Immune Boosters for Cold Season

Cold season is here. With all the sneezes, sniffles and coughs going around, it's time to learn how to prevent colds like a pro.

First, prevention is the best medicine. In our busy lives, it can sometimes be hard to tell when a cold is coming. But the best way to prevent colds is to know what it feels like when you are about to get sick. That way, you can take some steps to make sure the cold doesn't fully set in.

Some common early symptoms of the common cold:

  • Stiff neck and shoulders
  • Aversion to cold/feeling chilled
  • Fatigue

As soon as you notice these symptoms, start to drink more water. Warm drinks like tea, or even plain warm water with lemon are great. Water will help your body flush out the pathogens. It will also help to thin your secretions if you start feeling stuffy or get a cough.

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If you're already feeling chilled, you want to do your best to get warm and stay warm. Put on an extra layer if you have it, or take a bath or a warm shower if you're at home. Increasing your body temperature also helps your body fight pathogens. Bacteria and viruses don't operate well when they're too hot, which is why we get fevers. It's our natural way of killing pathogens. Within reason, a fever can be one of our best innate healing tools. Getting warm when you're feeling chilled can be a good way to help your body do its job. (Of course, if your fever is getting higher than normal for the common cold, seek care as soon as possible).

Once you're hydrated and warm, get some extra rest if you can. The relationship between sleep and immune function is well documented. We're more likely get sick when we're stressed and have been running on a sleep deficit. The best way to try and fend off a cold, or shorten its duration, is to actually get the rest we need.

Before you go to bed, make sure you're warm. An age-old naturopathic trick to warm you up and fend off colds is a treatment called warming socks. Here's how you do it:

  • Tools: one pair of wool socks, one pair of cotton socks and a place to soak your feet (buckets or bathtubs work well).
  • First take your cotton socks and get them completely wet with cool water. Wring out and set aside.
  • Then, soak your feet in warm/hot water for about 5 minutes.
  • When your feet are nice and warm, take them out of the bath and put the wet cotton socks on.
  • Next, put the wool socks on over the cotton socks.
  • This last piece is important - go straight to bed and sleep with both pairs of socks on.

Many people find that the warming socks treatment helps them fall asleep when they're sick. Evaporation from the cotton socks will draw circulation down towards your feet. You'll feel less congested and feverish, leading to better sleep and faster recovery.

Some other great natural therapies to use for the common cold:

  • Elderberry syrup can help promote immune response
  • Bone broth contains abundant minerals and nutrients that are helpful for immune function. You can add  it to soups or drink it like a tea. As a bonus, it's also hydrating!

Things to avoid:

  • Staying up late
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol

There are plenty of other great natural remedies for immune support. The ones here are just a couple old-time favorites. To learn more about how to prevent and treat cold and flus, make an appointment today!
 

Katy Morrison, ND, LAc