Wellness warriors are keen at recognizing the first signs of cold or flu and taking steps to support the immune system for quick recovery. Adopt some or all of these top immune system boosters to reverse your next cold or flu before it really takes you down.
Epsom Salt Soaks, the easiest of all wellness routines:
Relieve body aches, promote detoxification, and enhance quality of sleep by dissolving 1 – 2 cups of Epsom salts to a warm bath, or foot bath and soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
Neti Pot: You will not come across a quicker way to stop colds and flu bugs in their tracks than by using a neti pot. It's easy to use but takes some getting used to. Simply fill dissolve ¼ tsp of sea salt and ¼ tsp of baking soda in 1 cup of warm, filtered water. Rest your head on the edge of a sink and position your nose pointed slightly downward toward the center of the sink. While breathing through your mouth, create a tight seal with the Neti pot and nostril, begin by slowly and gently pouring approximately half of the water through one nostril while allowing the water to drain out the other. Blow your nose with tissue as needed and repeat, alternating to the other side. For added anti-microbial benefit add oregano oil to the solution.
Natural Anti-microbials: Berberine, Echinacea, Garlic, Oregano, Citrus Seed Extracts are some examples of herbal antimicrobials. These can be found in formulated cold remedies in capsule form or as tinctures. Food grade, essential oils can be utilized as a vapor for nasal congestion and sinus pain. To create a vapor treatment, bring a pot of water to boil, add 5-10 drops of oil (for example, oregano, eucalyptus, citrus fruit, or pine). Citrus seed extract formulated nasal sprays are also available.
Stimulate lymphatic drainage: Wet a pair of cotton socks in cold water, wring out excess water and store in a ziplock bag in the freezer while you soak your feet in warm water for 5-10 minutes. Put the cold socks on your feet followed by a second layer of wool socks and wear both layers on your feet while you sleep. Wearing the wet socks should not make you feel cold. Use as many blankets as needed to sleep comfortably.
Sore throat soothers: Lozenges, herbal tea, and gargles are especially soothing. When shopping for lozenges look for zinc lozenges formulated with 10 to 25 mg of zinc gluconate or zinc acetate. Gargles can be as simple as dissolving ¼ tsp sea salt in 1 cup of hot water. Or adding ¼ tsp baking soda if the solution feels irritating. To relieve pain and inflammation associated with a sore throat try adding capsaicin. Starting with a pinch, mix up to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper with 1 cup of warm water. Allergy alert: those allergic to latex, bananas, kiwi, chestnuts, and avocado may also have an allergy to cayenne.
Castor oil packs: Apply castor oil to chest and to soles and top of feet. Massage in a few drops of essential oils (such as eucalyptus, wintergreen, juniper, or clove) and place a warm pack on your chest and socks on your feet for approximately 15 minutes. If desired, place a thin towel under the warm pack to avoid direct contact with the castor oil.
Herbal digestive and intestinal soothers: Peppermint essential oil or tea can calm a queasy stomach. If using oil add 5 to 10 drops to a cup of cold or warm water. Ginger tea can be made by bringing 4 cups of water with 2 T of peeled, sliced ginger to boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add a tsp of manuka honey to sweeten if desired.
Natural allergy relief for stuffy nose, itchy eyes: Relieve sinus congestion due to allergies or infection with Quercetin, Bromelain, and Bioflavonoids (citrus extracts). Soothe itchy eyes with chamomile (calendula) tea bags: Steep the tea bags for a brief moment to release the catechins and flavanols, remove the tea bag and squeeze out approx. half of the excess fluid and allow to cool for a bit. Place the moist, warm tea bags over closed eyes for 5-10 minutes to relieve itchy or irritated eyes. Repeat 2-3 times a day as needed.