By: Sarah Grace Powers – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
If a cold or flu virus is getting you down this winter, this series of tips is for you!
There are plenty of natural remedies—and lifestyle modifications—that will help you beat a cold that’s trying to get you before it takes hold. And if you stay on top of things even before you start feeling those symptoms, you’re much more likely to get through cold and flu season feeling healthy and energized.… even when you’re surrounded by people who are snuffling and sneezing into their hankies!
Below are a few more tips that will steer you through winter with a clear respiratory system (or… if you’re south of the equator help you avoid those horrible summer colds.)
1) Feed Your Immune System with a Healthy Diet
This might seem like a no-brainer—but it’s one that many of us have a hard time actually doing.
When life is runaway busy, it’s often so much easier to reach for junky snacks and processed food, rather than take the time to prepare fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. But when we choose the former, we’ll pay for it with a lowered resistance.
There’s quite the variety of contradictory information out there about what constitutes a ‘healthy’ diet, what foods help you stay fit and trim, etc. etc. As I’ve said before, my recommendation with this is to listen to your own body, because no one ‘diet’ is exactly right for everybody. We are each unique individuals with distinctive body chemistry that responds differently to different foods. Therefore I generally don’t like to tell people how and what to eat – at least not with specifics.
That said, very few food gurus will argue with the idea that upping your consumption of fresh vegetables will benefit your health. A good way to do this in winter is to eat lots of warming soups.
Many soup recipes are super easy to cook up in a short time, and yes, you do have to spend some of that time chopping. Believe me, you will thank yourself if you manage to avoid days of nose-blowing by spending an extra 10 minutes with the chef’s knife.
And, if you really hate chopping up veggies, nowadays you can find organic pre-cut ones at many grocery stores, and even Trader Joe’s.
Include enough protein in your eating regimen – whether it comes from sustainable meats or your favorite vegetarian sources – and make sure you are eating plenty of foods that are high in Vitamin C. You also need a moderate amount of healthy fats such as those found in nuts, avocados, olive oil or coconut oil. These monounsaturated fats work to build healthy cells and repair damaged tissue.
Perhaps most important is what NOT to eat. Or at least what you should eat less of.
Specifically this would include processed and highly sugared foods. If you can, cut way back on your consumption of all sugars (even fruit juice) when you are battling a cold, because it’s been proven when you eat even just a small amount of sugary food you may be suppressing your immune system for the next several hours.
2) Stock Your Herbal Medicine Chest
The right herb and supplement combination can often stop a cold dead in its tracks. But the trick is to start pounding your herbs right at the very first onset of symptoms. That’s why I never let myself run out of echinacea tincture. That is my personal first line of defense, and it’s worked for me way more times than I can count.
I actually use one of a few different echinacea combination tinctures – meaning the herb is combined in a formula with some other immune-building and infection-fighting herbs. Many experienced herbalists believe that echinacea works better in combination, and so I subscribe to that method. However – plenty of people take echinacea all by itself to nip a cold in the bud and experience great success.
My current favorite echinacea combo, that I hit as soon as I start feeling a scratchy throat or the least bit of stuffiness, is Kick Ass Immune by a company called Wish Garden Herbs. It contains additional herbs like yerba santa, yarrow, and others to stimulate the immune enhancing effects of the echinacea.
This tip requires two things: That you stay in tune enough with your own body to recognize when something is out of whack; and that you keep a bottle of echinacea (or some combo thereof) close at hand. Just as soon as you notice those first “something’s not quite right” symptoms (for me it’s a slight sore throat or earache, maybe a tickle in the throat, a headache or excessive tiredness) take about three dropperfulls of your tincture.
I like to add a dose of Vitamin C to this therapy. My favorite way is with a powdered version mixed in water, it could be Emergen-C, or any other version of powdered VC. Some folks swear by taking 500 milligrams of Vitamin C per hour when they feel a cold coming on. I’m not so scientific since I’m using the powdered stuff – but I do add it to my water and sip on it all day.
But don’t stop there. Keep up with the echinacea and Vitamin C until your symptoms subside. You could take a dropperfull or two every couple of hours
What if the symptoms don’t go away, or even get worse? You might be dealing with a particularly tenacious bug, or maybe you haven’t caught it soon enough. Keep up on this program anyway. It will still help shorten the duration of the cold.
2) Enjoy Some Elderberry
Another one to be sure you have on hand, this tasty berry has gotten lots of buzz in recent years for its ability to fight colds and flus naturally. The blue or black berries are rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants, as I mentioned here . Studies have shown that elderberry is not only anti-viral in its action but also anti-inflammatory.
A good way to use elderberry is as a syrup.You can take this daily to increase your resistance (about a teaspoon twice daily). Some companies also make a delicious elderberry glycerite– which is simply an herbal tincture where the herbs have been extracted into vegetable glycerin instead of alcohol.
Cold already got you? Elderberry syrup will still help to speed your recovery from either a cold or a flu. You’ll want to up the dose to 2 teaspoons of syrup 4 times a day (or one teaspoon of the tincture or glycerite four times a day).
If your cold or flu becomes entrenched, ideally you should supplement the echinacea, VC, and elderberry with some stronger herbs and supplements. I’ll share a few tips on which ones to choose in the next couple of articles.
And, of course, if you suspect you have a severe respiratory infection such as bronchitis, you should definitely see your medical provider.
More by Sarah:
Sarah Grace Powers is a certified life coach and EFT Practitioner. She is a ‘dream resuscitator’, helping clients rediscover their passions and reinvent themselves no matter what their age or circumstance. In her previous career she owned and operated an herb shop and has practiced holistic living for over three decades. Find her at sarahgracecoach.com