Preparing Yourself for the Flu Season Naturally

By Catherine Clinton ND, Clinic of Natural Medicine

Each winter the influenza virus wreaks havoc on our ability to work and play. Symptoms of the flu include fever, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, runny nose, cough and stomach symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Sometimes a flu virus can come on slowly or it can hit suddenly without much notice. Each year this leads people to wonder how they can prevent themselves and their family from getting the flu. Naturopathic prevention and treatment of the flu virus includes vitamins and minerals, botanical medicine and lifestyle recommendations.

Vitamins and Minerals:

  • Vitamin C– Vitamin C can greatly enhance the immune system’s ability to fight infections of many kinds. In controlled trials Vitamin C has been shown to aid in the prevention of influenza, as well as shortening the duration and reducing the severity of infections already contracted.
  • Zinc- Zinc plays an important role in maintaining healthy immune function. Low levels of zinc are associated with a decrease in T cell function, a vital white blood cell that helps fight infections.
  • Vitamin A– Vitamin A is also associated with T cell function, making it a vital component of a healthy immune system. Vitamin A maintains the integrity of mucus membranes, which are at the front line of our defenses against viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections.

Botanical Medicine:

  • Elderberry- Research demonstrates that elderberry extract has particular immune-modulating and antioxidant properties that neutralize the activity of viruses so they can no longer enter the cell and replicate. The berries also contain vitamins A and C, and the flavonoids quercetin, anthocyanin and rutin, all of which boost immune function.
  • Larch arbinogalactans– Larch arabinogalactans are polysaccharides derived from the wood of the Western larch tree. These polysaccharides stimulate the immune system to fend off infections. Larch arabinogalactans have been studied and shown effective in adults, as well as children, which makes it a great choice for keeping the whole family healthy through the flu season.
  • Echinacea– Echinacea also has the immune stimulating polysaccharides that give it an important role in naturopathic antiviral treatments. These polysaccharides naturally enhance the body’s resistance to infection.

Lifestyle tips for the prevention and treatment of the flu:

  • Sleep– Maintaining a balanced sleep routine is one way to keep our immune system healthy. Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to rejuvenate for the next day. Consistent inadequate sleep lowers the body’s defenses needed for fighting viral infections.
  • Stress– While stress is a part of everyday life; excessive stress can decrease immune function and make it easier to come down with the flu. Establishing stress management techniques like deep breathing, exercise, yoga or meditation can help ensure that every day stress won’t leave you vulnerable to the flu.
  • Diet- A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and quality proteins is a foundation for a healthy immune system. Studies have shown that eating a sugary snack or meal can depress the immune system for several hours, creating a window of time during which it is easier to get the flu. Avoiding excessive sugar can keep the immune system working at the level needed to fend off viral infections, like the flu.

Most over-the-counter medications only treat the symptoms of the cold or flu virus. Naturopathic treatments include nutritional supplementation, lifestyle recommendations and immune-stimulating and antiviral botanicals that can support the body’s natural defenses. Talk to your naturopathic doctor today about the best choices to keep you and your family healthy through flu season.

7 Natural Remedies for Allergy Relief

From the Wellness Mama:

Many people unnecessarily suffer from seasonal allergies when a few simple remedies can offer a lot of allergy relief:

As prime allergy season approaches (at least in our area) I’m sharing the natural remedies that I’ve found to be the most effective for seasonal allergies and that I use when needed. These won’t be as immediately effective as a medication, but over the long-term have lessened my seasonal allergies greatly.

Here’s the deal:

Diet and overall health can make a big difference when it comes to allergies!

Natural Allergy Relief

We don’t suffer from many allergies anymore after our time on the GAPS diet, but I still occasionally get hit with an allergy attack from dust after cleaning though (a reason not to clean? I think yes!) and my hubby occasionally reacts to grass or pollen.

These simple natural remedies have been very effective for allergy relief in our family. Different people seem to benefit from different remedies, so it might be worth trying more than one of these to see which works best for you.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is an age old remedy that is often recommended for a variety of health conditions. I’ve personally used it for allergy relief (and heartburn relief) with great success. The theory is that its ability to reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system makes it useful for allergies. It is also said to help digestion, weight loss and more so it is worth a try!

What I did: When allergies hit, I mixed a teaspoon of organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with “The Mother” (that part is important) into a glass of water and drank this three times a day. “The Mother” is simply a colony of beneficial bacteria present in some organic and unfiltered ACV brands. Check the label, it should list if it contains it.

