Over the years, I have gradually refined my winter regime and have tried various things for immune support.
The shortening days and cold weather from September onwards here in the UK, seem to herald the arrival of all sorts of bugs. Our bodies naturally want to slow down so we put more pressure on ourselves. The start of a new school year seems to be when the children exchange bugs with each other and parents and grandparents too! Christmas and New Year preparations add extra stresses and strains that make us more susceptible.
It can be seen as healthy for us to catch an occasional cold. The body can use the runny nose, and other unpleasant excretions, as a way to also eliminate toxins and other accumulated nasties.
Media advertisements encourage us to believe that we should purchase products that suppress all these natural processes and allow us to carry on regardless. Pushing our bodies to perform and suppress ailments can lead to bigger problems later so I encourage you to listen to, and work with, your body. Sometimes rest is exactly what we need and taking a little time out works wonders, however inconvenient taking a bit of time out might be.
My homeopathic remedy kit must have saved me a fortune over the years, I have used that more than anything else for myself and my family for normal day-to-day ailments. Now, of course, I give us a blast on the bio-resonance system at the first sign of trouble and that will often see it off.
I believe some that immune support is beneficial during the winter months – prevention rather than cure.
In addition, if you suffer from allergies such as hayfever during the summer a lot of these ideas are worth trying then too.
With the onset of Covid we have all been forced to wash our hands much more, wear masks and distance ourselves from others. This will help us to avoid picking up some of the usual winter bugs as well. It is very much worth making sure that our immune systems are working well too.
Eating a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables (ideally organic) is really the place to start.
Ginger and garlic are believed to have anti-bacterial properties.
A drink made from lemon juice with some ginger and honey can be soothing if you have a cough too.
The lemon is high in vitamin C and ginger helps us sweat out the toxins in the body, which is useful if we have a cold or flu. Ginger is also helpful for settling upset stomachs, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweats.
Honey soothes a sore throat, making it an effective and natural cough suppressant. This drink improves the body’s ability to fight infection and decreases the risk of fevers. The natural sweetness of honey also balances the tartness of the lemon and the ginger’s spice, giving honey, lemon and ginger tea its pleasant taste.
Eating a diet full of junk food and drinks doesn’t give your body the right nutrients to work well, it will be struggling and more susceptible to germs.
Water & drinks
Make sure you drink plenty of good quality water during the day.
Herbal teas can also provide warmth and a healthy refreshing drink.
Keep the caffeine and artificial sweeteners down or eliminate them completely.
Anxiety, stress and fears
In the modern world, we seem to just accept the stresses of life as normal. However, these can knock our immune defenses, and general health, if we don’t take out time to deeply relax and recover.
Sometimes life just happens and we have to get through it. At such times it is possible to use things such as Bach Rescue Remedy or certain homeopathic remedies to get through.
One of my favourite things is my ‘Stress-balance pendant‘. These are stand-alone devices that can be used by different people (or animals) over time (not at the same time, obviously). They seem to calm at many different levels allowing us to think more clearly and focus on the task in hand.
Make sure you get good quality restorative sleep. Switch the devices off in the bedroom. Get into a good routine so you are deeply asleep by 11pm so your body can restore itself overnight.
Get out for some exercise in the morning if you can. This helps your body reset the melatonin levels so you sleep better the next night.
Often we can get these from our diet. I have mentioned some of the key vitamins here and some combinations that provide a good spread of these towards the bottom of this section.
If you are under a lot of stress or have a poor diet with little fresh food then consider taking a good quality probiotic to support your gut microbiome.
Omega3 Fish or vegan oil supplements support our cells to stay hydrated and therefore eliminate toxins and take up nutrients.
Medicinal Mushroom supplements are very popular at the moment for their immune-boosting and other qualities. You shouldn’t take these fungi in their raw form since many of them are known to be poisonous. You can now get the benefits in different medicinal mushroom powder forms or even in capsule forms.
Vitamin A is the name of a group of fat-soluble retinoids including retinol, retinal and retinyl esters. Vitamin A’s functions include contributing to the maintenance of normal vision, skin and immune system.
