The cold, dryness and increased time spent indoors in close proximity to one another during the winter often leads to more cases of the common cold. If you have the sniffles, you may want to turn to your kitchen cabinet before your medicine cabinet.
“For the common cold, which is vital for the vast majority of people suffering, antibiotics are not effective,” according to Dr. Amy Rothenberg, ND, former trustee for the board of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and 2017 Naturopathic Physician of the Year.
“A lot of what we do as naturopaths when we look at remedies to stuff is how can we support your immune function to do its job,” says Dr. Elizabeth R. Yori, ND, president of the Maine Association of Naturopathic Doctors.
Some of the best ways to promote immune health are the simplest: Wash your hands, reduce your intake of refined sugar, and make sure you are getting enough sleep.
Vitamin D is also a helpful supplement for immune function during the winter, especially in northern areas, where sunshine, the main purveyor of vitamin D, is scarce. Supplements in the form of drops or capsules will help absorb the fat-soluble vitamin. Yori recommends getting tested for a vitamin D deficiency before taking supplements, and to use caution. “Don’t use it all year round,” she says. “Only use it seasonally.”
Other natural remedies do not use herbs. “One of the best ones is people using a hot footbath,” Rothenberg says. “It helps to draw congestion and inflammation away from the head and helps blood flow a little bit faster through the body, past lymph nodes where white blood cells are seated,” Rothenberg says.
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