Getting your sweaters out of storage and putting your garden to bed aren’t the only things you should be doing to prepare for winter. It’s also a good time to stock your medicine and kitchen cabinets with natural remedies from your favorite health food store to have on hand to fight colds and flu.
Here are the must haves:
Echinacea –This versatile herb is the one to reach for at the first signs of cold and flu symptoms. “It is most effective as a tincture (a highly concentrated extract) but drinking tea made from a good quality plant up to five times a day is helpful, too”, says Nancy Phillips, Community Herbalist and co-author of “The Herbalist’s Way”.
Ginger – Keep a fresh piece of gingerroot in your refrigerator at all times. Boil three thin slices per cup of water to make a tea to ease nausea or stomach cramps. Extra tea can be poured into bath water to remedy body aches from the flu. Keeping a Ginger tincture on hand can be really convenient too! Just add a few droppers to your hot cup of water and voila – you have an instant warming beverage!
Garlic – Remove the papery skin from a clove of garlic and slowly suck on it to ease a sore throat, suggests Phillips. Garlic has antimicrobial properties that fight bacterial infection. Chop a clove and mix with a bit of honey to help your respiratory system recover from a cough or infection and add it to soups for extra protection against viruses.
Probiotics – “Fifty to sixty percent of our immune system is controlled by our stomach. If something like diarrhea reduces the amount of good bacteria, it means that your immune system has been compromised and you need to restore it,” says Robert Garrison, RPh, and co-author of “Pharmacist’s Guide to Over-the-Counter and Natural Remedies”. Look for Orange Naturals probiotics at your health food store, or in the natural foods section of your grocery store.
Essential Oils – “Use medicinal grade essential oils only as they are the most effective and pure”, says natural medicine writer, Stephanie Marohn, author of “Natural Medicine First Aid Remedies”. Apply a couple of drops of lavender or peppermint essential oils on the temples and back of the head to combat headaches from colds or flu. A few drops of juniper essential oil can be used in the bath or combined with almond oil to massage into body aches. Eucalyptus steam inhalations are particularly effective for coughs and bronchitis, says Suzann Wang, ND, Palo Alto California. Simply fill a mug halfway with boiling water, add three to five drops of eucalyptus essential oil, cup your free hand over your nose and the mug and inhale the vapors for three to five minutes.
So how can we avoid getting sick in the first place? Avoid sugar (an immune system suppressant), reduce mucous forming foods like dairy and get adequate sleep. Above all, drink lots of water! Says Dr. Suzanne Lawton, Naturopathic Physician in Tigard, Oregon.
* Suggested remedies are for adults only