Live Better is our new blog series—covering the tips, tricks, and science nitty gritty to living your happiest, healthiest life—by one of our fave naturopaths, Krista Lowe (IG @natmedicine).
The season is changing, the weather is getting cooler and it’s that time of the year that the common cold starts to spread (ugh... I know, it’s the worst!). Colds are a common reason why people miss work or school and they are most commonly caused by a virus rather than a bacteria.
You can’t make a cold disappear but you can build your immune system to help speed up the process or decrease your chances of getting sick in the first place! Cough syrups can definitely help you feel better when you’re under the weather but some of them surprisingly also contain artificial dyes, colors and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Over the counter cough syrups contain medical ingredients like: dextromethorphan (cough suppressant), diphenhydramine (antihistamine), salbutamol (opens lung airways), which are used to relieve symptoms of a common cold but they don’t support your body to prevent and/or promote a healthy immune response.
Nobody enjoys feeling sick so I have listed a couple strategies for you to use when you start to feel that stuffy, sneezy, runny nose!
Here's how to make your body resilient:
- Turn on your diffuser! Breathing in essential oils can help promote sleep, relaxation as well as it can help you combat respiratory tract infections (essential oils such as thyme, clove and cinnamon bark are extremely helpful!).
- Vitamin D3. Depending on where you live, it can be hard to get enough Vitamin D in the winter months. Having adequate levels of Vitamin D is important in supporting the immune system and insufficient levels may lead to dysregulation of the immune response.
- Drink plenty of fluids! Water helps flush out your system and it also improves your lymphatic and blood flow. Hot water is easier for your body to absorb so I like to recommend sipping on hot lemon ginger tea!
- Avoid things that impair your immune system. This includes chronic stress (if you haven’t read my last blog on avoiding burn out, click here to read more), extreme alcohol consumption and a poor diet.
- Make sure to get a good night’s sleep! Sleep is definitely important when it comes to getting over a cold. Sleep actually helps your brain speed up the removal of waste products vs. when your brain is awake.
- Make friends with plants! Different plants act on your immune system in different ways to help support your recovery.
- Andrographis helps support a healthy immune response through regulating macrophage reactions (macrophages are a type of white blood cell that plays a crucial role in initiating an immune response)!
- Elderberry has shown to decrease cold duration and cold symptoms!
- Chamomile is a gentle herb that calms the nervous system and helps promote a restful sleep!
Ács, K., Balázs, V. L., Kocsis, B., Bencsik, T., Böszörményi, A., & Horváth, G. (2018). Antibacterial activity evaluation of selected essential oils in liquid and vapor phase on respiratory tract pathogens. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 18(1), 227.
American Psychological Association (2006) Stress weakens the immune system. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/research/action/immune
CDC (2019) Common cold. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-patients/common-illnesses/colds.html
Sarkar, D., Jung, M. K., & Wang, H. J. (2015). Alcohol and the Immune System. Alcohol Research : Current Reviews, 37(2), 153–155.
Prietl, B., Treiber, G., Pieber, T. R., & Amrein, K. (2013). Vitamin D and immune function. Nutrients, 5(7), 2502–2521. doi:10.3390/nu5072502
Shinomiya, et al. (2005) Hypnotic activities of chamomile and passiflora extracts in sleep-disturbed rats. Biol Pharm Bull: 28 (5): 808-10.
Tiralongo, E., Wee, S. S., & Lea, R. A. (2016). Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients, 8(4), 182. doi:10.3390/nu8040182
Wang, et al. (2010) Immunomodulatory activity of andrographolide on macrophage activation and specific antibody response. APS: 31: 191-201.
Xie, et. al. (2013) Sleep deprives metabolite clearance from the adult brain. Science vol 342 (6156): 373- 377.
About the Author:
Dr. Krista Lowe is a good friend of our queen bee Carly and is a BKN ambassador. She is an expert in health and wellness and is a Naturopathic physician practicing out of Tall Tree Health in Victoria, BC. You can find her on Instagram @natmedicine.