5 Intention-setting Ideas for Supporting the Immune System Through this Holiday Season and Beyond!

“Compassion, bringing inner strength, is good for our health.” – The Dalai Lama

While we may do our best to eat well, get enough sleep, and continue our exercise routine through the holidays, sometimes that is just not enough to avoid catching a cold or flu, especially because we find ourselves spending more time with others at this time of year.  And there is no worse time to find these germs breaking through our defenses then over the next 6 weeks!

So, as we make plans to gather with friends and family around the dining room table this holiday season, it is my hope that you might relax a little more knowing that there are some tried-and-true ways to bring more comfort to the body, support the immune system and shorten the length of time that the body needs to suffer from the symptoms of the common cold.  Below are several intention-setting ideas to consider should you find yourself “under the weather” this holiday season:

  1. ZINC!  Research has shown that taking zinc gluconate during a head cold shortens the duration of the symptoms.  Over-the-counter products, such as Cold-EEZE or Zicam, contain zinc gluconate and the research suggests that the zinc ions block the cold virus from replicating.  What this means is that we may not be able to stop the germs from breaking through our natural defenses, but we can stop them from replicating any more once inside of our bodies, thus giving our immune system a better opportunity to win the war faster.  Therefore, as soon as you feel that scratchy throat or heaviness in your head, start taking zinc and don’t stop until your nose can smell the cookies in the oven and visions of sugar plums dance in your head once again.
  2. Essential Oils.  Look for an essential oil blend that contains oils such as cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, rosemary, and wild orange which have been shown to have immune-boosting properties.  Simply add a few drops to some coconut oil or almond oil and rub it into your skin around the throat, chest and even the soles of your feet.  Adding these essential oils to a room diffuser can work to kill any germs that might be lingering in your home.
  3. Warm Up.  Research is finding that when our body temperature is warmer, viruses replicate slower and die off quicker.  Therefore, when you start to feel the first signs of a cold, create environments for yourself to raise your body heat, such as taking a hot bath or shower or sitting in a hot tub or steam room.  You can add the above mentioned essential oils to your bath or sprinkle a few drops on the floor of your shower.  Or wrap yourself up in your favorite comforter and snuggle up by your fireplace (or space heater) with a good book or movie!
  4. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth with Honey.  Raw organic honey contains enzymes and antimicrobials that not only fight germs, but soothe scratchy throats and coughs.  Studies have even demonstrated an improvement in sleep quality in children who took honey with upper respiratory tract infections, so try eating a teaspoon or two of honey before bed.  Throughout the day, you can simply boil some water, add honey and maybe some freshly grated ginger root to sip on to comfort body, mind and spirit.
  5. Stimulate blood and lymph circulation.  Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, offers a practice that can be done on a daily basis to stimulate circulation and cleanse the lymph system – dry brush lymph massage.  The lymph system helps rid the body of toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials by transporting lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells throughout the body.   Doing this practice when a virus has invaded our body is important to promote detoxification, supporting the elimination of the toxins as quickly as possible.  Try a natural-bristle brush that you might use to wash your back in the shower and start at the feet.  Using short, brisk strokes work up the body towards the heart, focusing on areas where lymph nodes are most concentrated, such as inner thighs/groin area and arm pits.