Spring Break recovery: how to fight colds naturally (and avoid antibiotics!)

Updated: Jan 14, 2020

It’s post Cabo season, baby!

Welcome back to reality, my wild spring breaker friends.

If you have made it this far without catching somethin’ – golf clap to you, Glen Coco. You have the crème de le crème of immune systems. If Cabo didn't do it to you, I truly don't know what will.

As for the rest of us, we fight onward in our trek towards whole health. Spring break is over and our bods are no longer in fight or flight, boot n' rally mode; sickness is creeping in.

Bring on the herbs and oils.

Bring on the Vitamin C.

Dose me in Vicks.

Drown me in Young Living Thieves. (Too much?)

The past four weeks I was fighting off and on this cold that just wouldn't give up. It was fully and profusely dedicated to taking me down before spring break. Talk about harshing my vibe… This girl was very much NOT Spring Break ready, and I’m afraid to say, the bug may have won the battle. It got even so bad as to say that I was ACTUALLY considering going on antibiotics.


But of course, I did everything in my power to fight the urge to pop those horse-sized, feel-better-in-no-time, wreck-your-entire-gut-microbiome pills and fight this thing the old fashioned way, the way I preach: NATURALLY. Nearly four years strong without antibiotics – we’re not going back now, baby, no no! It may be the last few months of my senior year of college, but I stand by antibiotics being an absolute LAST RESORT.

So, I thought this would be a great opportunity to share with you all my go-to herbs and treatments for whenever a cold or a serious illness comes my way. My hope is that you all too might feel empowered to say no to the tempting convenience of antibiotics and choose with confidence what will serve your body in the long run. It’s time to #takebackourhealth.

It’s pretty simple. This cold got me good. My body was on battle grounds. It was good bacteria vs. bad. Hydration vs. exhaustion - OFFENSE VS. DEFENSE. So, to my competitive, sports minded people: what does a good coach do when he knows his team is up against a pretty daunting offensive line? He changes strategy, puts his biggest hitters up front and believes in his team. (Oh yeah, we’re getting real metaphorical on this one.) Let’s run it.

1) Change your strategy.

Whenever I’m battling a cold, the first thing I do is listen. I don’t try to push through my symptoms. I don’t try to change the way I feel to match my never ending, fast-paced, LA student lifestyle; I change my lifestyle to meet my body where its at. This is also known as listening to my body. When I’m sick, guess what? I call in sick. *gasp* I cancel on my friend for that coffee date I had planned, heat myself up some tea and watch a movie and sleep. Believe it or not, my friends are typically more thankful I’m prioritizing both mine and their health rather than boot n rallying through it and risking contamination. Don’t underestimate this step; it takes major strength to say no to FOMO and yes to rest.

2) Sleep your booty off!

Yes, sleep! Sleep for hours on end. Your body needs rest, but don’t sleep so much that you forget to eat and drink, which leads us to...

3) Hydrate and eat clean.

Drink water like you just finished a marathon and it's your damn job… Or just drink as though you’re sick. That’ll do the trick just as well.

Some tips I’ve found helpful.

Numero uno: use a straw. Obviiiii a metal or glass straw because we are all about saving las tortugas here, people… But truthfully, I find I’m able to drink more liquid in less time with more comfort if I drink through a straw. Mind trick? Maybe, but we'll take it.

Numero dos: SPICE that ish UP. Squeeze in a lemon. Squeeze in a lime. Shoot - squeeze in a grapefruit; I don't care. Just get your body hydrated. Or, even better, add a dash of your fava flav electrolyte beverage so you get some minerals flowing in you too. One of my favorites is Peak Hydrate. No sugar, no calories, stevia sweetened, and tastes like Capri Sun, I swear it will bring you right back to halftime at your AYSO soccer games or pitching lemon stands and selling Crystal Light lemonade for $1 a cup… But this time, NO SUGAR… Yeah ok thanks I’ll take 50 cases please.

