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Vanquish Colds and Flus- by making your body stronger

If you’re one of the millions of people who enter the colder half of the year with the depressing certainty that you’ll have to live through the tedious misery of colds or flus, then this is the post for you.  Cold and flu season is a bonanza for anyone peddling remedies, and as you’ve probably noticed, very few of them do more than take the edge off of the worst symptoms for a few minutes to a few hours.

There is no magic pill, but the combination of ancient herbal and nutritional knowledge from traditions around the world can put a potent arsenal at your fingertips to defend the integrity of your immune system- and your first stop will be the grocery store, not the pharmacist.  We’ll walk you through immune-boosting first responses that will kill a cold or flu before it gets a grip on you, and what to do about the symptoms.

 

First Response

We cold sufferers all know the feeling, that first inkling that something is off inside.  Maybe it’s the beginnings of a sore throat, or a dripping nose, or chills, or just a general feeling of untimely fatigue.  Pay attention, because this is your body telling you that it needs help, and the sooner you shore up your immune system, the better off you’ll be.

General Immune Boosting- Herbs and Foods

The first line of attack when your immune system starts complaining is to boost it directly.

Garlic contains allicin, a natural antibiotic, and has immunostimulant properties.  This is the herb of first resort for many people when a cold comes on, usually paired with ginger, an immune system and respiratory system tonic.  Cinnamon  is a powerful immune booster, especially paired with honey.  Whenever I feel a hint of a cold, cinnamon tea is usually enough to knock it out  (you can buy cinnamon tea in bags, or make your own from cinnamon sticks- powdered cinnamon makes an unpalatable sludge).  Cloves are another helpful ingredient used with cinnamon in Ayurvedic medicine.

Echinecea, though well-known, is not a particularly powerful immune stimulant.  Astragalus is the best herb you can add to this array.  It is a powerful antiviral and immune booster used in Chinese medicine, usually paired with woad (isatidis), the plant used to make blue dyes in Europe for centuries.  Astragalus also helps the liver, which has work to do in any viral infection.  Astragalus is fine in tea, but woad is rather bitter and is better ingested in capsule form.  Reishi and Shiitake mushrooms are also key parts of the Asian antiviral and immune-boosting repertoire.

Next, you have to give your immune system all the support it needs by taking in micronutrients.  A number of herbs used in traditional medicine worldwide to treat colds and flus act by boosting Vitamin C and other micronutrients and thereby fortifying the immune system.  Citrus fruits, rosehip tea, quince tea, sea buckthorn juice and even white pine needle tea have been used this way.  Rosehips are also helpful for sinus conditions.  Closer to spring, birch sap is a traditional option.

Whenever immune-boosting foods are discussed, grapefruit gets mentioned.  It is a powerful support to the immune system and natural blood cleanser, but do not mix it with any pharmaceutical medication, and even be careful with some of the herbs listed here, as it magnifies the effect of many medications, often to the point of causing damage to the liver and kidneys.

One straightforward way of dealing with a cold is to make a soup that is as spicy as you can possibly stand.  Spices are your friend in cold season (notably cayenne pepper and the rest of the chilies, which all have immune-boosting properties).   Robyn Landis suggests a soup containing astragalus, a bulb of garlic, a large onion, a quarter cup of ginger, cayenne pepper, antioxidant vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, beets and shiitake mushrooms.  Believe me, no hostile living organism will survive the onslaught of this broth, and the moment you drink some, you’ll know why 🙂

Nutritional Habits

The moment you feel something coming on, stop eating junk.  As we’ve discussed in previous posts, when your immune system complains, get it off everything that’s harming it, especially refined sugar, unhelpful fats, processed foods and anything with the harmful chemical additives we’ve discussed before.  For colds, cutting dairy intake to zero early on is a very good idea, as it stimulates mucus production.  Reduce heavy foods like meat and cereals, and try to eat more fruits and vegetables.  The old saying “feed a cold, starve a fever” shouldn’t be taken literally- starve the cold too.  If you can fast totally, even just for a day, go ahead (this advice doesn’t apply if you’re the kind of person who undereats).  If not, reduce your food intake and focus on fruits and vegetables.

