As we all know that with winter comes the cold and flu season. Although a flu shot may protect you against certain strains of the influenza virus, the best defense against both influenza and the common cold is your immune system.
The immune system is complex, including different armys of cells to identify invaders and activate other cells, as well as cells to fight the invader and clean up and debris they leave behind. A cold or flu usually begins with a viral attack, which then leads to a lowered immune system, allowing bacterial overgrowth and flu-like symptoms. It is therefore important to act quickly upon the first sign of infection, as this will help to reduce cold duration and severity.
Some simple things that you can do to strengthen your immume system are:
- Eat a varied diet high in vitamin C and antioxidant rich foods such as blueberries, strawberries, bilberries, raspberries, blackberries, lemons, oranges, onions, kiwifruit, broccoli, red cabbage, capsicum, chilli, garlic, ginger, Brazil nuts, spinach, grapefruit, beetroot, carrots and sweet potato.
- As soon as you feel the start of a cold, eat 2 cloves of raw garlic a day with food, swallowed whole if possible. Garlic is anti-viral and improves immune function.
- Have lemon, ginger and honey tea. Yes, this old remedy works as the ginger loosens mucous, the lemon is high in vitamin C and bioflavovoids which increase immune function, and honey is antibacterial and soothing to the throat. To make put a few thin slices of ginger root in a cup, pour hot water over, squeeze 1/4 lemon juice in plus the skin and 1 teaspoon raw honey. Seep until cool enough to drink.
- Avoid sugar. Sugar gives bacteria something to feed on an weakens the immune system.
- Avoid getting cold – read outlines above.
- Drink plenty of filtered water. Keeping hydrated is an important part of the healing process. Drink at least 2 litres of water a day.
- REST. Rest allows the body to repair itself so by resting you will shorten the duration of your cold.
Take quality nutritional supplements at the right dose for best results. Vitamin C, bioflavonoids and zinc are important for improving immune function.
- Herbs that can also be of use here include Echinacea, Andrographis and Siberian ginseng to strengthen the immune system. Specific herbs to treat syptoms are also useful to reduce the duration of your cold.
- NOTE: Alkylamides are the active constituents in Echinacea which give it its immune boosting properties. Alkylamides are only present in the root of the Echinacea plant when extracted correctly. Most over the counter Echinacea products use the leaf, flower and aerial parts of the plant as these are cheaper and more readily available. Read labels to ensure you are getting the root of the plant.
- Acute doses of herbal medicine are very effective in reducing cold duration and improving symptoms, ask Katherine to find out more.
- Steam inhalations can be useful to relieve symptoms, and are easily made by inhaling a hot infusion or adding a couple of drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water, then covering head with a towel over the bowl. Use an infusion of elderflower for clear, thin mucous, fenugreek infusion for thick mucous, a couple of drops of thyme oil for an unproductive cough or yellow/green mucous, and the more well know eucalyptus oil to clear the throat and sinuses.
Practitioner strength herbal medicines work best for combating colds and flus and getting you better sooner. Call 07 3367 0337 for your appointment or use the form here.