Winter Immunity

by Tara Levy, ND

Have you been hit by the flu yet this season?  The flu is now considered to be widespread in California,  and we are now seeing many cases in the Bay Area.  The holiday season brings additional stress on the immune system — poor eating, disrupted sleep, increased travel — so it’s a great time to give your body a little extra support to help get you into the New Year with good health.
The importance of hand washing can not be overstated:  Wash your hands!  Hand washing is perhaps the simplest, easiest and most economical way to stave off infection. Regular soap is all you need so steer clear of anything fancy, scented or anti-microbial. Be sure to wash palms, backs of hands and in between fingers. Try humming the alphabet song while you wash, to ensure you are taking adequate time. Wash before eating, after using the restroom, after coughing/sneezing, after shaking hands and certainly after you have been around people that are clearly sick.

Nasal rinsing, similar to hand washing, is one of the most preventive things we can do to reduce our risk of getting sick.  Nasal rinsing can wash away viruses and bacteria before they  take hold, so is a great method of prevention.  Nasal rinsing can be done with saline spray, with a neti pot, or with a nasal spray such as Xclear, which contains ingredients that are also anti-microbial.  As with hand-washing, you can do this at the end of every day and after any possible exposure to those that may e sick. Xclear and saline spray are great to have with you for use on airplanes and during large gatherings, where there is lots of exposure to others in close quarters.  And it’s safe for adults and children!

Many of you know that probiotics are good for your gut and digestion, but did you know they are also critical for your immune system?  Mucus membranes are our first line of defense against bacteria and viruses, and Probiotic bacteria are an integral part of these membranes functioning optimally.  Give your body a daily dose of these immune boosters by eating fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, pickles, or kombucha regularly.  At first sign of illness, one can take probiotic supplements 1-2 x daily until symptoms resolve.

Immune supportive nutrients such as as Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc can be incredibly beneficial in both preventing and shortening the course of illness.  There are many herbs that also have immune supportive effects, such as echinaciea, elderberry, pelargonium, and astragalus.  If you are prone to illness, consider taking an immune support formula, either on a regular basis or at the very first sign of symptoms.  We have several formulas in the office, both for adults and children.  Ask your doctor which might be best suited for you.

Homeopathic flu and immune support can also be a great preventive at this time of year.  In the office we have both Influenzinum, an oral homeopathic remedy made to match his year’s flu vaccine, and Engystol, a homeopathic immune boosting injection from Germany.  Both of these remedies are available in the office.  Give a call or message the office to arrange to get yours, or to ask about any of the remedies mentioned here!

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