Each year we hear about some “deadly” new strain of flu and the hype about the new vaccination, which promises to eliminate these new viruses. But when it comes to prevention and treatment, nature power seems to win every time. Simple herbs work better and are far safer. They sill keep you from being laid low by illness even when people all around you are dropping like flies.
If you are generally healthy, yet lead a stressful lifestyle, the occasional cold is simply your body’s way of getting rest and clearing out toxins. However, if you find yourself spending most of the winter with your nose in a handkerchief, then it is time to take preventative action. Both colds and flu are viruses.
There are many plant friends that can help protect from them. Viruses cannot replicate themselves without entering your own cells and altering their function. If you can prevent a virus invading your cells, you will stop cold and flu in their tracks.
Giving your immune system a boost for the colds and flu season is the key to doing this. Eat well—plenty of fresh vegetables and some low-glycemic fruit, and cut out all the packaged convenience foods. They are worthless when it comes to protecting or enhancing your health.
AT FIRST SNIFFLE
The moment you feel you may be coming down with something, it’s time to listen to your body. You might like to stop eating cooked food and go raw. Animals stop eating when they feel unwell. So do children.
The body needs all its strength to get rid of the invasion. Trust this. Boost your immunity by wrapping yourself in your favorite blanket, watch your favorite film or listen to music you like. Have a glass of juice or, if you prefer something warm, a bowl of tonic soup. Remember, your body is trying to clear itself of stuff that does not belong in it. Make time to let the clearing take place.
GOOD OLD VITAMIN C
Remember the discoveries of two Nobel Prize winners—back when the Nobel Prize still meant something: Begin by taking at least 4 to 8 grams of vitamin C a day. This may sound excessive, but if you are under-the-weather or your immune system needs a boost, you will soak up vitamin C like blotting paper.
It’s worth remembering that we don’t make our own vitamin C like other animals. If we were goats, we would be making 5 grams of vitamin C per day or more for ourselves. The body simply flushes out any vitamin C it doesn’t need. If you find your bowel movements are loose, reduce the amount you are taking a little.
You can rest assured that your cells are being adequately flushed in ascorbic acid. Look for a supplement that has bioflavonoids in it as well. And if you have a delicate tummy, go for a brand that’s “buffered.” When you feel a cold or flu, you may take as much as 3 grams of Vitamin C 3 or 4 times a day, until 2 days after all symptoms have disappeared.
Astragalus is the root of the yellow vetch plant. Unlike many herbs, it actually tastes good. Creamy yellow, it’s a favorite among the Chinese for strengthening digestion, overcoming chronic weakness, and enhancing wound-healing. Astragalus brings deep strength to the immune system, increasing the number and quality of white blood cells used to fight infection. It even boosts the production of interferon.
This is why it is often used with HIV and cancer patients whose immune systems have been undermined by chemotherapy or radiation. Astragalus is also an adaptogen, a plant which is often called a ‘medicine for well people’ that, taken over time, brings strength and support to the whole body.
Three cups of astragalus tea a day helps ward off colds and flu, so long as you take it consistently every day during the cold season. Chinese medicine defines ailments as being either ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ and herbs as being ‘warming’ or ‘cooling’. Astragalus is a warming herb to be used with ‘cold’ illness. Use it for protection as well as an immune boost after any bout of cold or flu.
Organic astragalus is increasingly available in herb stores dried and shredded. Bought from Chinese pharmacies and Asian markets, dried astragalus root looks like ice-lolly sticks. It is cheap and simple to prepare, and it makes a mild, sweet tea. Look for sticks which are long and thick, firm yet bendable with a few striations. They should have a sweet taste when you chew on them.
ELDERBERRIES FROM THE GARDEN
Elderberries too make an excellent healing tea. It has been shown in trials to help protect from infection. If ever you do succumb to flu or a
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cold, elderberry tea can shorten the length of time you are ill. If you are one of those people who tend only to be recovering from one illness when another hits, these wonderful berries can help break the chain and give you time to recover completely. The way it works against flu is fascinating: The flu virus breaks into healthy cells by piercing them with spikes on its surface. Elderberry appears to make these spikes useless, so defeating the virus before it has had a chance to do any damage. You can make your own Elderberry tea from the garden.
Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms not only taste delicious, they contain excellent immune strengthening compounds, among them the compound lentinan. This phytochemical helps lower elevated cholesterol. It also boasts anti-aging and anti-tumor properties. You can take Shiitake and Maitake in capsules or as extracts or you can cook it in your kitchen.
All of these will help you to ward off colds if you make them a part of your daily life. You won’t get their full benefits, however, unless you support your body with a good supply of all the nutrients it needs for good health.
That’s it for health tip this month. We, at Sabai Thai Spa, hope that this will keep you away from cold and flu this winter!
Have a Healthy winter everyone!