Winter brings with it cold and flu at a time when our immune system is usually being challenged by the festive season during which we tend to feel more stress, eat more sugary foods, drink more alcohol and get less sleep. Whilst there is no cure for the common cold or flu these tonics help strengthen the immune system, shortening the duration and severity of illness as well as alleviating symptoms. As if that weren’t good enough – they’re also all natural remedies.
The basics: Rest is crucial to recovery, this is when our body can really concentrate on the fight at hand, motivating and manoeuvring the immune system to overcome illness. This is thirsty work so make sure you stay hydrated, take warm soothing drinks to boost immunity and help alleviate symptoms, such as the classic hot water, fresh ginger, lemon and raw honey and/or golden milk (see previous posts for recipe).
Other than honey it is helpful to avoid sugar and foods that are considered to be ‘damp’ in nature within traditional chinese medicine (TCM). Damp foods are seen to clog up and hinder the body’s ability to function well, therefore limiting the immune system and creating mucus and phlegm. Some examples of foods in this category are: sugar, wheat, dairy, pasta, nuts, beer, concentrated fruit juices as well as cold and raw foods. Green, Jasmine and fresh mint tea are all warming drinks that help to clear damp from the system.
The herbal remedies: Herbs such as ginseng, echinacea, elderberries and cleavers all strengthen and tone the immune system whilst garlic, thyme, nettles and rosemary have antibacterial, antiseptic and anti viral properties. Taken as tinctures, teas or herbs included in your daily diet you will feel their benefits particularly throughout the winter months.
The homeopathic remedies: Aconite is the homeopathic remedy to give at the first onset of cold like symptoms, in this way it is used to stimulate the bodies wei qi and expel colds and flu before they are able to invade deeper into the body. If, however, the illness did manage to invade further then both Bryonia and Eupatorium Perf are two other commonly used remedies for problems affecting the respiratory tract, whilst Gelsemium is the go to remedy for flu-like symptoms including physical weakness, Rhus Too can also be used to alleviate sore and aching joints.
Keep cosy x stay well.