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Head. Cold.

I’m sick! How embarrassing.* Seriously. As someone who works in HEALTH, being sick seems … inappropriate. Particularly after crowing about my vitality and wellbeing to my family and friends. Let that be a lesson on the vulgarity of boasting! It also doesn’t help that I have been surrounded by the ill and infected over the past few weeks, with people sneezing in my face on more than one occasion.

Subsequently, I’m quarantined at home for a day or two – for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I don’t wish to inflict my lurgy on others. Secondly, rest is the best remedy. THE BEST. Although I strongly recommend herbal and nutritional immune support while sick, without adequate rest it will take much longer to recover. Honestly, convalescence is key.

Apart from lurking around the house in soft pants, I’ve also been doing the following:

  • Sitting outside in this glorious ‘winter’ sunshine we’ve been having in Sydney – letting the warmth sink right into my bones and topping up my Vitamin D levels in the process
  • Dosing up on a truly foul-tasting, but very effective, herbal tonic that will help to boost my immune system and blast away any persistent infection
  • Having regular spoonfuls of the winter ‘go to’: garlic oxymel
  • Taking a high dose of Zinc (in combo with Vitamin C) to, again, give my immune system an extra boost
  • Eating simply, keeping my fluids up, and making bright and pungent teas using such wonderful ingredients as those pictured below

Turmeric. Lemon. Ginger.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to blow my nose… in the sunshine.


* After I posted this, Amanda – who I work with at Uclinic – made the valid point that it’s not embarrassing to be sick. In fact, it’s human and normal. True. Thanks for the reminder Amanda!

Stay away, Sicko.

It’s that time of year: snot-ridden, cough-laden cold and flu season.

As a result, do you know what I’m seeing a lot of? Sick people. In the clinic, yes, that’s to be expected. But everywhere else too… at the shops, on public transport, in offices and schools, at the movies… they’re everywhere! Everywhere, that is, except where they should be, which is at home convalescing.

My friends, when you are sick, STAY AT HOME*. You will not get better – or it will take you much longer to do so – if you do not allow yourself the time to heal. Seriously, no heroics necessary. You are not a hero if you come to work when you’re ill and infectious. You are annoying and inconsiderate. When it comes to contagion, sharing is most certainly not caring.

Ideally, you are practicing preventative health – eat well, drink fluids, get sunshine, move regularly, sleep enough, etc. Even better if you can take things to boost your immune function when you know you’re ‘at risk’ of picking something up. For example, I work in a busy medical clinic where I am constantly exposed to people with all sorts of infectious (and non-infectious) conditions, particularly at this time of year. Apart from eating well and upping my intake of immune boosting foods, I also take a regular dose of zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D (my levels tend to low) plus a herbal immune tonic. Sometimes, however, I catch a bug. It happens to all of us. And when I do? I choose not to inflict it on my co-commuters, colleagues and – importantly for me – patients. I rest, I recover quickly and I return to work. From my observation of of the population, however, it seems that this is not usual practice.

I was in Melbourne for a course recently and there was a TV at the foot of the bed in my hotel room (don’t even get me started on the sleep hygiene issues with that). We don’t have a TV at home, so I’m mostly immune to television advertising… and I was amazed at the number of advertisements selling quick-fixes for colds and flus. Pop a pill to mask symptoms of illness and, to borrow a catch phrase, soldier on. Well, I call bullsh*t! Why soldier on? To prove you’re tough, that you’re really committed to your job? So you can deliver a sub-par quality of work because your head is clogged and energy in your boots? Or is it so you can spread the germs around? Give me a break.

Listen, if you are starting to get a tickle in your throat and your head is heavy or nose blocked… talk to someone like me about how to intervene before you’re properly ill. And if you are properly ill, by all means come and see me in my place of work, but please stay away from your own.

*steps off soap box*


* A visit to your naturopath / GP / preferred practitioner is the exception – this is an outing to nurture you health that should also, hopefully, be brief so you can get straight back to bed.

Recipe: garlic oxymel

The change to Autumn here in Sydney is bringing with it a raft of coughs and sniffles, colds and flus. What better time to whip up your very own garlic oxymel (something like a home brew cough and cold mix).

In the recent Kitchen Remedies workshop, one of the home remedies we discussed (and tasted) was this very mixture. It’s damn easy to make, works a treat, keeps well and is an excellent remedy to have on hand (particularly during change of season).caraway, fennel & garlic

What do I need?

  • 1 garlic bulb (10-12 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 100ml apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey (raw, if you can get it)

How do I put it together?

  1. Gently heat the seeds in vinegar, without boiling. Remove from heat after several minutes.
  2. Strain this mix, then add honey and warm to combine.
  3. Peel and crush garlic, add to honey/vinegar mix and warm for another 1-2 mins. Pour into a glass jar. The garlic can be kept in the mix or strained as desired (I keep about half of it in there to steep as the mix ‘ages’).

How do I take it?

1-2 teaspoons ‘as needed’ is what’s usually recommended, but when you’re really snotty, take as often as you can manage – the more the better! Admittedly, this is quite strong-tasting (depending on your palette), but it’s just so good. Get into it!

This will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months. The quantities given above only make a small amount, so you can double, triple or quadruple the recipe to make a bigger batch. I have also been known to use this as a salad dressing sometimes, food as medicine eh?

oxymel pic

Do you have a favourite home health tip?

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