This is a time of year for various ‘seasonal bugs’.
You might have already had a sore throat, blocked-up nose, relentless cough and aches and pains.
The following information might prove helpful in controlling the dreaded ‘lurgy’
– as always, prevention is as important as well as managing the symptoms.
Herbal remedies work remarkably well for winter ailments and you might want to plan a visit to a local medical herbalist (www.thegreenherbalistclinic.com) for health review and remedies.
The Clinic offers a 15 minutes initial free consultation to see if herbal medicine can help you.
Food is medicine!!
The flu can cause nausea, and rich foods may not be appealing. Bland foods, such as toast or brown rice, chicken soup or vegetable-based meals may be easier to eat. Not only are they easier to digest by an already stressed digestive tract but the meals can ensure that your body gets enough vitamins and minerals to repair and keep the body in optimum health.
Stay well hydrated: hot drinks are especially good as the steam can help loosen mucus -such as herbal teas. The ginger in this soothing drink may reduce nausea and lemon
is a good source of vitamin C alongside having antibacterial components.
Live bacteria from non-flavoured (fermented) yoghurt can help with combatting cold and flu viruses. It is also a good source of protein – the repair material of the body.
Beta Glucans (whole grains, oats, bran, wheat, and barley): extraordinarily effective immune protectors of the body.
They are also found in fungi such as reishi, shitake and maitake mushrooms.
Eat lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system thus lowering the risk of getting unwell. To maximise the nutrients – especially antioxidants - eat an as wide range of colours of foods such as - red tomatoes and peppers, green leafy vegetables, dark blueberries, beetroot, grapes, aubergines and plums, yellow peaches and nectarines and so on.
Leafy greens contain a good amount of fibre and are excellent sources of Vitamin C, iron and folic acid are important to support the immune system and have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Boost your vitamin C with lots of vegetables and fruit. Pineapple, apple, berries, citrus fruit, mango and kiwi fruit, are all high in vitamin C.
Boost your zinc. It’s a nutrient you want to keep within optimal range at this time of year. You’ll find high levels of zinc in meat, eggs and poultry, seafood, dairy products, chickpeas & lentils, Brazil nuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds.
Boost your vitamin A, which is found in the diet in two forms: beta-carotene (found in red, yellow and orange plant foods) and retinol, or ‘active vitamin A’ (found in high-fat animal foods such as eggs, butter, liver and full-fat dairy products).
Vitamin D: A large 2017 study published in the British Medical Journal found vitamin D to be effective for preventing colds and flu. Vitamin D is critical for immune health; unlike most essential nutrients, however, you can’t rely on food to replenish your stores. The main source of vitamin D is not food, but sunshine; your bare skin produces vitamin D when it comes into contact with the sun’s UV rays.
Zinc: A severe deficiency of zinc is known to suppress immune function, and even mild to moderate deficiency can have a negative impact on the immune system’s ability to deal with the infection. Multiple studies have shown that low levels of zinc are associated with an increased risk of infections such as pneumonia in elderly adults and children in developing countries.
Increase your intake of Garlic – it has antiviral properties which may help reduce the number of colds you get. You can add garlic to soups, casseroles, stir-fries and pasta sauces as well as make your own whole-grain garlic bread. If you prefer not to eat garlic in your cuisine then, you can take garlic in the form of supplements.
Things to avoid To facilitate the greatest way of getting better is to remember not to get overtired – thus remembering to get some rest / sleep. With festive stresses upon us - it is good to remember that the emotional stress is also taxing on the already stretched immune system.
Stress & sugar feed bad bacteria. Hormones secreted during the stress response and sugary drinks and snacks promote the growth of ‘bad’ bacteria, which are more likely to cause disease than promote health. Stress raises cortisol which over time can increase inflammation. Stress also decreases white blood cells (the body’s and immune system defence mechanism) making you further susceptible to infections.
Heavy meals - your body is at present under a lot of strain because of the illness and digestion is likely to not work at its optimum level to process foods. Dairy products, especially milk, can often increase mucus production in some people and make the phlegm thicker and more irritating. There are plenty of substitutes such as soya, oat and almond milk.
Here are some recipes that might be useful in managing winter illnesses
Recipe for chicken broth / immune system boost and vital for recuperation:
2 litre of water 1 large onion 2 peeled carrots 3 celery sticks 4 garlic cloves 1 cooked organic chicken carcass 2 handfuls of fresh young nettle leaves a handful of fresh thyme 4 bay leafs
Roughly chop ingredients and put them in a large saucepan with water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cover – simmer gently for 3 hours – checking the water content. Once cooled, sieve the solid materials and serve in a mug. Broth keeps a month in a sealed container in a fridge
Cold hands and feet, chilblains (painful itchy blisters)
Internal use: Tea: Yarrow, Elderberry / Elderflower, Hawthorn, Ginger, Chilli, Cinnamon and Rosemary in a 1 litre of boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes.
External use: a soothing balm – use base of Marigold / Calendula oil – infused with Yarrow, Comfrey, Chilli, Ginger, Clove, Juniper and Rosemary. Your friendly herbalist (such as myself) can prescribe you herbal medicine in the form of tinctures, teas, capsules, syrups, oxymels, salves, ointments and
It is important to keep the hands and feet warm during the winter months. My lovely mum has knitted socks and gloves for all the family to keep us nice and warm during winter.
Cold and flu tea 1tsp of each: Elderflower, peppermint, yarrow. Steep in hot water for 15 minutes and drink.
Coughs and colds – herbal syrup ( prepared by your herbalist) Thyme and liquorice syrup, marshmallow, echinacea, lobelia, elderberry, elecampane and wild cherry bark.
Sore throat gargle Make a tea of sage (normal garden sage is excellent), steep it for 15 minutes and then add lemon and ginger. Gargle with the cool mixture up to 3 times a day and keep in a fridge in a covered container for up to 3 days.
Relaxing Herbal Bath
150g Epsom salts 20g of fresh / dried Linden blossom (Tilia europea) 5 drops (gtt) of lavender oil 5 drops (gtt) of rose essential oil Pour oils and linden blossom into a blender and pulverise - add the mix in a muslin cloth and tie it in the hot tap and enjoy the bath (minimum of 15-20 min) allowing the salts to diffuse to the bathwater. Bliss!!!
Below you can see how to make a herbal bath bag