When it comes to winter lurgies, we’re well and truly back to normal!
We’re in the season of runny noses, sore throats, coughs and chest infections. If you’ve not already succumbed to a respiratory infection, there’s a good chance someone around you has.
How many infections a year is “normal”?
As a naturopath, I consider monthly infections in children and more than two colds a year in adults, excessive. If that’s the case in your household, some preventative strategies may help.
Prevention and treatment
Handwashing and social distancing continue to be the most effective strategies for reducing transmission. But can herbs and vitamins enhance this?
A recent review of research has found a combination of vitamins C and D, plus zinc and echinacea can increase your immunity and reduce the duration and severity of colds.
• Vitamin D: how much you need depends on individual blood levels, so you may need more than the “standard” 1,000 iu dose.
• Vitamin C: the review cited 1000 – 2,000 mg/day, which is a powerful medicinal dose. No, you can’t get this from eating oranges or other fruit!
• Caffeine: reduces the absorption and utilisation of vitamins C and D (along with many other nutrients), so avoid tea or coffee for two hours either side of taking these supplements.
• Zinc: the standard dose is 20 mg (elemental zinc) with some research citing 40mg a day. Though most studies didn’t specify dosage.
• Echinacea: efficacy may vary depending on the quality of the product, the plant species and parts used. For the best results consult a naturopath before you self-medicate.
Tip: my cold season prep includes having batches of soup in the freezer for when we’re ill.
Nothing beats rest, as your body needs energy to fight infection and heal. Life sometimes gets in the way of this but prioritise more quality time in bed as best you can.
Home remedies to ease cold symptoms
Thyme honey: a herb with mighty antibacterial and antimicrobial properties is even better when combined with manuka or similar “medi” honey.
Onion honey cough syrup: to help make phlegm in the lungs easier to get rid of.
Steam inhalations: for nasal congestion. Use only one drop of essential oil (eg tea tree or eucalyptus), in a bowl of very hot water.
Salt or sage tea gargle: 1 tsp of sea salt in a glass of warm water or make a pot of sage tea (fresh or dried). Gargle and spit out, to help relieve a sore throat.
Elder tea can be useful for sinus relief.
Food: include lots of beta-carotene rich orange vegetables butavoid alcohol, sugar and flour as much as possible.
Having too many colds or always seem to be sick? It’s time for a naturopathic tune up!