Colds and Flu: Staying well this winter

As we head into the cold and flu season, it’s good to be prepared. There is a range of herbal, nutritional, and lifestyle approaches that can help prevent a cold or flu, or shorten its duration if you do catch one. Recently, there has been reports in the media disparaging the use of herbs and nutritional supplements for colds and flu. However, if you look past this fake news, you will find there are many natural medicines whose actions are supported by scientific evidence, as well as a history of traditional prescribing. The key is to review with a qualified practitioner, like myself, who can guide you to choosing an appropriate natural medicine prescription for your unique picture.

Of course, prevention is better than cure, so there are some simple approaches that you can take to prevent catching a cold or flu that don’t involve taking supplements.

1. Get adequate rest – winter is often a time to take things a little slower, to hibernate a little. While it gets darker earlier, it’s a good cue to be in bed that little bit earlier. If we are well rested, our bodies are more likely to be strong and less likely to catch the bugs we are exposed to.

2. Eat well – while it’s colder, it’s an excellent time to turn to nourishing slow-cooked soups and stews. Including foods that are rich in zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin D help to support the immune system. Some foods containing these nutrients include oysters, butter and ghee, pasture-raised eggs, organic liver, grass-fed meats, nuts and seeds, chickpeas and other legumes, fatty fish, pumpkin, and sweet potato.

3. Infrared sauna or hydrotherapy – a regular infrared sauna will not only keep you warm, but it is also good for stimulating the immune system. Another option if you don’t have access to a sauna is to alternate hot and cold water in the shower for a few minutes, as this too can strengthen immunity.

4. Keep warm – a key approach to preventing colds and flu is to ensure you are well rugged up when out in the cold. It’s also a good idea to avoid going from very warm environments into cold environments.

5. Exercise regularly – exercise is an effective tool for maintaining a healthy immune system. It’s also a great opportunity to get moving when there can be a tendency to not be so active due to the weather. It’s also a good mood elevator, which can help for anyone that may experience seasonal affect disorder.

6. Manage your stress – one crucial factor that can suppress your immune system and make you more susceptible to infection is stress. Making sure you have some regular practices in place that help you manage stress is important. This could include meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, jogging, gardening, reading, playing music, creating some art, or a massage.

If you feel like you are starting to get run down or may be susceptible to infection, then having a naturopathy review can be a great way to look at additional strategies to support the immune system.

For acute cases, I offer short fifteen-minute consults for herbal and nutritional supplement prescribing. The sooner you commence on support, the more likely you are to quickly resolve symptoms. Acute appointments are available in person, via phone or on Skype.

Acute appointments can be made via phone 0488 042 221 or email. For standard naturopathy appointments you can  book online.