We are fast approaching the joint of the seasons – summer into fall – and of all times of the year, this is the most susceptible for catching colds and flu. Weather is cooling now, school is starting, and activities pick up so generally there’s more stress. At the same time, we often cling to summer’s warmth and so continue to dress lightly and eat cooling foods. Compound this with young children bringing colds or flu home from school so it spreads through the family and co-workers sharing it at the office. And so the cycle continues, making many of us sick during this time of year.
So how do you stay well through this vulnerable time? How do you prevent catching a cold or flu and keep your family will, too? The good news – there are many alternatives to support health through the weather change. The serious news – NOW is the time to prepare.
First of all, change your diet no to reflect the season to come. Cooler weather means ingesting warmer food and drinks.
Here’s what to eat:
- Switch from salads to soups.
- Eat cooked rather than raw fruit – consider crisps, cobblers or pies.
- Use lots of spices such as ginger, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, and fennel.
- Ingest root veggies and winter squash.
- Increase protein intake.
Here’s what to avoid:
- Cold, refrigerated or iced drinks
- Raw foods
- Cold juices
- Ice cream and other iced/cold foods
It’s important to reduce stress and plan for the cooler season to come. Even though it may still be warm during the day, the evenings are cooler, reflecting the weather to come. Thus, this is the time to dress warmer. Here are several ways to change lifestyle to support your immune system.
- Carry a jacket or sweater and don as needed.
- Wear a scarf or high collar to protect the back of your neck and protect immunity.
- Go to bed earlier and get more sleep.
- Eat regular meals, especially breakfast, even if it’s late morning (skipping meals lowers immunity).
- Take rest breaks during the day.
- Include daily meditation or contemplation time to manage stress.
- Exercise regularly to increase immunity.
Nourish Your Immune System with Herbs
ASTRAGALUS: A premier herb that restores energy, improves immunity, aids fluid metabolism, dispels edema, treats diarrhea, organ prolapse, and bleeding, plus with dang gui it builds blood to alleviate anemia.
ASTRAGALUS JADE SCREEN: This classic Chinese formula (Yu Ping Feng Wan) consists of astragalus plus the tonic atractylodes and wind-dispelling herb, fang feng. It has been traditionally used to treat those who get frequent colds and flu. I use this clinically a lot and it absolutely works. It is best for those who tend to feel chilled or cold, especially during the change of seasons.
REISHI: The lore of reishi mushroom is that it is worth its weight in gold because it was long sought after to promote longevity, intelligence, health, and ultimately, immortality. Not bad reasons to take this immune-supporting adaptogen! It specifically helps the lungs and treats cough, wheezing and shortness of breath.
ELEUTHERO: Eleuthero is an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body adapt to stress and normalizes bodily processes. It promotes oxygen metabolism in the tissues and organs, thereby enhancing athletic performance physical endurance and stamina.
WELL CHILD IMMUNE CHEWABLE: This is a Planetary Herbal formula containing a variety of herbs that specifically support immunity and are good and tasty for children.
What to take at the first signs of a cold or flu
What if you do begin to feel sick? Can you prevent it from taking hold? Yes – it is possible to prevent a pending cold or flu if at the first signs of it you do one or all of the following:
Increase your probiotic: How much should you take? I know one woman who at the first sign of a cold or flu would ingest an entire bottle of acidophilus. Within the day, she would feel well again and didn’t get sick. This worked for her every time.
Take elderberry syrup: This antiviral herb also treats coughs. It prevents, treats, and shortens the duration of colds, flu, fever, and cough. Since it tastes good as well, most children will readily take it.
Take echinacea: Echinacea is not an immune tonic but an immune stimulant. It specifically affects the immune system by stimulating macrophages, phagocytosis, T-cell formation, and by inhibiting the hyaluronidase enzyme, which doesn’t allow pathogens to break down cell walls and pass into sensitive tissues. It is both anti-bacterial and anti-viral. I’ve known people who at the first signs of a cold or flu, would take echinacea and then immediately exercise, as this seems to potentize its effectiveness. Echinacea is best for those who feel hot and sweaty.
Take Yin Qiao Classic: Planetary Herbals makes this Chinese formula along with Yin Qiao Echinacea Complex (the former may also be purchased by other manufacturers). This formula has been successfully used for hundreds of years and is a household name in China. It is especially indicated for those who feel hot and sweat easily. I know some people who take a tablet of this daily as a preventative.
Take Vitamin C: For people who often feel hot or sweat easily, Take Vitamin C in 1000mg doses up to bowel tolerance (back down a bit if you get loose stools).
Drink/eat fresh ginger: For those who feel chilled or cold, fresh ginger is warming and stimulating. Make fresh ginger tea by grating an inch of the root and steeping it in a cup of just-boiled water, covered, for 20 minutes. Strain and drink 2 cups/day. Alternatively, eat some fresh ginger root throughout the day.
Drink chamomile and mint tea: For those who feel hot and sweaty, drinking a tea of these herbs cools the body, thus alleviating susceptibility to colds and flu.
If a cold or flu develops
With the following plan, you should get better quickly without the weeks of lingering effects most folks experience.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Eat very simply (such as just chicken soup).
- Eliminate activities and stress.
- Drink plenty of warm fluids.
- Take this antiviral Formula: Planetary Herbals Echinacea-Goldenseal with Olive Leaf. To whatever herbs you take, add this antiviral formula as it will shorten the length of any cold or flu. If you feel hot, take the full dose recommended on the bottle. If you tend to feel chilled or cold, or have white mucus, only take 1 – 2 tablets along with fresh ginger tea.