Feeling the crisp fall breeze?
I sure am. It’s that time of year again and the autumn wind chill has swept into town a few days early.
With this abrupt (okay, drastic) dip in temperature, the prevalence of sniffles and throat tickles has spiked!
Exposure to cold temps has been shown to make us more prone to illness – one theory being that when the body’s core temperature drops, immunity is suppressed. Research has also pointed to dry nasal passages as a breeding ground for viruses.
In any case, here are a few easy ways to get your immune groove back on track…
A good night’s rest can do wonders, and it’s a big part of how often we feel under the weather. If we can’t properly re-calibrate our systems, immunity plummets. Sleep can go a long way in restoring energy, alertness and immune harmony.
While overdoing it at the gym or a hot yoga sesh can counteract our cold-busting efforts, moderate exercise has been shown to keep us on the train to Welltown. Countless studies have documented the effects of mild daily activity on increasing immunity and overall health. Science is actually urging us to go play outside (and bundle up in cold season).
A member of the daisy family, this lovely herb has been shown to prevent respiratory infection and treat congestion from the common cold. You’ll often find it paired up with its immune-boosting BFF, goldenseal.
This trace mineral has a strong hand in immunity, especially when it comes to our immune response. Rich plant-based sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, nuts and beans.
Botanically known as Sambucus, this flower and its super berries have antiviral properties that activate the immune system and reduce the duration of flu symptoms. The berries are found all over the map either fresh or dried (like these ones), and in extract form. Fun fact: the most powerful wand in Harry Potter was made from Sambucus, known as the ‘Elder Wand’.
Oil of Oregano
Perhaps it’s an antioxidant thing, but studies are still working to pinpoint how a few drops of this wild Mediterranean herb can crush a bug before it hits us. The oil produced from Origanum vulgare is considered to have the highest potency. Most varieties seem to cause a light burning sensation – just means it’s working, right?
Vitamin C, D & E
Increasing these nutrients through diet has been shown to improve immune function, offset inflammation and prevent a full-blown cold & flu fest. Eating a colourful array of fruits and veggies will keep us covered on vitamin C (like lemon!), and we know 15 minutes of daylight allows our skin to synthesize vitamin D (albeit trickier in winter). Vitamin E is present in plant foods containing healthy fats – like sunflower seeds, avocado, high quality plant oils and nuts.
Folklore has it that back in the day (early 1400’s), thieves were arrested for robbing victims of the plague, and somehow they wouldn’t contract the plague themselves. Their secret elixir: a special blend of essential oils applied to the hands, ears, feet, masks and temples. Thieves oil works similarly to oregano and tea tree as a preventative immune booster.
Marseille’s Remedy is a traditional Thieves Oil blend with clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary.
Turmeric & Ginger
Both of these beautiful herbs have a hand in reducing inflammation, boosting circulation and keeping our immune system bolstered. Try a homemade Cold & Flu Shot with freshly squeezed lemon juice, ginger and a sprinkle of grated (or ground) turmeric. Add a dash of antimicrobial raw honey for a soothing throat coat.
Herbs like ashwagandha, astragalus and reishi mushroom have been used for centuries by cultures where holistic healing is the norm. They’re high in flavonoids, antioxidants, and compounds that help us adapt to stress (known as adaptogenic) and stimulate the immune system. Try an immune tonic tea with a few of these majestic herbs.
Happy seasonal immunity! ❤