Today I’ll start off a little bit about meditation and how it can help with colds and allergies but then move on to share my learnings and experiences on effective ways to deal with winter colds and the flu season. While there are so many different solutions and remedies, I’ve listed some of the most potent remedies which have worked very well for me.


And it’s really important to do that because, lots of people try so many remedies without really understanding how powerful or potent each one is, relative to the others.


What Meditation Says About Dealing with Colds and Allergies


First, your immunity is linked to your subtle energy system – specifically having a strong 4th energy center or heart chakra means more antibodies and greater immunity. Second, the microbes causing colds and the flu attack our left energy channel, hence having a strong and well-nourished left energy channel keeps us strong or helps us recover quickly from winter colds and flu-like symptoms. You’ve probably had a lot to hear about chakras and how to nourish them, so let’s quickly move on to the practical advice and tips.


Immune System Strengthening


Your immunity is your best bet for dealing with any disease or disorder and so it is with colds and flu. A lot of people overdo supplements these days, but it’s probably best to get the nutrients from your food. As you probably know, minimizing processed foods and eating home-cooked, nutritious meals are best for health. Vitamins and minerals are crucial to dealing with colds and their best source is vegetables, including greens and fruit.


Tip 1: A lot of the produce we consume today, even organic produce, lacks the high quality of nutrients our ancestors used to eat. So they’re deficient in the vital minerals and vitamins our body needs. So you may want to use special means to boost your supply of greens and polyphenols that come from berries. There are good green and red powder mixes that have worked great for me that provide several times the nutrition I would get from eating a lot of vegetables and fruits. My immunity has significantly increased since I started taking these powders daily and I’ve stopped taking all other supplements. I decided to gravitate towards more real food-based supplements rather than pills after I got tired of taking a lot of pills daily. And I needed something that I can mix into the one drink I have the first thing in the morning, not a dozen different supplements at different times of the day.


Tip 2: Did you know that 70% of your immunity lies in your gut health? So you begin investing in good gut health as a long-term improvement measure. Fermented foods, probiotics, and pre-biotics need to be researched by you for this purpose – again natural sources through the food you consume are always the best compared to supplements. The supplements suggested in Tip 1 work great for gut health as well. (Disclosure: I don’t get anything for recommending those products, these are based on my personal experience).


Frankly, I’ve struggled with identifying anything else that has raised or had any impact on my immunity and helped my body fight off colds and flu. I almost felt like the money I spent for supplements went down the drain. I like to measure the outcomes and tally them to precisely what I ingest and none of the other supplements were conclusive enough for me to notice a significant difference. Not even Vitamin C pills. Everyone says these things help, but I could not verify them.


Natural Remedies


Hot Water – The Simplest and Ultimate Remedy of All


Doctors say this often – have a lot of fluids when you fall sick with a cold. Try drinking plain, hot water, as hot as you can tolerate every hour for 2 days and watch the magic unfold. I can tell you it really works because in my music concerts (I’m a professional vocalist, by the way), starting 2 hours before the concert, I start drinking really hot water and the worst of my colds and coughs simply disappear till the end of the concert and even into the next day.


If you want even better results, add ground black pepper to it. That’s like a nuclear option if you combine it with boiling hot water. Not everyone can withstand so much heat and avoid upsetting their digestive system, so be careful and work your way up to what you can tolerate for the black pepper levels.


Hot water and black pepper have helped me successfully tide over major crises like when I was about to get on stage for a 2-hour singing performance and coughing or sneezing until 30 minutes before the start of the concert. After I dosed up on hot water and black peppercorns (you have to bite the black peppercorns and then drink really hot water right after to get it to burn off the germs), it vanished magically. (Remember that you have to plan according to the restroom breaks available to you during your event when you drink a lot of water!).


Natural Antibiotics


Oil of oregano works great if you can ingest a few drops. It works just at the onset of a cold like when you have a scratchy throat or even after you develop the cold. It does kill the microbes and give temporary relief. It also helps faster recovery. The biggest caveat is whether you can ingest the 3-4 drops of it three or four times a day – most people cannot. I take it with half a cup of warm water, the drops don’t dissolve but help me gulp the water down and the drops of oil with it. You get an immediate burning sensation that kills the germs causing the cold or flu and weakens them.


Turmeric, black pepper, and honey mixed with hot water is a godsend for colds and especially stubborn cough. I have it several times a day to reduce the intensity of colds and flu. Turmeric and black pepper have anti-microbial properties and honey soothes the inflammation in the throat. And oh, you’ll need to use raw honey, not the typical store-bought one at your grocery store.


Relieving Congestion


Eucalyptus oil is great as an inhalant for clearing congestion but even better is doing nasal irrigation with Alkalol or nasal irrigation salt. This has been very effective in clearing congestions. Another great use of Eucalyptus oil is to rub a little of it on your nose, throat, and back before you sleep. You’ll wake up with much less congestion. Just be careful not to burn your skin by using too much of this oil.