Above all, no alcohol, no sugar drinks, and especially none of that energy drink crap.  Yes, caffeine can relieve some cold symptoms temporarily, but in those doses, caffeine and other stimulants will devastate your immune system.  We have created a society that wants to extract every ounce of productivity from us 48 hours a day, but in this season above all, tell it to get stuffed and drink some nice green tea.  Drink plenty of tea and water to flush out your system.

Lifestyle

Stress is a big contributing factor in immune system breakdown.  A cold may be your body’s way of telling you to get some rest and relax.  Make time for it.  More to the point, if you’re under great mental stress, you’re practically inviting colds and flus.

Here’s a great video primer on how herbs can help you, by Dr. Robyn Benson:

Nuking the Symptoms by Supporting the Body

So, your cold or flu is already setting in.  If you’ve applied the first response techniques and they haven’t worked, it’s likely that you’ve either been taking poor care of your body for an extended period before that, or that your stress level is just too high.  In any case, now is the time to approach your symptoms systematically, which is largely done by supporting the parts of the body involved.  If you are a frequent sufferer of bad colds, get to know your typical symptoms and jump on them before they can take hold-  if you know that you’re going to start with a sore throat and that symptoms seem to migrate from there, start supporting your throat when the first symptoms appear.

 
Sinus, Cough, Nasal and Respiratory Symptoms

Ginger, specifically in dried and powdered form, is a useful expectorant for coughs.  Fenugreek, a popular ingredient in Indian cuisine, is another expectorant and an effective soothing agent for mucilaginous tissues.

Nettle leaf tea is a good lung tonic and antihistamine (freeze-dried products only), and no, there are no prickles involved.  Ephedra, used in the treatment of asthma, is a nasal decongenstant and bronchial dilator useful for acute respiratory symptoms, but should be used very conservatively.

Rose hips, as previously mentioned, support irritated sinus tissue, as do watercress and lemon grass.

For acute sinus pain, make a paste of powdered ginger and water or eucalyptus oil, and apply over the location of the pain.

Note that many of these remedies are available at your local grocery store, and others, such as nettles, are food sources that have fallen into disuse.

 Throat

Herbs for a sore throat can be broken down by their purpose.

Licorice and marshmallow were herbal remedies before they were candy, and both help to coat and soothe dry, itchy throats (no, eating the candy won’t help).  Turmeric is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial for sore throats.

Bee balm, garlic and ginger function as antimicrobials, attacking the germs- start them early.

Astringent sage and horehound close the mucus membranes against further infection (do not use at the dry stage of a sore throat), while calendula, burdock root and mullein stimulate the lymphatic system to help flush out the area.

For more information on the preparation and use of these herbs, see http://www.methowvalleyherbs.com/2011/10/herbal-remedies-for-sore-throat-part-3.html.

Licorice, marshmallow, burdock root and mullein would have been familiar ingredients to any chemist in the Western world less than a hundred years ago, before the onset of pharmaceutical medicine, while bee balm has been used to fight colds by Native North Americans for centuries.

Stomach

When nausea gets you down, there are a few herbs that can help.

Ginger is the classic for all forms of stomach upset, and Ayurvedic medicine would add cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, garlic and onion (and hey, did you really expect Indians to leave out those two?).

Peppermint is also soothing for the stomach and can help with nausea.  Chamomile tea isn’t a bad idea either.

Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and peppermint are all good digestive aids, and once upon a time, these herbs and spices showed up a great deal in Western European cuisine, at a time when European cuisine was actually rather spicy.  For a variety of reasons, they have become disused, and we’ve been missing this digestive tonic ever since.

Fever

Fever is a symptom that traditional medicine will tend to leave alone, on the grounds that your body is trying to heal itself.  Treatment is usually to induce sweating, to allow the body to flush out toxins.  If the fever lasts particularly long or is particularly high, you should consult a healthcare professional.

