Tips, Tricks, and Elixirs
By Donna Dodier
The air feels cooler, the sky casts a more brilliant blue, humidity has lessened, and the night sky reveals itself earlier. Soon the crowds everywhere will hold their glasses high and clink a toast to the season asking for peace, love, happiness, and health. We are thankful for the abundance of food and festivities as we cherish memories of holidays past. Perhaps the greatest gift is the gift of health. As I often say, Health is Wealth. In my prior articles, I wrote on the changes of the seasons, bodies adapting to variable weather temperatures, changes in eating habits, and struggling with burnout from work overload. The holiday season is a combination of all the above and can lead to a health collapse, if not careful. Our bodies are especially burdened during the holiday season as we are faced with the “not so nutritious” decadent yummy food choices, excess alcoholic indulgences, stress over the expenses of shopping for gift giving, memories of, or loss of, a loved one, lack of sleep, not to mention taking on a highly-booked work schedule. The ingredients all add up to potentially weakening our immune system, which allows the illness culprits of the season to invade, leading to exhaustion, sickness, and in some instances, depression.
Speedy Action = Speedy Recovery At the very first sign of illness, knowing how to attack it and nip it in the bud can lessen its duration and severity. Many pharmacy cold and flu drugs simply lessen the symptom, but also come with some questionable side effects. Self-diagnosing is not wise, yet we know our bodies well and when we need doctor intervention. Most ALL flu and colds are VIRAL and do not respond to antibiotics. Unlike the flu, cold symptoms are generally mild, and in most cases, do not lead to any serious health complications, such as runny /stuffy nose, sore throat, sneezing, mild-to-moderate fever, cough, headache or body aches, or mild tiredness.
Flu symptoms can be similar to those of a cold, although they tend to be more severe. Symptoms can include dry/hacking cough, moderate-to-high fever (although not everyone with the flu will run a fever) sore throat, shaking chills, severe muscle or body aches, headache, stuffy and runny nose, profound fatigue (may last up to two weeks)
Many like to use the term “flu” very loosely. “Oh, I had the flu.” Trust me, there is no comparison. You may feel icky, stuffy, and not well with a cold, but when the flu hits you, it takes you down hard.
FYI- Antibiotic Resistance is prevalent and a world crisis. I have had two friends almost die because the first antibiotic they were given in the hospital was resistant to the fast-moving bacterial infection, a second antibiotic worked but only with a day to spare. How scary. Antibiotic resistance is when bacteria do not respond to antibiotics. Resistance has evolved due to self-diagnosing (we use the extra antibiotics in our medicine cabinet but we have a virus) Viruses do NOT respond to antibiotics- only bacterial infections, misuse of the drug for non-bacterial illnesses, overuse in treating teens and adults with acne (sometimes staying on an antibiotic for months and years), doctors over prescribing to appease the client that wants to leave with an antibiotic prescription.
There are anti-viral foods and natural substances that can help lessen severity.
False Sense of Security – Just because you run to the doctor or local pharmacy to receive your flu shot does not mean you won’t get the flu. That is the false sense of feeling “you’re covered.” It most certainly does not cover you from the common cold virus, strep throat, or any non-flu, non-viral sickness that may be running rampant. The flu shot given each year is specifically formulated for the strains the CDC believes will affect society within that flu season. There are many strains. I got the flu shot two different years, and those two specific years, ironically I came down with the flu. You must keep your immunity at its peak performance because any cold can turn into bronchitis, pneumonia and life threatening sicknesses. Even if you get the flu, or the common cold, if you have a stronger immune system it can make the difference between a long lingering illness, or a short duration of inconvenience. The key to all winter illnesses is to keep yourself well and then act as first symptoms appear. So, it is important to know your body well, and to recognize the subtle signs of the beginning stages of illness. Such examples would be sore throat, achy, malaise, swollen glands in neck, a headache that’s of a different kind, fever, and chills, which can occur independently of each other or come on quickly.
Tips for Keeping Your Immune System Optimal
High-Quality Multi-Vitamin –Essential for general health and well-being for all. Not all multi-vitamins are created equal. Find one that covers many bases yet has high reviews, high absorption rate, and little or no fillers.
Vitamin B Complex – Helps the body’s stress factors -typically those who run in 20 directions and especially around the season. It is a water-soluble vitamin so your body absorbs what it needs and excretes the rest. In times of stress, over stimulation, heavy work load, tragedy in life, we are much more depleted.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – High in antioxidants and vitamins. Think Low Sugar Smoothies. Water and vegetables, nuts and fruit in a blender of choice. Shiitake mushrooms have staggeringly high immunity boosting qualities, oysters and grass fed beef high in zinc (a power house for colds), ginger and turmeric are anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and soothing.
