Raina’s Wellness “Taking the cold out of winter”


Winter is on its way whether we like it or not. Colds and flu are getting ready to run rampant at school and work, but sick days don’t have to be inevitable.   There are many simple and natural ways to keep your immune system strong throughout the season.  Here are some tips from health professionals and public health organizations to help you stay proactive about your health and sniffle free.
Wash your hands. As obvious as it may sound, medical and public health experts agree that hand washing is one of the most important things we can do to prevent the spread of infection. To wash effectively, use with hot water and soap for at least twenty seconds (or sing the happy birthday song twice through in your head).  Hand sanitizer might be convenient when a sink isn’t available, but regular ol’ hand washing is much more effective to eliminate germs.  Make habits stick early by teaching children to wash after using the bathroom, before eating, and after playing outside.
Explore homeopathic remedies. Homeopathic medicine is a system of medicine founded in Germany in the 19th century.  It’s based on the notion that the body can heal itself.  Homeopathic remedies are made from plant and mineral matter and are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A homeopathic remedy called Influenzinum is a common flu prevention measure that is made from the flu virus. Desiree Brazelton, classical homeopath and founder of Spark Wellness in Minneapolis, explains that the remedy, also called a “nosode,” is consistent with the homeopathic philosophy that “like cures like.” This prevention remedy is intended to build up your immunity to the virus. Spark Wellness in Minneapolis is currently offering a flu clinic to administer the remedy and answer any questions.  The cost for the clinic is $25 for an individual or $35 for the entire family. The session can also be conducted over the phone and the remedy will be mailed.
Let food be thy medicine. Make sure to eat a balanced diet that’s centered on vegetables and fruits, which are full of antioxidants, to keep your immune system strong and ready to fight.  Foods like garlic, ginger, honey and lemon have natural antibacterial properties.  Make sure to load up on these inexpensive and flavorful immune supporters.  Garlic becomes less potent when cooked, so use raw garlic when possible.  Let the garlic sit for 10 minutes before eating so that it has enough time to release its health promoting compound, allicin. You can make a super tea with fresh ginger, lemon and honey to keep germs at bay. In addition, limit added sugar and alcohol which both suppress your immune system.
Don’t skimp on exercise or sleep. These two healthy habits are even more crucial during this time of year. Keep yourself strong by exercising regularly which improves immune system repsonse in a variety of ways. According to the National Institutes of Health, exercise has many immune benefits, such as flushing harmful bacteria out of the lungs, increasing the rate of antibody circulation, and slowing down harmful stress related hormones. Sleeping seven to eight hours a night is also a must. When you skimp on sleep, your body produces more cortisol, a stress hormone that weakens your immune system.
Use vitamins and supplements wisely. Many companies sell these products with claims of health and prevention benefits.  While many vitamins and supplements are beneficial, they are not required to be tested by the FDA before being sold.  According to the FDA website, individual manufacturers must provide their own testing and ensure safety. Not all companies are honest, so it’s best to consult a third-party group such as Consumer Labs to read their evaluations of these products before purchasing them.  Widely recommended supplements for cold and flu prevention include vitamin C and herbs astragalus and echinacea.  Check with your health provider before using to avoid health complications and adverse drug interactions.
Thank you to the health providers who supplied great information for this article.
Desiree Brazelton, classical homeopath, is the founder of Spark Wellness.  She can be contacted at 612-232-6453 or [email protected].  The clinic is located at 5603 Chicago Ave. S.,  Minneapolis 55417.

Raina Goldstein Bunnag has a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and is currently a master’s candidate in nutrition and public health at the University of North Carolina. She keeps abreast of the latest health news and will be addressing relevant wellness topics each month. If you have any questions or topics you would like to see covered in the column, please send her an email at [email protected].

One Comment:

  1. While some people do find homeopathic remedies provide them with relief and I know that some people can’t have the flu shot due to certain health conditions, I think your article does a great disservice by not mentioning flu vaccines as a preventative measure, while discussing a homeopathic product as a preventative tool. Also, I think the article is misleading with respect to your characterization of FDA regulation of homeopathic products. The FDA does not regulate them for efficacy. (http://nccam.nih.gov/health/homeopathy) I am disappointed that your public health training isn’t reflected in this article.

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