Winter Remedies done naturally
It’s hard to believe the winter season is upon us once again. Shorter days and longer nights might mean less time outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air, and more time in close confines, often stuck inside with snuffling coworkers or congested children.
These factors all contribute to the rise in cold and flu cases that occur during the colder months. Natural remedies including herbal medicines and nutritional supplements can be used with great effect in the prevention, treatment and recovery phases of a cold or the flu.
You’ve heard the saying a thousand times, but it really does ring true – prevention is better than cure. Nobody wants to suffer through a cold or flu if they can prevent it in the first place. As cold and flu viruses are easily spread prevention begins with good hygiene. This includes washing your hands regularly and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. If you do succumb to a cold or flu, you can minimise its spread by sneezing or coughing into a tissue and disposing of it, washing your hands regularly and keeping your distance from those around you. Dr Bronners Lavender Organic Hand Sanitizer is a refreshing and effective tactic to keep those pesky germs away. Sounds simple but it’s often the simple things that people forget!
There are a number of herbal medicines and nutritional supplements that can help improve your immune defences over the winter months. Some of our favourite herbs for this include echinacea, olive leaf extract, andrographis, garlic and elderberry. While vitamins A, C, D and zinc have important roles in the immune system. Ethical Nutrients Immune Defence combines herbal medicines with selected nutrients. This is a great preventative throughout the colder months to keep colds and flu at bay.
Medicinal mushrooms are gaining in popularity in Australia. This is due to their long history of traditional use in other countries and role in enhancing immunity. Mushrooms possess antimicrobial and antiviral activity which can modulate and enhance the immune system. This makes them a great choice as a cold and flu preventative. Medicinal mushrooms which are beneficial over the cold and flu season include cordyceps, reishi, maitake, shiitake, and turkey tail. SuperFeast produces a range of high-quality tonic mushrooms that can easily be added to your daily smoothie, juice or even coffee. For a tablet option try Herbs of Gold Mushroom 5 Complex.
It may come as a surprise to many that our gut health directly influences our immune system. Maintaining good gut health is therefore essential and can be achieved through the incorporation of fermented and prebiotic foods. Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut and yoghurt provide a range of beneficial bacteria, while prebiotic foods such as garlic, onions, green banana starch and chicory root provide the fuel for your gut microbes to feed and flourish. Try incorporating sauerkraut such as those from Peace, Love and Vegetables or green banana resistant starch from Natural Evolution into your meals to maximise both gut and immune health and prevent winter ailments.
The symptoms of the common cold include a sore throat, runny nose, cough and congestion, ranging from mild to severe. The flu can include these symptoms too, but sufferers may also experience body aches, fevers, sweats, chills, and fatigue. As the name suggests, immune enhancing herbs enhance various aspects of the immune system. Antiviral, anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, and antitussive herbs provide symptomatic relief by reducing phlegm, congestion, coughing, and sneezing while also soothing the respiratory tract and easing the pain that accompanies a sore throat. Some of our favourite herbs for both symptom relief and immune support include olive leaf extract, echinacea, andrographis, elderberry, elderflower, elecampane, mullein, propolis, thyme, and ginger. Our instore naturopaths and herbalists can customise herbal tonics tailored to your individual needs.
Simple home recipes such as tea made from lemon, manuka honey, garlic and ginger can provide symptomatic relief while delivering antimicrobial / anti-inflammatory benefits. And let’s not forget chicken soup – full of antiviral and immune boosting ingredients that can help with symptom relief too. A customer favourite – Hilbilby Fire Tonic is sure to clear out any congestion. Containing a powerful blend of herbs, spices and vegetables in an apple cider vinegar base.
As important as the treatment phase of a cold or flu is the recovery phase. This is the phase most people are likely to skip in their rush to return to their busy lives. Your body needs time to recover. Taking things slow for a few days or even weeks after illness can help prevent you getting sick again. Fresh air, sunshine, adequate sleep and a little bit of gentle exercise can do wonders when recovering from winter infections. Nutritionally, warming foods like slow cooked soups, stews and broths provide easily digestible and nutrient-packed meal options. These provide convenient meal options when in the recovery phase and can be made in bulk and frozen. Check out our immune boosting chicken soup recipe here. For herbal or nutritional support, Fusion Health Astra 8 Immune Tonic helps the body to recover and rebuild. Traditionally used for convalescence, this blend contains Chinese and western herbs.
Respiratory infections are even more common in children than in adults. Given the amount of time that children spend in close contact this is not surprising. Sharing not only just toys but germs too. Add to that the time spent in childcare and you’re left with a melting pot of viruses that more often than not result in a runny nose, cough and the symptoms of a respiratory infection. Immune support in children focuses on providing the nutrients needed for healthy immune function (vitamins A, C, D and zinc) combined with immune boosting and symptom-fighting herbs such as echinacea, elderberry, eyebright, thyme, aniseed, licorice, calendula, elecampane, ivy and marshmallow.
Remember, a healthy gut helps a healthy immune system. Herbs of Gold Immune Care and the Kiwiherb range of children’s immune products are effective cold and flu remedies for both prevention and treatment. Nordic Naturals produces a range of kid-friendly cod liver oil that provides a natural source of vitamin A and D for immune support. Best of all, these products are formulated specifically for children. Meaning they taste great with (most!) children happy to take them. For bed time, Springfields Ezi-Breathe essential oil diluted and rubbed on the soles of the feet or added to a diffuser can provide symptomatic relief.
Our team are on hand to help guide you through the change of season. Speak to our qualified instore naturopaths and nutritionists should you have any questions.
By Alinda Boyd ~ Flannerys Naturopath
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