It seems that as soon as the temperature drops, my clinic is flooded with patients who have colds, flus, chest infections, sore throats and sinus problems. While researchers are yet to understand why we are more prone to ‘colds’ when the weather is cooler, we cannot deny winter brings with it the cold and flu season. Kids average six to eight colds a year and adults between two and four. While it is normal to get a few colds a year, they should last no longer than 3-5 days and longer than this is a sign that your immune system needs some support. The key to keeping your immune system healthy over winter is taking quick action at the first sign of symptoms. If you are around people who are sick, or have the first symptoms of an infection it is best to give your immune system a helping hand and hopefully prevent a full blown sickness from occurring with a quick recovery. Here are a few of the most practical home remedies that will improve your immune health and ensure you stay well this winter:
Garlic- Garlic is natures best natural antibiotic. It works quickly in the body to kill bacteria and is an easy addition to winter cooking. Add it into soups, stews, casseroles, curries, stir fry’s, marinades and salad dressings. You can make you own garlic infused olive oil at home to use in cooking and dressings. You can also make your own garlic infused honey- crush 1-2 garlic cloves into 2 tablespoons of honey (manuka would be best- see below) and leave covered for 6 hours. Take 1 tsp at a time.
Ginger– Ginger has many immune based actions. Firstly, it is warming which helps to control a fever. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and has some anti-viral activity. It has been shown to improve the function of our white blood cells, therefore boosting immunity. It also adds great flavour into your food! There are many ways you can increase your ginger intake. Grate fresh ginger into water or tea and sip. You can add a knob of ginger into a fresh juice. It’s delicious in salad dressings or stir fry’s. You can buy ginger tea in teabags that work just as well.
Manuka honey- Manuka honey is antibacterial, healing agent and helps to soothe a sore throat. You will notice manuka honey is given a ‘UMF’ rating which is a number that grades the quality and strength of the honey. Chose a UMF between 15-25 for good results. Higher than 25 is available but becomes expensive. Take 1 teaspoon of the honey directly into the mouth as needed. You can also use manuka honey in warm water with lemon and ginger or into any herbal tea.
Thyme- Thyme is another great antibacterial and antimicrobial herb and is specific for chest based infections. You can add thyme leaves (fried or fresh) into your cooking. It is delicious over roasted veggies, marinades or into a salad dressing. You can also make a tea using thyme leaves.
Liquorice tea– Liquorice is an anti-viral herb, so very useful to combat the flu and other viral infections. It is a great anti-inflammatory that helps to reduce inflammation specifically in the lining of the lungs and therefore helps recovery from a chest infection. It is also a demulcent, which means is aids healing and soothes and for this reason is can help to soothe a dry and sore throat. Liquorice tea is easily available in health food stores and tastes delicious!
Immunity tea recipe
This flu brew is great for supporting a fever, inducing sweating and boosting the immune system. It’s an easy at-home remedy that can be enjoyed while you relax and rest. It can be made in bulk and sipped on throughout the day but is best served hot. Add the chilli to your own taste, but make sure you add enough to feel the heat. The chilli will aid a fever, induce sweating, improve circulation and clear the respiratory passages. Similarly, ginger is a diaphoretic and will induce sweating as well as have an anti-inflammatory effect. The garlic is a natural antibiotic (the more the better) and the lemon will sweeten it up enough to be enjoyable. It’s also a great way to stay hydrated.
- Ginger (thumb sized piece) chopped
- A pinch of Chilli
- Lemon (whole) squeezed
- 2 cloves Garlic – chopped
- 2 big glasses of water
- 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
- Manuka honey
Place all ingredients except honey into saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on. Place it through a sieve, draining the liquid off that you are going to drink. Then add a generous spoonful of honey and drink.