Vitamin C is needed by our cells to keep the immune system strong and neutralizes the free radicals in the body. This reduces any inflammation and swelling. We need additional supplies when we are off-colour or under a lot of stress. The amount and type to take vary for each individual.
It is found naturally in many fruit and vegetables. Freshly squeezed lemon juice and lime juices are particularly good sources.
A commonly used method that many swear by is taking vitamin C at the start of a cold. They gradually increase the dose to one that makes the stools become loose, then ease the dose down a bit. I have found that works for me sometimes. Care needs to be taken and, if you are sensitive to water-soluble vitamin C then do not do this (water-soluble vitamin C can affect the kidneys in some individuals).
Fat-soluble vitamin C, is an oil-soluble vitamin C that is stored in the lipid cell membrane until the body is ready to put it to use, therefore extending its availability to the cells, unlike the water-soluble form. This has also eased other inflammatory symptoms for people so is worth considering if you have inflammation.
This is a great vitamin to take in the winter as the light levels drop. Our bodies create Vitamin D from the sunshine on the lighter days (though some people can still be deficient in it).
It is valuable for our immune systems as well so well worth taking – and take with Vitamin K2 to make sure the body has sufficient of that to process the D3 properly.
This is another vitamin that has more recently been added to the list of immune boosters.
Various supplement combinations are available for immune boosting. I particularly like and trust these from Cytoplan.
I am a registered practitioner with them and therefore can provide them for my clients.
Vitamin D3 and K2 complex
Taking this makes sure you are getting the right immune-boosting balance. For short-term use only.
This was a favourite of mine for a long time. I have found it good to take as a preventative and also during illness. It can also ease hayfever and other allergic conditions sometimes (they also do a children’s version too).
It contains 1-3,1-6 beta glucan (a powerful immune-priming nutritional supplement. This unique compound primes the innate immune system to help the body defend itself against viral and bacterial invaders. Beta Glucan helps heal wounds and has anti-inflammatory activity) , Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), selenium, and zinc.
Now (2020) they have improved products which I recommend
Cytoplan Immune Complete 1
All-encompassing multivitamin, mineral and phytonutrient complex incorporating optimal levels of key immune-supporting nutrients and excellent all-round vitamin and mineral levels. This product contains iron and is ideally suited to teenagers and menstruating women. Immune Complete 1 includes a powerful combination of nutrients including vitamins A, C and D, selenium, zinc, beta glucan, quercetin, resveratrol and N-Acetyl-Cysteine.
Cytoplan Immune Complete 2
This is the same as one but without the iron.
Immune boosting herbs
These tinctures have been used since ancient times to boost the immune system
Olive Leaf extract
This is believed to have anti-viral properties and is popular at the moment as something to take before or after catching a cold. It can be purchased from health food stores. Olive leaf extracts and their oleuropein constituents are best known for their blood pressure-lowering effects, but the latest studies reveal their health benefits extend well beyond that. Additional anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties offer promise in fighting atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and even arthritis.
Many people take echinacea in the belief that it will boost immunity. Studies have had mixed results. The strongest evidence for echinacea as a cold treatment comes from studies of Echinacea purpurea. It is readily available from health food stores. (It is also possible to take it as a homeopathic remedy instead of taking the tincture).
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria Tomentosa)
A vine used traditionally in Peruvian medicine for the treatment of a wide range of health problems, as an anti-inflammatory, for digestive complaints, arthritis and to treat wounds, some believe it has anti-viral properties too.
Cat’s Claw can often be found combined with other ‘immune’ herbs with similar healing properties, such as the Echinacea. It is made from the bark of the vine that has to be at least eight years old.
There are many homeopathic remdies that people use because they believe they can help boost the immune system (there are many more remedies, of course, for the different stages/symptoms of infection).
I mentioned Echinacea above, that you can take in homeopathic form instead of the tincture – some take it once a week during the winter months. There is a remedy for Cat’s Claw too.
“ABC” is a combination remedy that is sometimes also called ‘new beginnings’ and can be taken at the very start of cold symptoms (it is a combination remedy that contains Aconite, Belladonna and Chamomile, hence the name ABC)
Aconite on its own is effective at the start of infection. If fluey symptoms develop then Gelsemium is often the indicated remedy.