Natural support for cold and flu
So much has changed lately! The days are short, the leaves turned yellow and brown, the temperatures fall and the Christmas lights are on – the colds and flu season must be at peak then?
Fever, muscle ache, sore throat, sinus infections or coughing – all of those can be a sign of compromised immune system. The ‘bug’ going around the office isn’t usually an issue, as our very efficient natural defences fight against pathogens daily to keep them at bay – e.g., activation of immune system cells can manifest as fever – most bacteria cannot survive above 36.6 Celsius degrees, so muting the fever with medication isn’t always such a great idea. However, when we’re depleted in nutrients, don’t take enough rest or simply reach our capacity to deal with different stressors, e.g. cold weather, chronic disease or emotional trauma, the defence system breaks down and the cold starts to take over.
According to Five Elements (5E) model, autumn is the metal element with lungs and large intestines at peak. They, together with skin, are responsible for elimination of toxins. Thanks to lungs we remove excess of CO2 from the body and replenish cells with vital oxygen. They also serve as first-line defence against air pollution. Thanks to colon we get rid of by-products of digestion, detoxification, immune system and circulation, e.g. medication, alcohol, bile, insoluble fibre or hormones. Finally, thanks to the large surfaces of skin, we secrete excess mineral salts and circulating toxins. Together with other body systems, those organs work extremely hard to keep us clean and healthy. Any weaknesses in the metal element will manifest in disordered function of lungs, skin or disrupted bowel movement, this explains why we are more prone to illness now then ever.
Whatever the reason, getting ill is a clear sign from the body asking us to slow down and focus on our needs.Colds and flus take us right where we need to be – to bed. When you start feeling uneasy, pay attention to your symptoms and allow yourself to pause – what you need in first instance is rest. Then, you can incorporate some of the advice on how to support yourself naturally, but if you don’t feel any better after 3 days – or if you experience any other symptoms – please seek medical advice.
- Oil pulling:
- This technique has been known for many centuries and is used by many Asian cultures. Coconut oil is considered to have antimicrobial properties and its presence in mouth enhances production of saliva, which also contains antimicrobial agents. If you decide to continue with this technique for longer, you might consider switching to any vegetable oil as this may prove more cost-effective without compromising on the results much.
- How to: As a first thing in the morning, take a teaspoon of extra virgin coconut oil and swirl around your mouth for 15-20 minutes (pull as if you were tasting wine). Spit out to the bin, rinse your mouth with a cup of warm water and brush your teeth with a separate toothbrush. Eat breakfast and brush your teeth again with your regular toothbrush. Repeat every morning for at least a week, but you’ll achieve better results if you carry on for much longer.
- Warming up sinuses:
- How to: Heat up about a water glass of dried beans on a dry pan (low heat) – use green lentils, kidney beans, white beans, mung beans or any other in a dried form.
- Once very warm, transfer to a sock and create a heating bag. Place on the forehead in the evening when in bed (might need to use a towel when the bag is too hot).
- You can re-use the beans for a couple of times until they start turning brown.
- Breathing balm:
- How to: Buy natural essential oils of peppermint, thyme or eucalyptus. Add 2-3 drops to a teaspoon of coconut oil and massage onto the sinuses and around nose (e.g. after using the heating bag to relieve congestion).
- When suffering coughs, you can also use the paste to massage onto your chest and back.
- How to: To relieve cough and aid breathing, bring 2 pints of water to boil and add 4 drops essential oil of eucalyptus or thyme, place the mixture on a desk or table, sit down and cover your head with a towel. Inhale the steam for 10min. Repeat at least once a day.
- Above all, accept that your health is compromised and stay at home. If possible, postpone work commitments or, if necessary, request to work from home.
- Use this time to get back to yourself – try meditation or mindfulness techniques, reach for a favourite book or music album or simply close your eyes and listen to the sound of sea and bonfire (https://www.noisli.com/). Try to let go of your worries and get proper sleep – just listen to your body and it will tell you what it needs.
- Consider getting Epsom salts and use in bath once a week to relax (small bags available in Holland and Barrett, if you enjoy it it’s more cost-effective to buy large bags online).
- Healing drinks:
- To warm up and induce sweating:
Ginger tea: bring half pint of water to boil in a small saucepan. Turn off and add 2 Tbsp of grated ginger root. Cover with a saucer and allow to brew for 10min. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a small amount of raw honey and sip slowly. Drink in the evening when in bed. Make sure you’re dressed warm – try wearing socks in bed for the first half an hour or so.
- For mucous and wet cough:
Bring a cup of water to boil, add pinch of cinnamon, 1 clove and ½ tsp of dried ginger. Strain and sip slowly.
- When you have a fever it is especially important to drink more water, although avoid drinking it straight from the fridge.
- Healing foods:
- Increase consumption of garlic, leeks and onions – in first week you can start a day with a garlic toast: melt 1 tsp butter on a small pan, add 2-3 pressed garlic cloves, quickly season with black pepper and salt and take of the heat. Spread a slice of toasted bread with butter and add fried garlic on top. Now you get why you shouldn’t go to work?
- Prepare a healing chicken broth from the recipe attached – the longer you cook it the better, even for up to 3-4 hours and you’ll notice the chicken meat and bones will start to fall apart. You can season the broth with miso and drink as a tea or use as a base for your favourite soup.
- Try making the French onion soup from this recipe.
- Other foods that support immune system and metal element include ginger (both ground and fresh root), chili, black pepper, cardamom and cloves.
Finally, try to eat 2-3 hot meals per day. Although you’re tired and aching, this is the time when good nutrition is key. Favour soups, stews and casseroles over other foods as they will not only be easy to digest, but also help to keep your body hydrated.
Click on the picture to get your free copy of a Healing Chicken Broth recipe:
Author’s disclaimer: The advice given in this article was written with informative purpose in mind and is not designed to replace medical advice or treatment. If you take any medication, please consult with your practitioner first before applying any of the advice above.