Quality Sleep – This is the time when your body heals and repair itself from daily stress. Sleep is a hormone regulator, helps the body to be a scavenger of toxins and is a body re-set for each day. Lack of good sleep weakens the immune system and creates lack of focus that can cause mishaps, accidents, forgetfulness during waking hours. Tip – do not use any blue light an hour before sleep (TV, Cell Phones and computers) Blue light affects the melatonin pathways and disturbs the sleep cycle. They do sell yellow glasses for those who absolutely must use blue light technology right before bed. Lavender on sheets, magnesium, sleepy time tea, melatonin. Drug sleep aides have shown a dependency and then immunity to the mechanisms leading to drug to drug dependence for sleep. Get checked for sleep apnea, stress factors, hormonal issues if basic remedies do not help.
FYI Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps the heart beat steady, and helps bones remain strong. It also helps regulate blood glucose levels and aid in the production of energy and protein. Magnesium is lacking in our diets, studies show 60-80% of humans in USA are deficient. Taking an Epsom salt bath (high in magnesium) with lavender before bed, or magnesium supplement can greatly enhance sleep. Magnesium has helped many with stiff muscles, tendons, migraines, stress, heart palpitations, and many more important mechanisms in the body.
Good Sources -Spinach, Pumpkin seeds, Yogurt or Kefir, Almonds, Black Beans, Avocado, Figs
Outlets – Meditation, Yoga, Sports, Hobbies, Reading, Kayaking, Paddle Boarding, Shopping – YOU NAME YOUR PASSION – It is important to leave work at work, give the eyes a different window view and scenery, feed the soul, have fun and nourish oneself with fun, variety and fellowship. Having an “outlet” helps to offset the feeling of the shackle to work mode, shackle to home life and all the binds that sometimes tie us too tightly.
Nutrition – At this time, I believe everyone understands how much nutrition impacts our health, wellness and longevity. In addressing the upcoming flu and cold season there are good and bad eating habits that creep into our world so easily. Eating more fresh fruits, vegetables, high quality proteins and efficiently hydrating (sorry diet coke does not count) oneself is so important for keeping ahead of the game. The more sugar, white food carbohydrates, and overstimulating energy drinks you consume, the more inflammation and adrenal overload will be present. It’s called the tired and wired society. If you are tired, caffeine and energy drinks will give you a sense of a surge only to make you crash later. The vicious cycle plays with your adrenal glands and keeps cortisol levels too high for too long ultimately creating adrenal fatigue.
Balance – Perhaps the most difficult task for all of society today is keeping work to home life in balance. We have become workaholics and robotic slaves to technology. It’s almost obsessive. Give “yourself” an act of kindness, freedom from the daily grind, something good for your entire body and mind. Let go of technology, go for a walk on the beach or your neighborhood, go spend face to face time with friends (remember those days?). There is nothing more soothing or a better medicine than nature, passionate hobbies, friends, and feel good gatherings. It helps to feed our souls, create a flow of feel good endorphin and serotonin in the brain. This, in turn, helps us to be better at our jobs, our home life, our relationships and keeps us well rounded and grounded.
Hand Washing and Hygiene– Keep a mini hand sanitizing gel bottle in your pocket and work station. A simple client hand shake greeting followed by a breath mint to the mouth just carried a bug right to the body without realization. One sick person within the staff or client base can spread like wildfire. It is also important to recognize symptoms coming from clients. If their symptoms seem severe enough they generally should not have any services for two reasons. A sick client can infect many staff members and other spa clients because this is a high “contact” business. Some flu viruses can make a person more ill if they are massaged due to the lymphatic system being over simulated. If they are on any serious flu and cold medicine it can also make them more dizzy and unstable. Estheticians use steamers close to the client’s face all the while staying present or behind the client. The client breaths into the warm steam carrying any cold or flu virus right to your breathing space of anyone in the room and onto surface work spaces.
My Personal Wellness Cabinet – Arsenal for Sickness
This time of year, I send all my friends and family a shopping list of “must haves” before the cold and flu season wreaks havoc. It’s important to have these items beforehand so as the subtle symptoms begin you can address it and hit it straight on. Keeping the immune system strong is the first and best defense but when it dwindles I have my arsenal. Although I am not a doctor and do not give medical advice, I am just sharing what I have studied and personally used over the years for myself, my family and even my pets. So, I have to say, this does not take the place of ANY medical advice. If you are currently taking any medications or diagnosed with any health condition you can speak to your pharmacist or doctor.
I use these in combination, not all at once but as I need. This is for informational purposes only. Please do your own research.
