7 Top Tips For Avoiding Colds and Flu This Winter, Naturally
Cold and Flu season is at its peak right now. If you can’t afford to take sick days or get knocked down by viruses this year, here are some really simple practices you can implement to avoid a non-productive day in bed.
It may be stating the obvious to some of you, but following a few key steps to avoid the Cold and Flu plague, without the use of prescription medications, is easier than you think. And, in case it fails you, I also have some acute treatment suggestions to get you up and going in no time at all!
Obviously we want to avoid exposure! Clearly this is not always possible, so be sure to wash well with anti-bacterials after known contact with anyone who is already sick.
My best tip, in flu season, is to carry a herbal throat spray with you containing herbs like Echinacea, Myrrh, Sage, Calendula, Thyme, Clove and/or Oregano oil. The antimicrobial and antiviral effects of the herbs can deactivate the virus and stop it in its tracks. I am exposed to unwell people every day and this is my saviour!
1. Eating to build your core immune health
Eat clean and vary your food options in your daily diet. Include lots of the following foods as they each have their unique immune building properties:-
berries, citrus, Kiwi fruit, raw capsicum, mushrooms (in particular Reishi and Shitake), nuts, seeds, green and orange veg, fermented foods like sauerkraut, herbs and spices like ginger, garlic, turmeric, chilli, basil and oregano.
Avoid processed and packaged foods, white breads, bakery goods, refined carbohydrates and alcohol and sugar, as they will almost immediately deflate your immune system
Staying hydrated allows the body to flush unwanted toxins and by products from metabolism that can put unnecessary stress on the body. When the body becomes dehydrated, it may become more burdened and, in turn, this can affect our immune systems.
3. Stress less
This is sometimes harder said than done. If stress is inevitable for you, and fast-paced life can’t be avoided, then I recommend you take some herbs to adapt your body to physically cope better with higher demands. Whether you’re experiencing physical or emotional stress, adaptogen herbs can help immensely. Liquid herbs can be specifically formulated to your needs and work exceptionally well, but there are also some great tableted formulas available. Make sure you include three or more of the following herbs taken twice daily… Astragalus, Echinacea, Withania, Siberian Ginseng, Rhodiola, Holy Basil, Schisandra and/or Reishi. These herbs not only improve coping mechanisms, they also have the positive side effect of keeping the immune system stronger.
4. Sleep more
Sleep more. It’s normal to want to retire earlier in winter, so listen to your body and take yourself to bed an hour or two earlier to ensure you get a restful night’s sleep to fully rejuvenate and recharge.
5. Get sunshine
Damp enclosed spaces that harvest moulds, germs and bacteria are best avoided. Get out in the fresh air and sunshine daily. We are lucky to have so many more sunny days in Queensland than in other States, so it is easier to seek the sun. Whether or not it’s mind over matter, sitting in the sun, to me, almost feels like it’s killing germs!
We get Vitamin D from the sun which is critical for our innate immune system. In order to absorb Vitamin D efficiently, it’s best to be out in the sun between 10am and 2pm. Up to 20 minutes is adequate with some skin exposed (sunscreen will, of course, reduce the chances of absorption). As it takes time to absorb Vitamin D through our skin, avoiding bathing for at least an hour after sun exposure is best.
6 . Prevention
Vitamins & Minerals – The most crucial core nutrients required for innate immunity are Zinc, Vitamins C and D and bioflavonoids. If you feel your diet has been poor, I would suggest a top up of a good Zinc and Vitamin C formula during winter. Zinc is a common deficiency in Australians, mostly due to our soils being very zinc depleted.
Herbal Medicine – As prevention is always best, I would advise a good preventative immune building herbal formula taken throughout winter. This could contain herbs such as Astragalus, Reishi, Shitake, Maitake, Licorice, Echinacea, Cats Claw or Siberian Ginseng. St John’s Wort and Qing Hao are also great for those post viral syndromes that pop up again and again for some people.
Essential Oils – Pure oils are a great way to guard your environment. They can also be used in the treatment of colds and flus too, as pretty much all essential oils are anti-bacterial or antiseptic so there’s loads of choice.
Use oils in a diffuser in your home or children’s room, dilute in a base oil like coconut, apricot kernel or almond oil and use as a rub. A few drops on a tissue or pillow, as an inhalant, is great too. Some of the most powerful oils to use for infection are Clove, Anise, Oregano, Myrrh, Frankincense, Lemongrass, Sage, Thyme and Peppermint.
7. Treat with the big guns!
If you’ve gotten this far down the list then you have probably failed to avoid the dreaded lurgie, despite all attempts.
Herbs, in my opinion, are best for fighting infection, where I would focus more on antivirals used in acute dosing. Liquid herbs are by far the best option to treat as they tend to hit those viruses that attach to the back of the throat.
We have herbs to treat enveloped and non-enveloped viruses, bacteria and all kinds of protozoa. Due to their anti-inflammatory effects, they also make us feel better while they are hard at work attacking the invader!
Be sure to include a combination of the following… Andrographis, Echinacea, Licorice, Cats Claw, Thyme, Ginger, Qin Hao, Nigella, Cayenne and Poke Root. For dry and or chesty coughs, add Mullein, Licorice, Elecampane, Ivy Leaf, Grindelia and Aniseed, to name a few. Don’t forget the sooner the better! Dose frequently, as herbs work differently to pharmaceutical drugs.
Viruses are replicating continually as they aim to take over the cell, so you will need to go in fighting. Some extra Vitamin C in between herb doses, up to 2gms three to four times daily to reach bowel tolerance, will improve your chances.
If you can’t access a herbal dispensary in a hurry, home remedies are great too! Fresh lemon, ginger tea, manuka honey, apple cider vinegar, crushed garlic and chilli or all of the above, if you dare! Just simply crush, grate and add to some warm water and shake in a jar. Ready to serve!
Finally come in and see me to get some liquid herbs or tincture at an Acute Naturopathic consult lasting only 20 minutes.