Despite my best efforts to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep, each winter I really struggle to stay healthy. Last year I remember several times when I knew I was coming down with something but other than loading up on vitamin C (which never worked for me), I had no way of warding off the sickness. Since then, I’ve learned of a few natural ways to boost my immune system and help my body fight off the winter bugs. I considered saving this post until I had the whole winter to trial them but that seemed silly since so many people are sick right now (including my 2 year old). Here’s what I’ll be doing all winter long to try to fight off colds.
1. Ginger & Lemon
My acupuncturist first told me to drink lemon in warm water about a year ago but I didn’t consistently do it until recently. I still have a hard time drinking it warm so I drink it either hot or cold and I have recently added peeled and cut up ginger to this delicious beverage. I’ve been drinking this daily for the last few months and I really load up when I’m starting to feel under the weather. Often I’ll squeeze an entire lemon in my glass of water and eat small pieces of the raw, peeled ginger throughout the day. I will also sip ginger tea with added lemon and honey.
Why it works…
According to Dr. Oz, lemons fight bacteria and therefore help support the immune system and ginger “helps to cleanse the lymphatic system” which “prevents the accumulation of the toxins that make you susceptible to infections”.
2. Apple cider vinegar, honey, and cinnamon
My mother first told me to drink apple cider vinegar and honey for a sore throat about two years ago. I have to admit it’s a little tough on the taste buds when you first try it but you get used to it. I recently started adding cinnamon because I had read about this combination. To make, mix equal parts organic, raw apple cider vinegar, and raw (preferably organic) honey. Then add a few sprinkles of cinnamon. I mix up a large batch and leave it in a glass jar so it is readily available. Even if this mixture doesn’t ward off a cold, you are still doing your body a favor. Reader’s Digest lists 13 health benefits of ACV including: lowering cholesterol, increasing your metabolism, and regulating intestinal bacteria.
Why it works?
Alternative daily states that raw apple cider vinegar, raw honey, and cinnamon “boosts immunity, aids in heart health, and detoxifies the body”.
3. Magic potion
I got this recipe from our babysitter who got it from another family that she works with. They are from India and apparently the grandmother was visiting while the baby had a cold. The grandmother made this for the mom to drink so that the baby would get it through her breastmilk. When I first made the recipe I expected it to taste terrible but it’s surprisingly good. I was talking with my chiropractor about it and she makes a similar recipe that she calls “liquid gold”. Chris started calling it “magic potion”- probably partially poking fun at me- but it’s stuck so that’s what we call it.
To make: Mix 1-2 tsp turmeric, 1-2 tsp fresh grated ginger, .5 tsp black pepper, 1-2 tsp cinnamon, 1 clove, and a pinch of nutmeg. Boil in 3-4 cups water. Add honey and I add coconut milk for flavor. Enjoy!
Why it works…
Dr. Oz says that turmeric, “help(s) the immune system fight off bacteria and viruses. It’s also a good source of manganese and potassium, which helps support immunity.” Multiple alternative health sites that I read, speak of the benefits of both cinnamon and honey; however, I had a hard time pulling up solid research. Regardless though, these are great spices to add to your diet.
Other health benefits….
In an article published in the Huffington Post, turmeric’s benefits include: fighting indigestion, warding off heart attacks, delaying diabetes, and even preventing cancer. According to Dr. Mercola, ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a natural pain reliever that may also fight diabetes and even cancer. As for cinnamon, WebMD states that, “Lab studies have found that cinnamon may reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects, and fight bacteria.” This “magic” concoction has some pretty powerful possibilities.
Since I’m not an herbalist I don’t want to go into this one too much but I couldn’t write this topic without it. I’ve been seeing an acupuncturist on and off now for years and I’ve gotten herbs many times. I swear by them. They have helped me heal from colds several times but also from a nasty ear infection without using antibiotics. If possible find a reputable acupuncturist in your area and give them a try.
Because of my type A personality, as soon as I start to feel a little bit off I immediately start doing all of these remedies as well as my vitamins (prenatal, vitamin D, vitamin C, fermented cod liver oil, & probiotics). I have also been on a chicken soup kick which has been proven to shorten the duration of colds. Since I haven’t done just one of these remedies I can’t say exactly what has worked but I can say that thus far I’ve been successful at fighting off these viruses and I hope that they do the same for you.
If you know of other natural remedies to boost immunity, please share! I’m always looking for new healthy tips.