Hopefully we have not moved too far away from spreading peace and joy now the holidays are over, but we are also into the season of indiscriminately spreading coughs, sneezes and airborne germs.
Well theories abound – perhaps the change in water vapour in the air affecting the life of a virus. Perhaps because the days are shorter and we are spending more time wrapped up or indoors, hence the sunshine, bare skin and immunity-boosting vitamin D production are all in short supply.
Whatever the reason, there is plenty of help to be found in the natural world to see you through the sneezy season..
Water really is your best friend at this time of year. Runny noses and feverish sweating can cause dehydration, and this in turn will worsen symptoms so make sure water-drinking is high on your priority list. Steam inhalation can help unblock congested airways, and essential oils can be added to sooth and decongest. Warm drinks with a squeeze of lemon, spoonful of honey, perhaps a dash of apple cider vinegar helps sooth sore throats and ease coughs.
Mineral salt baths or a few drops of essential oil in the bathwater can ease sore muscles.
Salt water can make an effective gargle for sore throats
Whether used as a first aid remedy or a preventative, there are many supplements, herbs and essences that can boost immunity and soothe symptoms. Take them for a short time to help fight infection.
Look for remedies with vitamin C and Zinc, herbs like Echinacea, Elderberry and Cat’s Claw. Propolis (resin from a honey bee hive with natural healing properties) is available in tincture form so can be used as a gargle, and garlic can be a potent antiviral when taken in capsule form. If you are emotionally drained by the infection (and who wouldn’t be), a few drops of Dr Bach ‘Crab Apple’ remedy in your water glass can help. A few sage leaves seeped in hot water and sipped can help with an inflamed throat and mouth ulcers.
Essential oils used in a vaporiser can infuse the air with beneficial remedies; a few drops on the pillow can help with congestion in the night or aid sleep. Tea Tree oil can help combat infection, more pungent oils like Eucalyptus can clear airways and oils like Lavender and Chamomile can soothe irritated membranes and a troubled mind. Carry a few drops on a tissue so you always have it with you.
Just a note that particular herbs and essential oils are not always appropriate – in pregnancy, for children and with some medical conditions for example, so check with your health practitioner if in any doubt.
Avoid processed foods and those with added sugar.
A little good-quality protein and lots of vegetables with some fruit and plenty of fluids will be really helpful.
Some foods have natural anti-viral and immune boosting properties – garlic, elderberry, ginger and oregano for example.
Warming soft-cooked soups with a variety of vegetables are a great way to support the body, not only with nutritious vitamins and minerals, but they will be gentle on an inflamed throat and easy on the digestive system.
Don’t forget the value of resting! If you are unlucky enough to get flu you will need to be in bed to recover, but with a cold it’s quite usual to soldier on with a box of tissues. Your immune system will be actively working on your behalf to combat infection, so keep warm and rest whenever you can to conserve energy and aid the process.
Wishing you a speedy recovery!