11 Jan Preventing/treating colds and flu– a “natural flu shot”
This story is the second in a series of articles written by various Blooming Glen Farm CSA members. Please enjoy this submission from CSA member Grace Rollins of Bridge Acupuncture.
It seems like there are ads everywhere for the flu shot these days. Most of us can avoid the flu naturally, or can recover in a normal way from the flu when afflicted. The occasional cold or flu can even be a cleansing event for the body, helping to maintain good health in the long run. A healthy person will fight off colds or flu with ease; inability to do so is a sign of imbalance.
What can you do holistically to strengthen your immune system? To start, there are certain foods known for their immune-enhancing and anti-microbial properties, for example:
–Raw, local honey (if you put it in hot tea it will be tasty but no longer raw, so somewhat less beneficial)
–Chicken broth and fat (there is now scientific basis to this folk medicine! It has to be naturally pasture-raised chicken to get the most benefit. Simmer the bones from your locally bought bird for 7-24 hours for a highly nutritious broth!)
–Coconut oil (take a tablespoon of extra virgin oil to prevent or treat colds) and coconut milk (great for soups and smoothies!)
–Ginger, garlic, and scallion (great for soups and stir-fries)
–Fermented, cultured foods (like sauerkraut, kimchee and kombucha– help supplant your body’s healthy microbial flora and fight off pathogenic yeasts and bacteria)
–Apple cider vinegar (a little mixed in water makes a great tonic drink– use it to gargle for a sore throat)
My favorite tonic food is a good soup made with a quart or two of home-made chicken bone broth, a can of organic coconut milk, garlic, ginger and onion, some cut-up veggies and a squeeze of lemon. Garnish with cilantro or scallion. Delicious, and a strong immune booster!
The many special herbs that can be taken as tea or tinctures to enhance immunity include the famous echinacea, goldenseal and/or astragalus. These can be found in any health food section. My favorite vitamin for preventing or treating colds is a good old Vitamin C and Zinc lozenge.
Getting enough sleep and exercise is crucial for your immune system, as is avoiding stress and depleting foods like sugar, white flour and processed foods. You may find over-the-counter medications or that tempting course of antibiotics unnecessary if you simply rest and eat pure good food for a day or two.
Last but not least, acupuncture and moxibustion can be very helpful for strengthening the immune system, especially if you have a track record of frequent colds/flu or have a hard time getting over an illness. Studies show that acupuncture and moxibustion (the burning of mugwort to stimulate acupoints with heat) have a strong effect in enhancing immune-cell function in the body, even in those with immunocompromised conditions. The folk medicine techniques of cupping and gua sha (cutaneous friction), extremely popular in the Far East, are also something I use frequently in clinic to help my patients clear out fevers, coughs and congestion.
I always reserve pharmaceutical drugs as a very last resort, because they typically mask symptoms and create more problems down the road. Plus there are so many effective “natural flu shot” remedies out there. Since dedicating myself to this approach, I haven’t had to use antibiotics in over 15 years and at most get a minor cold once or twice a year. More than anything I attribute my healthy immune system to eating a nutrient-dense diet year-round, full of organic veggies, healthy fats like butter, coconut and olive oil, fish, pastured eggs and grass-fed meats. The foundation of good health is always high quality organic food, so support your local CSA and organic farms!
Submitted by Grace Rollins.
Grace Rollins, M.S., L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and a candidate for certification as a Nutritional Therapist. She is the owner of Bridge Acupuncture and Natural Health in Doylestown, PA (www.bridgeacupuncture.com), leader of the Bucks County Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation (www.westonaprice.org), and an avid cook, athlete and martial artist. She joined her first CSA in 2002.