Pre-holiday frenzy is here, and it’s time to take good care of yourself. We’re eating more sugar, drinking more booze, stressing about family and staying up too late this time of year. All that combined means an overtaxed system prone to weakened immunity. Stress, from your body’s point of view, is emotional (like worry), dietary (too much sugar & processed food & alcohol), or physical (not sleeping enough). All these factors combined means your adrenal glands churn out more cortisol in response to stress, and that throws your whole system out of whack, causing weight gain, poor digestion, and you guessed it: weakened immunity.
What to do? Don’t go running off to the drug store– you have an herbal pharmacy in your kitchen. Herbs and food work with your system to bolster immune health or fight bacteria or viruses. Here are my tips to stay healthy or feel better quickly if you’re sick.
EXCITING BONUS! This post includes the secret recipe for my famous “witchcraft cold-fighting tonic.”
Top Tips to Treat & Prevent Colds
1. Integrate garlic, ginger, and turmeric into your favorite dishes. Do I smell a curry? All have potent anti-bacterial/viral/pathogenic properties. Turmeric (a root that looks a bit like ginger) is what gives curry its bright yellow color and has been touted as a cancer-fighter. I grate it (or add organic ground turmeric) into warm coconut milk, shake, and drink as a tonic. Supposedly good for allergies, too. You can grate ginger root into a mug and pour hot water over it, then steep and strain and drink like a tea. And garlic goes in everything! Use coconut oil for cooking, or try taking a tablespoon per day for immune health– it’s also anti bacterial/microbial/viral and gives you an energy boost.
2. Get more sleep. 8-9 hours. Lack of sleep weakens the immune system, stresses the body, and increases sugar cravings. Sleep for health and wellness. Even WebMD says so.
3. If you start to feel run down, follow these steps:
–immediately make a batch of bone broth (heavy on the chicken bones) and drink 8-10 oz 3 times daily. Click here for my superfood broth recipe. Very easy in the crock pot. DO NOT drink the chicken broth from the box or can. Not even close to the real thing.
–Start taking colloidal silver, up to 500ppm if you can find it. Take a teaspoon every hour on the hour all day for 2-3 days. Kids can take this too. It’s a very potent anti-bacterial & anti-viral and it works.
–Get an immune boosting tonic with astragalus, echinacea, elderberry, and/or medicinal mushrooms like shiitake, reishi, cordyceps. All safe for kids, too.
–Get lots of sleep, as much as possible.
–Take 1500 mg of vitamin C in divided doses (500 mg at a time). Don’t chug orange juice–it’s mostly sugar!
–Drink lots of teas–herbal like chamomile or licorice root to soothe a sore throat, ginger tea to warm up, or there are certain herbal tea blends (Traditional Medicinals makes several therapeutic teas) to soothe congestion or help you sleep. Raw honey can be very soothing on a sore throat and has anti-bacterial properties too.
4. BONUS MAGIC POTION RECIPE! I used to make this concoction for the neighbors on my block in my former neighborhood when they were sick, and soon, people (even disbelievers) were knocking on my door asking for it. This stuff works and is better and fresher than bagged tea. Make a batch of this when you start to feel under the weather, and drink first thing in AM and again right before bed. Sweeten with a little honey if desired– it has a strong flavor.
Ingredients (find all at natural foods store or herbal pharmacy– I like to buy it from the bulk bins at Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco.
Dried elderberries (elderberries are very high in vitamin C and boost production of cytokines)
Dried yarrow flower (yarrow is great for dispersing mucous and clearing congestion– excellent for colds)
Fresh or dried peppermint (soothing and refreshing; also helps to clear congestion)
Put 1 tbsp of each herb (double to triple if you want) in a saucepan and cover with about three cups of filtered water. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat very low and simmer lightly for about 20 minutes. Strain off herbs. It’s ready to drink– you may want to dilute it with a little water or add honey, because as I mentioned, it’s strong!
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.