Updated: Mar 10, 2020
Cold and dark, this time of year, the earth lies dormant, awaiting the return of the sun, and with it, life. Far beneath the frozen surface, a heartbeat waits, until the moment is right, to spring. If we keep in-tune with our seasonal instincts we would be sleeping these longer nights and doing less but for many us the modern world is very out of tune with these patterns which takes its toll on our health. There seems to be an increase of people with severe colds and flu, even early on in the season this year. We need to be much more proactive in our approach to keeping these viruses at bay and so have put together some things that I personally use over winter.
As many of you know antibiotics are of no use with flu and colds but there are many ways we can boost our health and immune systems to prevent or aid quicker recovery. Many old traditional remedies are beginning to be revived, becoming more widely used again and found to be incredibly successful. If you are unwell please do stay at home as much as possible, you will recover faster and stop these viruses spreading.
First of all, the obvious get lots of sleep, keep warm, eat well and keep stress levels low. I know for many, this season can be added stress, but take time to pause about what is it necessary to do and what is caught up in commercial madness?
So what to do if you have Flu?
Firstly you do need to keep eating, to help keep up your glucose levels eat carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables. If you are a meat eater the old favorite chicken and veg soup is reputedly still a winner. Chicken contains a natural amino acid called cysteine, which can thin the mucus in your lungs and make it less sticky so you can expel it more easily. This is for freshly made soup not the canned variety. (If you have a bacterial infection a fast is sometimes recommended, however flu is caused by a virus.) Keep well hydrated. Coconut water has a real reason for its recent trendy popularity. I discovered it 20 years ago travelling in India when I became really ill. An American doctor whose job was attending global disasters advised me to use it. He explained that in some areas when they were out of saline for intravenous drips they use coconut water direct as a saline replacement its that closely matched! So it does rehydrate you fast! Avoid paracetamol and aspirin and products containing these, e.g. Lemsip, Day nurse etc. These bring down the body temperature. It is the rise in temperature that kills the virus. You only need to bring the temp down if it 39* plus. If it’s 39.4 you need to go to hospital for urgent medical attention. The need to keep the body warm may be the reason for the old tale of eating a curry for flu along with all the herbs and spices, could this actually work?! So speaking of Curry, what spices, herbs and vitamins are useful in fighting or preventing flu?
Vitamin D and Garlic
Garlic contains three essential compounds that give the herb its incredible abilities: Alliin, alliinase and allicin. Together, alliin and alliinase form the compound allicin. In nature, this compound is produced as part of a defence mechanism – a reaction to potential pathogens and fungi. This anti-viral and anti-fungal quality of the chemical makes it very popular in a number of treatments, however once activated, allicin has a very short life span, often fading after a few hours. The allicin in your food is often diminished by the time it reaches your plate. This is why supplements like 'Allicin max' are so sought-after – they contain concentrated amounts of allicin whereas many other brands of garlic supplements reduce or don't have allicin in as this is what gives garlic its potent smell!
Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin! It is an amazingly effective antimicrobial agent, producing 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. Optimizing your levels will not only help send a cold or flu virus packing, it can prevent them from invading your body in the first place. (it's important to remember that if you're taking high dose vitamin D supplements, you ALSO need to take vitamin K2.)
Thyme, Rosemary, Sage and Oregano.
In France it was common place once upon a time, to burn rosemary and thyme in hospitals as a way of keeping the air clean and preventing contamination. Thyme protects against airborne pathogens and encourages the increase of the white blood cell count in the body. Rosemary is good for the respiratory system. Often used together, they also promote courage and confidence and lift heavy moods, bringing an increase in energy and vitality.
Many shamanic practitioners, old witch lore, herbalists, modern new age and Reiki practitioners do a 'smudging' of homes to cleanse them before treatments or ceremonies. This literally is a cleansing of the air.
Research has proven that burning sage removes a whopping 94% of bacteria in the air. When the researchers tested the air a day later, it was still clea