Although we tend to think of winter as ‘cold and flu’ season, there is no real ‘season’ for colds and flu. We can get them any time of year.
But there are certain things about winter – cold, wind, rain – that can put stress on your immune system and diminish your body’s ability to fight off cold and flu viruses.
Taking care of yourself at any time of year is mostly a matter of common sense. Eat well, take your vitamins, get adequate rest and don’t overdo the partying. But attention to a few extra details can help.
Hydrate. Minus the external cues like hot weather, and with a generally lower level of activity, it’s all too easy to forget to drink water in the winter. But staying hydrated maintains cellular health and helps fight off infection. Keep liquid levels up with water and clear broths like miso. But also try functional herbal teas like nettle and echinacea.
Elderberries. Great for both prevention and treatment of colds, coughs and sore throats. The syrup is high in vitamin C and iron and has proven anti-viral and immune-boosting properties. Elderflowers are likewise great for colds and flu as they are anti-catarrhal and decongestant. Try brewing the dried flowers into a soothing tea.
Essential oils. Many have anti-viral and antibacterial properties. I love Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic Defence range. The Hand Spray is a handbag essential and the Aromatherapy Blend is great for using in vapourisers to help destroy viruses that are suspended in the air, for example after a cough or a sneeze. Other useful oils for air disinfection are lavender, eucalyptus, camphor, cajuput, rosemary, pine and sage.
Finally don’t forget to wash your hands! Hands are the main way we pass viruses from person to person and surface to surface. Wash properly and frequently during the day especially after riding on public transport, going to the toilet or before preparing food.
Pat Thomas is an award winning campaigner, journalist and author and editor of NYR Natural News. She is co-founder/director of the campaigning group Beyond GM, a trustee of the Organic Research Centre, author of Skin Deep – a guide on what’s really in the toiletries and cosmetics, and former editor of the Ecologist magazine.