NATURAL WAYS TO PREVENT AND TREAT COLDS & FLU
COLD & FLU PREVENTION TIPS
Your immune system is at work 24/7! The best approach to supporting immune function is a healthy lifestyle that includes stress management, exercise, whole foods, nutritional supplementation, and the use of plant-based medicines. On a daily basis, you can take the following steps to help your immune system keep you healthy:
- Wash your hands regularly to help prevent transfer of bacteria.
- Stay clear of people sneezing or coughing. Avoid shaking hands or other close contact with anyone whom you know to be sick.
- Make sure your home and work space are well-ventilated. Even on a cold day, open a window for a few minutes to clear out stale air.
- Follow a consistent sleep/wake schedule so the immune system can repair and recover.
- Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and veggies, which contain antioxidants that help the body neutralize cellular damage.
- Rest. Sometimes the body’s only way of getting your attention is to force you to slow down by getting sick. Don’t push through fatigue. Honor your body, sleep, and rest as needed to promote healing. Reduce activity at home and at work as much as possible.
- Increase fluid intake to include water, diluted vegetable juices, soups, herbal and green teas.
- Eat light meals and eat more soup. Whether you choose a vegetarian broth or a heartier bone-broth, soups for healing should be loaded with a variety of herbs and veggies.
- Manage stress. Even just 10 minutes of meditation a day has positive effects on the immune system and promotes a positive mindset.
- Laugh- it truly is good medicine. Patch Adams was onto something when he brought humor to his patients’ bedsides. Read a funny book. Watch stand-up comedy. Share jokes with a friend or your kids. Laughter lowers the stress hormones and elevates your mood- both are good for healing.
VITAMIN, MINERAL, AND BOTANICAL SUPPORT FOR THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
There’s no panacea, but a growing body of research has shown that certain vitamins, minerals, and plant-based supplements can help prevent/curtail the symptoms of colds and flu. Some that you may want to include are listed below. Talk to your practitioner as these suggestions must be tailored to your specific needs and health status.
- Multivitamin and mineral formula
- Vitamin C
- Bioflavonoids, 1000 mg/day
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D, 2000 IU/day
- Zinc, 30 mg/day
- Echinacea, elderberry, and astragalus (tea, capsule, or liquid extract) help prevent common cold and viral infections. Physician-scientists continue to study the immune-enhancing effects of these and other botanical remedies.
- Balaji, P. A., S. R. Varne, and S. S. Ali. “Physiological Effects of Yogic Practices and Transcendental Meditation in Health and Disease.” North American Journal of Medical Sciences 4, no. 10 (October 2012): 442ñ448.
- Besedovsky, L., T. Lange, and J. Born. “Sleep and Immune Function.” Pfl¸gers Archiv European Journal of Physiology 463, no. 1 (January 2012):121-137.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What You Should Know for the 2015-2016 Influenza Season.” Accessed July 2015.
- Kachko, R. “A Pillar of Optimal Health: The Immune System.” American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website. April 14, 2015.
- MacDonald, C.M. “A Chuckle a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: Therapeutic Humor and Laughter.” Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services 42, no. 3 (March 2004):18-25.
- MedlinePlus. “Chicken Soup and Sickness.” Accessed July 2015.
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. “Natural Medicines in the Clinical Management of Colds and Flu.” Accessed July 2015.
- Pizzorno, J. E. and M.T. Murray, eds. “Textbook of Natural Medicine.” 4th ed. St. Louis: Elsevier Science, 2013. 516-524.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT. . .
“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.” – Franklin P. Jones
EATING WELL FOR SUPER IMMUNITY IN THE WINTER MONTHS
An immunity-boosting diet includes light, easily digestible meals throughout the day, especially soup. A myriad of health benefits and flavors are derived from the herbs, vegetables, and broth. Soups also can help curtail the onset or ease the symptoms of colds and flu. Look for soups that include immunity-enhancing ingredients such as ginger, onion, garlic, mushrooms, and a variety of veggies and herbs in a broth-base. As always, food made from scratch is best!
SUPER-IMMUNITY DIET GUIDELINES
- Include healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil.
- When it comes to seasoning your foods, incorporate a variety of herbs and spices for flavor.
- For veggies, choose steamed broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes.
- Fermented foods such as organic miso and yogurt help promote healthy intestinal flora and combat harmful bacteria in the GI tract.
- Limit red meat; instead, eat moderate amounts of poultry.
- It’s also smart to limit if not cut out all processed sugar in your diet. Studies have shown excessive sugar intake can interfere with optimal immune system function.
- As far as beverages, the constituents in green tea have been shown to be both anti-inflammatory and immune enhancing.
Cheers to your good health this winter!
- Eating Well. “Healthy Immunity Diet Guidelines.” Accessed July 2015.
- Harvard Health Publications. “How to Boost Your Immune System.” Accessed July 2015.