Likewise, eat a clean diet. Now more than ever, try to stay away from over processed foods and sugary drinks. Your body is already on overdrive trying to fight this cold. Putting extra stress on it through excess sugar is not #goodforthecause.

Okay – I’m not an idiot. I know you all know these things already. Rest, sleep, hydrate. This is nothing new, Mom!

Yeah, I know. But you’d be surprised how many people push through their cold and it ends up lasting two weeks rather than two days because they never gave their body the opportunity to just rest. (Hoping this stirs up some conviction here or there)... Oops, did I just say that?

Moving on – back to our football metaphor. Other than changing strategy, how can we treat colds naturally, not just reactively, but proactively with some strong upfront hitters? Well, first of all, I’m legally obliged to say that I am not a doctor and by sharing this information, I am not recommending or prescribing anything to my readers. I encourage you to talk to your healthcare practitioner about what some good steps would be for you given your unique body and your current medications. However, I have found that these supplements and vitamins are extremely helpful for me and the average person who does not have prescription medications nor preexisting conditions…

~legal rant over~ thx for staying with me. Here we go.

My go to heavy hitters for front line defense.


No, not talking about the white stuff Lobster Larry wears on his nose. I mean ZINC. In addition to shortening the duration of a cold, Zinc has powerful preventative effects in protecting the body from infection. This is the main ingredient in major preventative products you’re probably familiar with – products like Zicam, Airborne, etc. While these products are great – for anyone with sugar sensitivities like yours truly, capsuled pure Zinc can be found at any Whole Foods or your local natural market. Whenever I travel, I make sure I take a zinc supplement once a day to protect my body from airborne pathogens. (Better than chugging and burning your eyes and sinuses with Airborne fizzling water too, in my humble op…)

Liposomal Vitamin C.

This ain’t your average VC… This is the big leagues. Found in - most understandably stated, goo form – this version of vitamin C is comprised of liposomes, which, in contrast to oral capsules, are absorbed directly into the body’s cells and are not destroyed by digestive enzymes nor oxidation in the process. This form basically shits on capsules in every realm, and even – get this – is clinically proven to be more effective than Vitamin C IV’s. Yeah. It’s that strong. In fact, in a clinical study, the Journal of Nutrition and Environmental Medicine found that liposomal vitamin C produces nearly DOUBLE the serum levels as that of oral ingestion. So ditch that Emergen-C (which's first ingredient is fructose and is loaded with artificial coloring and preservatives) and get yourself some liposomal vitamin C… Please? For me?


One of my favorite herbs of all time is Echinacea. Maybe because you can pop a 400mg capsule up to 7x a day, it plays a trick on your mind that you are helping your body probably WAY more than you actually are… #mindovermatter? Whatever, we’ll take what we can get, once again. This herb helps to increase the number of white blood cells: the main power source in your body’s front line of defense. In this same way, it helps to shorten the duration of a cold by improving your natural immune response. Heyyyoooo it's like encapsulated gold. (See now why it's one of my favs?)

OnGuard or Thieves.

Okay I know there’s SO much Instagram ~oil drama~ regarding picking YoungLiving vs. doTERRA essential oils. To be perfectly honest, I’m an avid user of BOTH and it's only because I have yet to do my research on their differences. Maybe one day I'll focus on that, but for now, I know they're both incredibly high quality, reliable and WORK. So there ya have it. Maybe I won't pick a side… Can’t we just all be friends?

ANYWAY - whenever I’m fighting back a cold, I use a few drops of doTERRA’s OnGuard in my tea for ingestion and diffuse Young Living’s Thieves for inhalation. These two blends are both SO powerful, each with a mix of clove bud, cinnamon bark, wild orange peel or lemon peel, rosemary extract, and eucalyptus leaf. They fight infection like it's nobody's business - so get that ish in your tea and flowin’ through your air because it's gonna be your new BFF.

Fun side story about YL Thieves: ever curious as to why it’s called Thieves? The story goes: back in Middle Ages during the Bubonic Plague, some of the only people who consistently fought contamination and survived this impending death were grave robbers. One of the kings in Europe, in desperate search for protection for himself and his people, called these men into questioning.

