Did you know that most people who think they have the flu actually have a severe cold?
Not only that, but did you know that determining whether you have a cold or the flu doesn’t make that much difference?
Why? Because the basic prevention and treatment for both are the same!
Following is your Winter Wellness Kit with all the tools and tips that you need to help you prevent getting a cold or flu this winter or to treat an infection in case one of those nasty bugs gets through your defenses.
3 Prevention Tips
To keep your immune system strong, enjoy warm seasonal foods such as soups, baked winter squash, roasted root vegetables, hearty greens, stews, and whole grains. Minimize your intake of sugar, fast food, cold and raw foods, out-of-season fruits, and juices. Avoid overeating and eating on the run. Express gratitude and share food with those you love.
Staying hydrated is most important in the winter as it’s easy to not feel thirsty in the cold. Remember we live in a very dry climate here in Utah, and under-hydration is incredibly common. Maintaining adequate fluid levels helps your body circulate flu-fighting nutrients and immune cells. In addition, it helps your kidneys eliminate toxins and waste products. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces daily. Filtered water is best, especially in a nice cup or two of herbal tea.
While it’s beyond tempting to overdo things around the holidays, give yourself a break and don’t wear yourself out. Try and get 8 hours of sleep. If you feel tired or run-down, take a hot bath followed by a nap. Stress doesn’t help anything, especially not your immune system!
4 Prevention Tools
1. Vitamin D3
Vitamin D has a well-documented impact on helping your body ward off viruses.
For general prevention we recommend taking 5,000 IU’s of Vitamin D3 daily throughout the winter.
For optimal health, have your Vitamin D level checked at the beginning and near the middle of winter, and try and maintain a level of 60-80 ng/ml.
Zinc helps your body’s immune cells work harder and fight stronger.
For prevention, make sure you get 25-30 mg/day throughout the winter. Look at all sources of zinc in supplements you may be taking, and make sure you are getting 1-3 mg of copper in there somewhere, too.
3. Homeopathic Remedies
For flu prevention we have recommended Influenzinum to our patients for many years, and the fact that we have so many repeat customers speaks to the success of this formula!
For an overview of Influenzinum, see last weeks blog.
For optimal preventive dosing, once a week for 6 weeks take either:
- 5 pellets of Influenzinum 9c, or
- 1 tube of Oscillococcinum
4. IV Vitamin Immune Push
An IV Immune Push is great for prevention and especially for recovery from viral infections.
A Push is 60ml of yummy immune-enhancing nutrients injected directly into a vein in your arm. We recommend coming in for “a push” 1-2 times a month throughout the winter.
Schedule an IV here:Schedule an Appointment
2 Treatment Tips
The best time to begin treating a viral infection is at the very first sign that you might be getting sick. The sooner you start to treat, the more quickly you’ll recover. If you do get a nasty cold or the flu, we feel for you and hope these treatment recommendations help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
1. Eat Lightly
Your body needs fuel to fight infections so focus on foods that are nutrient dense but still easy to digest and also hydrating.
Eat small quantities at a time but as often as you feel like eating.
Avoid sugar, cold juice, dairy products, and heavy meats. Soups are the obvious solution! Check out our favorite immune boosting soup recipes.
2. Let Your Fever Work For You
We ND’s love a good fever! Your body’s best defense system – your white blood cells – are mobilized into action when your body temperature rises.
Take a hot bath with 1-2 cups of epsom salts, then wrap yourself up in a warm bed to sweat.
Take a sauna if you can (talk to your doctor first if you’ve got health concerns).
5 Treatment Tools
At the very first sign of a cold or flu, take 50,000 IU’s of Vitamin D3 for 3-5 days (i.e 10x the preventative dose). This often prevents a cold or flu from setting in, reduces symptoms, and shortens the duration of illness. I have seen this treatment ward off a flu countless times!
Please speak with your ND about dosing Vitamin D for children.
Vitamin A 50,000 IU daily for 3-5 days.
NOTE: avoid this dosage if pregnant and do not take more than 10,000 IU/day from all supplement sources.
Take 50 mg per day for the first 3-5 days of illness.
A classic herbal tea formula for treating colds and flus uses equal parts of dried yarrow, peppermint and elderflowers, 1-2 tsp of mixed herbs per cup of water, steeped for 10-15 minutes. This formula helps your body to sweat, while gently cooling your fever. Drink as often as you’d like. Add a few slices of fresh ginger and/or lemon to your cup too!
3. Homeopathic Remedies
In addition to prevention, homeopathic remedies also work as treatment. Take the following doses of either remedy 3 times a day for the duration of your illness:
- 3 pellets of Influenzinum 9c, or
- 1/2 tube of Oscillococcinum
4. Elderberry Glycerite
Elderberries are one of the best antiviral herbal medicines available. In addition, Elderberry Glycerite has the added bonus of tasting sweet, which makes it a great choice for young children.
Talk to your ND at FCC about specific dosing.
5. The Wet Sock Treatment (really!)
As soon as you feel under the weather (head cold symptoms, sore throat, and/or upper body congestion), try this hydrotherapy favorite: The Wet Sock Treatment.
Every night for 2-4 nights, do the following:
- Soak a pair of cotton socks in ice-cold water
- Warm your feet up by soaking them in a hot bath (or better yet take a hot bath)
- Dry your feet thoroughly
- Take the cotton socks from the ice-cold water, wring them out, and place them on your feet
- Cover the cotton socks with a pair of warm, insulated socks (wool or acrylic)
- Hop in bed (with a hot water bottle if you’ve got one) and get a good night’s sleep
- In the morning, the cotton socks will be warm and dry, and you will find that your sinus and/or chest congestion has been pleasantly relieved!