Natural Ways to Ward Off Winter Colds

Cold and flu season is here. Save yourself from the sniffles and aches by bolstering your immune system with some natural, simple techniques.

Posted on | Mao Shing Ni, L.Ac., D.O.M., PhD

Cold and flu season is here. Save yourself from the sniffles and aches by bolstering your immune system with some natural, simple techniques.

Keep Healthy With Herbs

For centuries, herbs have been used in Chinese medicine and many other traditional medicinal systems to help strengthen the immune system.

  • Ligustrum has been shown in many recent studies to have immunity-boosting benefits.
  • Cherokee rose is traditionally used to protect the body from external pathogens with its astringent properties. It’s also one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C.
  • Honeysuckle is a natural antimicrobial herb that has been used for thousands of years to increase resistance and fight against bacterial, viral and fungal infections.

You can find these herbs in health food stores, online and at the offices of acupuncturists and Chinese herbalists. Of course, herbs can sometimes have unexpected results and interact with other medications you may be taking, so speak with your doctor before you start an herbal regime.

Build Immunity With Beta-carotene

Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that improves immune function and promotes mucus membrane health. A 1997 study conducted by the Institute of Food Research in the UK suggested that dietary intake of beta-carotene can enhance cell-mediated immune responses. To get these benefits, eat more orange vegetables, including carrots, winter squash, butternut squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and yams. Additionally, these are all excellent sources of vitamin C, which famously supports the immune system.

Stay Strong With Soup

The season may have you craving a warm bowl of soup. Cook up a broth of shiitake mushrooms, seaweed, cabbage, squash, carrots, fresh ginger, oregano and onion in chicken or vegetable stock. Shiitake mushrooms contain polysaccharides, sterols and coumarin, as well as vitamins and minerals that increase your immune function. Seaweed cleanses the body; cabbage can increase your body’s ability to fight infection; ginger supports healthy digestion; and the remaining ingredients promote general health. Not bad for one super soup! Save time by cooking in bulk and freezing for later.

Treat Your Body Right

Encourage your body to fight flu and other infections by giving it the care it needs.

  • Get at least seven hours of quality sleep every night. Studies show that your immune system function drops by an average of 60% after just three nights of poor sleep.
  • Keep your stress level low with meditation, tai chi or yoga.
  • Dry body-brushing daily can activate lymph circulation, which helps clear out toxic debris and stimulate immunity.

I hope these tips keep you protected all season long!

Blog written by Mao Shing Ni, L.Ac., D.O.M., PhD
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, bestselling author of Secrets of Longevity, is a 38th-generation doctor of Chinese medicine and the leading...