Are you feeling run down after the hectic travel season and overindulging at too many holiday parties? The cold weather certainly has a way of challenging your immune system. Fortunately, there are a number of natural remedies that will not only help combat your cold, but will help give your immune system the boost it needs to get through the winter months.
- Echinacea. Use this for colds, flu, and sore throats before reaching for over the counter drugs or antibiotics! Dr. Weil (www.drweil.com) recommends a dropper full of the tincture in water four times a day or 2 capsules of freeze dried extract 4 times a day as soon as you feel a cold coming on. Try taking for 2 weeks at a time, so its effectiveness doesn’t wear off. FYI: If you’re taking to prevent a cold, use half the amount above.
- Garlic. A powerful antibacterial agent, it is active against a number of bacteria and parasites. Kick those bugs by throwing in a clove of garlic or two to your favorite winter soup or veggie stir-fry.
- Green Tea. Filled with antioxidants, not only is this a great anti-inflammatory tea, but it also contains polyphenols, which are compounds in the plant that help it stimulate the immune system. A particular kind of polyphenols called catechins might even be powerful enough to kill the influenza virus.
- Probiotics. Studies have shows that eating probiotics will not only help your immune system, but also help regulate digestion. Kefir, a yogurt drink, sauerkraut, and miso are good sources of probiotics to incorporate into your daily diet. You can also find probiotics at your local health food store and some examples of brands are Culturelle (www.culturelle.com) and VSL#3 (www.vsl3.com). Its recommended to take at least 1 billion CFU ( colony forming units/ day) by mouth for 12 weeks during flu season.
- Sleep. Nighttime is your body’s time to restore itself and the time during which your body does its most powerful healing. With enough sleep, you will help regulate the hormones that control appetite, immunity, and will even help regulate Human growth hormone- also known as the “ fountain of youth”. Start to wind down, turn off the computer, and dim the lights about 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed and try to get 7-8 hours of shuteye, if possible.
- Ginger. In the Ayuervedic tradition, ginger not only warms a chilled body, but also can help breakdown toxins specifically in the lungs, and sinuses. Ginger also helps flush out the lymphatic system, which helps eliminate the body’s sludge, thus helping to prevent infection. It is also a great anti-inflammatory agent.
Another great source for information is: www.eatingwell.com