As a lot of you can already attest, viruses and bacteria consider these fall and winter months “high season.” These cold couple of seasons brings more doctors’ visits than any other health concern. Natural therapies are effective and are great healing tools for colds as they assist the body in healing itself rather than suppressing symptoms, as drugs often do.
Enhance your immune system and start feeling better with some of these
9 natural, well-researched and highly effective approaches!
1. Serious Hand Cleaning – it’s the most simple tip, but it’s certainly the most critical. Twenty full seconds of scrubbing is what it takes to lift germs off skin and carry them away when you rinse. Also consider bringing your own pen wherever you go, being mindful of washing your hands after shaking someone’s hand, dealing with money and before eating.
2. Zinc – research suggests that zinc supplements are both preventative as well as curative for colds. If you do get sick, especially if the first sign is a sore throat, one or two zinc lozenges at the first sign could shorten the length of your suffering.
3. Avoid Sugar – sugar, even if derived from natural sources such as fruit juices and honey, can impair immune function. This occurs because glucose (blood sugar) and vitamin C compete for the same receptors on white blood cells. Excessive sugar consumption may decrease vitamin C and result in a reduction in immune function.
4. Oregano Oil – one of my best friends in the fall and winter! This oil contains two powerful compounds of carvacrol and thymol that have powerful anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Make sure you dilute this one as it does have a strong taste!
5. Probiotics – research shows that popoulating your gut with good bugs (especially Lactobacillus rahmnosus LGG and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis B-12) protect you against getting a cold or the flu and could lessen the severity of symptoms if you do end up sick.
6. Echinacea – there has been quite the controversy about Echinacea due to the insufficient quantity of the herb used in studies as well as the use of only a single constituent. Many constituents of the Echinacea plant contribute to its healing properties and when the whole plant was studied, Echinacea was shown to increase white blood cells (your immune cells), and effectively prevent a cold and reduce the symptoms and duration.
7. Immune boosting foods – bone broths, foods high in vitamin C (leafy greens, oranges, lemons, bell peppers), garlic and onions have all been shown to have antiviral and immune boosting properties. Consider taking a Vitamin C supplement as well as it has been shown to prevent the cold and also reduce a cold’s duration.
8. Drink Large Amounts of Fluids and Humidify – viruses dislike tropical and moist environments. When the membranes that line the respiratory tract get dehydrated, they provide a much more hospitable environment for the viruses to live in. Drinking plenty of liquids that are low-sugar (broths, water, diluted vegetable juices, herbal teas) and humidifying your house will help repel that infection.
And most important…9. Rest – the value of sleep and rest cannot be overemphasized. The immune system functions better when the parasympathetic nervous system (the “rest and digest”/relaxed part of our nervous system) is in charge. During deep sleep, strong immune-enhancing compounds are released and many immune functions are greatly increased.
Interesting Facts about the Common Cold
Here’s to a healthy, cold-free and lovely fall and winter!
Dr. Lara is a Naturopathic Doctor who is passionate about helping and empowering her patients in their journey towards lifelong health and wellness