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During cold and flu season, the truth of the situation is most of us aren’t into feeling sick, missing work or social events – basically putting life on hold. That means the solution is usually to go straight for the sleep aids, decongestants, pain killers, even antibiotics.

I’m here to tell you that heading in that direction is a bad idea. Here’s why:

  • Sleep aids made for cold and flu symptoms often contain pain killers, the dangers of which are detailed later, and fever reducers. Fevers are the body’s natural means to fight off infection and often rise at night; unless a fever creeps close to 105 or higher, it’s better to ride it out.
  • Decongestants do a lot for symptom control by reducing swollen blood vessels, but not a lot for actually helping your body to get rid of excess mucous.
  • Pain killers like aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen come with a whole host of issues, depending on the type: kidney trouble, liver issues, erosion of the stomach lining – especially the way many people reach for them at any little bit of pain. On top of all that, the more you use them, the more you need them; have to continually increase the dose or move on to stronger stuff the more your rely on them, increasing the risks
  • Antibiotics completely ineffective against viral infections like cold and flu. Despite this, many doctors prescribe them anyways! When you take them unnecessarily, you wipe out one of your body’s most important defense mechanisms; the gut flora. Antibiotics get rid of the good AND the bad stuff.

Sounds brutal, no? Thankfully, there are natural options that can help you manage symptoms and support your body to fight off the virus:

  • For Prevention: Echinacea and Astragalus – First of all, I think we can ALL agree that not getting a cold or the flu at all is the best option. Get a good Echinacea or Astragalus tea and start sipping. Many people turn to these immune boosters once they have a cold or flu, but it’s actually better to take them during the winter months preventatively.
  • For Sleep: Tea – Try some passion flower and chamomile tea (1 bag of each). Turn off Netflix, make sure the room is dark, and prop your head up if you’re congested.
  • For Congestion: Ginger – Ginger is great for breaking up mucous lodged in the sinus cavity, even more so as a hot tea. As a bonus, you’ll boost your fluid intake which will dilute mucous and get it moving out of your system.
  • For Pain: Magnesium – Magnesium relaxes muscles and lubricates joints, and is helpful for ALL pain related to colds and flu, from body aches to sore throat. Use magnesium internally as a supplement, locally as a gel, or add Epsom salts to the bath.
  • To Fight the Virus: Vitamin C and ProbioticsVitamin C boosts the effectiveness of the immune system’s front line fighters – white blood cells. And while antibiotics wipe out good bacteria, high quality probiotics will repopulate the digestive tract with good bacteria and boost one of the body’s strongest defense mechanisms.

Any steps toward a more natural approach to common health concerns is a step in the right direction. Take one or take them all. You know where you are in your health journey and what is right for you.

So stay cold- and flu-free this winter and, as always, take what you want and leave the rest.

Shane

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