How to Deal with Cold+Flu Season, from a Naturopath

It’s that season…every sniffle, cough and sneeze brings a new wariness. Instead of holding your hand sanitizer as tight as pepper spray in a dark alley, take a deep breath and read on for some natural remedies.

Hydration. You already know this one, but it stands the test of time. The winter months tend to be drier, leading to more viral growth. Drink lots of water and herbal teas. Avoid anything caffeinated or sweetened (like sodas, most fruit juices, and fancy drinks). Also avoid alcohol.

Rest. This is super important – listen to your body. When you’re tired, rest. If it’s time for a workout but you’re not feeling as energetic as usual, halve the intensity of that workout or skip it altogether. Rest is essential for your body to restore itself, especially if you are or have been sick.

Reduce stress. Stress wreaks havoc on the body, increasing oxidative stress, free radical formation, cellular stress and DNA damage. Not only is this stuff bad, but it requires your body to expend lots of energy cleaning it all up. This takes resources away from your immune system and can make you much more susceptible to coming down with something. Mindfulness practices, meditation, nature walks (when it’s not super cold), journaling and so on are simple and add a lot of value to your health. If you’re new to meditation, try the HeadSpace app – short, simple, and easy to do anytime, anywhere.

Clean eating. Load up on fresh or cooked veggies, have some fruit, sip on broth. Soups and fresh juices are great – just check labels/ingredient lists and choose items with only whole food sources, avoiding anything with added sugar or other additives. Aside from broths, which are super nutritive and nourishing, minimize animal proteins if you are sick. Avoid dairy – it can increase mucus and congestion – and avoid all processed, packaged, baked and sweet foods.

Immune-boosting spices. Add these into your cooking (great with veggies), smoothies, juices, or eat raw if you can handle it. Try garlic, ginger root, turmeric root, rosemary, oregano, and so on – freshly minced is best, but pre-cut or powdered is okay too.

Try an immunity shot. Combine 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp ginger, dash black pepper, squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and 2-4 ounces hot water (a small cup). Whisk together with a fork, then add a tsp of raw local honey. Make sure it’s not hot enough to burn your mouth, then bottoms up!

Antiviral + antimicrobial support. This depends on what’s going on with you individually, but taking a general immuno-supportive supplement can help ward off bugs. Ask your naturopath to recommend a specific formula for you.

Homeopathy. A homeopathic remedy for your individual situation can be powerfully healing. Ask your naturopath if they can see you to prescribe an acute remedy.

Magic Socks at bedtime. Check it out here. This simple treatment enhances your circulation and immune system, providing overall support and a deeper rest too.

End with a cold blast. Your shower, that is. This is actually a warming hydrotherapy treatment! At the end of a hot/warm shower, turn the faucet to cold and let it hit you in the sternum area for 15-30 seconds. Not only does this give you longer-lasting warmth for your whole body, it also hits the site of your thymus gland. While the thymus tends to atrophy after youth, some evidence has shown the stimulation of the thymic area to increase T cell activity and thereby boost immune function.

Keep your germs to yourself. Wash your hands. Sneeze into your elbow. Stay home if you are sick.

For more immune-boosting support, book an appointment with your naturopath.

May you be well!

The information provided here is not intended to replace medical advice or to treat or diagnose any medical condition. Please consult your doctor with specific questions and prior to beginning any significant diet or lifestyle changes.