Weathering Winter Woes
What does winter mean to you? Do the darker nights fill you with dread and the colder days with shivers? Do you anticipate these symptoms with grim certainty every winter?
Head full of cement and nose dripping?
A sore throat and a perpetual cough?
Here’s how to cope!
Truly, it doesn’t have to be this way. You know those irritating people who breeze through the winter never catching a thing except the fulminating eye of their germ-ridden colleagues? That could be you this year!
Take Echinacea every day. Fresh, organic Echinacea purpurea has been shown to work by improving the immune response to any potential bug, making it less likely that you’ll fall prey to any kind of infection, from colds to flu and throat or chest infections. If you are one of these people who can bank on getting at least four colds every winter, start taking it in October and be amazed as you sail through until March with scarcely a sniffle to your name.
Add Vitamin C to your daily routine and improve the way your body builds white blood cells, which are the soldiers in the immune system’s fight against invading germs. Vitamin C should be taken in small doses, two or three times daily as that ensures that it will give the most benefit to your immune system.
Get some fresh air each day, rather than huddling in centrally heated homes and offices, and cars heated up like small ovens.
And for combating the chesty coughing spasms
A complex containing Ivy and Thyme will reduce bronchial spasm and thin any mucus lying on the chest, making it easier to bring up and get rid of. The joy of this remedy is that it works really quickly and has no contraindications, so anyone can take it. Even diabetics, who can’t take regular cough bottles because they contain sugar, are safe with these herbs. Give it to your children and enjoy peaceful nights, undisturbed by racking coughs. (Children who have persistent coughs or breathing difficulties should be taken to a doctor.)
A pine based cough syrup, made from fresh spruce buds long used for their beneficial effect on the respiratory tract during the winter months, should help soothe a tickly cough. The story goes that the Native Americans used to use these buds to survive, if stranded in the snow, by making spruce bud tea. As ever, they knew what they were doing as it turns out that spruce buds have antiseptic and antibacterial effects which can help the lungs to bring up muck that may be lying there.
Plantago is great for those whose catarrh sits firmly in the head, blocking the nose and the ears, making breathing and hearing difficult. If you snuffle your way through the winter, and battle the phlegm for weeks after defeating the cold, try this remedy and reduce your chances of suffering the dreaded snot.
Blood not reach your toes all winter?
You could wear bed socks for three or four months, or you could try some herbal circulatory stimulants...
Ginkgo biloba is the remedy most famous for stimulating the arterial circulation. The arterial circulation is what takes oxygenated blood round the body to the organs and tissues, and if it is not particularly strong then the outlying regions, such as the fingers and toes, tend to get rather chilly. Ginkgo has been used by the Chinese for centuries, and its beneficial effects include improving blood flow to the head, thus aiding the memory. Just think – warmer and less forgetful! You have to remember to take it, of course... Please note that you can’t take it if you are on anticoagulant medication, such as aspirin or warfarin.
Ginger is the other option, if you can’t take Ginkgo. It is known as a warming blood tonic by the Chinese, and adds pep and zip to the circulation. It may not be as effective as Ginkgo at warming the extremities, but it isn’t bad and has the added bonus of reducing inflammation in the body at the same time. This may mean that you have less pain as well as more warmth!
More tips for a wonderful winter
Keep breathing! Don’t forsake the outdoors because it’s no longer sunny – get out and breathe fresh (chilly...) air at least once every day. And that doesn’t mean a couple of breaths as you dive from your house to your car... Have a five minute trot round the block every day, or venture out at lunchtime for a short walk, to get stale air out of your lungs.
Keep moving! As above... Don’t vegetate because you’ll actually be colder huddled by the fire in three layers of thermals than you would be if you had a brisk walk. Exercise also improves mood, with people who exercise regularly being less prone to depression. And that doesn’t have to be major athletics or aerobic acrobatics, but just walking or other gentle activities.