Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? If you seem to catch every flu, cold or other illness that goes around it could be that you need to boost your immune system. Your immune system is designed to fight off germs; identifying them as foreign invaders in the body and attacking them before you get sick. If your immune system is not in tip-top shape, you don’t have that protection. Besides catching a cold or flu this winter, sinusitis is a common ailment to develop. This often results from an inflammation after having a cold or allergy response that causes swelling in the sinus tissues. Symptoms can range from a stuffy nose and sore throat to headache and fever to pain in the face and fatigue and usually there is yellow, green or clear mucous from the nose. If this is the result of a cold which is a viral infection, antibiotic treatment will not help even though that is what many medical providers will prescribe. If there is yellow or green mucous present, the sinusitis could be a bacterial infection, so antibiotics could be helpful, but it will usually clear up within a two week period even without them. Consider that antibiotics carry their own risks from killing off the friendly bacteria in your gut to spreading antibiotic resistant bacteria. If you have persistent symptoms longer than 2 weeks, you may certainly need to consult your healthcare provider, but there are natural solutions that can help relieve symptoms and boost immune system function to try during that two week period. Here are some of the natural solutions we found experts recommend trying.
Keep Germs Out
Of course the best medicine is always prevention. No one wants to be sick so taking precautions to avoid catching a cold or flu is preferable. One of the best things you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands frequently, especially during cold or flu season. Use warm water and soap and wash for at least 20 seconds. This will help you wash away viruses or bacteria that you may pick up on your hands and then enter the body by you touching your mouth or eyes. Did you know it is estimated that most adults touch their own face 15 times an hour? That’s a lot of opportunity to ingest those germs that you pick up on your hands. Since germs are able to actually stay on wet skin even easier than dry skin, be sure to also dry your hands thoroughly and keep dry towels available. You might also want to consider using paper towels for drying rather than cloth to avoid spreading germs especially if you share a bathroom with someone who is sick. Using a sanitizing cleaner to keep household surfaces free of germs can also help you avoid spreading them especially since a flu virus can live on a surface for as long as 8 hours. Tieraona Low Dog, MD, the author of Life Is Your Best Medicine, recommends cleaning doorknobs and phones and other things that people touch a lot and using essential oils in purified water to make your own cleanser. Lavender, rosemary, and tea tree all make good sanitizer sprays. Don’t forget about your work environment either. Everything from vending machine buttons to sink faucets to breakroom refrigerators can be harboring viruses, so be sure to wash your hands at work after touching places that others touch frequently. Even if you, co-workers or family members aren’t showing symptoms of illness, don’t assume those germs aren’t around. A study from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada concluded that during cold or flu season there are about 8% of people carrying the virus that aren’t showing symptoms.
Natural Remedies for Symptom Relief
If you do get sick, you’ll need plenty of rest. I know that it is often hard with our busy schedules to take the extra time off for rest, but think about it this way. If you stay home and rest the chances are that you will have a shorter time of sickness which means you’ll perform better sooner and won’t risk spreading your germs to others. That’s a win-win. To help relieve the misery of your symptoms you can use a neti-pot or squeeze bottle to flush irritants out the nasal cavity and hydrate nasal tissues. If you have a cough, you can take a spoonful of honey instead of cough syrup. This does not apply for young children though as honey is not recommended as being safe for them. There are also herbal remedies that can help relieve some of the symptoms of a cold and reduce the amount of time the symptoms hang on. Echinacea and vitamin C are two that help some people with colds and elderberry has been found helpful the same way with the flu and one study reported those taking elderberry syrup showed improvements in flu symptoms four days sooner than for those not taking elderberry. Richard Nahas, MD, assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa also reminds us that crushed garlic contains allicin which can help fight off viruses. This is confirmed by a British study that reported participants taking allicin supplements were found to have 63% less colds than participants taking a placebo. You probably know that if you are sick you should drink lots of fluids, but there is evidence that getting those fluids going before getting sick can help you avoid a virus. Jamey Wallace, MD, chief medical officer at Bastyr Center for Natural Health in Seattle, says this works by keeping the mucous membranes and immune cells in them hydrated which means they will work better at fighting off viruses. He suggests that you take your body weight divided by 3 and that will give you the amount of ounces to drink daily. Then add another glass of water to that for everything you drink that has caffeine or alcohol. Another natural solution to deal with symptoms according to David Nieman, DrPH. is eating lots of fruit as a study he helped conduct reported those eating at least 3 servings a day of fruit had 25% less days of respiratory symptoms during the cold and flu season. This could be due to the vitamin C and/or the polyphenols in fruits with antiviral properties. Taking probiotics is another good natural solution as one study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport reported athletes taking probiotics every day had 40% less colds and an analysis done in 2011 of 10 different studies concluded that 42% of those taking probiotics were less at risk for getting a cold. Mike Gleeson, PhD, professor of exercise biochemistry at Loughborough University in England especially recommends taking Lactobacillus which can reduce the likelihood of getting respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.
Boost Immune System
The best protection you can have to avoid getting a cold or flu is an immune system that is working at its best. This means getting adequate quality sleep, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and maintaining good hygiene. In addition, adding foods or supplements with omega-3 fatty acids can help protect lungs from infections and support immune function by stimulating phagocytes which are immune system cells that fight off those invaders that bring illness. Vitamin D has also been shown in studies to give the immune system a boost and ward off colds. A study at Harvard reported participants with low vitamin D levels were 36% more at risk for getting an upper respiratory infection. This could be due to vitamin D being instrumental in the production of cathelicidin which is a protein that is able to kill viruses. Astragalus and zinc are also known to boost immune system function as are many medicinal mushrooms. A study in 2013 showed an increase in the production of immune cells in participants that ate shiitake mushrooms. Reishi, cordyceps, maitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei are other mushrooms that have been shown to have anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties and support the immune system. You’ll find all these plus astragalus, beta glucan and organic wild bluegreen algae in this supplement.
Use Your Mind
According to a study from the University of Wisconsin, Madison done in 2012, employing mindfulness techniques such as meditation can significantly reduce the risk of contracting a cold. This study reported a 40 – 50% reduction in the number of illness contracted and sick days accrued during the cold and flu season. Another study at the University of Virginia showed that varsity swimmers practicing the Chinese mind-body exercise Qigong a minimum of once a week showed 70% less incidence of respiratory infections than those practicing it less. It is speculated that these type results could be due to these types of practices reducing stress which weakens the immune system. Which brings us to another point… stress. Finding a coping system or way to manage stress is crucial during the cold or flu season to keep your immune system functioning at its peak.
Stop being sick and tired this cold or flu season and give your immune system the help it needs to keep you healthy. If you do get sick give some of these natural solutions a try to see which make you feel better by giving you some relief of symptoms. Then make a note for yourself which ones help you because you will probably need them again as cold and flu season comes around every year.
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