Keeping the sniffles away during the winter season can be challenging, but not impossible.
This is the time of the year we see an increase in cold and flu cases. The sudden weather changes, the extreme cold temperatures, dry air from the heat, and staying mostly indoors may create conditions that will start those dreaded cold symptoms such as a runny nose, headaches, fevers, fatigue. These symptoms, however, are not caused by cold temperatures or changes in weather alone, there are viruses and bacteria that thrive in these conditions.
Having a strong immune system, obtaining proper rest, using relaxation techniques on a daily basis, and eating plenty of vegetables can prevent us from catching the viruses that have already been disseminated.
Being from a tropical country and raised with temperatures in the 80’s all year long, I have found it very difficult to cope with, and remain healthy during the extremely cold temperatures of New England winters. I have come to learn that preventive care is the key! YES, even with our crazy busy lifestyles, managing to stay healthy during the winter can be accomplished.
10 Simple Tips to Reduce Cold Symptoms
Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!
Symptoms are our body’s way of telling us what needs to be addressed. When that “tickle” in your throat is present, the body is trying to send out a sign that you may be fighting off a virus. Take the hint and address it by getting extra rest - even better, get the appropriate sleep on a regular basis.
We all know that it is suggested we get 8 hours of sleep every night. Yet, I continually hear - “I do not have time to sleep for 8 hours, go to the gym, eat well AND handle a full-time job. What should I prioritize?” My answer is always sleep!
Resting and sleeping well at night, without interruption, is healing and detoxifying to the body.
Epsom Salt Baths reduce inflammation, stimulates the nervous system, assists in removing toxins, and act as a muscle relaxant.
The Epsom salt also helps to regulate the levels of magnesium, a vital nutrient to the human body. When magnesium levels are low, it may cause muscle cramps, seizures, arrhythmia, insomnia, and several other pathologies.
3 Heal your gut
Did you know that 75% of the immune system is located in the gut? It has also recently been discovered that our gut is indeed our “second brain.”
Remember that time you were so sure about a gut feeling you’ve had, and you were right? Your gut and brain are in constant communication, and modern medicine is finally catching up to what many other cultures have known for several decades.
When the microbiome (the microorganisms in the body) is in dysbiosis (imbalance), especially in the intestinal tract, the body is prone to inflammation. Keeping the intestinal flora healthy with the appropriate bacteria allows us to fight colds, infections, and keep inflammations away. Additionally, a healthy intestinal flora helps with nutrient absorption!
Eating inflammatory foods such as sugar, soy, wheat ( gluten) and dairy when a head cold has just started, will increase the risks of making the body sicker.
When you start to feel sick, it is time to change something! Perhaps leaving the wine bottle aside after work and instead having a full plate of roasted vegetables with a very warm cup of elderflower tea is the step to take. Basically, when preventing a cold (and during), avoiding any food that comes in a package is a wise choice. Most packaged foods are non-vital non-food edibles containing preservatives, sweeteners, MSG, and flavor enhancers.
5 Be happy
Maintaining a lifestyle that allows us to do things we enjoy is extremely important for our mind and body. Studies have shown that people who are generally happy and upbeat are less likely to catch a cold than those who are depressed, worried or angry.
Basically, when your brain is “happy,” those are the messages it sends out to your body - especially to the organs that help keep us healthy. Besides, when we are happy we are more apt to maintain better health practices - eat better food, sleep, exercise - and have lower levels of stress hormones. So don’t worry, be happy!
There are many herbal remedies to fight colds, and here are a few more to consider.
Boneset was traditionally used by Native Americans to treat infections and fever-related conditions. It is specifically helpful in warding off the flu virus. It strengthens the immune system by enhancing the secretion of cytokines (responsible for cell processes in the body). This herb can be used as a tea or as a tincture though it is quite bitter. However, the bitter taste of Boneset activates the parasympathetic system and deeply relaxes you - even helping muscle spasms.
Elderflowers/ berries assists in the prevention of respiratory infections. When fever is present, use only flowers. As a preventive method, combine elderflowers and berries for a delicious tea. Either berries or flowers act as a decongestant, expectorant, and bronchodilator.
Lemon balm, also known as Melissa Officinalis, is a potent antiviral herb. It protects against cold and flu virus, as well as chicken pox, shingles, HPV, oral and genital HSV. Additionally, Lemon balm in combination with an adaptogen herb is excellent for SAD ( Seasonal Affective Disorder)
Raspberry leaf, though mostly used for the reproductive system, is also a fantastic herb to support the respiratory system. It acts like a pulmonary astringent, antitussive and helps end post nasal drips caused by colds and flus.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that helps regulate the circadian rhythm providing restful sleep. When recovering from a cold or any other ‘dis-ease,’ it is essential to set aside time for rest and appropriate sleep.
7 Bianca’s Fire Cider
This powerful infusion of roots and herbs in apple cider vinegar helps prevent and fight off cold and flu. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory and digestive, improving the microbiome in the intestinal tract. Stay tuned for the recipe!
8 Regular exercise
Studies have shown that movement improves the levels of happy hormones (serotonin, endocannabinoids, dopamine, etc.) and we know from above that HAPPY helps keep you healthy.
9 Steam rooms
Sweating it out in a steam room is a great way to detox your body by removing anything that may be stuck in your lungs and any other part of your body which may be holding onto impurities. Be sure to hydrate!
10 Flower Essences
Certain flower essences, such as Pansy, act like an antiviral aid. It is suggested to start taking this essence before the cold and flu season to prepare the body. That being said, Pansy is also an excellent flower essence if you have already gotten sick as it also acts as a calming and relaxing essence.
Keeping the sniffles away during the winter season can be challenging, but not impossible. Rest, relax, make a nice warm tea and have fun watching a nice comedy on your downtime. Happy Winter!
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AUTHOR: Bianca Weissman is an OSYL Holistic Herbalist who believes that in most cases the balance between eastern and western medicine is a necessity in order to help individuals heal and feel better for the long haul. Let Bianca work with you and help you better understand the multitude of holistic ways you can live a healthier life without the side effects of pharmaceuticals.
Find out more about Bianca and her services HERE.