- Mars, B., and C. Fiedler. The Home Reference to Holistic Health & Healing. MA: Fair Winds Press, 2014. 129-144.
- Meydani, S.N., and K.L. Erickson. “Nutrients as Regulators of Immune Function: Introduction.” The FASEB Journal 15, no. 14 (December 2001): 2555.
- Myles, I. A. “Fast Food Fever: Reviewing the Impacts of the Western Diet on Immunity.” Nutrition Journal 13 (2014): 61.
RECIPE: BETTER THAN CHICKEN SOUP
Turmeric adds a subtle flavor and a beautiful yellow color. The active ingredient is curcumin, a powerful antioxidant.
Black pepper also has antioxidant properties.
Cayenne pepper can clear congestion due to the main active compound capsaicin, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
Shiitake mushrooms are rich in vitamins and minerals and contain unique phytonutrients that contribute to good health.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- 4 cups low-sodium mushroom, vegetable, or chicken broth
- 1.5 cups finely sliced kale
- 1 cup cubed butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 6 slices astragalus root (optional)
- 1 fresh lemon, Juice of
- 1 teaspoon organic miso
In a sauce pot over medium-high heat, add oil and cook onion and garlic, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Stir in turmeric and mushrooms, and cook 2 minutes more. Add broth, kale, squash, ginger, cayenne, and astragalus. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, add lemon juice and miso. Cover and let sit 5 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Information per Serving: 90 calories (5 from fat), 0.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate (6g dietary fiber, 5g sugar), 2g protein
There are several forms of zinc, but not all are easily absorbed or appropriate for every person. The best forms are zinc picolinate, zinc gluconate, and zinc citrate. According to the National Academy of Health Sciences, the need for a zinc supplement varies based on age, gender, pregnancy status, and other health factors. Zinc can interfere with the actions of some medications and can even affect the utilization of other minerals, such as copper. It’s best to first consult with your wellness practitioner before taking zinc.
- Hulisz, D. “Efficacy of Zinc Against Common Cold Viruses: An Overview.” Abstract. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association 44, no. 5 (2004).
- National Academy of Sciences. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. “Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc.” Report. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2001.
- Seaman, A. “Zinc May Shorten Common Cold but Side Effects Common.” Reuters website. Accessed July 2015.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. “Zinc.” Reviewed June 30, 2011.
ELDERBERRY (Sambucus canadensis)
Elderberry syrup is made from an extract of elder fruits. Lozenges are often prepared with zinc and other herbs. Both are commonly used to help tame colds, coughs, and relieve flu symptoms. Syrups and lozenges are available on the market, but always check with your personal wellness practitioner to be sure it is a quality product and you are taking an appropriate dose.
Important caution: Unripe berries are not safe to eat nor are the other parts of the elder plant. Since elderberry stimulates the immune system, it is not recommended for people with autoimmune conditions.
- Duke, J. A., et al. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2002. 267-268.
- Johnson, R.L., S. Foster, T. Low Dog and D. Kiefer. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2012. 71-73.
ALLEVIATE CONGESTION WITH MAGIC SOCKS
Historically, this hydrotherapy was called “Wet Sock Therapy.” At some point, a marketing savvy naturopath explained to young patients that the overnight drying of the socks was a “healing magic trick” and the name quickly evolved into “Magic Socks.” Kids love it and it actually does work like magic to arrest the onset of mild colds and flus.
When covered (insulated) with wool, damp socks draw congestion from the head and work overnight to stimulate systemic circulation. This treatment reflexively decreases congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat.
The socks will dry overnight as the body brings warm, fresh blood to the feet. This, in turn, invigorates the immune system and helps fend off acute illness. Magic Socks can be used nightly when any concern exists about the onset of an acute infection or illness and with any ongoing insomnia.
For best results repeat treatment for three nights in a row or as instructed by your doctor.
If you develop a loss of sensation in your feet while using Magic Socks, remove the socks and check in with your doctor. Do not use this therapy with any condition that has resulted in loss of sensation or circulation to the feet unless first consulting with your doctor.
MAKE A PAIR OF MAGIC (WET) SOCKS
1. Before bed, wet a pair of thin, cotton anklets in cold water.
2. Wring out excess water and place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
3. Put the socks on your feet.
4. Pull a pair of heavy wool socks over the anklets and climb into bed.
5. Cover well; sleep all night with the socks on.
- Bastyr University. “Dive Feet First Into Wellness With a Natural Remedy.” Accessed July 2015.
- Mooventhan, A., and L. Nivethitha. “Scientific Evidence Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body.” North American Journal of Medical Sciences 6, no. 5 (May 2014): 199ñ209. doi: 10.4103/19472714.132935.
- Options Naturopathic Clinic. “Magic or Warming Socks.” Accessed July 2015.
First Do not Harm
Identify and Treat the cause
Healing Power of Nature
Doctor as Teachers
Treat the Whole
Prevention is best Medicine
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