During the winter months many can be seen smothering themselves in anti-bacterial gels and lotions. While it is certain that sanitation helps prevent the spread of germs and disease, there is not much evidence that suggests it will improve your health. In fact, too much disinfectant can lead to a weakened immune system. Washing your hands with warm soap and water is a much better way of keeping your body free from germs.
Those of us in the natural health field believe that the body's best line of defense against colds and flus is boosting it's own immune system. The best way to do this is by first making sure that the microbiome (your gut) is full of healthy bacteria. One way to do this is by consuming fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh and kefir. In addition, adding in a multi-strained probiotic to your daily supplement routine will help in replenishing the friendly guys. By keeping a healthy gut, the body's immune system will automatically be strengthened.
A well known pioneer herbalist, Samuel Thomson, believed that the source of the energy in life directly correlates with healthy food and good digestion. It's all about the environment. If you are eating poorly, you are creating an environment for unhealthy bacteria and disease. A popular analogy is that of the buzzards and fields of trash. If you create a pile of trash, the buzzards will breed. However, if you clean up the garbage pile then there is nothing for them to feed on and they are more likely to stay away. One of my favorite quotes is, "The germ is nothing, the terrain is everything". (Louis Pasteur).
So, what if you still catch that nasty cold in spite of your good efforts? One of the best things to do first is to open up the sweat glands. Step into a hot bath filled with a few drops of essential oils such as lavender, pine, eucalyptus and rosemary. You can also add a cup or two of Epsom salts to help draw out the toxins. If you can catch it in the first 24 hours, taking anti-viral herbs such as Elderberry and increasing your Vitamin D3 intake is helpful. There are some great anti-microbials such as Silver Sol and a high potency garlic. I always keep my herbal cabinet at home stocked with plenty of these guys so that I can consume them as quickly as possible at the first sign of a sniffle or scratchy throat.
Remember, you are what you eat so keep the holiday cookies to a minimum and focus on fresh fruits, veggies, raw nuts, lean organic meats and plenty of clean water. In addition, stress also puts a strain on the immune system so find ways to reduce the holiday chaos through regular exercise and meditation.