Cold, Flu, & these things called Lymph Nodes

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It finally happened, you know the dreaded moment, my throat started to feel scratchy, a slight couch was developing, and the dull pain in my body was telling me to lay down.

To my delight, I got a Facetime call from my niece and nephew before bed. “Good news” my nephew announced with his brightly colored pull up tushy in full view of the camera, “I all done with diapers!” We celebrated my little buddy’s news of growing up and saying goodbye to diapers only to hear in the next moment that his sister had just a fever brewing.

After weeks of watching so many students and teachers out sick for a minimum of 3 days with the flu, most getting hit for more like 5 to 7 days, I had hoped the sickness had skipped my family. Sure enough, in the middle of the night I woke up with my own fever, aches, and a nagging cough. I called in sick to work, determined to save everyone from my germs, and to kick this flu quickly.

That first day I just stayed in bed, slept most of the day, letting my fever burning off all the nasty in my body. I don’t tend to take medicine to reduce fever. I check it regularly making sure it doesn’t spike higher than 103 degrees fahrenheit, I drink lots of fluids – especially water, and I sleep as much as possible. Certainly this does not feel good, but the short term misery has a big pay off. The fever has a job to do. I let is burn off the sickness knowing I will be well soon.

The next day my fever was gone, but I was still home from work knowing I needed to be fever free for another 24 hours, being sure not to infect other people. I was still week and had full body pain. Laying in bed, I began feeling my lymph nodes around my neck and face. As with any cold or flu they were swollen, trying to lock in the infection. These amazing little nodes were trying to do their job but it was time to help them along.

I have such awe and gratitude towards the human body and it’s systems, each with a special job to do. It has me more than convinced there is a responsibility in this, to respect the body and make healthy choices. If you take care of your body, then your body will in turn take care of you. Knowing the function of the lymphatic system, I recognize that all those nasties can get trapped in the lymph nodes without draining properly into the kidneys and liver. It is different than the circulatory system that functions from the heart pumping. Muscle movement is key in propelling the lymph nodes to circulate and detox those trapped germs. This is so tricky when you are sick with no energy and feel such a need to stay in bed. To save energy, but help my nodes along, I used lymphatic massage.

In my resources below I will share plenty of tutorial links explaining the proper ways to go about lymphatic massage. As always I am not an expert. Your doctors opinion is far more important than mine, but you might also find value in my story.

Draining Lymph Nodes

To activate my nodes and get things moving I begin with a super light massage. The areas are tender, so it won’t be comfortable, but I also don’t want to push so hard it becomes painful. I begin at my collar bone, using my index and middle finger on both hands, rubbing in almost a circular motion, similar to a C or J shape. This action last for about 3 to 5 seconds, then I do the same thing moving up the sides and back of my neck to the base of the skull. From there I move to those hidden pockets where my ears and jaw connect. Next I move under the jaw and down the front of my throat.

If I can handle it, some light stretching or yoga poses can be really helpful when I’m activating the lymphatic system. While I would not drain my energy to do this, it can be helpful when my fever is past and I’m starting to come around. Seated Forward Fold and Frog pose are my favorites to stretch my muscles and spur on my lymph nodes. Yoga Journal has an article with simple poses to aid in recovery.

After the message and/or stretching, Hydrate and flush out the crud. Once I get my lymphatic system moving, I know I need to help my liver and kidneys flush it all out. I drink at least 2 full glasses of water right after the massage or yoga and keep the liquids coming afterwards. I have written before in my post about fighting cravings how important water and herbal tea can be in keeping you hydrated. When I am trying to detox during the flu, this is more important than ever. I drink easily a half gallon a day, if not closer to a full gallon of water.

Nurshing foods play a big part in healing. This can be tricky when your appetite is struggling or your throat is sore. If my body can only handle liquids I tend to drink bone broth. My bone broth recipe is far better than store bought in terms of flavor and vitamins. It also warms me up and is gentle enough on my stomach in the beginning stages of sickness. When my stomach can handle more than just broth, I pull out a jar of chicken sweet potato kale soup. This is one of my most popular recipes because the taste is incredible, but the soup also makes people feel powerful and restored. Green juice can also be great for hydration and detox. You can try my green juice recipe if you have a juicer, but Kroger also carries the Suja brand. I trust this brand because it is cold pressed and uses organic produce. If you are lucky enough to live close to a health food store, you can buy fresh juice to help you detox. They always have green juice options. Lemon, carrot, and ginger can also be a powerful detox recipe.

After two days of really caring for myself, I found myself back at work, still tired with a cough, but on the mend. While the goal is always to miss the germs completely, I’m thankful to have plenty of tricks up my sleeve to fight off the germs and get back to my full and beautiful life.

Please know this is just the story of my experience. While I believe in natural health choices, I am not a medical doctor. Find a doctor you trust, and be sure to follow their advice for your own medical care.

Leave a comment or tag us on social media if you found this helpful. As always we’d love to hear about your experiences and we wish you good health.


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