Winter is in full force…and with that, so is cold and flu season. I woke up the other day feeling totally under the weather, so I began my mornings all week with a concoction of coconut milk, turmeric, honey, cinnamon and ginger … crisis averted!
My symptoms never become more than slight congestion upon waking. There is always a time and place for medicine from the pharmacy, but there is also an abundance of healing power that comes right from our kitchen.
Here are a few tips to build a holistic medicine cabinet for your home:
1. Add a little spice!
Spices such as cinnamon, turmeric and ginger have anti-inflammatory properties and have been used for years in cultures around the world to treat a variety of health problems. If you feel cold and flu symptoms coming on, try adding these spices to your cooking; or, for an ultra dose of turmeric, you can purchase in capsule form.
2. Use oil, garlic, and onion beyond your sauté pan.
Garlic and onions both contain a sulfur compound called allicin which promotes antioxidant activity and functions as a powerful antibacterial and antifungal. Try the ayurvedic practice of using garlic ear oil to alleviate symptoms from a cold or earache. It’s also been said that poking a few holes in an onion and placing it by your bedside will alleviate flu symptoms. I haven’t tried this one myself, but you don’t have much to lose by trying!
3. Embrace a little sweet and a little sour.
Both honey and apple cider vinegar are valuable kitchen staples in any natural kitchen, but especially when it comes to remedies for cold and flu season. To soothe symptoms from a cold, try heating 1/4 cup of water and mix in 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of honey. For a little extra spice and dose of anti-inflammatory power, mix in a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. These two can also be combined to make a great natural cough suppressant.
4. Create a rainbow of color in your fridge.
Filling your kitchen and diet with immune boosting fruits and vegetables will do wonders for keeping your system strong and healthy, which is especially important when our bodies are overly taxed. Adding a variety of color will ensure that we are getting a healthy and natural dose of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (compounds found in plants that have disease fighting properties) that will help our bodies ward off potential invaders.
5. And don’t forget how powerful rest and relaxation are to help you with a speedy recovery.
If you begin to feel a little congested or just generally run down, take a step back and allow your body some downtime.
These are just a few tips to get you started, but there are many ways to incorporate kitchen staples into your cold and flu fighting remedies. Please share in the comments any tried and true methods that work for you.
As the flu is touring the nation, swooping up victims left and right, the national media is campaigning for everyone to get the flu shot ASAP. But in the holistic community, not everyone agrees that a vaccine is even really necessary. There’s a lot of controversy and uncertainty surrounding the fillers used in them, their efficacy, and possible side effects.
So, regardless of whether or not you choose to get the shot, do what you can to stay strong and boost immunity with these five simple steps!
1. Eat Garlic
Garlic is a natural antibacterial agent! It’s a serious germ fighter that helps the body fight off any unwanted bacteria. The most potent, therapeutic way to consume garlic is raw. (I know, it can be a bit on the intense side!) So, instead of eating it straight up, try adding raw garlic to salad dressings, hummus and dips. Another way to ease up on the intensity is to crush a clove of garlic and eat it spread on a piece of apple…
2. Boost Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and super supporter of your immune system. It is know for decreasing the severity of colds, so even if you’ve already got the bug load up on vitamin C to help ease the pain. Great vitamin C sources in the wintertime include those dark leafy greens as well as rutabaga, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lemon and persimmon (if you live in California at least!) Want to really up the game? Have a green juice with kale, lemon and ginger everyday.
3. Get Enough Sleep and Manage Your Stress
When you compromise on sleep and experience a lot of stress, you are also weakening your body’s immune system and ability to fight off colds and flues.
It’s not a coincidence that you get sick right around the time of an exam, a big presentation at work or maybe even right after the Holidays (let’s face it: they can be very stressful, too). Prioritize active rest, like some gentle restorative yoga, practice deep breathing, meditate, go for a walk – what ever it is that works for you. But do something and get your 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
4. Ginger Up
Ginger is a great inflammation- and pain reliever. But that’s not all! It’s also an anti-viral agent helping to boost your immune system. Ginger also has a nice and warning effect on the body in the colder winter months and helps resolve mucus build up. It’s digestive benefits are also worth mentioning, off course!
5. Kick the Sugar
Let your sugar come from immunity boosting fresh fruits and sweet root vegetables, not candy bars, cookies and soda. Sugar weakens your immune system and causes inflammation in the body. Not a good combo when you want to fight off a stubborn virus!