Last month we talked a lot about lifestyle planning and alterations to help prepare for the winter months. Now that I am really feeling the crispness in the air and the need to pull out my fuzzy slippers and favorite baggy sweaters, I know that the season change is upon us and feel a pressing urge to tell you all about how to stay nice and healthy during the upcoming chilly, fire scented months. In this post I will focus mainly on preventatives for the cold and flu season and at a later date we will talk about what to do once you have a cold or flu. We will cover all of the fun stuff like keeping our mucosa thick, happy and padded and bolstering the immune system to fight nasty bugs.
- Mushy Squishy Mucosa- Our mucous membranes are our first line of defense when it come to the little buggers that seem to sneak up on us during this time of the year. All of our mucosal membranes are formed out of the same cells, epithelium. Everything from our sinus passages to our bum there are mucosal membranes coated with mucus. Mucus keeps our mucosal membranes well lubricated. And when functioning properly, our membranes and mucus act as a barrier to bacteria and viruses by preventing them from taking root as well as trapping them (think of fly paper) in our upper respiratory system. Mucus also contains antibodies that help our bodies to recognize invaders, enzymes to break them down, and a host of other defense mechanisms. When our mucosal membranes dry out they are no longer able to do all that I have listed. SOOOOO, in order to keep our membranes in tip top shape during those cold winter months when the heater is drying your sinus passages and lungs we can use yummy teas, hydration (think water, water, water,) and some delicious herbs.
~ Licorice root helps to keep the mucus membranes moist, soothing irritation and discomfort but also works with adrenal exhausting and viral infections. Be cautious if you have high blood pressure because it can raise your numbers.
~ Marshmallow is a mineral rich membrane healer without the adrenal and blood pressure actions of Licorice but very helpful for the mucosa.
~ Slippery Elm similarly acts on mucosal membranes and is virtually interchangeable with marshmallow.
2. Immune Boosters- It’s common knowledge that our immune system is what alerts our body to an overzealous colony of bacteria or virus, tells everyone (globlet cells) to start secreting extra mucous to create an inhospitable environment, sends in the guys to envelope/eat the bacteria or viruses (macrophages), and then ramps up a fever (our immune system works more efficiently at a higher temperature); THEN comes the adaptive (intelligent) immunity which starts the targeted effort of making antibodies specific to that bacteria or virus. PHEW! That is a lot of stuff going on.
So, lets support our immune functions as best we can with some basic herbs, supplements, and foods:
~ Vitamin D is capable of modulating adaptive and innate immune responses. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased susceptibility to infection and increased autoimmunity. Making sure to take e good quality of vitamin D that also contains vitamin K will make sure that you wont get kidney stones from your supplementation. Combining it with a good quality omega 3 fish oil helps with absorption and is also important for immune function. Take your supplements with a fatty meal.
~ Probiotic Foods are very important for our gut health- WAY more effective at beneficially altering your gut flora than probiotic supplements. Gut bacteria are innately connected with the functioning of our immune systems. There is preliminary evidence that increasing those helpful microbes might help prevent colds. The jury is still out re: the flu but I have my opinions.
~ Elderberry reduces the severity and duration of headache, fever, mucus production, nasal congestion, and muscle aches when associated with colds and flu. It blocks viruses from attaching to the bodies cells and prevents them from turning into viral clone-making machines (I feel like I just described a new action adventure movie where elderberry is the star.) Anyway, elderberry prevents viral infections from replicating and boosts immune function. Elderberry syrup can be purchased at any health food store and is now found in some drugstores. If you are interested in getting some from Deep Roots just shoot us an email- deeprootsapotheke@firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Reshi is an immune amphoteric, which means that is can regulate and normalize immune response. It is also an immune stimulant it enhances N(atural)K(iller) cell production basically beefing up your immune function. So, if your immune system is lacking then give reshi a try!
Now it’s your turn!
What types of remedies and supplements do you swear by in the winter months?