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With the circulating virus’ this time of year the snot, sniffles, fever and chills are everywhere! The physical stress of the temperature changes, time indoors, more sugars and less exercise all contribute to the increasing colds and flus this time of year.

While it is incredibly annoying to have a cold, for many people it provides an opportunity for the body to restore. Extra sleep, days off, increased elimination can all provide the body a net benefit when it’s all said and done. Getting a low to moderate fever benefits the body greatly. Despite feeling crummy, the fever is the body’s best defense against not only organisms we don’t want but also genetic errors and toxins that all contribute to the “normal symptoms of aging” and chronic diseases.

The most common treatments that American’s utilize for colds and flus may be short-changing the body’s experience and leaving us worse off than before. Most of our over the counter cold and flu remedies contain variations of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief and fever reduction. Brand names Tylenol, Advil and more contain acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen all work via similar mechanisms in the body. While they often provide much desired pain relief, an undesireable effect that this class of drugs has on the body is diminishing the immune systems response.

Using NSAIDs during the course of a cold or flu is more likely to cause a longer duration of illness, worsening symptoms over time and the necessity for stronger medications to get through the illness. What’s worse yet, the inhibition of the immune system with these drugs prevents the immune systems most important feature from happening; memory. When the body goes through an illness, the immune system captures the experience in it’s long-term memory so that the next time we see that organism, or one similar to it we are ready to go and can address it immediately. Ideally, we experience enough illnesses in our younger years that when we reach our senior years and have lessened capacity to fight infection, our memory is so vast that we’re naturally prepared for any infection that comes our way (1).

Fortunately, natural medicine provides an incredibly diverse spectrum of healing tools that not only help relieve pain and discomfort but also strengthen the immune system along the way.

At the first sign of illness:

  • Support the immune system with a visit to the sauna. Before an illness has a chance to get settled in, boost your immunity with the fever-simulation of the sauna. Contrasting hot and cold temperature provokes lymphatic circulation and should feel great!
  • Oscillococcinum- homeopathic flu remedy that helps address the symptoms of flu regardless of which organism provokes it. (2)
  • Echinacea, Elderberry, Propolis Throat Spray – these anti-viral and immune stimulating herbs are ideal to use directly into the throat where most viral exposures get started. All 3 of these herbs function via different mechanisms to stop virus’s adhering to the tissues, interrupt virus replication and more.
  • Osha Root – chew on pieces of this powerful high mountain herb to kill virus in the upper respiratory tract. (3)
  • Rest – the worst thing we can do for ourselves at the onset of a cold or flu is to push ourselves to keep going. Stress hormones inhibit the immune systems functioning and allow infections to get a head start.
  • Avoid sugar, dairy, gluten and individual food allergies. Any food that provokes an inflammatory or mucous stimulating response will interfere in the ability of the body to fight an illness naturally and increase the pain response.Free stock photo of person, love, woman, relaxation

Relying on natural medicine for health provides countless options in healthcare. Together in conjunction with appropriate use of pharmaceutical therapies we can make the best of both modern medicine and ancient traditions. For individualized support with NSAID alternatives to pain whether for acute or chronic disease schedule an appointment today.

  1. Simona Bancos,1Matthew P. Bernard,1David J. Topham,2 and Richard P. Phipps1,* “Ibuprofen and other widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit antibody production in human cells,” Cell Immunol. 2009; 258(1): 18–28. Published online 2009 Apr 5. doi:  10.1016/j.cellimm.2009.03.007
2.RosemariePappaGertSchubackbElmarBeckbGeorgBurkardcJürgenBengeldSiergfriedLehrla “OscillococcinumR in patients with influenza-like syndromes: A placebo-controlled double-blind evaluation,” British Homoeopathic journal Volume 87, Issue 2, April 1998, Pages 69-76.
3. Glenn D.Appelt “Pharmacological aspects of selected herbs employed in Hispanic folk medicine in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, USA: I. Ligusticum porteri (osha) and Matricaria chamomilla (manzanilla),” Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 13, Issue 1, March 1985, Pages 51-55.

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Keeping our bodies strong and able to adapt to the changing tides of viral mutation is ultimately the best we can do to prevent colds and flus in the winter.  Additionally, restoring oneself in the cold, dark season will prepare us for a healthier spring and summer to come.

Simple steps include:
-Maintaining optimal nutrition with a whole foods diet and vitamin supplementation.  Avoid cold and raw foods in the wintertime to maintain the body’s internal warmth.  Ginger tea can be especially helpful to keep digestion strong.
-Get regular exercise.  The best detoxification is warming the body through exercise.
-Rest whenever your body requires it.  Sleep extra hours whenever you’re starting to feel run down.  Indulge in napping to aid restoration.
-Explore home remedies for immune support.  Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C.  Lemon water daily can aid detoxification.  Ending showers with cold water helps preserve and restore energy, etc…
-Work with a Naturopath and/or Chinese Medicine practitioner to support your organ systems to ensure optimal function.

Winter Immune Boost  Stew

Support yourself this winter with warm soups filled with immune boosting herbs and spices.

1 lb. cubed lamb meat
2 cups shitake mushrooms
2 cups barley or quinoa
1 cup chopped scallions
3 cloves chopped garlic
1-2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
6 cups filtered water
Salt and pepper to taste.

Brown meat on a skillet.  Saute scallions and garlic.  Add all ingredients
together, boil, then simmer for 90 min.
Enjoy often!

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