As the weather cools down, we all want to do our best to stay well and healthy. That’s why we asked one of our talented Naturopaths, Dianna Tawharu, for her top tips on avoiding colds and flus this cold season. Dianna is trained in Naturopathy, Herbal Medicine and Nutrition, and we feel lucky to have her skills and experience to draw on at our Wellington City Store.
Please note that these are general tips for boosting immunity, and are not meant to replace personalised advice from a trained health professional.
1. Reduce stress
It may sound simple, but reducing your stress levels is ultimately the best way to boost your immunity and prevent getting colds and flus. “Stress has the biggest effect on your immune system,” says Dianna. “When you get stressed, it has an impact on your brain chemistry, on your digestive tract, and on your immune system.”
Firstly, Dianna recommends thinking about why you’re stressed. Some stress you can avoid, for example, not leaving yourself enough time to get to an appointments, and some – like exams or upcoming medical procedures – you can minimize. Counselling, mindfulness and doing things you enjoy can help you deal with stresses better.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an oldie, but a goodie. “Some people find Vitamin C really helpful in preventing colds and flus,” Dianna says. Stock up on citrus fruit and leafy greens, or consider a supplement like Nutra Life's Ester C.
3. Artemis Virogone
Artemis’ Virogone is a traditional herbal medicine designed to offer immediate support for immune threats. Made in Aotearoa New Zealand, it contains eight active ingredients, including thyme, echinacea, olive leaf, sage and angelica. “Echinacea stimulates the immune system,” Dianna says. The story behind Virogone is fascinating! Developed during the Black Plague, it was used by looters to enable them to steal from the homes of the dead and dying. Captured at last, the story goes, the looters were allowed to live if they passed on the recipe.
Sleep is our body’s way of recovering and resetting. Getting enough sleep reduces stress and allows our immune system to work as effectively as possible. If you're wanting to prevent colds and flus, then getting 7-8 hours of solid sleep is a really good start. We sell a number of sleepy teas, like this Clipper Sleep Easy tea.
Withania somnifera is also known as ashwagandha or Indian Gingseng. It’s traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, and Dianna is a big fan of its medicinal properties.
“Withania is known for strengthening the immune system and calming the nervous system.” Dianna says. "It helps reduce the impact of stress on the body and this can help reduce the risk of getting colds and flus." Good options include organic withania powder (packed by Commonsense) and Ashwagandha (60 capsules) from RU Ved.
6. Ki Immune Defence & Energy
“Some of our regular customers absolutely swear by this product,” Dianna says. Among a raft of active ingredients, it contains Astragalus, a Chinese herb used to strengthen the immune system, shiitake mushroom extract and olive leaf, which are also well known for maintaining a healthy immune system. If you’re always battling winter ailments, this one’s definitely worth a try!
Some research has found that zinc can reduce the duration and severity of common cold symptoms, when it is taken within the first 24 hours. A good foundation zinc option is Thompson’s Organic Zinc (80 tablets).
8. Weleda A. G. E.
If you’re open to homeopathic remedies, Weleda’s A.G.E. is a great place to start for treating head cold and flu symptoms, including runny nose, headache, heavy eyelids, and a feeling of heaviness in the head.
Dianna recommends taking A.G.E. as soon as you feel the start of a cold or flu. “I would take two tablets quarter hourly for 2 or 3 doses, then another 2 or 3 doses over the next six hours” she says. “In my experience, it can really stop a cold before it starts.”
9. Vitamin D
The “sunshine’ vitamin can work well for boosting your immune system against colds and flus. Some studies have indicated that the lower the levels of Vitamin D in your blood, the more likely you are to catch a cold. Vitamin D can be sourced from sunshine and cod liver oil but you can also take supplements. Dianna recommends this Vitamin D-3 from Source Naturals (100 tablets or 200 tablets).
10. Ginger capsules & syrup
Ginger capsules or syrup can help to prevent colds in their early stages. “They can be very useful in increasing circulation and sweating. And they're warming too,” says Dianna. Ginger is also anti-inflammatory which may help with some cold symptoms.
We sell bioactive ginger capsules and ginger syrup from Lifestream.
Dianna Tawharu, Naturopath at our Wellington City Store