There are a number of interesting theories why colds and flus are more common in the winter: viruses travel more easily in cold dry air, people are indoors more with others, closed windows and less fresh air, and lack of sunlight exposure affecting Vitamin D status which supports immunity. Often antibiotics are prescribed which do not kill the viral infection, only a possible secondary bacterial infection and are often taken when they have no effect but they can have a negative impact on your gut health. It has now been shown it may take up to 6-12 months to reestablish a healthy gut post antibiotic treatment, so why not try some natural solutions?
Factors that can increase your likelihood of experiencing a cold or a flu are:
- Stress: When we stress out, our immune system is suppressed as this is not considered a vital system for initial flight or fight response.
- Lack of sleep: When we are lacking good quality sleep, our immune system cells are not being adequately regenerated and can become old and lifeless.
- Too many sugary processed foods: Our bodies see processed foods as a type of stressor; they mostly provide no nutrition and only create havoc with our blood sugar and stimulate inflammation which can knock over our infectious immunity.
- Lack of nutrients: When we are lacking nutrients that are supportive of a strong immune system, colds are more common.
- Immuno-compromised: This can be due to autoimmune disease, chronic infections and cancer.
Here are some of my personal favorites that can help fight a cold and a flu:
Echinacea, Andrographis, St John’s Wort and Elderberry are my go-to’s in liquid form in practice and for my family. It’s imperative to make sure they are high quality herbs. These can be taken as liquid, tablets, capsules and/or herbal teas. How to tell if your Echinacea is a good one? It should tingle on your tongue quite a bit. This ensures that the active compounds are in high amounts.
These herbs are antiviral specially while also providing antibacterial and antiparasitic effects. These herbs stimulate your immune system, and act as topical antiseptics.
Vitamin C Enriched Juices
Vitamin C is required for the extra formation of immune cells that are needed during an acute infection. By providing the body with enough vitamin C you can shorten the duration and severity of the infection and if caught early enough can cease the infection from getting a hold on you entirely. Drink at regular intervals throughout the day to gain the best effect.
Honey, Ginger & Lemon Tea
This is my all-time favorite for a sore throat and to support a cough. The honey soothes while also acting as a natural antiseptic particularly if you using raw or Manuka honey, the lemon provides vitamin C and other anti-inflammatory nutrients while the ginger soothes and also acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-infective. So drink up! Try this Anti-Inflammatory Concoction for an even bigger boost.
This is an age-old remedy and works very effectively. Crush 1 garlic clove into some oil or honey to reduce the acidity which will stop it from burning your mouth and spoon it into the mouth. Do this 1-2 times daily as soon as you start to feel a cold come on.
Found to possess virus-fighting, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, medicinal mushrooms also contain polysaccharides that may help stimulate the immune system. Consume turkey tail, shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms in soups, broths and in stir-fries or they can be taken in capsule form.
Drink Herbal Teas
Other herbal teas such as chamomile, liquorice and peppermint soothe the stomach, throat and chest. Often herbal medicine possess a reflex reaction that soothes one system which in turns soothes another body system. If we are swallowing mucus it can help to provide some digestive support.
Apple Cider Vinegar
This is a wonderful sore throat gargle as well as acting as a natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Mix in ¼ cup of ACV with 1 cup of warm water and gargle and spit out until you have finished the cup every few hours. Then consume a fresh glass of warm water with 1 tablespoon of ACV to drink.
Burning Essential Oils
These act as a natural vaporized antiseptic. These can be burned using an oil burner, dripped into a shower or into a bath, sprayed in a spritzer diluted with water or dropped into a tissue. Another option that is very effective is using 1 drop of oil including lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus into a skin cream and rub into the back and chest. If you are unsure of a topical reaction to any new oil, do a patch test on your wrist first.
Drinking 100% coconut water, broths and other naturally high-electrolyte beverages to help to reduce those aches and pains and supports improved energy production.
Here are some great electrolyte rich beverages to try:
Glowing Orange & Red Electrolyte Juice
Workout to the Beet Juice
Energize Your Workout with this Heartbreak Hill Juice
How to Make Vegetable Stock Concentrate
Soak and relax in warm suds but make sure you don’t let the bath get too cold. Here’s my favorite combination in the tub:
1 cup of Epsom Salts (this will reduce muscle aches and pains)
3 drops of Tea Tree
3 drops of Lavender
3 drops of Peppermint oil
3 drops of eucalyptus oil