A Great Sahaja Recommended Sinus/Congestion Remedy


A mixture of ghee (can be bought at a local Indian grocery store) and powdered camphor and a few drops of it into both nostrils can help clear sinuses daily and keep you infection-free. It’s also supposed to be very effective for the Hamsa chakra, a kind of a sub-chakra near the Vishuddhi chakra and dealing with our ear, nose, and throat.


Homeopathic Remedies


My wife and her family have great faith in homeopathy and so I was introduced to it. Lots of people, especially those in the medical community even call homeopathy a placebo treatment and nothing more, but three highly potent homeopathic medicines that have been really effective for me – Kali bichromium for relieving and preventing sinuses and congestion, Gelsemium for viral fevers with chills and more recently spongia tosta for the itchy, dry cough. These have worked nothing less than magic. Homeopathy is a bit difficult to get right, so you’ll need several tries to get the right medication and potency, but when you find it, it works like magic. It can cure you several times more easily than any allopathic medicine or doctor can dream.


A lot of other supplements or remedies that did not seem to make any difference for me – zinc supplements, echinacea, elderberry syrup, etc.. they probably work for others, but somehow did not work for me. Also on the did not work lists are natural antibiotics like colloidal silver and potassium iodide through many websites swear by their effectiveness.


Allopathic Remedies


Flu Shots


There’s a never-ending debate about whether these are any good. My verdict is an emphatic yes. I’m living proof of how my incidence of colds and recovery time from them has dropped astronomically since started getting flu shots. If you’re concerned about the preservatives and mercury compounds in them (thimerosal), you can go for single shots (thimerosal-free flu shots) at your local pharmacy without preservatives. Nearly all of the objection to flu shots is due to these preservatives and the harmful effects of mercury. But hey, it’s worked for me like a charm. I still end up getting a cold but the recovery time is a mere week or 2 weeks, down from 6-8 weeks earlier. Also, I get these colds for less than half the number of times each season than before – these days it’s zero or one time during an entire winter, it earlier used to be at least thrice a year. And no, my sudden improvement did not happen because of something else I did at the same time like taking new supplements for my immunity. This improvement is exclusively since I started taking flu shots.


To each her own, so if you’re still very much against flu vaccines, then by all means, please ignore this advice, although I can’t deny my own personal experience and the great results I’ve gotten.


Allopathic Medicines


I keep them to a minimum and only to control the symptoms, which is all they can do, especially during the initial days of the infection. If you didn’t know antibiotics only work against bacteria and not so well against viruses or at least most types of viruses causing colds and flu. Whereas, oil of oregano or the above natural remedies do work against all microbes even though they are milder than prescribed antibiotics. So I recommend allopathic medicines for really severe cases and the onset of colds and the flu. And I don’t recommend taking other remedies and medication when you’re on a strong dose of allopathic medication. It’s too much to manage. One effective method, if you must use allopathic medication, is to use them for the first few days and then switch to other natural remedies.


I rarely take those syrups or medicines that make me drowsy since I’ve not had a lot of trouble sleeping or taking rest when affected by a cold.


Cough Suppressants or Cough Drops


Halls cough drops were the only ones that used to work for me if I had to be at meetings and talk a lot and not cough in between. But recently I switched to Ricola glacier mint maximum strength drops that work even better than halls. And they’re supposed to be herbal, manufactured in Switzerland – quite an amazing find for me.


Another recent amazing find has been cocoa powder or raw cacao powder or dark chocolate with more than 70% cacao. Apparently, it has a chemical called theobromine that helps fight colds and even preventing the cough reflex. When I tried it, it seemed to really aid the recovery from coughing in a matter of 2 days. Since this has a number of other health benefits and is known as a superfood, I highly recommend it. My favorite method of taking it is my cup of black coffee mixed in with a spoon of organic cacao powder.


General Precautions for Not Catching A Cold


In general, I’ve learned not to subject the body to too many extremes or stress. Good sleep is vital, as always. Extremes happen when we go out in the hot sun and treat ourselves to ice cream or a lot of ice. The body struggles to cope and adapt to such a rapid range of temperatures it has to handle. Same with having a very hot shower and immediately going out in the freezing cold during winters.


Keeping the Sahasrara chakra or your head exposed in winter without headgear is not recommended, it’s best to cover the head and also the ears from the cold air to prevent sinus related problems. Covering your feet with socks through winter to prevent the cold from entering through the feet is really effective in preventing sinus related problems.


I try and avoid having yogurt after sunset as the body struggles to adapt and also avoid having cold food after sunset in winter.


I’ve seen a lot of people taking ice even with a bad cold or a severe cough, I can’t for the life of me imagine how or why they do it, I’d end up with a fit of coughing if I did so.


Lastly, sugar inhibits your recovery from colds and the flu because the micro-organisms thrive more when you consume sugar. So, other than honey, best to avoid sugar altogether for the duration you’re sick.