Dr Christa's Tips to Prepare for Cold & Flu Season
Even though we haven't quite been experiencing fall weather yet, the signs are all around that autumn is on its way; the cool nights, the flocking birds, the breathtaking sunsets, a few changing leaves, and of course the return to school for the kids, (and the excitement of a new hockey season for my family). If you haven't noticed I invite you to take a hike on one of our many gorgeous local trails, you will be glad you did!
I believe that if we keep our bodies strong, we can limit how susceptible we are to infections. Avoiding all exposure to germs is impossible but that doesn't mean you should get sick every single time you encounter someone who has a cold. Using the strategies I have outlined below you should be able to keep your illnesses to the recommended 2-3 per year.
1. Change of Season Soup
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) it is common practice to prepare a batch of 'Change of Season' Soup in the spring and in the fall. The recipe includes herbs that support the immune system through the transition between warmer and cooler temperatures. A similar result can be achieved by making a 'Bone Broth' soup, or you may combine the recipes for the ultimate immune enhancing concoction.
Change of Season Soup
- 2-3 oz of each: Astragalus root, Codonopsis root, Dioscorea root, Lycii berries (lyceum) (available online already packaged together)
- place herbs in a large stock pot and fill with water
- bring to boil and then simmer for 2-4 hours
- remove the herbs with a slotted spoon and allow to cool
- consume daily for 2 weeks on its own, as a tea, or as a base for other soups
- place organic chicken bones in a large pot topped with water (or soup above)
- add 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar to extract the minerals and collagen from the bones
- add onions, celery, and carrots
- boil for 2 hours or place in a crockpot on low for 12 hours, strain
- use the broth as a beverage or a base for other soups and consume over a two weeks period
Plants can be extremely powerful medicines. I love the immune boosting potential of Astragalus and Echinacea. I typically suggest staying away from Echinacea if you have ragweed allergies or hay fever. A fantastic formula (that is a close relative to the Change of Season soup) is called Deep Immune by St Francis Herb Farms. They have both an adult and a children's version that can prevent infections when taken daily. Shop for Immune Support here.
3. Sleep & Routine
Yes, I mention this point with virtually every health condition. The fact is that our bodies need to sleep in order to rest and take out the trash. Germs are considered trash, and sleep deprivation limits our ability to clear them from our systems. Even losing an hour per night of sleep will put stress on us, which is ok once in awhile but not on a regular basis. Since we are constantly exposed to all different kinds of stressors I suggest limiting the ones we can control, and sleep is one of them.
4. Infrared Sauna Therapy
The immune system works best when it is heated up. So, when you have a fever it is actually an ideal environment to kick some viral butt. An infrared sauna is a great way to heat up your body and encourage detox so that you can get the bugs out. It's like giving your immune system a wakeup call to get moving. Let us know if you'd like to try it out! Or click here to book your Sauna Hydrotherapy time.
5. Sugar ... again
In case you need another reason to cut down on your sugar intake, there is research to show that even 1 tsp of it can lower the function of your white blood cells - your immune system. I don't believe in deprivation; however, you might want to think twice about going for ice cream when you have the sniffles. Plus dairy tends to increase mucus anyways (ewww).
6. Vitamin D
It seems like there are reports of a new great benefit of vitamin D almost daily. Vitamin D is an immune modulator, which means it helps to control the way your immune system works. It is quite often low in people who have autoimmune conditions where the immune system is inappropriately attacking its own body (psoriasis, Celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, for example). The typical dose for children is 400IU per day and adults 1000-2000IU per day, but may be more in some cases (ask me!)
7. Stress Management
Daily practice of anything that helps bring you out of fight-or-flight mode and into a relaxed state is essential to so many body functions. When it comes to fighting infections, quite often it's not during peak times of stress that you get sick but rather the moment the stress lets up a little bit. Even 5 minutes of deep breathing can make all the difference between experiencing burnout and being able to ride the waves smoothly.
- place your right thumb on your right nostril, and your right ring finger on your left nostril
- plug your right nostril with your thumb and breathe in through your left nostril for a count of 5
- hold your breath for 3 seconds
- close your left nostril with your ring finger and breathe out through your right nostril for a count of 5
- then breath in through your right nostril for a count of 5, hold for 3 seconds, and blow air out through your left nostril for a count of 5
- repeat this breathing pattern for 5 minutes or until you notice a relaxing effect
- you may put it in your calendar to remind you to practice this technique, or get in the habit of doing it before bed or anytime you feel overwhelmed
Please let me know if you need anything. I'd love to help.