Winter Ills and Chills
There are several things that you can do to avoid or shorten winter illness. Below are some steps to take to boost your immunity as you feel yourself becoming sick. These may help you to fend off cases of flu, colds, or minor infections, and are especially helpful if you do them as early as possible.
Get Rest As Soon As Possible
Many people ignore the early warning signs of illness and keep working until they ‘drop.’ You will take longer to heal if you allow the illness to get a foothold. If you feel a sore throat, headache, congestion, etc. coming on, take it easy. You may consider taking a day off of work now so that you don’t have to take two or three days off later on.
Eat Very Lightly Or Not At All
With all illnesses, the appetite is diminished. This is a natural response of the body. Energy is needed to fight off the ‘bug’ and the body doesn’t have the energy to process food. In addition, the digestion of food slows down considerably in any fever greater than 99F. Give your digestive tract a rest! Even a child can tolerate a modified fast of broths, juices and steamed vegetables for 2-3 days.
Drink Plenty Of Fluids
This standard advice is, in fact, good advice. You can clear a ‘bug’ out of your system with lots of high-quality water and herbal teas.
Eliminate All Sugar
Sweets, baked goods (including bread) soft drinks, eggs and dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice-cream). Sugar suppresses the action of infection-fighting white blood cells, while dairy, wheat, and eggs contribute to excessive mucus production.
- Take Immunity-Boosting Supplements. (Child’s dose in parenthesis)
- Vitamin C: take 500 mg (100-250 mg) every 2 hours with a small amount of food. Vitamin C in these amounts can cause loose stool which is helpful since constipation contributes to toxicity.
- Vitamin A: take 25, 000 I.U. (10,000 I.U.) 3 times daily. This is a high dose of Vitamin A and cannot be safely taken at this level for long periods of time, but during an acute cold or infection, it can be safely tolerated at these levels for a few days. Be sure to only use the natural form of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is helpful as a supplement when ill because during an infection the body has difficulty converting beta-carotene to Vitamin A. Women who are pregnant should not take high doses of Vitamin A.
- Zinc: Take 75-100 mg (25-50 mg) once daily with a small amount of food. If you have a sore throat you may find throat lozenges with both Vit C and Zinc as a nice way to take these supplements.
Take Immunity-Enhancing Herbs
1-2 capsules or 30 drops of tincture every 2 hours is a safe adult dose for the following herbs:
Echinacea Spp. (Purple Cone Flower)
Berberis Vulgaris (Oregon Grape) or Hydrastis Canadensis (Goldenseal). Both of these herbs contain the same active constituent, Berberine, however Goldenseal is an endangered species.
Commiphora Myrrha (Myrrh)
Olea Europaea (Olive Leaf Extract)
Dress in layers of natural fibers: silk, cotton, or polypropylene long underwear, Tshirts or sweaters. Wrap a scarf around your neck indoors and out and cover your head while outdoors. Thwart the “external pernicious influences” as the Chinese say.
Helpful Meal Ideas
Eat a plateful of steamed onions and carrots 2-3 times a day. Season with tamari or gomasio (ground sesame seed with sea salt).
Peel one whole head of garlic. Add peeled cloves and one teaspoon of sage to 2 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Sieve the cloves out of the broth and mash with a fork, then add back to the soup. Add cayenne pepper and olive oil or pesto sauce (I always keep pesto frozen in ice cube trays and defrost 1-2 cubes as needed) to taste.
Slice several onions thinly, and slowly saute with 1-2 Tablespoon olive oil and curry powder to taste. Cook over low heat until onions begin to be caramelized.
Simmer 6 cups of water with 1 oz. kombu (8-10 3 inch pieces), sliced carrot, chopped onion, sliced burdock root, 3-4 cloves of garlic for 30 minutes. Remove kombu from broth, slice and return to broth. Adjust seasoning with freshly grated ginger and tamari or miso. Vegetables can be strained from broth and pureed to be served separately or eaten together in the soup.
Hot Ginger Lemonade
Grate 2-inch piece of ginger (I keep ginger root in my freezer at all times, it is very easily grated while frozen). Add to 2-3 cups of water, simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the juice of 2-3 lemons and 1 teaspoon of honey. Sprinkle with a small pinch of cayenne and enjoy!
Slippery Elm Gruel
Add fruit juice or herbal tea to several ounces of slippery elm (Ulmus Fulva) powder. Stir well and eat. It can be added to oatmeal or cooked cereals. Concentrated fruit juices should be eliminated or at least diluted with three parts water as all fruit juices are high in simple sugars (see rule #4 other side). Immunity boosting tea can be used for even better results.
Freshly juiced green juices, carrot and beet juices are all good. Dilute and sip slowly.
Continue treatment for 2-3 days after the disappearance of symptoms, although dosage can be tapered. Even though you may be feeling significantly better, your immune system is still recovering and you can overwhelm it by returning too quickly to a regular diet.
Dianne Farley- Jones, M.D.
*The information on these documents available on the Alpine Clinic website is not intended to take the place of a consultation with a licensed physician. It is strictly intended for educational purposes, and should not be used to diagnose, cure, prescribe or treat any specific disease.