Written by Lisa Lermitte

Along with the holidays come cold and flu season, and as we all know in Northern VA, something is always going around.  We all know to wash hands frequently, but here are some other natural tips that will build up the immune system to be more resilient to the virus, and work to prevent colds or flu.

  1. Relax –  Stress is our reaction to any life event and if not addressed, throws our bodies out of balance and into a state of dis-ease – not only physically but emotionally and spiritually. Stress also reduces the immune system’s effectiveness. So breathe, take a yoga class and really enjoy your savasana, or find just 10 minutes a day to sit quietly and meditate.
  2. Open your Heart – poses that open your heart, such as Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) stimulate blood flow to the thymus, an organ nestled behind the breastbone that is instrumental in the growth of T-cells, the immune system’s frontline. According to Hema Sundaram, an integrative physician in Washington, D.C.  practice these asanas once daily for prevention, and twice daily if you feel a cold or flu creeping on.
  3. Neti Pot – Cold viruses can enter through the nose’s mucous membranes. Using a neti pot is a natural and easy way to flush excess mucus and other airborne allergens such as pollen or dust from the nasal cavity.  It is actually very easy to use.  I have found that the proper angle of your head tilt and warm water are the key. It can also help to clear a congested nose.  In Ayurveda, this is a daily morning routine to help keep one balanced.
  4. Eat healthy –  Eating healthy is one important step to take any time of the year. We are what we eat and eating healthier will lead to a healthier body and stronger immune system. Skip the junk foods and reduce sugar consumption. As little as 1 teaspoon of sugar (from any source) can suppress the immune system for up to 4 hours. Reduce your meat consumption, your body has to work harder to digest meats. Vegetables and fruits are nutritional powerhouses, and with citrus coming into season in the winter, eating lots of oranges is a cheap way to support your immune system and boost your vitamin C.  Both garlic and onion have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties which will help fight infection and strengthen the immune system.
  5. Skin Brushing – Our skin is our barrier to the outside world and skin brushing is a great way to cleanse and promote a healthy lymphatic system, vital for our immune system and general well-being. It has numerous benefits such as helping with detoxification, removing dead skin (exfoliation) to open the pores, stimulating circulation, cleaning the lymph system and increasing cell renewal. You can use a natural bristle brush or the finer side of a pumice stone (not as rough) which is what I use in the shower since it has to be wet. Simply use long strokes towards the heart. It feels like a massage for your skin and is better than any exfoliator!
  6. Water – Of course! Water is on just about any health tip list because it is vital for the proper functioning of all our body systems . Stay hydrated with filtered water, herbal teas are also a good addition.


Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2012.



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