Hygiene – wash your hands, wash door handles and wipe over phone handsets and remote controls with antibacterial wipes. A drop of eucalyptus oil on a cotton pad is great for door handles. Teach children to put them hand over their mouth when they sneeze or cough. Remind adults to do this as well!
Babies and the elderly – please be considerate of young children and babies and our older generation when you are unwell. The elderly can have weaker immune systems and a cold or flu can leave them unwell for weeks and develop into further infection. Probiotics are particularly useful for children in day-care.
Your herbal immune squad – look for herbal formulas containing Echinacea root, Olive leaf extract and Andrographis for strengthening your immune system, fighting infections, boosting white blood cells and helping to reduce the symptoms of colds and flus, mucous and congestion. The herb Astragalus is marvellous as an immune tonic and can be used long term for people prone to sore throats, colds, flus, and when recovering from illnesses such as glandular fever, shingles and chronic fatigue syndrome. The amino acid lysine is clinically proven to reduce the recurrence of cold sores and shingles.
Essential minerals and vitamins – zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D are essential for healthy immune function. Take these supplements daily during winter. Your GP can test your vitamin D levels and your Naturopath can test your zinc levels. I recommend a good quality practitioner only supplement zinc and vitamin C powder taken daily throughout winter. Vitamin C is also a natural antihistamine.
Food as medicine and fuel – remember to continue to eat well and keep up your vegetable intake. This can be harder in winter when we crave warm food rather than a simple salad or green smoothie. Think of roasted and steamed veggies, protein in each meal (lean chicken, tuna, fish, organic tofu, lentils). There are great recipes online such as http://susanjoyfultable.com/recipes/soup/creamy-carrot-soup/. Broths and home-made chicken soup are wonderful for the body and the soul. Keep up your fluids with a thermos of herbal tea during the day, this will keep you warm as well.
Sinus congestion – essential oils are a natural, non-toxic way to help clear congestion and aid breathing. Read the labels carefully and use 100% pure essential oils. A drop on a tissue can be inhaled during the day or put under your pillow when you sleep. Always be cautious with children and mix with a carrier oil before applying to skin.
This is general non-specific advice and I recommend a naturopathic consultation for specific health conditions and a targeted immune protocol.