It's that time of the year again..
That time of the year when Jack Frost kisses your windows at night and leaves the morning brisk. That time of the year when your cheeks turn rosy on your hike and your nose starts to run from the cool, mountain air. That time of the year when hugs and kisses from your loved one's show you much affection, but can also pass along the symptoms of the common cold or flu. Although the winter season is a lovely one, it also can be a season of sneezes, sore throats, and congestion. If there was a way to avoid being sick, no matter what season it is, wouldn't you want the solution?
Growing up I was constantly fighting some type of cold every winter season. Being a premature baby, I naturally had upper-respitory issues, and whenever I got sick, it went right to my chest. I remember my mom, a nurse, trying everything to make me more comfortable during my times of illness. I think she was just as frustrated as me when I got a cold. I can still hear her every winter saying, "keep your chest covered!" "Wear layers!" "Protect yourself from getting sick!!" Although these bits of insight were important, it wasn't just dressing properly for the season that helped me ward off the cold and flu bugs. Hydrating my body, eating well, and boosting my system with vitamins helped to keep me protected from the germs that had it out for me. Even with me being an active child, eating well from our garden, and taking my Flinstone's every morning, I still managed to catch whatever was out there lurking in the illness atmosphere.
I remember one time when I was fighting a nasty cold my mom gave me some Sudafed to help me with my horrible congestion. After taking it I broke out in hives all over my body. She felt horrible and explained, "we aren't taking that again!" Little did we know at the time, that this one over the counter medicine was the start of me being allergic to Pseudoephedrine, dextromethorphan, and phenylphrine. At least one of these ingredients is in every over the counter cold and flu medicine you can purchase, and therefore, unless it was an anti-biotic or over the counter guaifenesin (an expectorant), I wasn't taking it.
As I aged I started using more homeopathic methods to help myself overcome the colds I was getting. Whenever I got sick, my mom would make me hydrate, hydrate, hydrate -- and then hydrate some more! I would sit with a towel over my head and my face hovering over a pot of steaming chamomile tea to open up my sinuses. I took vitamin C, and we found homeopathic remedies for different cold symptoms at our local pharmacy. We dabbled into homeopathic ways a little bit, but it wasn't until 2010 when I REALLY started doing my research on herbal treatments that changed my life.
In 2010 I was living by myself in Lynchburg, Virginia. I had the cutest apartment and loved having my own space. My walls were adorned with my artwork, guitars, and tapestries. I always kept a clean house to be sure germs weren't sneaking up on me, and anytime I was getting ill with a cold, I knew the routine. Hydrate, Katie. Take your vitamins, Katie. Rest, Katie. It's gonna get in your chest, so sleep propped up and turn on that vaporizer, Katie. It was all the same as when I was younger, and although my immune system was getting better, I still got a cold 1-2 times a year.
I'll never forget the Saturday I went to walk Martini after sleeping in way longer than usual. If you know me, you know I'm up at the crack of dawn every day; even on a weekend. I remember stretching that morning because my body felt so stiff. My neck especially felt horrible, and I could barely touch my chin to my chest. The tightness in my body was almost unbearable, but I attributed it to how I must have slept. I hooked Martini up to her leash, and headed down my apartment steps to walk her. By the time I hit the pavement, I felt incredibly nauseous and weak. I could barely make it around the apartment complex circle before I thought I was going to collapse.
I called my mom and described my symptoms to her. She suggested I get to the doctor to see what was going on. We weren't sure if I had meningitis or some other virus, but we both knew the way I was feeling wasn't normal. I went to the urgent care up the road, as I still hadn't found a primary care physician in my area. After looking at me and pretty much doing nothing, the doctor explained I just had a virus, and needed to rest. I went home, tried to relax, and as I laid on the couch with Martini by my side, I knew something was wrong.
The next day I went back to urgent care. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was sick with something besides a virus, and needed answers. I talked with a different doctor, but got the same response. I headed back home, and proceeded to go to urgent care EVERY DAY for almost a week, before my best friend and I finally went together and I suggested that they should test me for Mono. After the doctor rolled her eyes at me and told me that wasn't what I had, she went ahead and gave me the finger prick. Sure enough, not to my surprise, I had Mono. Later that night while trying to rest with my friend Jade by my side, I woke up having trouble breathing and swallowing. Jade rushed me to the ER and sure enough, my throat was closing due to how badly the Mono had hit me. I lost 13 pounds in two days, couldn't eat, and looked like death with a rash all over my body. If it weren't for Jade being there with me that night [and days after] I don't know what would have happened.
Slowly I got better over the next few months, but because my immune system was so low, I got pretty sick two months later. Not with a cold, but with Mono again. I had moved home by this time to live with my mom for a few years as I transitioned jobs, and ended up being diagnosed with mono FOUR more times in a nine month time period. The doctors I saw said that although it was rare, it WAS possible to get Mono more than once. Because I was prone to colds, the Mono bug just kept coming out in my system. Each time was less severe than the time before, but it always knocked me on my butt. I ended up having to get blood work done every year after that to be sure my liver and spleen were functioning properly due to me having Mono so many times. It was a bumpy road, and I knew I needed to do something to keep me healthy and boost my immune system.
After doing lots of research on what herbal remedies would help me the most, I came across the lovely Elderberry plant. Used for medicinal benefits for thousands of years, Elderberries are full of powerful nutrition and have amazing health benefits. These purple little wonder berries are full of antioxidants and have anti-carcinogenic benefits as well. Elderberries have more vitamin C than oranges and studies have found that they can protect your blood vessels and boost your immune system immensely.
After realizing that Elderberry was something I needed to add to my diet immediately, I started taking a tincture of this magic berry daily. I took it not just daily, but multiple times a day, every day. Slowly I started to notice I was feeling better, and before I knew it, I wasn't getting sick anymore. I stopped having spurts of Mono show up. I stopped getting my yearly winter colds, and Bronchitis was something that never knocked on my door anymore.
Its been five years since I was diagnosed with Mono, and in these five years I haven't been sick from the common cold. If I have felt under the weather at all, its barely lasted in my system (I'm talking maybe 2 days), and typically its just sinus pressure that diminishes once I boost my herbal supplements. Elderberry is something I live by. It changed my life, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an immunity booster!
Check out our tincture shop to grab some Elderberry to start boosting your immune system!
Love & Light,
Always remember -- its best to consult your primary care physician before starting any type of dietary supplement. What works for some may not work for others. Always be careful when starting any type of herbal remedy, as some herbs do not mix well with certain medications. The statements in this blog have not been approved by the FDA.