Natural Cold and Flu Prevention

post by Lauren Matthews, L.Ac, MAOM

Can you believe it’s already the holiday season?  We have been fielding many questions lately at the clinic about natural ways to remedy and prevent cold and flu symptoms.

Here are our top tips:

– Nourish yourself.

Try to eat as well as you can through the winter.  Avoid refined sugars and processed foods as much as possible.  It can be challenging to eat well through the holiday season, so try to limit the times that you indulge to special occasions with family and friends, and limit the not-so-special treats (like random candy that your coworkers bring in.)

– Practice good self care.

In Chinese Medicine we think of winter as a time to slow down, conserve energy, and reduce our commitments and obligations.  Try to make more time for resting, spending quality time with loved ones, and cooking nourishing food for yourself.  When and if you get sick, stay home and try to really rest intensively.  By giving yourself the time to focus on getting better, you’ll reduce the amount of time that you’re sick overall.

– Practice good hygiene.

Yes, this means good old fashioned hand washing, and using hand sanitizer when hand washing isn’t possible (try to avoid antibacterial hand sanitizers, they increase the risk of resistant bacteria, and opt for alcohol or essential oil-based options.)  This also means practicing good sleep hygiene so that you can get good quality sleep at night.  Avoid screen time in the two hour period leading up to bedtime and try to incorporate a stress-management practice like guided meditation or gentle stretching before bedtime.

+ Supplements

Add in some extra supplementation to support your immune system.  Here at Fertile Ground we typically recommend the following supplements for daily immune support (and we sell most of them in our clinic, too!):

+ Vitamin D.

Most Minnesotans are deficient in Vitamin D, so I find that typically patients need to take a higher dose of Vitamin D (usually I recommend 5000 IUs to everyone, but sometimes an even higher dose is needed.) Vitamin D is so critically important for immune function, if you can only add one supplement to your regimen right now it should absolutely be Vitamin D.

+ a low dose of Zinc

I like the Megafoods brand of Zinc in particular, it is a low dose and food based so it’s quite easy to absorb.

+ Vitamin C

pregnant women should stick to just 250 mg/day, a food-based form of vitamin C is ideal for optimal absorption.

+ Probiotic

Take a probiotic to strengthen your digestion.  Healthy gut = healthy immune system.

+ Elderberry syrup or Elderberry Crystals

Can be taken daily for immune support, you can also take higher doses when you are sick as a natural cold and flu remedy.

+ Echinacea

Echinacea is one of the most well-researched herbs for pregnant women, it can be taken daily for immune support and you can take higher doses when you are sick as well (although pregnant women should check in with their health care provider about appropriate dosages while sick.)  I particularly like the alcohol-free Echinacea Supreme tincture from Gaia Herbs.

+ Finally, if you do end up getting sick, come in for acupuncture!

Acupuncture is great for helping your body recover from illness, and we can send you home with Chinese herbs too (which work as well if not better than over-the-counter meds.)
Last but not least, we’re trying something we haven’t tried before. The products mentioned in this post are available both at our clinic and available for you to purchase online. CLICK THIS LINK to check out our online store through wellevate.

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