I’ve already been hit once by cold and flu season. Here in Vancouver, we had a one week taste of winter and it felt like the whole city got sick. Combine the weather changes with a weakened immune system (thanks pregnancy!), and I was out for almost a week!
I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you though, so today I’ve got some preventative tips on how to stay healthy this cold and flu season! Being pregnant, there’s not much I can take from an herbal standpoint (other than some actual foods like ginger, garlic and apple cider vinegar), but I know the majority of you aren’t pregnant lol, so that doesn’t mean you can’t have some added immune support.
I think sleep is the solution to everyone’s problems, right? I know sometimes it’s easier said than done, but sometimes just hearing how important it is can help. Even just one night of less than seven hours of sleep means you are three times more likely to get a cold. Make shut eye a priority the second you start to feel something coming on.
We just finished the HEAL Sugar Detox. While I know most people weren’t participating just for their immune system, cutting out sugar has a major benefit to your immune system. Did you know that in one study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researches found the immune response was lowered by 50% in the 5 hours after consuming 2 sweetened beverages. Put simply, sugar will prevent your immune system from working optimally.
Even with optimal sleep and a low sugar diet, it doesn’t mean you’re immune to getting sick. Certain herbs help boost your immune system. Two of my favourites are astralagus and eleuthero.
Astralagus is typically used to increase the production of white blood cells but it also has antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, helping to treat colds and upper respiratory infections. Eleuthero is used in herbal medicine to stimulate the immune system and enhance resistance to environmental stress. More on stress in a sec!
St Francis Herb Farm’s Deep Immune tincture contains astralagus, eleuthero and other immune boosting herbs. It’s excellent to take to prevent getting sick, and its tincture format makes for optimal absorption. They also have a version that is just for kids!
Other than lack of sleep and sugar, stress is a huge factor in your immune health as it suppresses your immune system. While it’s easy for me to tell you to stress less (we do have a whole section on the blog about stress here), sometimes some stress busting herbs can help, particularly schisandra and reishi.
Used to generally support the immune system, schisandra helps to increase resistance to disease and stress, as well as boost your energy and endurance, all of which are important for cold and flu prevention. Reishi on the other hand, is a type of mushroom used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a tonic to address fatigue and stress.
In addition to astralagus and eleuthero (the two immune boosting herbs I mentioned above), you can find these stress busting herbs in St Francis Herb Farm Deep Immune tincture. I love St Francis Herb Farm as they are a family run business. They are actually celebrating their 30th anniversary this year! Wow!
This wouldn’t be a proper immune boosting article if I didn’t mention the power of garlic. Garlic is known as “Russian Penicillin” for how potent it is. The main ingredient, allicin, is what gives garlic (and onions) its immune boosting properties.
Patients examined during a period of 12 weeks in the cold season from November to February demonstrated that those who took garlic were less prone to catching a cold or endured the cold easier than those who were given placebo. Raw garlic is the perfect salad dressing ingredient, or if you’re really hardcore, mince a clove, cover it in raw honey and eat it. Be warned - it burns going down!!
Thank you to St Francis Herb Farm for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.