It’s that time of year again. Cold and flu season. For the last 2+ years, we have been masking, socially distancing, and avoiding contact with people where possible. Now that we are all back to school, back to work, back to daycare, and back in person our immune systems have a lot of catching up to do. The long and the short of it: expect to get sick.
Now, there are some things we can do to help with our immune systems to help fight off those colds, as well as what to do when we get them.
Once of my favourite ways to help give my immune system a boost is with a Chinese medicine: change of season soup! This herbal combination can be used as the base for soups, or drunk like a tea. It is traditionally used as food and contains herbs such as goji berries and wild yams to help and nourish our lung qi, responsible for our immunity. As a bonus, because these herbs are food based, it is safe for adults and kids alike: just check with your naturopathic doctor if you are taking any medications. I drink 1-2 cups per day for about 1 week when the weather starts cooling off. If you need some of this and are a current patient, send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org to check if this would be suitable for you and we will hook you up with some at the clinic.
A fever is anything over 37.9C. In my philosophy, don’t treat the fever! Fevers have an important function of helping our bodies deal with pathogens. Pathogens are another name for a foreign virus, bacteria, or fungus. Taking Tylenol for a fever can actually delay healing and lengthen the amount of time that you are ill. So in my experience, it is best to wait it out. Stay hydrated get lots of rest and only consider taking Tylenol with a very high fever. If you are approaching 39.4C, this is a good time to contact your health care provider and make a trip to a more urgent care setting. However, having a fever that high is quite uncommon as the body does tightly regulate temperature.
One of my favorite ways to treat a sore throat is to gargle with salt water. Mix 1 heaping teaspoon of salt per cup of warm water and dissolve. Take a large sip, and gargle for about 2 minutes (with breaks of course). Herbs and tinctures can also be added here for extra antibacterial effect. Also nothing beats some chicken noodle soup, bone broth, and nice warm teas. For little ones, diluted juice as popsicles can be a nice soothing treat.
Surprisingly coughs can be well treated with something easily found at home: Chocolate! Chocolate has some anti - tussive properties meaning that it helps calm a cough. It’s much more easily palatable than traditional cough syrups and usually will have safer ingredients especially for kids. The darker the chocolate, the better - think 70% or higher. While some sugar is OK in order to help with the taste, try to avoid and consuming large amounts of sugar as too much sugar can actually depress the immune system. So watch out for the sugar not only in chocolate, but other sweetened foods and beverages as well.
Final thoughts: Lastly be sure to get lots of rest and stay hydrated. Don’t be afraid to take the time that you need in order to get better. Remember that trees take half of the year off and so it’s OK for you to take that break and take care of yourself.
Do you have any cold and flu tips that really help you? Please share them in the comments below.