Winter has hit hard here in Sydney this week, after a very warm Autumn. Everyone is running around looking for warm clothes, having been caught off guard. Along with the change in season often comes the increase in colds and flus and also the push for everyone to get a flu vaccine. I am not going to discuss the pros and cons of the flu vax in this post but I do want to share with you some natural remedies that may help you get through winter without getting too sick, or recovering well if you do get sick.
The first point that I want to make is that getting sick with a cold is perfectly normal, and the symptoms that you experience like runny nose, cough, aches and pains are the body’s natural defences fighting against the virus that has set up home in your body. The best advice that I can give you when you are feeling sick is to go to bed and rest, don’t get up and keep on working at your normal pace. Now I know that despite this great advice you are likely to keep on going because you have a business to run, a family to raise and people who need you. So what else can you do to get well quick or to avoid getting sick in the first place?
Before I go through the list of things to do to prevent or treat these symptoms, I firstly need to clarify the difference between the cold and influenza virus. The cold virus (well actually there are millions of different cold viruses) is what the majority of people manage to pick up during winter. It will leave you feeling run down, your temperature will rise, your body might ache, your head will throb, your nose will run and you can develop a cough. In general you feel fairly ordinary (or if you are a male you think you are dying!). The flu on the other hand is a very serious infection, once again there are many strains of the virus, which can leave you in hospital with a serious lung infection and untreated it can life threatening. Both of these conditions are caused by viruses and are not resolved by antibiotics, which fight bacterial infections.
The average life-span of a cold is 7 days or 1 week if you look after yourself, generally the majority of people are back feeling okay within 7-14 days but if you find that you struggle to get really well or you keep getting sick then this is a sign that your immune system is not as strong as it should be or there is something else going on. In this case have a chat to your natural health practitioner who can take a case history and give you further advice.
How to prevent colds and flus?
The number one aim of busy women is to not get sick, so let’s go through a list of things that might help prevent you succumbing to the dreaded lurgy this year
- Keep you stress under control, high stress lowers your immunity and make you more susceptible to getting sick (why not do the 14 Day Stress Free Living Challenge if you think that you stress is a bit high, link a the bottom of this page)
- Make sure that you are getting 8 hours of good quality sleep most nights, this will give your body the opportunity to recover and repair and maybe even fight off any stray virus that might have ventured into your body
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, particularly if people around you have symptoms of cold or flu. Don’t use those anti-bacterial hand washes they are toxic and full of chemicals and really don’t work anyway.
- Try to avoid crowded places as much as possible during ‘flu season’. This might be difficult if you have to fly for business or your work requires you to be around a lot of people. I do use some essential oil sprays to help in these situations, I love Immune Boost by Twenty8.com
- Drink plenty of water, this is a given coming from me I think everyone needs to drink more water but it is especially important if you spend a lot of time inside with constant heating.
- Eat a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables, and ditch the processed foods. Bone broths are great for this time of year and full a nutrients. If you don’t want to make your own broth then check out Broth of Life dehydrated broths, they are great. This ensures that you get vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are essential for a healthy immune system
- Eat adequate protein. This can be obtained from animal sources such as lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy foods or from plant sources such as legumes and nuts and seeds
- Have lots of onion and garlic for their antimicrobial activity. Ginger and chili are very warming foods and can be beneficial, particularly in the colder months. I love fermented warm ginger cider in winter, yummy!!!
- Engage in light to moderate exercise at least four times per week to improve immunity and aid the elimination of wastes through the circulatory and lymphatic systems
- Minimise or avoid the use of alcohol and caffeine – these leach many valuable nutrients from the body
- There are some nutrients and herbs that you can use as a preventative, these include Vit C, Vit A, Echinacea, Olive Leaf Extract, Elderflower. It is best to speak to a natural health practitioner to make sure that you are taking the correct herbs and nutrients for your situation.
What to do if you have a cold or flu…
Okay so you did everything that I suggested above but you still got a cold, what to do next. Firstly don’t ever try to stop the fever, a fever is the body’s way of killing the virus. The majority of viruses only survive at 37C, this is why the body will raise it’s temperature above the normal level so that it can quickly kill the virus. Then when your nose starts to run and you start to cough, this is the body’s way of getting rid of the dead viral bodies, how cool is the human body? All of the other symptoms that you experience are all part of the normal immune response and as much as possible you want to allow this to happen rather than using medication to stop it.
Below are are few things that you can do, to have you up and feeling great as soon as possible
- Take time off, rest and stay warm. Give the immune system a good chance to deal with the infection quickly and efficiently
- Eat nutritious foods and have plenty of fluids. Homemade broths and soups with vegetables, ginger and garlic are great. They are very nutritious but do not take lots of energy to digest, leaving more energy for the immune system to do its job
- Avoid cold drinks and foods, greasy foods and foods containing sugar and artificial additives
- Keep in mind that excessive dairy foods may increase mucus production
- If you feel feverish make a cup of Immune Boost Drink (see below), rug up with warm socks on your feet, jump into bed and sweat it out. You can repeat this as often as needed until the feverish symptoms have passed, I generally find that this will resolve a lot of colds within 1-2 days. A hot bath can also help to induce sweating
- If you are not starting to improve after a couple of days, then contact your natural health care practitioner to grab some herbs or nutrients to help to support your immune system
Immune Boost Drink
Place the following ingredients into a mug:
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon of finely chopped or grated fresh ginger or 1⁄4 teaspoon dried ginger
- A pinch of chili powder or a little chopped fresh chili
- 1-2 cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons honey
Add boiling water and cover for about 10 minutes. Rug up, stay warm and enjoy this delicious brew. It will encourage a mild fever and induce sweating. Fever is one of the body’s first defences against infection and may help to relieve the symptoms.
I certainly hope that you get through the winter season without getting too sick but remember that it is normal to get 1-2 colds a year and this is a sign that your immune system is working well. If you don’t get sick at all, then maybe stress is suppressing your immune system and this can lead to more serious health concerns. Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss how stress is impacting your health and your business, click here to book a complimentary Discovery Session with me