December 17, 2019
Fall’s cooler temperatures, brilliant colors, and chilly nights are here. It’s a wonderful time of transition, but also the time of year when colds and flu viruses rear their ugly heads.
These tiny invaders can make us miserable for days or weeks, causing sneezing, coughing, and congestion. You can protect yourself against cold and flu viruses by strengthening your respiratory system naturally. Herbs for your immune system can help.
The best way to survive cold and flu season is to build your body’s defenses before viruses start to spread. Adopting a few simple self-care habits can make all the difference when it seems like everyone is sick around you.
First, a few words about how ayurvedic practitioners view illness.
In Ayurvedic medicine, oja is the essence of strength in your body. When oja flows through your body without interruption, you enjoy vibrant health and longevity. When oja is blocked, you can develop illness and disease.
What gets in the way of good oja flow? Toxins, also called ama. Ama clogs your system and interrupts a healthy flow. Cells can no longer communicate efficiently, organs can no longer function optimally, and waste and digestive systems slow down. This means toxins stay in your system longer than they should.
Here’s how to rid your body of toxins, or ama:
Water is critical for every system in your body—your cells and organs need it to properly do their jobs. Water also flushes toxins from the body.
Ayurveda practitioners recommend drinking hot water most of the time, instead of room temperature or cold water. Hot water is easier for the body to absorb and use. It’s also more efficient at flushing toxins and loosening congestion-causing phlegm from the body. Hot water quickly hydrates mucous membranes in the nose and lungs.
Try sipping hot water for three days in 10- to 15-minute intervals at the first sign of a cold or the flu. Choose water from the purest source possible. Spring water is ideal.
Often called “living water” by natural medicine practitioners, spring water is in constant motion deep underground. It’s enriched with oxygen, minerals, and nutrients that nourish and hydrate the body.
There are springs all over the country—there may even be one in your hometown or nearby. A simple online search can help you locate a source of living water close to you.
Always store spring water in glass bottles instead of plastic. Plastic bottles can leach toxins into your water, especially when exposed to heat and light.
Another place your body stores toxins is in your sinuses. A neti pot is ideal for flushing out your nasal passages. It’s a simple device that sends a gentle flow of saltwater solution through your nose and sinuses, flushing viruses out before they take hold. It also flushes out allergens and helps keep your nasal passages moist.
You can also try gargling with salt water, which will moisten your throat, help remove bacteria, and loosen mucus.
Steam inhalation is another great way to soothe and clear sinuses. Just one or two drops of peppermint, eucalyptus, or camphor oil in a large bowl or pot of steaming water can bring instant relief and help you breathe easier. A diffuser puts a fine mist of water and essential oils into the air and is another good choice.
Getting enough sleep keeps the immune system strong and can help build your body’s defenses against colds and the flu. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, consider taking melatonin or tryptophan supplements. These natural substances can help you feel sleepy.
Like water, exercise can help move toxins out of the body. Stretching every day and getting at least three hours of aerobic exercise each week can help rid your body of toxins. Exercise is also important for heart and lung health and can help reduce your risk of respiratory illness.
When you’re sick, your mucous membranes become inflamed, causing the familiar discomfort you feel in your nasal passages and lungs. Inflammation is your body’s natural protective response. Your body sends white blood cells to your nasal passages and lungs to protect them against viral invaders.
Eating anti-inflammatory foods is one of the best natural ways to combat inflammation. Ginger, lentils, cherries, beans, blueberries, leafy greens, olives, and turmeric are all good choices. Incorporate these and other anti-inflammatory foods into your diet and eliminate inflammatory foods like white bread, deep-fried foods, and highly processed packaged foods.
Choosing organic fruits and vegetables can help you avoid pesticides and herbicides. Ghee, raw honey, and almond milk are good replacements for butter, sugar, and cow’s milk, which often contain added sugars and other unwanted substances.
Breathing through your nose is optimal when you’re not physically exerting yourself. The nostrils filter, humidify, and warm air before it enters your lungs in a way the mouth can’t.
Yoga is a great way to practice breathing through the nose with intention.
Deep breathing can help improve your lung function. You can practice anywhere, anytime. Concentrate on how air feels as you draw it deeply into your lungs through your nose. Feel your lungs expand and then contract as you exhale through your nose.
Many supplements can help you build your body’s defenses for cold and flu season. Bhunimba and Guduchi powder support the immune system and can aid the body in removing toxins from vital organs, including the liver and heart.
Probiotic supplements help restore good bacteria in your respiratory tract and your gut. Probiotic (good) bacteria are your body’s army against all kinds of illness and disease. You can find probiotic bacteria in pill and liquid form and in fermented foods (like kefir, fermented bamboo shoots, and sauerkraut).
Strengthening your immune system is your best defense against colds and flu viruses.
Athreya Herbs offers a range of Ayurvedic formulations and herbs to support the immune system. Let’s all be healthy—discover the many benefits of Ayurvedic medicine today by visiting us online or calling (323) 909-2981.
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