• Strategies for beating back the Flu

    This is an intense time of year, as you might expect while we move into Scorpio and the witch’s new year of Samhain/Halloween. People take advantage of the last few days of Indian summer, and school is back in session everywhere.

    The result of the intense rush of activity and the change of the seasons seems to leave many people in a depleted and worn out state, just when they need their immunity the most.

    If you find yourself worn out with a cold or the flu, it is rather tempting to just stock up on DayQuil, or drive across the bridge to Vancouver to score some Sudafed and power through what you need to get done. There is no undoing that last round of too many parties the weekend before your annual review or midterms, let’s just move forward and see what kinds of things might actually help you bounce back the quickest.

    Simple Ways to Keep Colds at Bay

    Sunshine: The best way to get vitamin D is to make it yourself, which your skin does in response to sun. This involves getting outside and exposing yourself to sunlight. Get 15-30 minutes of sun daily (or as much as possible when the clouds break). This will help you regulate your sleep/wake cycle as well as improve your immunity. Sorry, but tanning beds are not going to cut it here. Supplement vitamin D to keep your immune system in better working order. (Ginde, A. Archives of Internal Medicine, Feb. 23, 2009; vol 169: pp 384-390)

    Mold: Trying to control mold is almost an automatic fail here in the lovely but not-quite-cold-enough, and oh-so-damp Pacific Northwest. Try anyway. Reducing the load of spores in your lungs will reduce the possibility of colds going deeper into your respiratory tract. Symptoms of mold allergy (runny nose, itchy nose and eyes, fever, cough) can look a lot like a cold and mold blooms tend to happen at the onset of cold season. Also, assess your indoor air quality — sweep those vents out before you crank the heat up in your house.

    Chicken soup: Boil a whole chicken into a “bone-broth” on medium heat for several hours. Add garlic and veggies to taste. It will reduce inflammation and is an easy, excellent (re: delish) source of nourishment.

    Vitamin C: Mega doses can be anti-viral. Take too much and it will give you diarrhea, but try taking just less than that. It is cheap and can make a difference.

    Zinc: Sucking on lozenges during a cold can put zinc right where it needs to be in order to interrupt the life cycle of the virus. Zinc should not be taken everyday as it can deplete other essential minerals.

    Echinacea: There are a lot of oversold but rather useless cold remedies out there. Echinacea has been studied quite a bit, and the jury is out about its usefulness. Used in combination with other herbs and from more local and trustworthy sources, Echinacea might be a good adjunct for healing, but taken alone it is not a cure all.

    Flu shot?

    There is a ton of marketing about this. Someone apparently really wants us all to get the vaccine.

    Fact: The flu shot they give you this year is mainly to protect you from last year’s flu.

    To get or not to get a flu shot can be a complex question. Talking to you doctor can be helpful in assessing your personal risk factors for exposure, and your ability to handle the flu. Your own healthy immune reaction is the best immunity against the flu.

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