Autumn is a beautiful season, the leaves are falling, the air is a little fresher and we are still not hit with the full coldness of winter. It's also a great time to get ready for the 'ills and chills' season. We all know that once we are sick we need to rest, keep up fluids and stay home, but what can we do now to help prevent ills and chills?
Support your nervous system!
When we feel stressed or under pressure our body focuses on supporting us through the fight or flight response. This means refocusing the bodies attention from things like digestion and immunity to 'fighting or fleeing' the stressor. When are constantly feel stressed our body cannot focus on immunity as thoroughly as it can when our stress response is not activated.
Our adrenals are partly responsible for our physical response to stress. When they are overworked (or we are under huge stress) they produce cortisol to help us manage what is going on. Long term cortisol production can lead to HPA axis dysregulation (commonly known as adrenal fatigue). Our adrenals use more vitamin c the more cortisol is made, so when we are stressed increasing our vitamin c (in a supplement form or through plant medicine such as Rosehips which are naturally high in Vitamin C) is a great idea to support our immunity as well as our nervous system. Vitamin C also helps with free radical damage as it is an anti-oxidant.
Use calming & immune supporting plants
Calming plants like Californian Poppy and Chamomile can help to balance your stress response also. This is important as perceived stress can have also have a physical reaction within the body - e.g. you start to worry about a presentation/work deadline days before it is due. The body can physically react to that by producing cortisol, making you feel worried etc. Managing yourstress response can help to reduce the physical impact it has on your body and your immunity. By taking nervous system supportive plants and deep breathing you can help adjust your response.
Prevention is key. By taking immune supportive plants daily through this season you may help to reduce the amount of times you feel under the weather. Dosage is also important. A low dose works well as a preventative. Whilst a higher, more regular dose of immune supportive herbs like Thyme, Elderberry, Kawakawa can provide extra support when you feel under attack.
Keep your circulation moving - so that means exercising, stretching, and incorporating herbs like ginger, cayenne, horseradish, horopito into your diet. You can do this through hot tonic drinks, or use certain ciders over salads or warm vegetables. On cold winter mornings it is a great way to help activate digestive juices and also warm up!
Hot baths with Epsom salts help the body warm up, relax and absorb magnesium through the skin.
Avoid stimulants and reduce sugar
Your nervous system likes balance so try to keep hydrated, and don't have too many stimulants such as coffee when you are feeling stressed. It can exacerbate the problem. Caffeine in particular may feel like it is giving you more energy but in the long term it may be depleting your system further. Opt for broths, medicinal tonics or teas or warm water.
Reduce the amount of sugar you consume unless in its whole form (fruit). High sugar consumption has been shown in some studies to reduce the function of your white blood cells.
The winter months - although cold - holds its own beauty so being able to enjoy it is important. By looking after you and your family now, you're helping to do just that!
Always read the label and use as directed. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional. Wild Dispensary, Dunedin.