Warmth & water : chilling of airways creates vulnerability to infection, so keep warm, NOSE-BREATH (to warm, humidify & filter air), drink 6-8 glasses of warm water throughout the day (water helps the body trap & remove bacteria/viruses in the mucous layer lining nose, sinus & airways & sweep outward via millions of microscopic hair cells (cilia) beating 7x/second), keep your body warm.
Exercise: persons who are physically fit get 0-1 cold or respiratory infections/year compared to sedentary persons who get 5-6 colds/yr. Sedentary woman who began walking had far less colds which resolved more quickly. Enjoyable exercise at ocean/bush/green spaces (Four hours in the bush boosts immunity for a week after. Earth/ocean to skin contact (hands in garden or barefoot on beach).
Love: people who are optimistic & love life with it’s exciting challenges ( vs life as negative, full of problems) get fewer respiratory infections. Mothers who enjoyed their infant had less colds as did also their baby. Often young children get infections because of too much separation from Mum, especially in daycare (goldmine of germs!) that overwhelms their immature systems physically &emotionally. In adults lots of social support and hugs improve resistance to viral infections
Laughter: Laughter stimulates the thymus gland (upper chest) producing “T” cells that fight infection & generally strengthens the immune system, laugh with family, children & friends, pets!
Nutrition: for optimal immune function Vitamin A, C, D, zinc, essential fatty acids, antioxidants. Trace minerals found in deeply coloured ( rainbow mix) fresh vegetables & fruits, whole grains, nuts/seeds, probiotics
Avoid sugar, refined white flour products, processed fats/foods that impair gut flora/immune function
Eliminate toxins: smoking & other inhaled toxins increase respiratory infections; drugs, excessive alcohol, marijuana, sugar, processed foods , repeated antibiotics can impair your immune system.
Stress reduction: chronic anger, worrying or anxiety reduces immunity (reduced function of natural killer cells that destroy viruses& bacteria & cancer cells). Often colds/ flus are your body’s way of giving you a break from overwork & stress, so pace yourself with balance of rest, play, fun, meditation, deep relaxation, visualise a strong immunity, abdominal breathing, play life as a challenging game.
Sleep / sunshine/rest : your immune system works best in sleep, we need more sleep in winter because of more darkness that triggers melatonin, our sleep hormone which makes us sleepy. Melatonin can be interrupted by lights,TV, computer screens in the evening. Be in bed asleep by 9.30-10pm, ideally after a dimmed light & calming “wind-down” e.g. warm bath, meditation, candle only. Often our body develops a cold or flu as a signal that we need more rest & sleep –or need to slow down or stop all the busyness in our lives/children’s lives. Vitamin D (from sunshine) protects against influenza and other respiratory infections so expose as much skin as possible without sunscreen for short times periods to avoid redness or burning.
Dr. Jan’s recover your Wellness Rx:
Simple ways to support your body to heal (sore throats, cold, cough, “flu” ) this winter
Warmth & water: when ill you need more water to replace water lost from your body with fever, increased sweating and breathing rate. Drink lots! (3 litres/day) of warm fluids to liquefy secretions (then more easily drained or coughed up). Keep warm to improve your immune system, (one reason your body creates a fever). If you become chilled, have a hot bath. Inhaling warm steam is soothing for sore throats/airways (manuka or eucalyptus oils). Warm steamed (x4 mins) chopped onion (wrap in muslin) compresses are also very soothing to relieve ear & throat chest infections. To clear sinusitis squirt warm salt water [ ½ tsp salt + ½ tsp baking soda to 300ml warm filtered water] gently up your nostrils +/- hot foot baths
Energy conservation is critical to allow all of your energy to be used by your body to fight off the infection & heal. Rest your body, emotions &mind. BED Rest at home with a view of nature,trees etc (instead of continued work or school). Rest, especially earlier in the illness, helps a faster recovery.
Love: we all need much tender loving care when ill…especially children (naturally become clingy) give lots of cuddles, skin to skin touch for babies speeds healing. Lot of hugs, touch for adults too!
Listen to your body! Your body knows very well how to fight infection and heal…you need only to listen carefully (especially if you are accustomed to ignoring your body’s needs). listen to what you/your body needs physically, emotionally & psychologically, then support and trust your body!
Nurture yourself with easily digestible, nutrient rich steamed vegetables, fresh vegetable soups & fruits. If you’re not hungry do not eat, drink fluids instead. Your body has little energy to digest, so avoid fats, protein, dairy, sugar, white flour products. At 1st onset of cold/sore throat suck zinc gluconate lozenges 25 mg every few hrs (max 150mg/24hr) halves recovery time. Vitamin C (500mg kids-1000mg adults 1-2 hourly till loose bowels then 3hourly) Echinacea & herbs(geranium cough) help.
Eliminate any physical or psychological factors that interrupt your body’s healing. Avoid cough suppressants. Avoid Brufen, Aspirin or Panadol with a fever. Your body creates a fever to stimulate your immune system to fight infection. Inflammation is also an essential response to infection or tissue injury. Thus antipyretics Brufen, Aspirin, Panadol), or anti-inflammatory drugs (Brufen,Aspirin), block your body’s defences against infection. The primary treatment of fever is rest, fluids & loving observation of children. Also release anger, frustration, anxiety at being ill . Carrying anger or anxiety tends to slow healing. Accept your illness as an important message to change the excessive stresses on your body & instead to nurture it. BeFriend your body! Trust your body! .
Sleep: frequently and lots ( as much your body tells you), go to bed early with darkness. Healthy mice given all they need but NO sleep all died with infection.
Spiritually, illness is often a message to change old “driven” patterns, to align us more fully to needs of our body & spirit, to allow unresolved grief, to have more joy, laughter, social connection & meaning in our lives. In moments between resting, contemplate what does this illness teach me?
Recover well so that you do not have to repeat these life lessons quite so much any more ! Enjoy being healthy this winter !