Winter brings jackets, the shivers and interiorization. We spend more time indoors-transferring bacteria from surface to face from limb. All the while, our immune systems are compromised. We need, therefore, take precaution. Here are 10 effective ways to prevent and combat the winter cold and flu that do not involve medications, doctors or controversial flu shots:
1. Sambucol, or Elderberry has been scientifically proven to shorten the duration of the flu. Sambucus nigra, or the European elderberry is a potent anti viral that inhibits the flu. Historically regarded a medicine and culinary ornament, its flowers and leaves have been known to reduce swelling and inflammation. Ingest in tasty muscat sweet syrup form, as gummies or Lozenge (often with Zinc).
2. Echinacea is a purple coneflower plant whose leaves, stems, flower, and roots increase white blood cells—which in turn boost the immune system. The ‘sea urchin’ (echinos in greek) herbaceous perennial originated with the Native American tribes of North America. It was used as a painkiller, poultice for wounds, anti-inflammatory for colds and adopted by traders, immigrants and ethnobotanists. Several studies conducted by scientists from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy concluded that echinacea could reduce “a person’s chances of catching a cold by 58%” and the length of a cold by almost two days. Taken with Goldenseal, in tea or supplement form, flus become highly preventable at their onset.
3. CITRUS—Vitamin C—Oranges, grapefruit, lemons: Conveniently abundant during flu season, eat them fresh and in varieties! Navels, mandarins, minneolas, grapefruit—just one orange a day supplies you with 100% daily. It’s better to eat the fruits or to blend them in juices and smoothies with all of their fiber. Fresh, unpasteurized orange juice is best, when possible, and especially flu-fighting when blended with fresh ginger (see #5). Fireballs at Juice Press are packed with ginger, acerola and vitamin C. They help clear and balance the throat and sinuses. I always carry these in my bag.
4. Ginger—add raw cut root to boiling water, lemon and honey—a perfect sore throat remedy! Ginger’s warm and spicy flavor is derived from the antirhinoviral sesquiterpenes aromatic compounds, which kills the cold rhinovirus. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae, angiosperm family of over 1300 species of plants, with its trapezoid shape and branched underground presence. With Far East origins in the subtropics, studies validate it inhibits replication of the human respiratory syncytial virus.
5. Turmeric, or Curcuma longa, is an Ayurvedic treasure, long celebrated in India for its antimicrobial properties. Containing curcumin, a powerful anti-oxidant derived from bilirubin produced by activating the hemeoxygenase-1 in the brains hippocampus, it neutralizes free radicals and combats infections. Black pepper increases curcuminoids bioavailability by 2,000%. Add the spice to your smoothie, tea, stir-fry, or ingest the fresh root (clean well and dip in black pepper). I myself am not too fond of the taste or yellowing or teeth that may accompany, so I prefer supplements. The immune-boosting golden milk is super tasty as well! Turmeric-ginger boosts are not so bad…
6. Oregano oil or Za’atar’s known antiviral and antimicrobial benefits originated with the Assyrians (3,000 b.c.) of modern day northern Iraq, then transferred over to the Levant. The Greeks and Romans adopted the spice, and the West its oil. The Mediterranean thyme contains several potentially healing antiviral, anti-inflammatory and cancer resistant compounds, such as carvacrol, thymol, and terpinine. In several studies Carvacrol in a mixture of thyme and oregano has exhibited anticancer activity (it has reduced swelling by 57% in the paws of mice). Traditionally bread mixed with olive oil is dipped into za’atar and hummus. Ingest it in extract or tincture form, drop into teas, smoothies or behind tongue. Oregano will intensify your immune system.
*Teas, tinctures, throat sprays and supplements are all effective modes of ingestion.