Over the years, I have gradually refined my winter regime and have tried various things for immune support.
The shortening days and cold weather from September onwards here in the UK, seem to herald the arrival of all sorts of bugs. This coincides with the start of a new school year and the Christmas and New Year celebrations at the end of December add extra stresses and strains that also make us more susceptible.
It can be seen as healthy for us to catch an occasional cold. The body can use the runny nose, and other unpleasant excretions, as a way to also eliminate toxins and other accumulated nasties.
Media advertisements encourage us to believe that we should purchase products that suppress all these natural processes and allow us to carry on regardless. Pushing our bodies to perform and suppress ailments can lead to bigger problems later so I encourage you to listen to, and work with, your body. Sometimes rest is exactly what we need and taking a little time out works wonders, however inconvenient taking a bit of time out might be.
My homeopathic remedy kit must have saved me a fortune over the years, I have used that more than anything else for myself and my family for normal day-to-day ailments.
I believe some that immune support is beneficial during the winter months – prevention rather than cure.
Please note – these views are my own and must not be taken as medical advice. You must do your own research before deciding to do the same.
Vitamin C is needed by our cells to keep the immune system strong and neutralizes the free radicals in the body. This reduces any inflammation and swelling. We need additional supplies when we are off-colour or under a lot of stress. The amount and type to take vary for each individual.
It is found naturally in many fruit and vegetables. Freshly squeezed lemon juice and orange juice are particularly good sources.
A commonly used method that many swear by is taking vitamin C at the start of a cold. They gradually increase the dose to one that makes the stools become loose, then ease the dose down a bit. I have found that works for me sometimes. Care needs to be taken and, if you are sensitive to water soluble vitamin C then do not do this (water soluble vitamin C can affect the kidneys in some individuals).
Fat soluble vitamin C, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Life Extension is a good brand), is an oil soluble vitamin C prepared from ascorbic acid with palmitic acid. Since this form of vitamin C is fat soluble it is stored in the lipid cell membrane until the body is ready to put it to use, therefore extending its availability to the cells, unlike the water soluble form.
Various supplements are available for immune boosting. A favourite of mine is Cytoplan*’s Immunovite. I have found it good to take as a preventative and also during illness. (They also do a children’s version Kid’s Immunovite)
It contains 1-3,1-6 beta glucan (a powerful immune-priming nutritional supplement. This unique compound primes the innate immune system to help the body defend itself against viral and bacterial invaders. Beta Glucan helps heal wounds and has anti-inflammatory activity) , Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), selenium, and zinc.
*I am a practitioner for Cytoplan’s products use discount code FC010 for a 10% discount on all your orders so do order some.
Olive Leaf extract
This is believed to have anti-viral properties and is popular at the moment as something to take before or after catching a cold. It can be purchased from health food stores. This article by Life Extension talks of the wider benefits of this plant.This article by Life Extension talks of the wider benefits of Olive Leaf extract.
These tinctures have been used since ancient times to boost the immune system
Many people take echinacea in the belief that it will boost immunity. Studies have had mixed results. The strongest evidence for echinacea as a cold treatment comes from studies of Echinacea purpurea. It is readily available from health food stores. (It is also possible to take it as a homeopathic remedy instead of taking the tincture).
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria Tomentosa)
A vine used traditionally in Peruvian medicine for the treatment of a wide range of health problems, as an anti-inflammatory, for digestive complaints, arthritis and to treat wounds, some believe it has anti-viral properties too.
Cat’s Claw can often be found combined with other ‘immune’ herbs with similar healing properties, such as the Echinacea. It is made from the bark of the vine that has to be at least eight years old.
There are many homeopathic remedies that people use because they believe they can help boost the immune system. There are remedies also, of course, for the different stages/symptoms of infection.
I mentioned Echinacea above, that you can take in homeopathic form instead of the tincture – some take it once a week during the winter months. There is a remedy for Cat’s Claw too.
“ABC” is a combination remedy that is sometimes also called ‘new beginnings’ and can be taken at the very start of cold symptoms. (It is a combination remedy that contains Aconite, Belladonna and Chamomile)
Aconite on its own is effective at the start of infection. If fluey symptoms develop then Gelsemium is often the indicated remedy.
Influenza nosodes – The up to date combination can be purchased from any of the main homeopathic pharmacies – I do this each year to give my family. (There are differing views about using homeopathy for prophylaxis so you will need to make up your own mind on this one).
Eating a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables (ideally organic) is really the place to start. Ginger and garlic are believed to have anti-bacterial properties.
A drink made from lemon juice with some ginger and honey can be soothing. The lemon is high in vitamin C (as detailed above). Ginger helps us sweat out the toxins in the body, which is useful if we have a cold or flu. Ginger is also helpful for settling upset stomachs, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweats. Honey soothes a sore throat, making it an effective and natural cough suppressant. This improves the body’s ability to fight infection and decreases the risk of fevers. The natural sweetness of honey also balances the tartness of the lemon and the ginger’s spice, giving honey, lemon and ginger tea its pleasant taste.
If you would like to ask any questions about any of this do book a free 15 minute ‘coffee break chat’ with me.