Beat the Sneezin' Season Naturally
January 2, 2006
NEW YORK, Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Taking a stand against cold and flu
season for you and your family is easier than you think. Woodson Merrell, MD,
explains how to break the sickness cycle by taking protective measures and
Dr. Merrell attacks the problem with an integrative medical tool kit.
"I'm a pragmatist," he explains, "which is why I incorporate the best of
Western scientific medicine and the best of complementary therapies.
you get a flu shot, you're still at risk for colds and flu. However, everyone
can add a few smart preventive measures to their routine and strengthen their
natural immunity." Here are Dr. Merrell's tips and tricks for staying healthy
through cold and flu season:
1. We all know the importance of hand washing in reducing the
transmission of cold and flu germs. But did you know that most
children do not wash their hands long enough to have a significant
impact? Teach your children to recite a nursery rhyme while
lathering their hands, rinsing at the completion of the poem. This
technique can triple or quadruple the amount of time their hands are
exposed to soap and friction -- the two methods that remove the most
germs from the skin.
2. When serving snacks, beware the communal snack bowl. Children (who
may or may not have washed their hands first) like to touch, and may
pick up three cookies before making a final selection. Better to use
separate bowls, or single serving sizes.
3. Wait wisely. During peak outbreaks of viral illnesses, you might
want to reconsider turning the little one loose in a children's
waiting area. These areas have tempting child-sized tables and
chairs, brightly colored toys and books, which are used by many
children with varying degrees of hygiene in the course of a day.
4. If you or your child is ill, be a hero and stay home. Not only is
this the most effective way to protect others from your illness, you
are more likely to rest and drink fluids in an unstructured home
environment vs. the more rigid schedules of school and workplace.
Consider canceling play dates with children who are coming down with
5. After recovering from a cold or flu, treat yourself to a new
toothbrush. Your old brush might still be "sick."
6. Wash children's scarves and mittens frequently and in hot water.
Little hands in mittens wipe noses, play with outdoor toys and
wrestle with playmates while scarves pick up germs from the mouth.
7. Try tea. Tea contains antioxidants and polyphenols that can boost
the immune system. Substituting iced tea (decaffeinated for young
ones) for soft drinks is a healthy choice anytime, but especially
during cold and flu season. Choose unsweetened or lightly sweetened,
which contain far less sugar than soft drinks.
8. Nutritionists tell us, and evidence has proven, the many health
benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, but we know how picky
children can be. Eat six daily servings of vitamin-rich dark leafy
greens, yellow-orange, and red fruits and vegetables (organic is
best). Use vegetables (broccoli) and fruits high in Vitamin C --
experiment with banana, papaya or strawberry smoothies that young
taste buds will love.
9. Some herbals work: Despite a recent report questioning the
effectiveness of echinacea, there is evidence that some echinacea
preparations actually work. Esberitox is a tasty, chewable product
that combines two types of echinacea with the herbs baptisia and
thuja, and has been clinically proven to reduce the duration and
severity of colds by 50 percent. "If I only had one Western remedy
to recommend during cold and flu season, I would choose Esberitox,"
comments Dr. Merrell. "This herbal formula is the only one that my
own children will take without a fuss because it tastes good -- they
even ask for it."
10. For older kids with sore throats, gargle with disinfectant solutions,
such as Listerine, tea tree oil or diluted hydrogen peroxide (the
latter is not safe for young children who may swallow it).
11. Touching your eyes when inserting and removing contacts is another
route for viruses to enter the body. During cold and flu season wear
your glasses instead of contact lenses.
12. How sweet it isn't: Avoid excessive amounts of sugar during cold and
flu season as sugar can weaken your immune system.
13. Try some mushrooms: Many species of mushroom naturally contain
substances that boost the immune system -- especially maitake,
reishi, and shitake -- and are easy to add to your menu.
14. Garlic is good: Raw garlic has more potent immune activity than
cooked, but isn't very pleasant to eat on its own. One great trick
is to crush or chop a few cloves of garlic and add them to your
prepared salad dressing. Shake well before pouring so that a little
garlic is contained in every serving.
15. Ease up on coffee, power-up on sleep. A caffeine buzz can rob you of
precious sleep, your body's strongest repair mechanism. Avoid late
nights during flu season and take extra rest if you're in healing
mode. The maxim "early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy,
wealthy and wise" is never more important than during cold/flu
16. Stress and anxiety boost your body's adrenal hormone level of
cortisol, which can depress the immune system. In case of a
stressful event -- new job, relocation, divorce, etc. -- take care.
Get a good night's sleep, eat a healthy diet, allow your friends and
family to pamper you, or at least, pamper yourself, and try to engage
in pleasurable activities. Yoga, music, or petting a dog or cat can
reduce stress in your life. Find what works for you.
17. For cold and flu prevention and treatment, consult integrative
practitioners -- doctors who have additional experience with
mind-body practices, acupuncture, nutrition and dietary supplements,
homeopathy, etc. They may have other options that may be right for
you and your family. You may want to schedule a wellness visit
before cold and flu season hits to develop a strong health plan for
Even if the headlines predict heavy casualties during cold and flu season,
you don't have to be one of them. If you take proper care, you can dodge
getting sick altogether. But if you do get the sniffles, you can use these
tips to help get better ahead of schedule.
SOURCE Woodson Merrell, MD
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