Winter is one of the busiest times of the year, so it makes good sense to make sure that we’re as healthy as we can be. Tackle all kinds of winter health problems… the natural way.
Feeling it in your bones?
The phrase “feeling it in your bones” is not so stupid – in fact, changes in atmospheric pressure in the autumn and winter can aggravate bone conditions, increasing inflammation and swelling. As well as good old-fashioned high strength cod liver oil, there are plenty of more modern remedies to help keep joint problems at bay. Take glucosamine sulphate, for example. You can now get it as a tablet which you drop into water or you can use gel patches. If you are choosing a supplement, remember to take at least 1500mg daily in the first three months. This is the level which has been used in research. Long term, consider a bone formulation to nutritionally support joints health. These contain minerals, and vitamin D which are important for the bone matrix.
SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine) is another remedy which reduces pain, stiffness and swelling and green lipped mussel extract is also a popular anti-inflammatory, reducing joint tenderness and morning stiffness.
If you prefer herbal remedies, then there are plenty which are aimed at managing inflammation and swelling; willow, black cohosh and sarsaparilla are good examples, and there are some tailor-made herbal preparations you can try. Some even come in balm or rub-form, using strong essential oils such as the mints and ginger (which smell very Christmassy!) and soothing plant extracts like chamomile and calendula.
Strengthen Your Defences…
At this time of year, our immune systems are having to work overtime. The change towards damper weather, short sunlight hours and lethargy after nearly a full year at work can all take their toll. Coughs, colds, flu and general feelings of being under the weather can leave you feeling drained. But there are things that you can do to help…
Vitamin C, taken at 1000mg daily (sometimes recommended three times daily) will help to reduce duration of the common cold. If you have an established cold, high potency is the only way of getting research levels of nutrients, a recommended dose would be 1000mg vitamin C, with 40 to 50mg zinc. Support this with a general antioxidant formulation.
Echinacea is a highly popular remedy at this time of year. You can use it to improve the action of white blood cells – helping your body to manage any infection. At the same time, another popular remedy – ginseng – can be used to help the body adapt to physical, mental and emotional stress (prevalent at this time of the year).
Think holistically too – looking at your diet. Include more garlic (or take a supplement) as this herbs is naturally antimicrobial. Fortify your diet with dried fruits and vegetables, immune-strengthening shiitake mushrooms, no-caffeine drinks, green tea, fruit juices and other nonalcoholic drinks (some naturopaths argue that alcohol depresses the immune system’s ability to fight infection). If your diet is poor, take a high potency multinutrient, PLUS a combination formula of essential fatty acids omega 3 and 6for at least 3 months.
Don’t forget that stress affects immune function. Unwind using essential oils which are good for immune function and act as decongestants such as Eucalyptus, peppermint, cajuput.
With our immune systems being under pressure from stress, lack of antioxidant nutrients from fresh produce and a barrage of seasonal infections, it’s hardly surprising that some people become more susceptible to bad skin and cold sores. There are all kinds of lip balms that you can recommend for general lip (and mouth) health, preventing cracking and soreness, but to tackle cold sores head on, recommend one to three grams of lysine, a powerful antioxidant formulation, and plenty of products to manage stress, such as CDs, candles and essential oils (lavender, mandarin).
For general skin care, recommend a skin formula (including B vitamins, vitamin C) and a supplement of essential fatty acids including fish oils and evening primrose oil. Herbals which are good for the skin include: echinacea, ginkgo biloba, pine bark, milk thistle (there are many to choose from, so refer to a herbalist if the problem is very person-specific).
Tackle coughs and colds head on.
If you do get a cough or a cold, then herbal remedies are for you. There are all kinds of products which are tailor-made for various symptoms; marshmallow and slippery elm are mucilage and can soothe a sore throat, goldenseal (which contains berberine and canadine) is antimicrobial and has immune-stimulating components), and there are other herbs for tickly coughs, headaches, runny noses, blocked sinuses and barking coughs and phlegm.
Beating the Christmas Stodge
If there’s one time of year when digestive problems such as bloating, wind and acid indigestion are on the up, it’s Christmas. People tend to eat heavier foods, so a supplement of betaine hydrochloride (which adds stomach acid, assisting softening and breakdown of food in the stomach) can be useful to many. This is often found as an inherent part of a digestive enzyme supplement, most often made using plant-source enzymes to break down fats, carbohydrates and proteins (great when any rich, or hard-to digest food is eaten). Herbals are useful, including chamomile, fennel, peppermint, turmeric to calm the stomach, and artichoke, devil’s claw and boldo to stimulate the digestive system.
Senna, aloe vera and fruit cubes are great for constipation, which is common when a lot of refined foods are being eaten. Essential oils, applied using massage to the stomach can be great for crampy and bloated (windy) stomachs, using coriander, dill, clove or peppermint.
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