Healthwise: Battle cold and flu naturally this season

December 23, 2012 4:55 pm

Healthwise: Battle cold and flu naturally this season

Jennifer Chauhan

Ottawa is covered with snow, residents are busy preparing for the winter holidays and anticipating meals shared with friends and family. As wondrous as this season is, it is also prime time for colds and overtaxed immune systems.

It seems that we are being hit particularly hard in Ottawa this year with those affected being run down for weeks at a time, completely exhausted and unable to maintain their normal busy pace. The best way to survive cold and flu season is by building up a strong immune system and taking action to protect yourself against illness.

I had the chance to sit down with Dr. Penny Kendall-Reed, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, who shared natural solutions for these two strategies.

Strategy 1: Build a strong immune system

Building your immune system naturally is not as difficult as it seems when using a combination of supplements and healthy lifestyle choices.

Jamieson’s FluShield™: An echinacea-based product unlike any other brand, FluShield™ helps to boost the immune system and protect against the onset of cold and flu symptoms. Kendall-Reed, who is not a representative of the company, explains that Jamieson has isolated the t-cell part of echinacea, which boost the immune system, unlike other echinacea products that also consist of isobutylamide, which can depress the immune system.

Probiotics: According to Hippocrates, “all diseases begin in the gut.” The truth of this statement has been proven more so over recent years and Dr. Penny Kendall-Reed agrees that the health of your gut and your immune system go hand-in-hand and therefore recommends a probiotic for adults and children alike.

Sleep: A full eight hours of sleep is best. But if you cannot quite manage the full eight hours over the holidays, Penny recommends a melatonin supplement that will encourage your body to achieve a healing and more restorative stage of sleep. Contrary to popular misconception, melatonin supplements are not sedatives and are non-addictive, but instead increase the body’s ability to combat disease.

Strategy 2: Protect yourself against illness

Zinc lozenges: An easy way to fight infection this season is by sucking on zinc lozenges. Our mucus membrane is the first line of defense when we are exposed to a virus, for example when someone coughs on us. Zinc lozenges help lubricate the mucus membrane and act as an anti-viral and therefore better protect us from those who are infected.

Oil of oregano: Oil of oregano is a natural anti-bacterial and just a few drops can ward off illness. However, be sure to mix the drops with juice to avoid a burning sensation in the throat.

Ginger & Garlic: Garlic is an antimicrobial and ginger is an anti-inflammatory as well as an anti-viral – so cook with it as much as you can, or take as supplements to keep your body in fighting form.

Hand-washing: Be diligent when it comes to hand-washing, especially when working on computers or using public transport. It is the simplest way to avoid getting sick.

Exercise: Exercise is a great way to prevent illness because it boosts white blood cell count, and helps to remove toxins and inflammatory markers from the body.  It also helps to oxygenate all tissues. However, if you are sick, avoid strenuous exercise as it raises blood pressure, which can actually increase replication of a virus.

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