Your Cold and Flu Arsenal #4 with Four More Tips to Prevent and Treat
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By: Sarah Grace Powers – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
The common cold, along with it’s nasty relative the flu, can hit at any time of year. But, during the winter, when cold viruses run rampant through schools and workplaces, it can be particularly hard to escape.
Over the last few weeks I’ve shared here on Confluence Daily some tried and true tips to prevent getting sick in the first place along with some of my favorite natural remedies to prevent or shorten the duration of a cold once it hits.
In this 4th installment of Your Cold and Flu Arsenal, I’ll share a few more tips – because if you’ve already recovered from one winter cold, the last thing you want is to get hit with another one!
1) Eat some mushrooms
No, I’m not talking about microdosing, or any other way of taking psychedelics! Nor am I referring to the little white button mushrooms in the produce aisle of supermarkets— they’re okay, but their wellness benefits are limited. No, I’m talking about the amazing immune-building qualities of medicinal mushrooms.
A few types of mushrooms that are fairly easy to find – and that pack a load of healing into every dose – are maitake, shitake, chaga, turkey tail and reishi. The first two lend themselves readily to becoming ingredients in your supper, but the others have a less-than-delicious woody consistency, so are usually consumed as tea or in supplement form.
You can actually take all of these mushrooms in capsules or tinctures, a handy way to do it especially if you don’t much care for the taste of mushrooms.
The polysaccarides in these mushrooms work to beef up your immune system by encouraging the production of white blood cells that kill off germs and other infectious microscopic critters that might be circulating around in your system.
Healers in China have for centuries valued these mushrooms for their healing benefits and their reputation as longevity tonics.
Because different varieties of medicinal mushrooms contain different immune-enhancing compounds, it’s a good idea to eat an assortment to get the maximum benefits.
Shitake and maitake mushrooms can be purchased fresh or dried at most health food stores, while reishi is available in capsules or tablets, either by itself or in combination with other mushrooms and immune-enhancing herbs.
In my community a local guy is making some amazing mushroom combination tinctures. I currently have one that contains Reishi, Chaga and Turkey Tail. He swears that if he takes ½ dropper every half hour starting the instant he starts feeling symptoms he always fends off a cold or flu.
2) Watch those Stress levels
If you have a super-stressful job, or other issues that are raising your blood pressure, consider taking up yoga, trying out EFT Tapping, beginning a meditation practice, or partaking in some other stress-reducing therapy.
It’s another sad-but-true reality: In addition to making you feel like crap emotionally, excessive levels of stress stimulate your adrenals, which in turn suppresses white blood cell activity. So – the adrenaline might be flowing but the immune system is struggling.
The result? Your body is quick to succumb to that wandering flu bug looking to take up residence.
Herbally speaking, you can consume teas or tinctures made with anxiety relieving herbs such as skullcap, wild oat and kava kava. One of my favorites is Nervous System Tonic by Herb Pharm, which contains both the skullcap and the wild oat (Avena). I like it because it calms the nerves without making you tired.
But, nowadays, I rely almost completely on Tapping to reduce my stress and anxiety levels. But I do supplement with the herbs every now and again.
Exercise is also of course a well-documented stress reducer – just bear in mind the moderation advice in I gave in Part 2 of this series.
3) Ditch the Toxic Cleaners.
Huh? What’s that? You thought we were talking about building immunity against colds and flus? Well, it may seem off-topic, but the more you rid your life of unnecessary toxins, the stronger your immune system will be.
So – get rid of those stinky bathroom scrubs and floor cleaners and opt for the natural alternatives in the health food store – or make your own. Way easier to do that you might think – all you need are some simple household ingredients like baking soda and white vinegar and perhaps some essential oils. Numerous recipes abound on the internets.
It’s also a good idea to do a Marie Kondo style clutter clearing and rid your bathroom of any products containing strong perfumes. In addition to suppressing immunity, chemical fragrances are known to disrupt hormones.
Switch to organic and nontoxic alternatives and your immune system will let you know you’ve made a good decision.
While it’s impossible to avoid all immune-suppressing toxins in this modern world – you can definitely make choices to minimize them in your personal space.
4) Go for the Ginger
This rhizome—sometimes referred to as ginger root—has been used as a medicine throughout Southeast Asia and Southern Asia for 5,000 years. It is a warming and stimulating herb, beneficial for a variety of conditions, including nausea, so it’s a great one to keep on hand.
Ginger contains a high quantity of antioxidants that fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in the body, this gives a big boost to your immune system and some more defense against cold and flu.
Although the ginger powder that we find in the spice cabinet can be used in a pinch, the real power of ginger comes from the fresh root. They are easily found in most grocery stores and natural foods stores in the produce section.
Candied ginger, while tasty, is probably not as effective. Although I do like to eat it on long bus rides on curvy roads. Because another wonderful property of ginger is calming the stomach and reducing nausea
Adding ginger to your food and drinking the tea regularly will keep you warmer in winter, but if you feel a cold coming on it’s time to make a big old pot of ginger tea.
To make a quart of tea:
Take about 3 to 4 inches of a ginger root and either grate it or chop it finely. (Peeling is optional). Add it to a quart+ of water in saucepan, cover, bring to a boil, and then turn it down to simmer and let it simmer for at least 20 minutes. Then you can strain it into a jar or another pot. Add honey and lemon as desired.
Drink 2-4 cups of this a day to relieve your cold and flu symptoms and to hasten the departure of those germs. If you’re adding lemon, wait to add it to each individual cup.
Another method—inspired by my friend’s Iranian son-in-law—is to chop up a couple of ginger roots, add just a bit of water, and then whiz in a blender or nutribullet. Put this pasty mix in a jar and add a tablespoon or so to hot water or any tea. Apparently, this is a regular practice in Iran.
If you’ve been following along in this series, you’re getting the memo that it’s a combination of lifestyle practices and natural remedies that will help you stay healthier at any time of year.
And, as always, definitely pay a visit to your medical provider if symptoms persist or get way worse.
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