During the cooler months we’re not only visited by cooler days, but it’s when a bunch of nasty health problems tend to visit also.
In this guide I am going to give you some simple, natural tips and remedies to boost your immunity and treat common ailments to help you to get through winter feeling great!
If you have any further questions, just pop them in the comment section below for me.
You may also like to join the CDK tribe to grab your free copy of the Natural Remedies eBook to which I contributed. It’s an A-Z guide filled with natural remedies, draw on principals in naturopathy, Chinese medicine, nutrition and more.
Here’s what I’ll be covering and providing natural remedies for below:
- General immunity
- Sore throat
- Common cold
- Dry skin
- Ear infection
- Joint pain
- Cold sores
1. General immunity
Coughs, colds, sore throats, chest infections, ear infections and cold sores all have one thing in common: lowered immunity. In naturopathic medicine, we don’t just attack bacteria and viruses with natural remedies once you are already sick…we believe prevention is better than cure, and by building up your own natural defences you are less likely to have an infection take hold in the first place.
You can keep your immune system strong by staying warm with layered clothing, especially in windy weather, and eating lots of garlic, chillies, ginger, onion, turmeric and shiitake mushrooms.
Taking a herbal supplement like Echinacea or Astragalus throughout winter can boost your white blood cell count – your killer cells that will zap lurgies in a flash.
Essential nutritional support should include vitamin C, Zinc and Vitamins A & D – cod liver oil is a rich natural source of vitamin A and D that will help keep your mucous membranes (the lining of your respiratory tract) healthy.
See also: Are You Suffering From Adrenal Fatigue?
2. Sore throat
Usually indicative of a viral or bacterial infection, as well as the immune support mentioned above, gargle 6 drops of tea tree oil in warm water 3 – 6 times a day. Tea tree is a proven antiseptic and antiviral agent.
Raw natural honey can also be taken to soothe the throat and fight bacteria.
There is nothing more annoying than a persistent cough in winter, but thankfully there are a lot of herbs available to treat all sorts of coughs. Herbs good for a dry cough are often demulcent and spasmolytic in action, meaning they have the ability to moisten and coat dry respiratory tracts and reduce the spasms associated with coughing. Some good choices are:
- Licorice (caution with high blood pressure)
- Slippery Elm
Productive, or chesty coughs, require expectorant herbs to help break down mucous and get it out of the lungs – for this reason we don’t want to suppress this type of cough too much. Common expectorant herbs are:
- Ivy Leaf
- Wild Cherry Bark
The herbs can be taken as a tea 3 times a day or if you have a herbal dispensary available in your area, you may want to get a herbalist to mix you up a stronger tonic of the liquid tinctures. There are also many commercial tablet versions available in pharmacies or health food shops containing many of these or similar herbs.
4. Common cold
Watery eyes, headaches and stuffy sinuses are usually hallmarks of the common cold and can be treated with the excellent combination of horseradish, garlic and vitamin C available in most health food shops and pharmacies. Drinking ginger, lemon and honey can help with symptoms and applying a few drops of lavender and peppermint essential oil to the temples can help relieve headaches.
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5. Dry skin
Vitamin A is not only good for the lining of the respiratory system, it also keeps the skin in good condition – another reason to add it to your winter arsenal. Daily moisturising with a natural oil such as coconut or almond oil is also beneficial, as is making sure your intake of essential fatty acids is at optimum levels: eat plenty of oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel as well as chia and flax seeds or take a supplement if dry skin is a big problem for you.
As well as the herbs mentioned for a productive cough, doing several steam inhalations a day with eucalyptus and thyme oil is very beneficial. Thyme in particular is one of the very best antiseptics for the lungs. Taking 6 drops of oregano oil in water or juice is also helpful for eradicating the virus or bacteria responsible for the infection.
7. Ear infections
These are a very common condition in children especially, and antibiotics are often overused in conventional treatment. In kids, the Eustachian tube (ear canal) is horizontal rather than downward-slanting, which can cause problems with fluid drainage. A bioflavenoid supplement is very good for helping the fluid to drain in both children and adults. It is also crucial to avoid mucous-forming foods such as wheat and dairy.
An old but effective home remedy to treat a bacterial ear infection involves mixing a few drops of onion juice to a little olive oil, and putting a few drops in the ear.
8. Joint pain
Cold weather, poor circulation and lack of movement can lead to aching joints in winter – so keep your body moving. A good indoor option for exercise that will keep joints mobile and tendons loose is a dynamic form of yoga such as vinyasa or ashtanga.
Drink plenty of ginger tea with a dash of cayenne to boost circulation and consider taking turmeric capsules if the joints are quite inflamed.
Applying tiger balm topically can also help to ease pain and stimulate blood flow.
9. Cold Sores
One of the best treatments around for cold sores is the amino acid lysine, available in capsule form. The trick is to catch the cold sore as early as possible as soon as you feel that tell-tale tingling sensation on your lip.
Additionally, a little tea tree gel can be applied topically for it’s anti-viral properties, and zinc and vitamin C supplementation will help it to heal quickly.
Hopefully with these tips you can enjoy a cozy winter sipping chai and reading your favourite books rather than battling a nasty cold or a flu…and remember, prevention is better than cure!
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