Perplexed, he asked, “How is it that you are not getting sick? I demand an answer!”

The grave robbers, fearful of the King, could not give an answer. Just as baffled as the king himself, they responded that indeed, they weren’t doing anything out of ordinary to protect themselves from the plague.

Come to find out, because these thieves had spent so much time around corpses as they stole the gold and goods from the tombs every night, the powerful and pungent oils in which the dead had been embalmed were protecting these men from disease. These are the same oils we still use today: extracts from clove, cinnamon bark, orange, rosemary, and eucalyptus. Hence, Young Living named their defense blend “Thieves”…

Got chills? Yeah. Me too.

We’re calling for backup.

Okay – but what if your shoulda been two-day cold turned into some sort of infection? Bummer. You tried your hardest to treat naturally but here we are, still in bed. Day 48 No hope in sight. You’ve already binged New Girl, you're on season 6 and freaking out as to where you might turn next. AKA, we’re down 6 points and it’s the last 30 seconds of the game.

Antibiotics are starting to sound really good right about now…

NO. MY FRIENDS, WE MUST FIGHT THE URGE. It’s clear that there’s some pathogenic bacteria trying to make its home in the body. Time to kick it up a notch. Time to bring out REINFORCEMENTS. WE GOIN’ IN DEEP Y’ALL.

Time to move this thing into hyper mode and introducing antimicrobial herbs. My trusted broad spectrum?

Oil of Oregano.

This age old herb is considered one of the most powerful herbs when battling infection. Its compounds carvacrol and tymol are responsible for its impressive antimicrobial and anti fungal properties (and unique stench). In addition to being a powerful antioxidant and lowering cholesterol, oregano oil's best feature in my book? It's a first draft pick at killing pathogenic bacteria without harming good bacteria to the same capacity as that of pharmaceutical antibiotics. In fact, oregano oil has been proven to be impressively successful in parasite cleansing and even is strong enough to kill E. Coli bacteria without causing harm to stomach lining. This is the A team of herbal antibiotics. Red rover red rover – send oregano oil over.

(Hope that brought you back to 3rd grade.)

Similar to pharmaceutical antibiotics, oregano oil is insanely powerful. I try to use oregano oil sparingly because while it is relatively safer than Western antibiotics – it still has the power to kill a good amount of good bacteria in the gut which is something we want to avoid as much as possible. For the same reasons, it’s important to only use oregano oil for 2-3 weeks at a time. Its strength definitely makes it a strictly short-term use herb. Lastly, ya gotta prioritize getting a good probiotic in the mix and be strategic with when you take it as to avoid the antibiotic herb killing all that good good you’re trying to take to nourish your tummy… (i.e. if you take oregano oil mid morning, take the probiotic at least a few hours in between!).

Curious what happened to my 4 weeks too long cold? Day 1 into oregano oil, my symptoms lightened up. Day 3 hit, and my infection was almost completely gone. Day 5 - good as new. Similar to pharmaceutical antibiotics, I stayed on this herb for 7-10 days to ensure that the bacteria was fully dead and had no chance of coming back to haunt me. Friendly reminder that just because something is herbal does not mean it is not potent nor extremely powerful. In other words, don't discredit the healing properties of plants, but don't pop them silly without checking for interactions, dosage, and recommended length of use. ;)

Don't know where to find reliable herbs and supplements? I love and trust with my whole heart these brands:

-Gaia Herbs

-Pure Encapsulations

-Thorne Research

-Klaire Labs


-Designs for Health

-Vital Nutrients


First few days you’re sick: change your lifestyle, rest, hydrate, sleep, eat clean. Pop zinc, liposomal vitamin C, Echinacea and defensive essential oils like it’s your job.

Still battling a week or so in? Mucus turning green or moving into your lungs? Talk to your healthcare provider about introducing oregano oil before turning to antibiotics.

Stay healthy, my friends.

Happy healing.

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