1) Get plenty of rest Winter is the time of hibernation, slowing down to conserve our energy in order to protect and best resist illnesses that more easily invade our bodies when the weather is cold and wet. Plenty of rest supports our immune system’s important work that is done at night when our body can focus on heal + repair tasks. Often you can stop an illness in its tracks by taking a hot bath, bundling up and getting an extra hour or two of sleep that night. With the first signs of illness, encourage your body to sweat to vent out the bacteria or virus.
2) Eat a healthy diet with plenty of healthy fat (especially pastured butter and coconut oil) — You need a healthy diet all the time, but especially when illness is circulating and you don’t have access to sunlight. Pastured butter has some vitamin D in it, as well as K2 and other fat-soluble vitamins. Coconut oil contains the medium chain fatty acid called lauric acid, which is anti-viral and can help keep you from getting sick. Make sure you watch your sugar consumption, too! Excellent nutrition in general, though, will boost your immunity!
3) Wash hands It’s true! Washing hands is the #1 most important way to prevent illness, just like grandma told us! Our preschool teacher required that all the kids wash their hands when they first arrived to wash off the house germs. So in turn, all of us wash our first wash our hands when we get home to wash off the germs that we may have picked up at school, work, or out and about to keep home as germ free sanctuary (as best as possible).
4) Multivitamin/D3/Fish Oil The basic insurance policy for all of us, year round, is a quality plant based multivitamin for easy absorption, 1000 – 2000 IU of Vit D3, and a clean fish oil capsule or liquid that has been tested for heavy metals and pollutants. Our food is not as nutritionally dense as it once was and we may not always get our pound of vegetables into our diet each day so I recommend this basic protocol for kids and adults alike.
5) Probiotics Do you get congested easily? Does your child get frequent ear infections along with their head colds and coughs? Then you need to take a probiotic every day to keep the proper ratio balance of healthy bacteria in your gut as your first line of defense in boosting your immune response.
6) Neti Pot or Nasal Saline Rinse A gentle rinsing out of the sinuses with a small amount of sea salt with dehydrate the cells causing the mucous while the water clears out the sinuses. Do this before bed so you can sleep better, and in the morning to start your day fresh! Here is a video to show you how easy and not scary it is at all – just need to make slight adjustments to figure out the best angle.
7) Elderberry capsules or syrup Elderberry is very effective preventative botanical medicine for people who are chronically ill during the cold and flu season. Studies have shown that it encapsulates the flu virus to safely carry it out of your body so that the virus or bacteria cannot take hold in your body. It is safe to take every day throughout fall and winter. A teaspoon or two of elderberry syrup or up to 500 mg capsule is what I recommend. Make sure your elderberry syrup is not one of the ones high in sugar otherwise it will not be effective. Sugar feeds bacteria so you will just boost the bugs!
8) Cordyceps This is a fantastic botanical to take to boost your immune system when you are not experiencing any symptoms. Once an illness starts to creep, discontinue use.
9) Higher Dose of Vit A and C When the first signs of feeling run down, congested or sniffles begin boost your Vitamin C intake to bowel tolerance. (This means take as much as you can before you get loose stools) A short duration of a higher dose of Vitamin A will also help your body fight an infection. Up to 50,000 IU of Vitamin A for three to five days at the beginning of an infection can help your body fight it off. Do not exceed this amount or number of days without talking to your medical provider first.
10) Wet Sock Therapy Have you heard of this hydrotherapy technique? It is worth giving it a try, I have had some success with it but not 100% of the time. Before bed, put on a pair of cool wet cotton socks. Then put a pair of dry wool socks on top of the wet socks. Get into bed and snuggle up. The wool will heat and draw the water out of the wet cotton socks. Your feet will get HOT! This is raising your internal body temperature which signals your body to send out more white blood cells to go find and fight off bacteria and viruses. This is an easy (and funny) trick to try with kids too!
***Bonus Tip*** Acupuncture and cupping treatments boost your immunity when you seek treatments before getting sick – not only because of the acupuncture but also because I will be able to suggest appropriate botanical or nutritional preventive interventions based on your individual constitution.
When you do get sick with a nagging cough, head congestion or nausea…..the sooner you come in to get herbs and acupuncture the quicker you will be back on your game!
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