Prep Your Natural Medicine Chest for Cold and Flu Season

I have the type of job where I can’t be out sick. I don’t have paid sick days and, more importantly, my patients expect me to be there and healthy. In four years of treating everyone else’s coughs and sniffles I have only been sick once (knock on wood). This is what I keep on hand to stay healthy and, if something does get past my defenses, to get rid of it quickly. Bonus points: these are all items that are readily available to most anyone.

These remedies do require that you tune into your body so you catch those early signs of cold or flu. Don’t just push through it and hope it goes away…unless you want to be sick. Sometimes people, consciously or unconsciously, let themselves get sick because it is the only way they give themselves permission to slow down and take a rest. If that’s you, well then, slow down and take a rest.

PREVENTION IS KEY. There is a lot you can do to boost your immunity so you don’t get sick in the first place. I have written several blog posts about this. Follow these and you may not need the remedies below!

http://www.dogwoodhealingarts.com/blog/boost-your-natural-immunity

http://www.dogwoodhealingarts.com/blog/boostyourimmunesystem

http://www.dogwoodhealingarts.com/blog/fallhealthtips

TAKE ELDERBERRY SYRUP. This can be used as a preventative or taken at the first signs of a cold or flu. Elderberries have immune stimulating properties and are anti-viral so you can take elderberry syrup daily throughout the winter. If you are traveling I would starting taking this a week before and continue for a week after travel to prevent illness. Studies have found that taking elderberries significantly shortens and lessens the severity of cold or flu symptoms so start taking this at the first sign of cold or flu. You can get elderberry syrup at most natural foods markets (Sprouts, Whole Foods, independent stores) and from me!

MAKE SCALLION TEA. Scallion bulb (called Cong bai in Chinese Medicine) induces sweating to move out a virus. It is most effective when taken as a tea at the FIRST sign of chills and fever to induce sweating. Steep 1 or 2 ounces of the lower white portion of the scallions in 1 cup of boiling water for 20-30 minutes.  You can also add a few slices of ginger. Add honey if desired. Drink one or two cups and go get cozy under a bunch of blankets to induce sweating.

 MAKE GINGER ROOT TEA. Fresh ginger root (called Sheng jiang in Chinese Medicine) is naturally antibiotic and anti-viral. At the FIRST sign of cold, mucous accumulation or cough, slice up a handful of ginger root, fill a two quart pot with water, bring it to a boil, then shut off the heat, add the ginger root, cover and steep for 30-45 minutes.  Add honey or apple juice to sweeten. Sip all day long.  You’ll need to reheat unless you transfer it to a thermos. NOTE: if you have a sore throat or are pregnant this is not the remedy for you. 

OTC TEAS. Traditional Medicinals has a nice line of teas you can purchase at the same places you can get elderberry syrup. Try Throat Coat for a sore throat. If you have a cough Gypsy Cold Care has includes hyssop, an anti-viral herb that is good for coughs. Do not use either tea if you are pregnant.

While not a home remedy ACUPUNCTURE can improve your immune system. And, if you are starting to come down with something, we can likely shorten the severity and duration with acupuncture. I will also usually prescribe an herbal formula that is specific for what you are experiencing. in Chinese Medicine we distinguish between cold and heat illnesses and prescribe appropriately for best results.

Seasonal changes are the best time to come in for a tune-up! Book on-line at www.dogwoodhealingarts.com