It’s that time of year again – the holidays have come and gone and people are counting down the days until spring. So, during these days when a friend’s sneeze will send you diving for the hand sanitizer, we want to help you cut through some of the hype and stay healthy.
This post gives you a quick run down on our favorite cold and flu tips. From home remedies and supplements to sweat baths – we have you covered!
Planning Your Flu Offensive
The best defense is a good offense, and the quicker you get started, the quicker you’ll restore health. If you start feeling suddenly tired for no reason, this is often the first sign that your body is under attack. If you’re feeling flu-ish, get back on the road to health with these tips:
- Listen to your body and rest if you feel the need. Lack of sleep depletes your energy reserves, so be sure you are in bed by a decent hour. Also, the immune system works better in a warm environment, so bundle up.
- Traditional Medicinals has several different medicinal teas available to help ward off illness. I love Gypsy Cold Care and Cold Care PM. And for sore throats, you can’t beat Throat Coat or Throat Comfort. The best way to make a tea that’s truly therapeutic is to use 3 tea bags per cup and allow it to steep covered (to preserve essential oils that would otherwise evaporate) for 10 minutes before sipping slowly and inhaling the vapors.
- Sitting in a hot sweat bath for 20-25 minutes has been proven to boost white blood cell production (the fighter cells). After you climb limply from the tub, dry off completely and bundle up in bed for best results. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water or tea before and during the bath to avoid dehydration.
- Avoid sugar and other processed, refined foods, since they rob the body of vital nutrients and energy that are needed to sustain you through your illness. Eat plenty of whole foods, fruits and veggies and drink plenty of water-warm foods are best. Again, listen to your body and eat only if you’re hungry.
- Most important of all: lighten up! Laughter boosts immunity, so watch a funny movie or TV show or spend some time with a kooky friend. Avoid stress and take some time off from work if you can. Slow down and allow your body to focus on the war within and you’ll be back to work in no time!
Our Favorite Remedies
- Nat-Stim: a 1-a-day formula particularly helpful for those prone to respiratory infections. ($26 for 45 caps)
- ImmuCore: packs 1000 mg vitamin C per serving, along with zinc, selenium, and blended mushrooms. Take 3/day. ($34 for 90 tabs)
- Essential Defense: should be taken 2 tabs every 30 minutes at the first sign of illness. Once symptoms resolve, set aside for the next battle. (30T $19)
- Andrographis Plus: an aggressive formula that should be taken 2 tabs every 1-2 hours while symptoms are acute. I personally take alongside Essential Defense at the first sign of illness. (30T $21)
- ALJ: helps clear up thin, excessive, watery mucous, encourages the entire respiratory tract to gently cleanse itself and helps soothe irritated tissues. For extra “punch”, take 4 capsules with your first dosing, then 2-4 for each subsequent dose (every 2-4 hours based on symptoms). (100 caps $15)
- Fenugreek & Thyme: thins and expels thick, sticky, stuck mucus. Because it is an expectorant, it will increase mucus flow, but remember that you never want to work against your body’s desire to remove unwanted pathogens by suppressing mucus flow. These are common kitchen spices, so take as much as you need to achieve the desired effect. Dose as with ALJ. (100 caps $15)
- Emergen-C: can also be taken as a soothing, immune boosting beverage alongside the herbal formulas (3-5 packets per day). ($13 for 30 packets)
- Oscillococcinum: These homeopathic vials taste great and are easy to administer. Oscillo has been shown to shorten the duration and lessen the intensity of flu symptoms. Take every 6 hours. (6 doses $18)
Avoid These Immunity Lowering Mistakes
- Drinking orange juice for the vitamin C. OJ is high in sugar, which lowers immunity by feeding organisms in the gut that compete with our friendly flora.
- Using cough drops that are high in sugar. Try sipping on an immune-stimulating hot tea instead, like Throat Coat, Throat Soothe, or Gypsy Cold Care.
- Overusing hand sanitizer. Antibacterial hand sanitizers kill off all the bacteria that live on your hands, including those that are beneficial. Save these types of products for situations where you can’t get to a sink to wash with soap.
- Poor hand hygiene. Not washing hands often enough allows more germs to collect. Try to get in the habit of regularly washing hands. Many studies show those who do are sick less often.
- Antibiotics as first line of defense. Resorting to antibiotics first before trying natural remedies that work with your immune system to strengthen it rather than doing the job for it. Though there are certainly times an antibiotic is necessary.
- Skipping probiotics. Not taking probiotics with antibiotics means the good bacteria, which comprise 70% of our immune system, get wiped out, setting us up for repeat infections.
- Skipping the coat and scarf. Not bundling up enough in cold weather can lower immunity. Pay special attention to the neck and throat areas.