As kids return to school and seasons change, cold and flu activity often spikes. Each year, an estimated five to 20 percent of Americans become sick with the flu, and countless more battle the common cold. Experts agree that prevention is key and many recommend natural strategies to ward off illness and tackle symptoms when sickness does strike.
“From nutrient packed foods to Chinese herbs and ancient practices like acupuncture, there are many ways to fight the flu naturally,” said Ed Lamadrid, DAOM, L.Ac, LMT, an author, researcher and wellness expert based in Chicago. “The best strategy to avoid colds and flu is to focus on a healthy lifestyle that supports prevention all year long.”
Lamadrid, who has been practicing integrative medicine for over 26 years, suggests the following tips for getting off to a healthy start this fall and tackling symptoms if you do become ill.
Feed a Cold – The old adage “you have to feed a cold” is true to some extent. Lamadrid says foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as berries, pomegranates, garlic and leafy greens like spinach and kale, can help to fight free radicals in the body which can cause illness. Foods that are packed with vitamins and nutrients power the body and keep the immune system strong, so be sure that these power foods and plenty of other fruits and vegetables are a staple on your shopping list. Research has also shown that mom was right: chicken soup does have medicinal qualities.
Turn to Tea – Green, black, white, oolong and pu-erh tea have been praised for their illness fighting properties thanks to the unique antioxidants they contain, known as flavonoids. Antioxidants reduce free radicals in the body to fight illness. While certain teas can soothe the throat, open nasal passages and reduce cold symptoms, the health benefits go well beyond and include reducing the risk of cancer, heart diseases and other illness.
Consider Herbal Remedies –Vitamins, minerals and herbs can help support a strong immune system. Herbal remedies such as Echinacea and Umcka, made from a South African geranium root, have become well known for their role in preventing illness and shortening the duration of a cold. Horehound, colt’s foot and pleurisy root have been shown to break up congestion in the chest and reduce phlegm. There are Chinese herbal formulas which have used successfully for thousands of years to treat sore throat and cough. Lamadrid says there are numerous herbs and supplements that play a key role in fighting illness and can help relieve symptoms, but stresses the importance of taking them under the guidance of a qualified practitioner. “Supplements can have a very powerful effect on the body, but it’s important to take the right dose and to be aware of possible interactions,” said Lamadrid, who is also Campus President of the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago.
Relax – Meditation, yoga and breathing exercises can help relax the body, reduce stress and promote good sleep, all of which support good health and work to keep your resistance to illness high.
Look to Ancient Therapies – Ancient Chinese medicine practices such as acupuncture and massage therapy can support the body’s fight against illness by helping to maintain positive energy flow in the body. When illness does strike, acupuncture can help reduce the duration of colds by opening up channels in the chest, face. neck and shoulders
“During flu season and all year long, vitamins supplements and alternative medicine practices can help support good health, boost energy and promote overall wellness,” said Lamadrid.
For more wellness tips and information about alternative medicine, visit Dr. Lamadrid online at www.edlamadrid.com.