It’s cold and damp outside; it’s cool and dry inside. The kids are coming home from school with who knows what kinds of germs on their little hands, and you’re all stuck inside breathing the same air. Welcome to cold and flu season. You prefer to avoid over the counter medications, but what kinds of things can you do to prevent illnesses and ease them if they do take hold-
First - Prevention
There is no reason to assume that you will get a cold or the flu this winter. In fact, it’s better if you assume that you won’t! That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take precautions, but by affirming to yourself everyday that you are healthy and strong, you may be able to boost your immune system and keep germs at bay. Besides, affirming your own vibrant health, what can you do to prevent getting sick-
- Your mom told you this a million times when you were a kid, and she was right. Wash your hands! When should you wash your hands- After using the bathroom, before preparing food or eating, after being around someone who is ill, after working out at the gym or grocery shopping. Just wash your hands a lot! The proper way is to wash for at least 20 seconds with a good lather. Teach your kids to sing their “ABCs” when washing. This will assure that they lather up for long enough.
- Keep those mucous membranes nice and moist. They will work better at catching potentially harmful germs before they make it into your system. Drink plenty of water and use a humidifier in the house.
- Get your rest. An average of eight hours of sleep a night is what most of us need. You will know you’re rested if you wake up automatically without your alarm clock (or without having to hit the snooze button five times!).
- The American Journal of Preventive Medicine says that if you gargle once daily with plain water, you cut the chances of catching a cold, and that if you have a cold, it will help reduce the duration. Gargling three times a day cuts colds by 36%!
- Drink green tea. It stimulates your immune system interferes with virus’s abilities to enter human cells.
- Try using American ginseng. It helps boost immunity.
- Reduce stress. Stress can really hinder your immune system’s ability to fight viruses. Do it a favor and relax. Try meditation, yoga, exercise, praying, journaling, Tai Chi, watching a hilarious movie or just sitting and petting your cat or dog.
- Exercise. It helps regulate all of your body’s systems, boosts immunity and helps you relax.
- Take your vitamins. Take a good quality multi-vitamin every day.
Second – Deal With It
So the precautions didn’t work this time around and you’re sick. What can you do to feel better- Here are some good natural suggestions:
- Cough Suppressant – Use wild cherry, horehound or slippery elm, available in lozenges, syrup or tea
- Decongestant – Use aromatic oils like eucalyptus, peppermint or menthol. Place a few drops in a bowl of hot water. Cover your head with a towel and breathe deeply. Or, eat fresh horseradish. That will clear your sinuses quickly and it tastes great on a roast beef sandwich!
- Fever – Use elderflower in syrup, tincture or tea
- Pain – Use white willow or meadowsweet in tincture or tea
- Sore Throat – Use slippery elm or bee propolis in lozenges, tea, syrup or spray. If you are allergic to bee stings, you may want to avoid using bee propolis, just in case.