Herbal How to: Best Prevent a Cold or Flu

November's Herbal How To focuses on preventing the pesky cold's and flu's headed our way! Here are some tried and true tips on how to keep your immune system strengthened and ready to fight the germs and bugs. Eat Mushrooms! Incorporate maitake, shiitake, turkey tail or reishi mushrooms into soups, stews or cooked with grains in congee. All of these fungi have anti-viral properties that can ward off colds and flus. These mushrooms are “tonics” which have a cumulative effect and are meant to be taken daily. Ideally, start taking them in early fall before cold season begins (and continue through winter). Take Astragalus! This mild tasting Traditional Chinese Medicinal herb boosts immunity, building resistance to colds and flus – especially when combined with reishi. Take a daily dose of the two in tea or in a supplement throughout the fall and winter. Or include it in the same soups and stews as mentioned above and eat it on a weekly basis to help the whole family get through the cold season without an outbreak. A Word on Supplements: A multivitamin with B6, folic acid, copper, zinc and Vitamin C is also wise. Careful of overdoing your daily zinc intake! No more than 8 to 10 mg a day and no longer than three months in a row! Include Your Spice Cabinet: Add immune-supportive spices (which get blood flowing, improving your circulation and your blood health) to your meals such as turmeric, ginger, and a pinch of cayenne to soups and stir fries. Eat garlic, onions, miso paste, sea vegetables and bone broth daily! And mushrooms! Of Course, More Sleep: Research shows that sleep deprived people produce fewer virus-fighting cells. Rosemary Gladstar says “its normal to sleep a bit more in winter. Before electricity, people went to bed earlier and slept longer as the days got shorter.” As often as possible, treat your immune system to an earlier bedtime. Try valerian root, hops, wild lettuce, or skullcap if getting a full-nights sleep is a problem. Don’t Forget the Sauna: German sauna medical research show that after a half hour sauna session, an increased number of white blood cells, lymphocyte, neutrophil and basophil counts were reported in the white blood cell profile, showing that sauna use stimulates the immune system. Saunas are able to significantly reduce the incidences of colds and influenza and Finnish studies show that regular sauna bathing leads to a 30% less chance of getting a cold and influenza. The best colds and flus are the kind you never get, so I hope these preventative tips help you and your immune system stay strong as we enter the cold and flu season! It never hurts to be prepared, especially if that involves throwing some delicious mushrooms in your soup or rationalizing a spending splurge at The Everett House Healing Center or the Common Ground Wellness Center (both which feature relaxing, clean saunas!) Salud! Claire Herb Shoppe Internship Coordinator

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