Winter Health

*The following is my unprofessional information and opinion based on my own practices and research. It is important to know the contraindications of herbs and that some people could experience allergic reactions. So please look into that, or shoot me a message and I will be happy to look it up for you.*

The flu is ‘going around’ and that has many people concerned because of the severity of this strain. Some cases have hit close to home and maybe that is why there is so much fear. I have even been sucked into it myself probably because I have a child who is not as health conscious as I am. I see stuff like this, and I amp up the defenses.

This particular strain mutates rapidly which is probably why the immune system goes into hyper drive and can cause all sorts of problems. I looked up the Ayurveda perspective on it, and found that if the pathogen is not readily or correctly identified, then it will not be expelled and will move through our body and mutate. To maintain an efficient immune system, the GI tract must be healthy. It is an airborne virus, so if not expelled through the respiratory, then the second line is the GI. Triphala is a super herb that restores balance in the GI tract, is loaded with Vitamin C and many other health supporting properties, as outlined below. It is also suggested to apply sesame oil inside the nostrils to help dispel and protect against the airborne pathogen.

Over a month ago I started a blog about home remedies. It was turning into a book. So I abandoned it and today I am going to try to keep it short and focused.

Colds and flu are most common in the colder months. In fact, my house was inflicted with some kind of ailment right after Thanksgiving. Nothing major, and mine was pretty mild compared to many. Here is what happens during the holiday season: I indulge in more unhealthy habits than I should. I admit it. I eat more dairy, bread, and sugar. I felt bloated and sluggish. These are good reminders for me. After the new year, and an extra five pounds, I jumped back on the wagon. The bread, dairy and sugar were reduced tremendously. We have been eating more veggies, rice and soups. I returned to my jiujitsu and weight training. I logged my weight and created a food journal. These are excellent practices to keep me on track and aware.

Training can take its toll on a body, especially after a month of sloth. My body is sore and achy and while many believe ‘no pain, no gain’ is the path to health and beauty, it is not. What happens is, the body goes into defensive mode when worked too hard, which means the immune system is taxed leaving us vulnerable to disease. The ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy is counterproductive to health and wellness. That being said, I did not set out to kill myself. My sedentary life for a month created this. I will adjust and I may need to even lessen the load as I do. After training the other day, I decided I better rest and skip weights. Yes, this is counter intuitive, because we may feel like we have failed, or we are slacking on our fitness. It is not. It is being smart. The resting phase is so very important and under appreciated. The resting phase is paramount to building the body and its defenses. Glorifying the excessive pain felt a day or two after workouts is damaging.

Nutrition is perhaps the most important defense against disease. Processed sugar depletes the immune system. I sound like a broken record when I tell the youngun to avoid sugar when he feels bad, or stuff is ‘going around’. It is so important. Excess bread and dairy also contribute to weakened systems. Fresh veggies, homemade soups, and fruit, especially apples, are good choices. Whole food, period, is best. Avoid processed, boxed foods. Farm fresh eggs are also excellent. 😉

I have briefly covered exercise and nutrition. I believe a good plant based medicinal regimen falls in line with nutrition, but most people wait to take it as medicine when they begin to feel bad. While I have some that I use in that way, I usually have a daily herbal tea. It is not always the same either, just depends on what I feel like I need or want at the moment. It usually includes various combinations of the following:

Tulsi (Holy Basil) – Sacred Ayurvedic herb. It removes excess mucous/dampness from the lungs and upper respiratory tract promoting clear, comfortable breathing, promotes healthy circulation and supports proper function of the heart, strengthens digestion and supports proper weight management, bolsters the immune system and is useful for maintaining a normal body temperature, it heightens awareness and promotes mental clarity. Excellent daily tea.

Red Clover – Blood thinner, removes metabolic waste, prohibits attachment and metastasis of abnormal cells. Maintains normal estrogen levels during menopause for maintenance of healthy bones, skin, and arteries. Maintains normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, promotes youthfulness.

