame seaweed for a little salty flavor to balance out the neutral base of the rice.

I use my Instant Pot for this, put on the porridge setting, and have myself a deeply nourishing meal I can eat for several days. Alternatively, If I’m too sick or too lazy, I’ll just pick some up from the local dim sum restaurant.

Keep headaches at bay

Since nasal congestion often causes headaches, and I’m prone to getting them anyway, I’ll use the same essential oils mentioned above for a little scalp, temple and forehead massaging throughout the day.

If I really wanted to step it up, I’d add some bhringraj oil for soothing the scalp and nourishing the hair. The Ayurvedic herbs bhringraj, amalaki, and brahmi bring luster and shine as well as having benefits for the mind and nervous system, which makes this scalp massage a great ritual before bed. I usually cover my pillow with a towel and let the oil soak in overnight before washing it out in the morning.

I get almost all my Ayurvedic herbal products from Banyan Botanicals, as they are high quality, ethically sourced, and they have actual Ayurvedic practitioners advising their product creation.

This little herbal regimen, coupled with lots of rest, not only brings me relief from my symptoms but empowers me to be the leader in my healing. You can skip the over-the-counter medicines that give you temporary symptom relief but don’t do much for the root cause and instead bolster your body’s natural ability to heal itself with a little bit of outside support from herbs.

If you’ve tried any of these or have your own natural remedies for getting over colds, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Learn more about Crystal and her online courses for mindful self-care at, or follow her on Instagram.




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