The pleasures of winter: brisk walks on clear frosty mornings, snuggling up by the fire with a book, a time of darkness to look inside ourselves and reflect. A multitude of viruses love the cold conditions too, threatening to quash our plans for a pleasurable winter and leave us sniffling by the fireside with a box of tissues instead.
So the battle commences! Bacteria and viruses will only thrive if the condition of the body is right, so ensure that yours is not a favourable breeding ground and keep colds to a minimum with the following tips.
Acclaimed by the Jewish physician and philosopher Moshe ben Maimonides, chicken soup has been used as a healing food for centuries. Modern researchers have investigated these claims, finding that the compound carnosine found in chicken soup and chicken breast helps the body’s immune system to fight the early stages of flu, whilst another report showed that it improves the ability of tiny hairs within the nose (cilia) to prevent infectious particles from entering the body1. Bone stock, made using a chicken carcass, contains a wealth of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, which are better assimilated than those in supplement form, as well as collagen, gelatin and glycine – beneficial for optimum immune function. For a delicious and nourishing chicken noodle soup recipe and instructions for making bone stock see the recipes in this section of the website.
It may be cold and damp outside but wrap up warm and get moving! Exercise gets the circulation moving, reduces stress levels and increases immunity. In one large scale study of over 1000 adults, researchers found that individuals who exercised on 5 or more days a week experienced 43% fewer days with cold symptoms than those who exercised once a week or less2. Symptoms were also 32% less severe. An exercise session need not be punishing, a 20-30 minute brisk walk taken five times a week is one of the best forms of exercise.
Taking the time out of a busy schedule can seem like a luxury we can’t afford. But caring for oneself and quiet restful periods are an essential part of balancing our lives and balance is what creates wellbeing. So prioritise self-nurture, it’s a luxury you can’t afford to be without.
Hot footbaths stimulate the flow of blood not only to the feet but also throughout the body, increasing body temperature, relaxing tense muscles and increasing white blood cell activity. If you start to feel run down, run a hot footbath and prevent an infection taking hold.
Directions: Pour enough hot water (39º – 40ºC, or as hot as you can tolerate) into a large bowl to cover your feet and ankles. Add a few drops of essential oil such as lavender or thyme and soak feet for 10-20 minutes. Drink plenty of warm water or ginger tea throughout – the footbath promotes sweating, which helps to clear toxins but increases the need for hydration.
Be Glad of a Fever
It might be uncomfortable, but a fever is part of an effective immune response. Below are 6 reasons to be glad of a fever.
- Fever raises the body temperature to a level where viruses replicate less effectively.
- Raised body temperature increases the number of lymphocytes, creating a greater response against infection.
- Fever helps the body recover more quickly from viral infections.
- Taking fever-reducing medications can increase the transmission of the disease, as more of the virus is active in the body to be spread to others.
- A clinical report from the American Academy of Paediatrics states, ‘There is no evidence that children with a fever [as opposed to hyperthermia brought on by heat stroke] are at risk of outcomes such as brain damage’ Any advised temperature lowering medications are ‘solely for the comfort of the patient.’ (This comfort however, may come at the expense of prolonging the illness.) ‘Finally, there is no evidence that antipyretic therapy decreases the recurrence of febrile seizures.’
- High body temperatures and the accompanying increased lymphocytes can kill rogue cancer cells.
The Herbal Clinic is open 9am to 4pm (later on some evenings) Monday to Friday should you wish to call for advice.
- “Chicken Soup for Allergies and Asthma.” Coping with Asthma and Allergies. (1998).
- Nieman DC, Henson DA, Austin MD, Sha W. Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults. British Journal of Sports Medicine November 1 2010
Published in the Winter 2015 edition of ‘the BAY’ magazine
The Herbal Clinic in Swansea provides natural healthcare with the use of organic herbs, acupuncture and iridology.