Lemon Balm – Anti viral/anti bacterial, helps sweat out fever, calming and sedative, treating nervousness in adults and over excited children. Improves the taste and activity of other herbs. When used in combination with laxatives, it has a complimentary anti-spasmodic effect.

Neem – Detoxifies liver and blood, is cooling and drying.

Lavender – Mild sedative, treats headache, nervousness, and nervous insomnia. Digestive remedy useful for treating sensation of over fullness or nausea after eating.

Chamomile – Fragrant, calming to stomach, improves digestion if taken after meals, calms nervousness and promotes deep sleep. Anti-spasmodic.

Turmeric – It bolsters the immune system, purifies the blood and promotes clear, healthy skin, strengthens digestion and eliminates toxins from the GI tract, supports proper function of the pancreas, soothes and nourishes the joint tissue and promotes comfortable movement, supports proper function of the heart.

Sometimes I will mix those with other teas like Darjeeling or Green Tea. I will usually add a powder of some sort, like Turmeric. I take Turmeric daily. But I may also add St. John’s Wort occasionally.

If I am feeling susceptible, run down, or have been exposed to someone who is generously spreading their cooties, I will add these to my regimen, and I will do so two to three times daily:

Echinacea – Immune stimulant, early treating of bacterial or viral infection, speeds resolution of colds, flu, and upper respiratory infection. Promotes salivation.

Elderberry – Antiviral and immune stimulating. Commonly used for treating upper respiratory infection, including common flu and cold. The berries are high in health promoting procyanidins. I make my own and have a recipe here.

Colloidal Silver – Anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti viral. Has been used as a natural antibiotic for hundreds of years.

If I am feeling sick, with cold like symptoms or have been exposed to something particularly evil, I bring out the heavy hitters:

Triphala – Used in Ayurveda. It is made up of three fruits. It restores balance to the GI tract. It helps clear out undigested food, is a laxative, nourishing, and has a high content of Vitamin C. It is good taken on a daily basis and is non habit forming. Improves digestion, reduces serum cholesterol, improves circulation (potentiates adrenergic function), Contains 31% linoleic acid, exerts a marked cardio-protective effect, reduces high blood pressure, improves liver function, has proven anti inflammatory and anti viral properties, expectorant, hypotensive….This is powerful medicine. A popular folk saying in India is: “No mother? Do not worry so long as you have Triphala”.

Trikatu – Contains the herbs pippali, ginger, and black pepper. Traditionally used to enkindle the digestive fire and to effectively burn fat and natural toxins. Supports a healthy metabolism, allowing nutrients to be properly digested and assimilated, thus aiding in weight management. It is also a rejuvenative, supporting healthy lungs and uncongested breathing.

Thyme – antiseptic, astringent, and most useful for treating upper respiratory infection- viral or bacterial, allays cough and bronchitis.

Yarrow – bitter tonic and anti spasmodic, will improve digestion if taken before meal. Hot tea taken for treating colds and sweating out fever. This grows wild on our property and I harvest and dry it. It is free medicine provided by nature.

I buy some of my herbs locally, grow some, and the Ayurvedic herbs I order online. This is just a sampling of what I do. I could go on and on. A good old lemon, honey, ginger tea with or without a splash of spirits is always a good one to help alleviate some symptoms and allow us to sleep. Steams are wonderful for clogged, stuffy or sore sinuses. I add eucalyptus and tea tree oil to mine. Soaks and baths are also wonderful for drawing out toxins and soothing symptoms.

While I prefer the tea concoctions, not everyone appreciates the taste or bitterness that some of these herbs contain. A good alternative is the extracts that you can add to water, especially for children who resist the tea. Elderberry syrup is also a good carrier for other herbs. Capsules are usually available as well.

I hope you find this useful. Nature provides us with powerful medicine. It is a mission of mine to educate myself and to retain and pass on this knowledge and keep it alive.

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