Headache

A frequent symptom of the flu, you can treat headaches with turmeric, white willow bark (natural precursor of aspirin) and peppermint oil, but most especially with water, rest and darkness.  There is no substitute for rest, and any attempt to keep working through a flu with the aid of pills simply leaves your immune system weaker when the next thing comes.

 Note on Lozenges and Cough Medicines:

Avoid if at all possible most commercial lozenges and liquids, particularly those with high sugar content.  If you find lozenges a necessity, try to find some with a useful herbal base.  A few local shops in North America will still supply the traditional horehound or licorice lozenges, and there are now a few mass-market herbal lozenges, though of varying usefulness and occasionally with pernicious immunodepressent ingredients such as sugar substitutes.

Cure Yourself at the Grocery Store

 You may have noticed by now that a large proportion of these recommendations have more to do with the grocery store than the pharmacist or even the herbalist.  No doubt there are many brilliant herbalists out there, and consulting one about any course of herbal treatment is a good idea.  But the fact is that colds are relatively easy to deal with, and your best defence is a judiciously-stocked larder and a healthy lifestyle.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger


Resilience Tip: Expand your range of Motion

That’s right, expand your range of motion.  

One of the great keys to personal resilience is to maintain a full range of motion throughout your body for your whole life.  In the world of health and wellness, there are very few things you can do that will give you this much benefit… and on minutes a day!

Where should you start?  Simple… think of a range of motion you used to have and would like to reclaim.  It might be touching your toes while keeping your legs straight, or spreading your legs wide apart (side splits) or being able to stand on one spot and turn your head and spine far enough around so you can look behind you.  Starting today, take a few minutes a day to stretch and expand this range of motion very gently and slowly, being careful to breathe into the tissue you’re stretching.  Warming up a little before stretching is also highly advisable.


(NOTE: If you’re planning to stretch a previously injured area or one that’s particularly delicate, make sure you consult a physician, chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist first).


Notice here that range of motion involves a) joints, b) muscles, c) connective tissue (tendons and ligaments).  What most people don’t know is this: as you stretch, you’re also massaging and toning the fascia layer under the skin and the fascia that wraps the tissues you’re stretching.  This strengthens your overall posture and improves the flow of blood, energy, synovial fluid, etc.  

In other words, every stretch you take not only contributes to your flexibility and range of motion; it boosts your overall health and immunity in ways you don’t see.  Want to be resilient – STRETCH!

Want to learn the world’s top system for using simple body motion and breathing to boost your health and immunity through the roof?  You can learn about it here:

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Take Charge of Your Health-Immunity-Longevity NOW

My wife and I recently had dinner with an old friend from out of town, a middle aged guy who, on the outside, looks healthy enough. Turns out he wants to drop about 20 pounds, so we asked him what he’s doing about it. He said, “I’m doing a lot of walking, but for some reason I’m not dropping any weight.”


Well, that was my first clue, so I asked him what he eats… and that’s when it all came out – junk food, too many carbs of the worst kind and absolutely no regard for food combining. Hardly a surprise, alas…

He was actually proud of his recent switch from regular Pepsi to diet Pepsi! It’s enough to make a health coach drive his head into the nearest two-by-four 😉

Anyway, given our short time together and where he was at, there wasn’t a lot we could do. My wife taught him how to maximize the weight loss from his walking and gave him a diet that will almost certainly get him to his goal of losing those 20 pounds.

THE STUPIDEST THING YOU CAN DO IS THIS…

…to focus narrowly on “losing weight”, rather than on your overall health and immunity. And that’s especially the case if you’re looking to lose less than 50 pounds or so. The ironclad law here is this: Focus on your overall health and immunity first, and only then worry about the rest.

The most common stupidity I run into is that people haven’t a clue about the exercise they need most. Our friend is typical – he thought that by going for a walk every day he had covered his bases. And then you get other people who only run or only lift some weights or only swim. Why’s that a problem?

Well, the Taoist longevity masters, who figured outhow to RELIABLY GET YOU PAST YOUR 100TH BIRTHDAY IN GREAT HEALTH, knew the ONLY approach to exercise that really works. They knew about the “7 Deadly Spirals of Disease” and how to avoid them all. And they knew that just “staying active” and getting conventional exercise didn’t cut it.