This helped me with relief of acute allergy symptoms and seemed to help avoid allergy attacks as well when I do it daily.

2. Neti Pot and Saline Rinse

I haven’t personally tried the Neti pot because I’m a big scaredy cat about pouring things in my nose, but I have friends who swear by it, and I’ve used saline nasal spray before. (If you use one, I’d love to hear your experience in the comments!) The basic theory is that you use a Neti Pot filled with a sterile saline solution to flush out the sinuses of allergens and irritations.

Surprisingly, I’ve heard this recommended by conventional and alternative doctors, and it seems that it doesn’t really have a downside.

To use: Either use a pre-made saline rinse or make your own by dissolving 1 teaspoon of himalayan or sea salt in a quart of boiled distilled water. Cool completely and put in the Neti Pot. Pour through one nostril and let it drain out the other.

3. Quercetin

Quercetin is a natural bioflavonoid that is said to help stabilize mast cells to keep them from releasing histamine. It is also a potent antioxidant that is said to help reduce inflammation. It is best used as a long term remedy and many people start taking it about 4-6 weeks before allergy season to help prevent allergy symptoms.

As with any herb, you should check with your doctor before using, especially if you have a liver problem, are pregnant, or are on hormonal contraceptives.

To Use: Though Quercetin is naturally found in foods like citrus and broccoli, it is very difficult to get the amount needed to relive allergies from food alone. A supplemental dose can be helpful for preventing allergies or helping acute symptoms. Not recommended during pregnancy or nursing though some practitioners feel it is safe after the first trimester and while nursing.

4. Nettle Leaf

Nettle leaf is another natural antihistamine that can be very effective as it naturally blocks the body’s ability to produce histamine. It grows in many places and can be made in to a tincture or tea, but for allergy relief, capsules made from dried nettle leaves are the easiest and most effective option.

Nettle leaf can also be used in combination with other herbs to make a soothing herbal tea for allergy relief. It is often mixed with peppermint leaf and sometimes red raspberry leaf to make a refreshing allergy relief tea.

What I do: I often include nettle in homemade herbal tea during allergy season (recipe at the bottom of  this post) and use capsules for acute relief of allergy symptoms.

5. Probiotics

Allergies are the result of an imbalance in the immune system that causes the body to react too strongly to a stimuli. New research links the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut with reduced incidence of allergies.

Evidence is even emerging that a mother’s gut bacteria during pregnancy and nursing can impact a child’s likelihood of getting allergies throughout life.

While we can’t do much about our mothers’ diets while they were pregnant, balancing gut bacteria now and consuming enough beneficial bacteria can have a positive effect on allergies now.

What I do: I make sure we consume a varied diet that includes fermented foods and drinks like Kombucha or Kefir, which can hep boost gut bacteria. We also take a high quality probiotic capsule.

6. Local Honey

There isn’t much scientific evidence to back this one, but there seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence from people who have tried it. (Even Mark Sisson weighed in on the subject here). The theory is that consuming local honey from where you live will help your body adapt to the allergens in the environment there. This is supposed to work like a natural allergy “shot” and doesn’t seem to have a downside.

What I do: Consume a teaspoon or more of raw, unprocessed local honey from as close to where you actually live as possible. Do this one or more times a day to help relieve symptoms. It is often suggested to start this a month or so before allergy season.

7. Diet Changes

7 Natural Remedies for Allergy ReliefIf all else fails, sometimes dietary changes can be the answer to allergy problems. In our own experience, the GAPS diet helped relieve many of the allergy symptoms we experienced, including some rather severe food allergies in one of our children.

After our experience, I’d definitely encourage this as an option, especially for severe allergies or those in need of gut healing/rebalancing.

https://wellnessmama.com/8370/allergy-relief-remedies/

The Coconut controversy!

Recently the AHA (American Heart Association) released an article that Coconut Oil (saturated fat) is detrimental to your health.

What the AHA recommended is that people use things like corn and hydrogenated vegetable oils instead, it is however well documented that corn and other hydrogenated vegetable oils are inflammatory and have in inverse Omega 3-6 balance.

What does all this mean for your health? Who and what can you trust? Is Coconut Oil bad for your health?

