You’ve all read the news by now: Australia has been hit with one of the worst flu seasons on record. More than 222,000 people came down with the flu in the country this season. The most prevalent strain this is the H3N2 virus, and it promises to continue to wreak havoc across the world.
So what can we do to avoid getting ill? According to Business Insider, the flu vaccine only promises to be 10% effective this year, which is pretty consistent with previous years’ efficacy rates. Fortunately, there are natural and more effective ways to help boost your immune system in order to keep colds and flu at bay this winter.
I’m a huge fan of this stuff. Unlike a lot of homeopathy which is not often “supported” by studies, elderberry syrup has the added advantage that its effectiveness in fighting winter ailments is backed by science. This study showed that elderberry syrup not only reduced the duration of the flu by an average of four days, but also lowered the need for other remedies to help alleviate symptoms. Another study showed a reduction in cold symptoms in air travellers. Elderberry alleviated coughs and respiratory symptoms, and lowered the duration of illness. Elderberry is a powerful antibacterial and antiviral, and should be part of any winter arsenal to combat colds and flu. The dosage should be one teaspoon daily for children over 2, and one tablespoon daily for adults as maintenance. If you or your children fall ill, you can take it twice a day. I have been using this elderberry syrup from Urban Naturopathy for over a year now and highly recommend it.
Cod Liver Oil
I remember my mother making me take cod liver oil every single day as a child. It was so gross and I dreaded that time before bed when I would have to down a spoonful of it. Now as an adult, I feel like she and many other parents were on to yet another tidbit of lost wisdom. Cod liver oil packs a huge amount of health benefits. It is loaded with Vitamin A, which is essential for immune system function and bone growth, and also has Vitamin D, which has been shown to help combat winter ailments. The omega-3 fatty acids it contains also help with cardiovascular health, including cholesterol regulation, and has been shown to increase life expectancy. My favourite cod liver oil brands are and Rosita’s Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil, which comes in a or capsule form. Nordic Naturals does have children’s version, but this is unnecessary, as you can give your child half of the adult dose and save on buying two different bottles. The same can be done with Rosita’s EVCLO in liquid form.
Black Seed Oil
Although relatively unknown in modern medicine, black seed oil, or nigella sativa (black cumin seed) is a staple in traditional medicine like Ayurvedic and Prophetic Medicine. Studies show it has unique properties in that it is not only is it anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, but it is also immune regulating, meaning that it will boost the immune system or suppress it based on the condition of the person taking it. This incredibly unique property sets it apart from other remedies like echinacea, which is not suitable for people with allergies or auto-immune conditions, when the immune system is in overdrive. Black seed oil is absolutely essential not only through the winter, but year round to maintain a stable and strong immune system. I suffer from an auto-immune condition, and without black seed oil, I know that my symptoms would be much worse and I would flare more often. My personal favourite is . For children, you can mix equal parts (one teaspoon or tablespoon) of black seed oil and raw honey in warm water to make a “tea” which I guarantee they will enjoy.
These three natural remedies are vital to keeping healthy this winter. Here are a few other things you can do:
- Air out your house: open windows daily to freshen the air and kill bacteria lingering in the home.
- Take vitamin C: although I’m a fan of for maintenance, is good for a high dose boost when you are under the weather.
- Keep hydrated: although it’s tempting to stick to teas, coffees and other hot drinks in the winter, too many diuretic drinks will dehydrate you and bring down your body’s natural defences. Make sure you drink plenty of water. Another good way to keep warm and avoid dehydration is with soups and broths.
- Wash your hands frequently and practice good hygiene. Stay away from others as much as possible if you are not feeling well.
- Don’t stay indoors. Take walks in nature when possible and make sure you are getting fresh air regularly.
With the right care and precautions, we can sail through the winter relatively unscathed and enjoy the beauty of the season. After all, when else do we get three days off in the span of a week?