Keep Colds at Bay and Stay Well This Winter

Dr. John Tsagaris is an internationally renowned doctor of traditional Chinese medicine. An acupuncturist and herbalist, he has been practicing in London for over 20 years.

He recommends:

Protect vital organs, nurture lungs.
To boost strength and resilience we need to eat more nutrient-dense foods and support blood circulation. The digestive system is an important source of support for the lungs that also tends to express more deficiencies in autumn.

Supplement with vitamin D, magnesium. Essential nutritional supplements should be a part of an autumn health regime. Getting enough vitamin D must be a priority as daily sun exposure plummets when the winter months approach.

Magnesium is also important as it aids vitamin D3 absorption and encourages better blood circulation.

Eat vitamin D rich foods. An autumn diet should include fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, or egg yolks, as these are all good sources of vitamin D.

Eat seasonal, cooked vegetables. Eat plenty of seasonal vegetables, especially steamed or in soups, to allow easier digestion and quicker absorption of nutrients.

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Eat good fats. Consume healthy oils like organic coconut oil, olive, or sesame oil.

Drink herbal teas. Chinese herbal teas such as burdock, comfrey, ginger, and licorice can support your immune system.

Chinese herbs to try. Some Chinese herbs can also strengthen the immune system and help protect from seasonal colds such as cordyceps, astragalus, and schizandra.

Stop inflammation. Avoid foods that encourage inflammatory dampness such as sugary foods, flours, and dairy products. 

Go-To Seasonal Vegetables and Fruits:

Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut or kimchi create a very good probiotic environment in the digestive system.

Pungent vegetables such as watercress, cabbage, turnip, ginger, horseradish, pepper, onions, and garlic.

Fresh low-glycemic fruits such as lemons, limes, green apples, grapefruit or pears.

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Dr Sohère Roked is a London-based general practitioner, integrative medicine specialist, and author of the book ‘The Tiredness Cure.’ Using Western and Eastern medicine, she inspires patients to take control of their health. Her focus is on prevention of illness and regeneration of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.

She recommends:

Echinacea. This is a traditional herb known to aid the body in its fight against the symptoms of cold and flu. Try a supplement to support your immune system and help maintain the body’s resistance.

Vitamin C with zinc. This combination has been shown to reduce the severity of the symptoms of a cold if taken for five days. The recommended dose is 1000 milligrams of vitamin C and 10 milligrams of zinc.

Beta glucans. Having beta glucans in your diet—found in baker’s yeast, oats, rye, barley, wheat, and shiitake mushrooms—or in supplement form on a daily basis, has been shown to reduce both bacterial infections and viruses. And, if taken when unwell, beta glucans can actually shorten the length of the illness.

Lysine. Get plenty of lysine, an essential amino acid that works to boost the immune system and helps stimulate the body’s own antibodies to fight illness. It’s found in plain yogurt and skim milk, apricots, dried apples and mangos, and fish.

Probiotics. Start taking probiotics. A 2012 study showed that people with colds recover more quickly and have less severe symptoms when they take them.

Exercise. The last thing you will feel like doing when you have a cold is exercising, but a study has shown that going on a 45-minute walk when you don’t normally do much exercise boosts your immune system. The effect can last for up to three hours.

 Nix the sugar. Sugar competes with vitamin C, which is good for the immune system. If you eat lots of sugar, you will undermine your immune system.

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Helen Gardiner, BSc., BHerb. Med., BNat., is medical herbalist and naturopath at the Hale Clinic, London. Taking the approach of “nature as medicine” and reinforced with scientific research, she uses pharmaceutical grade concentrated herbal extracts as well stress management for strengthening immunity.

She recommends:

Echinacea. As well as an immune booster and stimulator, Echinacea is antibacterial and antiviral. Take for three weeks at the beginning of the flu season. If susceptible to respiratory infections, then stop.

For a persistent infection visit a herbalist, who would include Echinacea as part of a mixture. Research finds Echinacea cuts the chances of catching a cold by 58 percent and reduces the duration of the cold by nearly 1.5 days. It can also resolve post-viral conditions after the flu, such as chronic fatigue. Taken alongside antibiotics, research shows Echinacea can enhance the activity of antibiotics, to help against antibiotic resistance.

Thyme and licorice extracts. Together these help coughs and colds. Licorice is used for respiratory ailments and coughs and the combination with thyme is soothing and curative.

Elderberry.  Extract of elderberry can prevent the influenza virus from penetrating the cells of the body, and is high in vitamin C. For respiratory problems, blocked sinuses, and a runny nose, take elderberry and thyme extracts mixed. Add anti-inflammatory eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) or Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) for earache.

Elecampane. Elecampane (Inula helenium) is an expectorant herb that treats a cough by loosening chest congestion.

Essential oils. A few drops of antibacterial essential oils, tea tree oil, eucalyptus, or pine in an aroma diffuser in the bedroom can help relieve cold symptoms. You can achieve the same effect by inhaling 1–2 drops of pine oil in a bowl of hot water under a towel. Pine oil is rich in vitamin C.

Exercise. Activities such as yoga and breathing exercises help detoxify the body, build the immune system, reduce inflammation in the body, and help manage stress.

Sleep. Go to bed before midnight.

Hot drinks. Reduce the first symptoms of a cold and soothe a sore throat with these herbal hot drinks. 

Recipe: Hot Garlic, Ginger, Lemon Drink

Garlic is an immune booster–antiviral, antibacterial, and a circulatory stimulant.


1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 piece ginger, same size as garlic clove
Juice from half a lemon
2 teaspoons honey


Put garlic and ginger in a mug and fill two-thirds with boiling water. Add the lemon juice and honey. Leave 2–4 minutes for the garlic to partially cook. Stir with a spoon so the small pieces sink to the bottom.

If you feel rundown or are starting to get a cold, wrap up warm and drink this before bedtime. To encourage a fever, have this hot drink 2–3 times a day.

Recipe: Thyme Tea

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is antiseptic, antibacterial, and good for upper respiratory infection, coughs, and sore throats.


One bundle fresh thyme
1 teaspoon honey


Put a bundle of thyme in a teapot, add boiling water and steep. Pour the tea into a cup and add honey. Sip frequently. Gargle the tea when it cools down.

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This article is provided for information only and is not meant to prescribe medical care. Please consult a physician for treatment of any medical problems.

This article originally appeared on The Epoch Times

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