And here’s the system they came up with:

http://www.warriorcoachinginternational.com/RSHQG/details.php

It has worked for them for the last 15 centuries or so and it can work for you. This is the cornerstone of their health-immunity-longevity system.

And here’s the GOOD NEWS: If you grab a copy this week, we’ll send you a FIFTY DOLLAR rebate off the posted price. So don’t wait. Learn the most important facts and take charge of your own health, immunity and longevity today.

Or you may want to give it as a gift to someone who,like our friend above, is on the wrong track at the moment. Just because our friend and millions like him are on the wrong track doesn’t mean you have to be!

http://www.warriorcoachinginternational.com/RSHQG/details.php

To your health!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger
Warrior Coaching International – transforming your mind, body and spirit into SOLID STEEL……wrapped in cotton 😉



The Second Key to Inner Harmony, Health and Energy

Last time we talked I introduced you to one of the most fundamental methods for cultivating deep levels of inner peace and harmony. And I promised to show you how to take that to the next level.

Okay… by now you’ve had time to practice a bit of “Normal Abdominal Breathing”. And, let me guess, you found it “awkward”??

If so, don’t worry. Anything you’re not used to will seem that way at first and the right way to breathe is no different. Of course, if you’ve had any experience before with such things as Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga and even if you’ve been properly taught how to sing, this kind of breathing won’t be anything new to you.

You may have noticed how easy it was to feel peaceful and relaxed while you were sitting and doing your meditative breathing practice, and how quickly that state disappeared the moment you got up. That’s the catch…

How do you keep your mind centered and your breath relaxed while you go about your daily tasks?? Is it really possible?

Yes, and it’s simpler than you think. It still takes practice and persistence, but it really can be done. And here’s the method that so many ancient traditions have used so successfully for millennia in one form or another:

1. When you get up from your sitting practice, do your best to continue your Normal Abdominal Breathing.

2. The important thing here is to “watch” your breath. In other words, do what you can to keep your mental attention on your breathing, just quietly following it and turning away all other thoughts.

If you’re new to abdominal breathing and this new-to-you breathing pattern presents an obstacle for you, just forget about it entirely for now and watch your breath. Forget about whether it’s abdominal or not, whether you’re doing it right or not. Just pay attention to the ebb and flow of your breathing.

Your mental focus on your breathing should be “light” and natural. Don’t focus so hard you tense up. As you can probably guess, that kind of defeats the purpose 😉

3. While you’re focusing on your breath, you’ll eventually notice physical feelings of harmony all over your body. You may notice various parts of your body and skin seem to “breathe” in conjuction with your inhaling and exhaling. Feel free to pay attention to those feelings as they arise.


Combining Energy and Spirit

Although many traditions used this procedure, only the Taoists gave it a name. They called it “combining energy and spirit”. What’s that mean?

Simple. “Energy” is your breathing, since breath relates to and controls energy (Qi). And “spirit” is your mental attention.

This simple procedure – paying continuous attention to your breathing – is so profound that it was often referred to as “the true path”. Why? Because by doing it for a few months you could easily:

  1. Banish negative emotions – all your doubts, fears, confusions
  2. Gain complete control over your inner world (and therefore a lot more control of your outer world, since the former dictates the latter)
  3. Increase your love for all people and all creation naturally, without much effort
  4. Eliminate stress and discover levels of inner peace you didn’t know existed
  5. Regain your health and banish diseases arising from emotional factors

Let Me SIMPLIFY This For You…

All you need to do is get used to watching your breathing with your mental attention. It’s that simple.

Of course, at the beginning you’ll lose track of your breathing every time something distracts you – a chance conversation, spilling your coffee, memories of a negative emotional state, or just about anything else.

As long as you persevere, though, it won’t be long before you can even do intellectual work like writing this article without losing track of your inner world!

Next time, I’ll show you how to reduce some of the unseen stresses you’re putting on your physical body. Until then, enjoy the wonderful practice of “combining energy and spirit”.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger




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