In case you haven't noticed, this season's cold & flu season is a doozy.
People seem to be dropping like flies. Symptoms are strong and debilitating.
You would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't at least know of someone currently suffering.
So what are some things you can do to stay well? Since I am asked this daily I thought I would share some simple strategies.
First off - don't panic.
Keeping your immune system strong & well functioning is not necessarily difficult, but it does take some added thought, involves implementing some good habits and having a few things on hand.
I like to think of prevention as putting up the storm windows! Reinforcing the fort! Battening down the hatches! You get my drift.
It basically means focusing on strengthening your body so pathogens you may come in contact with can effectively be dealt with by your innate immune system.
Here are a couple of simple suggestions for potentially PREVENTING cold & flu. I also mention some suggestions to implement that might very well lessen the severity and help you beat it quicker if you do get sick.
1. Implement healthy winter hygiene habits. These include the things we generally know but don't necessarily do or take seriously. They are the foundation to keeping our immune system strong. Without these healthy habits you are weakening your fort. (your strong beautiful body). These foundational habits include:
Sleep. Focus on nightly 7-hours (at least) solid, consistent restorative sleep.
Whole foods diet. (organic if possible) Focus on eating warm, nutrient dense foods like soups & stews free from processed foods and sugar. (save the ice cream for that special treat in summer!)
Regular hand washing but not with antibacterial soap. These are known to strip your hands of good-fighting bacteria and can actually leave you more susceptible.
Probiotics! Miso soup & fermented vegetables are great food sources. More than 70% of your immune system resides in your gut. You are what you eat is directly connected to the health of your immune system!
Changing your toothbrush regularly.
2. Add daily Immune Supporting Herbs. Two of my very favorite herbs to add for this time of year are:
Garlic - nicknamed "As good as 10-mothers" because of it's panacea of health benefits. It is energetically hot & spicy and known to be antibacterial & antimicrobial (among many other things) with an affinity for the lungs and digestive system - so it helps with chest crud or if you are susceptible for respiratory mucus. My favorite way to take it during cold & flu season is finely chopped, covered with honey and gulped down (don't chew). Add it raw to your cooked vegetables, rice dishes - anything you cook with. Eat it often & in its uncooked state as it helps more with the immune system when eaten raw. 1-2 cloves/daily.
Elderberry - my very favorite herb for this time of year. This delicious tasting berry is energetically cool & spicy and has an affinity for the Lungs & Liver. It is known to be fantastically antiviral (among many other things) and has a long history of use in North America & Europe. It can easily be found in grocery & health food stores by the name of Sambucol. It is also a very easy (and less expensive) honey to make at home - maybe for a future blog! Recommend dosage is 1-2 tsps daily as prevention.
*Honey is not recommended for infants under 2 years old
At the very FIRST sign of feeling unwell - kick things in to high gear.
Dosage and consistency can make all the difference. The important thing to note is that you want these things ON HAND for just in case you might need them. A few suggestions are:
1. Oscillococcinum by Boiron. This homeopathic remedy can be a very effective remedy against cold & flu if taken right away. Simply let the vial of small pills dissolve under your tongue. Do not eat anything or brush teeth for 15 minutes on either side of taking this remedy.
Recommended dosage is every 6-hours for 3 days.
2. Echinacea. This herb has been shown to have strong antiviral, antibacterial & immunomodulating properties. It helps boost your immune system in to high gear and help ward off invading pathogens. The recommended adult dosage is 60 ml of tincture (generally 2-3 dropperfuls) added to a little bit of water taken every 2-3 hours.
A chewable option is Esperitox (super-echinacea) by Enzymatic Therapy. Recommended adult dosage is 6-capsules 3 times/day.
3. Garlic. Great for preventative but also good if you do get ill. It helps thin mucus & expel phlegm from the lungs among other things. Keep in mind that since garlic is 'hot' it might not be a good choice for 'hot' conditions such as fevers. There are other cooling herb choices better for that such as a classic blend of Peppermint, Elder Flower & Yarrow tea.
4. Keep taking your elderberry syrup! - but increase your dosage to 1 tsp every two hours.
5. Keep your diet light, soupy (chicken soup really is good medicine) as well as dairy, sugar and orange juice free - all of which have been shown to dampen your immune system and increase mucus production.
6.Sip on the plethora of herbal teas that are easily found at the grocery store to help lessen your symptoms - Traditional Medicinals Gypsy Cold Care and Throat Coat are two of my favorites that I always recommend having on hand. Use two bags to get more of a medicinally packed healing-supportive beverage.
7. Get in to bed and REST! Your body needs to conserve it's energy to get well.
These are just a few hopefully helpful and easy-to-implement suggestions on how to be well and stay well during this season of ever-changing temperatures & immune challenging times.
Pam Gould/Earth Mama