woman with kleenex looking sick

Kick Your Sickness! Natural Remedies for Colds & Flu’s

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Dr. Kimberly Boileau

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Global influenza infections are so widespread that animated online maps can help us predict its next victims. The flu season begins in the fall time as kids return to school, and often reaches a peak mid-winter. These infections can arise in the middle of the night, spread rapidly through the household and curtail work or vacation plans for days to weeks.

Checking in for an appointment with me can help speed up your recovery time, but until we can get you in for a visit, these key items can feel like a lifesaver at 11 pm on a cold fall night. They are easy to find at grocery stores and you may even have them at home already.

If your nose or lungs are feeling plugged up and very stuffy, create a steam inhalation with eucalyptus, mint or lavender essential oils by dropping 2-3 drops of essential oils into a warm bath. If you are careful with the dilution (not too much!), the oils inhaled can also have a mild antimicrobial effect on the parts of the respiratory tract they contact, so breathe deep! You can also clear mucous and excess debris from the nose by first doing a steam inhalation to get things loosened up, then doing nasal irrigation with a neti pot (make sure you only use filtered water).

For sore throats, add a few drops of oregano oil to an ounce of water and gargle before chasing with water or tea. This, like the other oils, can have a topical antimicrobial effect that provides temporary relief of throat irritation. Hot teas can also be soothing, and finding a tea containing Echinacea (Echinacea purpura or Echinacea augustifolia) has immune enhancing properties and is great for both colds and flu’s. Lemon and honey add extra antimicrobial defense to any tea, herbal or otherwise. Also, Zinc lozenges containing vitamin C, honey or lemon defend and repair various tissues and can help get you feeling better, faster. It is possible to have too much, so avoid discomfort by checking with a professional about dosing for your individual needs.

And, the old favorite of course; Vitamin C. Effervescent forms are available and may appeal to kids or others who enjoy citrus flavoring. Our bodies are often using up more vitamin C when we’re sick, so I find patients can tolerate higher doses than they’re used to on a regular basis. For some patients though, vitamin C can cause loose stools, so make sure to slowly increase your dose to ensure you don’t have any trouble.

When you’re sick, simply getting out of bed can be exhausting, let alone cooking. To make sure you have food for a few days, use a slow cooker to make your chicken soup and don’t forget the garlic! Fresh or lightly cooked garlic has available allicin, which helps to kill bacteria and fungi directly. If the smell and pungent taste of garlic aren’t an issue for you (and those around you), chop up 1-2 fresh cloves, let them sit in the air for 10 minutes, then swallow with a little water. This is hugely antimicrobial and can also help you feel better, faster.

If you are hoping to avoid getting sick altogether, see me so we can optimize your body’s immune system as the cold and flu season approaches. Everyone is an individual and we may need to do things a little differently for you than we do for others, so we’ll make sure to tailor treat your immune concerns. I can also help you stock the cabinet with helpers like Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous) and Vitamin D. These assist the immune system in the long-term by adjusting how we react to stress and modulating the types of compounds our body makes when we are repairing ourselves. Astragalus is available as a liquid tincture or in tablet form, often 2-3 times per day (my absolute favourite product is Deep Immune by St Francis and we have lots in stock at Naturmend!). Vitamin D is best taken as a liquid or soft-gel capsule, and always with food.

Early fall is one of the most important seasonal health check-ins, especially where the climate can be particularly harsh.  Getting sick can be very unpredictable but is often preventable! I can help stave off the stuffy, achy, and hacking discomfort of influenza. The suggestions above can help ensure some quality sleep, but even after the fever has hit it isn’t too late. Come in for an appointment at any stage and let me help get you on the fast path to healing. And don’t forget, first-time patients get a free, 15-minute consultation to see if we’d be a good fit, so book in for a visit and we’ll chat about your current concerns and health goals.

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