Manuka Honey– manukahoney.com There are so many studies and research articles on this wonderful unique honey. Manuka honey has many medicinal uses from reflux, to wound healing, allergies, immunity etc. The Journal of Leukocyte (white blood cell) Biology suggests that components of Manuka honey stimulate immune cells. Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) relates to it antibacterial factor strength. The higher the number the higher the activity. I use it for sore throat, when I am feeling sick and to boost my immunity. Honey has an extremely long shelf life and can be found online and various vitamin shoppes and whole foods markets.
Sambucol Elderberry– Elderberry boasts anti-viral as well as anti-bacterial properties. Many studies have suggested that taking Sambucol (the brand name) can cut the duration of flu and colds in half. Elderberry is known for immune system boost, alleviates coughs, colds, flu, bacterial infections, viral infections, tonsillitis, lowers cholesterol, improves vision and heart health. The brand Sambucol is available in most pharmacies and nutrition stores with availability of both children and adult formulas.
The Wellness Formula by Source Naturals–Since the 1990’s, my wellness cabinet has contained a powerful combination of herbs, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals formulated to boost your well-being. As soon as I feel a scratchy sore throat, I follow the directions. Most of the time it works within a day. I cannot say enough about this product and the reviews speak for themselves.
Infrared Sauna – I have been an educator, writer and trainer for infrared body treatment systems for over 10 years. The health benefits are numerous. Hippocrates stated “Give me a fever and I can cure any disease.” Dry heat, steam heat, and infrared heat are the three main sources. Infrared head delves an inch into the body and the most medicinal. Infrared saunas raise the body core temperature to create an almost artificial fever killing many pathogens plus ridding the body of toxins and waste materials. If feeling exhausted or slightly ill, the sauna can make an impact. For amazing insight, Dr. Sherry Rogers book Detoxify or Die explains all the benefits including heavy detox, metal detoxification, pain relief and a lot more. There are thousands of clinical studies from all over the world. If anyone wants more in depth info please email me, I give lectures of all the benefits and how to bring this type of healing heat into spa treatments. Clients and Staff will also benefit.
Oregano Oil Drops – My husband has included this product in his backpack when going on mission trips to other countries. Taking a few drops in water daily can help irradiate bacteria and viruses, which for him inevitably lurked in foods and water sources. For colds and flu, ear aches, even food poisoning this has worked for me with just a few drops in water at the very first signs of imbalance. Works amazing for stuffed nasal passages, place 3-4 drops in pot of boiling water and create a tent over the steam, at a distance breath in though nose a few times, and through mouth a few times. http://www.doctoroz.com/article/oil-oregano-guide.
Monolaurin or Lauricidin – This is an isolated compound from coconuts. The only other source of Monolaurin is mothers milk. So powerful in anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that many medical universities including the Philippines Medical Universities (they have high coconut consumption and production) are studying its positive effects on viruses including Hep C and HIV.
Chicken Soup for The Soul – and for the flu and for comfort! Much has come out in the last 5 years of the benefits of homemade chicken soup and bone broth for soothing and calming the common cold and the flu. It has been shown to boost immune system, lessen inflammation and mucous and well, I think it’s the love that goes into making homemade chicken soup.
Easy Breathe Recipe
Great for loosening up excess mucous and Phlegm, opening the bronchial tubes, enhances blood circulation. I am a baby when I can’t breathe so I have tried everything. I like this for the very reason it helps me breath BUT it’s a detoxifying drink as well. When you are in the midst of a cold and flu with stuffy nose and your lungs feel heavy, heat this concoction up, take to work
Juice of ½ Lemon
1 Tsp of Manuka or Natural Honey
Dash of Cayenne Pepper (more or less for personal tastes)
Optional: grated ginger
1 Mug of hot water
Mix all ingredients into hot water and sip all day – bring a thermos to work.
Powerful Immune Boosting Smoothie
1 Cup of Spinach, Kale or Swiss Chard
Thumb Size Piece of Ginger
¼ Cup Pineapple
Small Handful of Pumpkin Seeds, Walnuts or Almonds
¼ Tsp Turmeric
2 cups plain filtered water, or coconut water diluted
Blend in your blender of choice and drink up!
You can add a good protein powder, oatmeal, or chia seeds to thicken and add more nutritional value
In closing, I raise my glass and send a toast to all for lots of love, laughter, peace, happiness and most of all, an abundance of good health! Clink!
Donna Dodier – Baby Foot Peel – Account Executive
Licensed esthetician 16 years, educator, writer, lecturer, and consultant on the subjects of LED Photo Rejuvenation, Infrared Body Treatments, spa retail management and wellness. An HSN co-host and frequent Health Talk Radio guest, Ms. Dodier’s passion for animal and human longevity continually inspires her in the research to promote and educate on nutraceuticals and holistic alternatives.
Contact Donna at email@example.com