Why do we seem to get sick as soon as winter comes?
Surprisingly, it’s not because the weather has turned cold. When mum told you to rug up otherwise you’ll get sick, it’s actually not strictly true, sorry kids!! (and mums!) Cold doesn’t make you sick, exposure to a virus makes you sick. Having said that, getting cold, especially suddenly as we have this year (I think Autumn forgot it’s turn!), puts a greater strain on the body, which means our immuhne system has to fight harder to cope, and when we’re exposed to a virus, we are more susceptible to it taking a hold.
Interestingly, the infectious flu viruses are more active in the winter and the rhinovirus or common cold is more active in the spring and autumn!
The other reason we seem to get sick more in winter is because the gene responsible for suppressing inflammation is more active in summer. This puts us at greater risk of being susceptible to infection. Inflammation is also the body’s response to a whole host of toher conditions in the body, which is often why winter is so much tougher on our bodies than the warmer months.
Viruses can spread through the air in a typical office, doctor’s surgery, plane or train infecting people after just one hour. Touching a surface that someone has coughed or sneezed on recently and then rubbing your eyes, nose or mouth is another common way a virus will spread. Dry air may also contribute to the spread of the flu virus (indoors as well as outside).
So, why do we feel so terrible when we get the flu?
How do we avoid getting sick in winter?
Eating plenty of foods that boost the immune system such as; garlic, onions, leeks, richly coloured foods such as blueberries, beetroot, carrots (especially the purple variety), leafy greens, sprouts, oily fish, green tea, ginger, turmeric and red wine (1 glass only…sorry!) can all help to support and strengthen your immune system.
Other immune boosting foods include soups and casseroles made with a bone broth (check out my recipe for bone broth here; https://equilibriumnaturalhealth.com/2016/05/26/bone-broth/
Avoiding foods that promote inflammation such as fast foods, processed foods, food additives such as preservatives, flavourings and colourings, sugar and artificial sweeteners, refined carbohydrates (bread, pasta, pastries, biscuits, cakes etc), caffeine and alcohol. These are all foods that can suppress the immune system.
Dietary Supplements & the Flu
- Betacarotene—200,000 IUs daily
- Bioflavonoids—1000 mg daily
- Garlic—3 cloves of garlic per day or 2-3 capsules or tablets 3 times daily
- Vitamin A—25,000 IUs daily (do not take more than 5000 IU daily if pregnant)
- Vitamin C—500–1000 mg every 2 hours
- Zinc—one zinc lozenge containing 23 mg of zinc every 2 hours
Herbal Medicine & the Flu
These herbs are often used to treat flu symptoms:
- Astragalus (Astragulus membranaceus) – antiviral, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulator and an antioxidant
- Andrographis (Andrographis Panniculata) – anti-microbial, immuno-stimulant, particularly for upper respiratory infections and is an anti-inflammatory
- Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) – antiviral, an anti-inflammatory, and an immunomodulator
- Elderberry (sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis) – especially effective at stopping the flu virus from replicating, reduces a fever, immune-modulator, anti-microbial
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) – antiviral, an anti-inflammatory, and an immunomodulator
- Oregon Grape (Mahonia spp.) – astringent, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and it supports the immune system.
- St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) – Is a particularly effective antiviral and anti-inflammatory
Call me if you want a herbal mixture, I can design it to deal with specific symptoms you are suffering from. It’s not a good idea to self-medicate with herbs as some can interact with other medications and may not be appropriate when suffering from other conditions or sensitivities.
As with all medications, more is not better and overdosing can lead to serious illness and death.