It’s that time of year again, when we most commonly experience frigid weather ailments – the dreaded cold and flu!
While these mild illnesses may be a nuisance, you don’t have to let them get you down. Remember, when your immune system is in a weakened and vulnerable state and “catches” something, it’s just the body’s way of telling you to slow down, hunker down, and nourish your cells. You’ve all heard it before…rest, heat, and fluids, right?!
Every fall season, the staff at EPIC gets an abundance of questions on how to maintain good health and a strong immune system throughout the winter months, when colds and flu are most rampant. So, this year, we decided to put together a guide with all of our favorite tips, tricks, and best kept secrets! Ultimately, while there are many things you can “do” to stay healthy, the point is to keep it simple, but be consistent. And be prepared! The moment you feel something coming on, THAT is the time to take action… not on day 3.
From all of us at EPIC – we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season. Be well!
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…
- Get enough sleep on a regular basis. We know you’ve heard this before, but it really does matter.
- AVOID SUGAR. Sugar consumption hinders white blood cells from being able to fight off exposures to bad bacteria like the flu!
- Keep the back of your neck covered. Check out why Chinese Medicine practices recommend doing this.
- Exercise. Move every day. Exercise is effective preventive medicine.
- Take glutathione and Vitamin D. Glutathione is the chief antioxidant in the body, responsible for enhancing the immune system and helping the liver with detoxification. And Vitamin D is a powerful immune system modulator, meaning it is key to fighting off infections.
- Make and freeze chicken soup, so you have it on hand the moment something strikes! Click here for a yummy recipe.
- Dress in layers, especially base layers.
- Wash your hands. One of the best things to do is to wash your hands! Skip the antibacterial soaps and make your own hand soap using essential oils – here’s a great place to incorporate that Thieves or OnGuard!
- Optimize gut health. It’s one of your first and best lines of defense, so make sure to take “the right” probiotics for you!
- Practice daily relaxation and meditation. While we can’t totally eliminate stress from our lives, we can help our bodies “deal” with it so much better. Check this out!
And if you do get sick…
- Prioritize sleep.
- Forget about dairy. We don’t recommend dairy anyways, but definitely avoid when under the weather!
- Don’t work out! Gentle movement is fine, but strenuous exercise is taxing to your system when you’re sick. The lesson behind “getting sick” is a call from your body to rest, not kick it up a notch.
- Teas and warm beverages are a must (see #3 below), along with raw honey for extra soothing relief. Raw honey is also great for sore throats and coughs.
- Stay home when you’re sick! Rest, Heat, and Fluids.
Cold And Flu Season Remedies
While there are many things you can “do” to stay healthy, the point is to keep it simple, but do things consistently. And be prepared! When you feel something coming on, THAT is the time to take action…not on day 3.
Consider the following items part of your cold and flu season remedies “dream team”!
A staple from October through April, elderberry is a must in terms of all-natural cold and flu season remedies!
Can be used daily to boost immunity with ingredients like Elderberry, Astragalus Root, Shiitake Mushroom, Maitake Mushroom, Wild Cherry Bark, and Beta-1, 3 Glucan.
To be clear, this is taken as a prophylactic to hopefully keep the bad bugs at bay! You can take this orally or add it directly to your morning greens drink.
Recommended dose: One dropperful a day.
Propolis is a bee product (though no bees are killed in the process of extracting it).
Its immune supportive properties are well-known since it’s been used for several hundred years. Plus propolis part of the immune system of the hive itself!
As for the spray, it is slightly sweet with a hint of honey, but is incredibly soothing for your throat.
It’s also great if your voice or throat seems to get strained! The point is that you can use this as a prophylactic or when sick.
Recommended dose: For maintenance, 3-4 sprays of propolis once or twice daily. During periods of increased stress or fatigue, 4-5 sprays of propolis up to 5 times daily.
Echinacea is an herb that is stimulating to your immune system which is a good thing when you’re coming down with something.
Also, drinking Echinacea tea has been found to be effective in shortening the duration of your symptoms. Studies have shown that Echinacea can reduce the odds of developing a cold by 58 percent and reducing its duration by 1–4 days. (source)
Warning: if you have an autoimmune disease, it’s possible that using this herb can trigger a flare. Those with allergies to ragweed, mums, marigolds, or daisies should avoid echinacea. It’s also best to avoid if you’ve been diagnosed with HIV, MS, or Tuberculosis.
Recommended dose (tincture): 1 to 2 dropperfuls three times a day when you start feeling ill
Recommended dose (tea): 5-6 cups throughout the day when feeling ill
4. Do-It-Yourself FIRE CIDER
Similar to elderberry syrup, this tonic is revered by herbalists for its ability to support the immune system and shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms if they occur. Fire cider is an apple cider vinegar infusion that contains the following powerful immune-boosting properties:
- Increased circulatory system
Fire cider takes about 2-4 weeks to “cure”, so make a batch early on so that you have it when you need it! The base ingredients are apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, and hot peppers, which are mighty by themselves, but there are plenty of other herbs that can be added for extra strength, depending on what’s available to you. This basic recipe can easily be adapted to your preferred tastes and sensitivities. If you don’t like or don’t tolerate something, just omit it!
Ingredients (use organic whenever possible):
- 24-32 oz raw & unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 10 cloves garlicgarlic, chopped finely or pressed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2-3” piece fresh ginger peeled and chopped or grated
- 1/2 cup horseradish peeled and grated
- 2-3” piece fresh turmeric root peeled and chopped or grated, OR 2 tbsp turmeric powder
- 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped finely
- Zest and juice from 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
- raw honey to taste (optional)
- Optional Seasonal Additions:
- Sprigs of fresh organic rosemary, thyme or oregano; rosehips; star anise; astragalus; parsley; burdock root; black peppercorns; fresh orange, grapefruit, or lime juice and peels
Pack the prepared vegetables and herbs into a clean quart-sized glass jar. Pour apple cider vinegar over the herbs and fill to the top. This will take about 3 cups of vinegar, but it may vary slightly. Use a piece of parchment paper under the jar lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal, or better yet, use a BPA-free plastic lid made for Mason jars. Shake well!
Store in a dark, cool place for one month and shake daily.
After one month, use cheesecloth or a nut milk bag to strain out the pulp, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze as much of the liquid as you can from the pulp.
You can use the tonic straight or, if you prefer, add raw honey (to desired sweetness) and stir until incorporated to make cider. If you’re really brave, you can use the leftover pulp in your cooking!
Recommended dose: 1-2 tablespoons throughout the fall/winter months as a preventative measure, or every three to four hours if symptoms are present.
*adapted from glutenfreeschool.com
We are not intending to diagnose or treat any medical conditions with this information and it is to be used for educational purposes only. If you need more help, please contact EPIC or your general practitioner.