  1. Coconut Oil is not bad for your health when eaten and used in moderation. In fact it’s great for cooking as it doesn’t breakdown at high temperatures like Olive Oil or release aldehydes like vegetable oils (read more on that here).
  2. Coconut Oil is a healthy fat like avocado, saturated fats do not cause an increase in the type of LDL particle associated with heart disease. (It’s not just LDL but the type and size of the particle) Learn more on that topic here.
  3. Who to Trust – Here are a few links to Doctors, researchers and other professionals who, well consider the whole person and not just the money…
    1. Dr. Mark Hyman
    2. NCBI – National Institue of Health
    3. Nutrition and Fitness Central 

To ensure your best health, listen to your body! In my work, one of the number 1 things I teach is how to listen to you! Your body will tell you which foods it likes, and which foods it does’t. Like most things eating foods in moderation, eating a variety of foods, mostly plants, with good quality meats, nuts, fruits, and seeds, as well drinking lots of water generally provides the body with what it needs to thrive. Each person is unique, so listen to your inner guide and make food decisions based on things that provide you energy, boost your mood, and make you feel (and look) great!.

By Lydia Bagley

 

Mini Maple Spiced Dougnuts

by Sassy-kitchen.com

MAPLE SPICED DOUGHNUTS WITH MOLASSES GLAZE (GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE) MAKES 12 MINI DOUGHNUTS

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil (liquified)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 large eggs

MAPLE MOLASSES GLAZE:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together first 8 ingredients.  In a separate mixing bowl, mix together maple syrup, eggs, vanilla, ginger & coconut oil.  Using a spatula, fold wet ingredients into the dry until well-combined.

Carefully add the batter to a large ziplock bag & snip a 1/2 inch hole in the corner.  Use this to pipe the batter into a greased doughnut pan (I used this one).  Fill each one until it’s flush with the top of the pan, but does not come above it (they will rise!).  Bake for exactly 10 minutes & then cool for 5 minutes.  Continue until all the batter is gone.  It will make two batches of mini doughnuts.

To make the glaze: add confectioners sugar to a small mixing bowl & whisk until smooth without lumps.  Then, add almond milk, molasses, maple, vanilla & cinnamon.  Whisk until smooth & thick.  If the glaze is too thin, add more sugar & if too thick, add more milk.  Once desired consistency, dip each doughnut in and let the excess drip off.  Continue until all doughnuts are glazed.  Serve & eat immediately!

Foods that Affect Testosterone Levels

Written By on

A number of studies suggest that exposure to industrial pollutants may affect sexual function, for example, loss of libido, sexual dysfunction, and impotence. This may be due to effects on testosterone levels. In a study of men who ate a lot of contaminated fish, an elevation in PCB levels in the blood was associated with a lower concentration of testosterone levels. These pollutants are found predominantly in fish, but also meat and dairy. The lowest levels are found in plants (see Dietary Pollutants May Affect Testosterone Levels).

Testosterone doesn’t just play a role in the determination of secondary sex characteristics like facial hair at puberty. It also regulates normal sexual functioning and the overall physical and psychological well-being of adult men. Abnormally low levels of testosterone can lead to decreased physical endurance and memory capacity, loss of libido, drop in sperm count, loss of bone density, obesity, and depression.

Endocrine-disrupting compounds that build up in fish may be able to mimic or block hormone receptors, or alter rates of synthesis or breakdown of sex steroid hormones. In children, these pollutants may actually impair sexual development. Boys who are exposed may grow up with smaller penises (although only by about two-thirds of an inch shorter at most). Researchers have tried exposing cells from aborted fetal human penises to these kinds of dietary pollutants, and gene expression related to genital development is indeed affected at real-life exposure levels. We’re not sure if the effects on penis length are due to the pro-estrogenic effects of the toxins, though, or the anti-testosterone effects.

You’ve heard of save the whales? Well, male reproductive organs may be at risk from environmental hazards as well.

I previously addressed how we discovered the endocrine disruptor phenomenon in Alkylphenol Endocrine Disruptors and Allergies, as well as where they’re found (Dietary Sources of Alkylphenol Endocrine Disruptors).

For more on sustaining male virility, see Male Fertility and Diet, The Role of Diet in Declining Sperm Counts, and Dairy Estrogen and Male Fertility.

I’ve talked about the role a plastics chemical may play in male sexual functioning (BPA Plastic and Male Sexual Dysfunction). But it’s not just toxins, it’s the total diet (Survival of the Firmest: Erectile Dysfunction and Death), and not only in men (Cholesterol and Female Sexual Dysfunction).  My latest on the topic is Best Foods to Improve Sexual Function.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.