Coughs and Colds

Coughs and Colds

Ten steps to prevent winter bugs by Dr Rosy Daniel
16 December 2022

Dr Rosy Daniel, Weleda’s Integrative Health Consultant, shares ten ways to help prevent coughs and colds.

Why not set yourself a challenge this winter to keep you and your family free of coughs, colds and ‘flu? It's not a given that we must have these illnesses each year!

First, let’s look at why this problem arises in the winter and what conditions make things worse. Then let’s look at all the steps that you can take to make this winter woe a thing of the past.

Does it ever strike you as odd that we can go through the summer infection-free, but during the winter months these bugs play havoc with our children, elderly, families and colleagues? The most obvious factors that change are that it is dark, damp and cold. We tend to stay indoors with windows shut, close to others, and to use transport rather than walking or cycling.

So, here is the first big clue. During winter we can become light-starved and oxygen-starved, crucially depleting our vitamin D levels and the oxygen needed to drive all aspects of our metabolism. It is also likely, with the abundance of our gardens diminished, that our intake of fresh fruit and vegetables goes down, decreasing our intake of vital vitamins and minerals just when we need them most.

Then there is the effect of the cold and damp. The rhinoviruses that cause colds and the influenza viruses that cause ‘flu all thrive in these conditions. Added to this is the problem of moulds and their spores, which thrive around the decaying leaves outside and stored fruit and vegetables inside. Mould also grows in damp houses with low light, heating and ventilation. Some of us are particularly sensitive to moulds, and the inflammation and bronchoconstriction that they cause in our bronchial tree can set up the conditions for infection to occur. And if this is you, you might be wise to avoid blue cheeses as you may have problems from the moulds within those too.

Another factor which increases our susceptibility is the excessive mucus produced when we eat diets heavy in mucogenic milk products and excess protein, or through smoking and vaping. Mucus in our chests, throats and sinuses will provide a perfect breeding ground for viruses and bacteria, which can then cause chest infections and pneumonia.

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Added to these physical factors are the effects of stress and distress. High stress is an immune-suppressant, and grief has been understood by the Chinese for thousands of years to affect negatively our chest and throat. So, for those with chronic bronchitis and recurrent chest infections, you always need to ask, ‘If your chest was weeping, what would it be weeping for?’

Added to this, Acupuncture and Shiatsu can identify through pulse taking those of us that have a cold, damp constitution with low levels of Chi in our lungs and kidneys. With this goes the emotional picture of disappointment, sadness, fear and isolation with the unhappy depressed person often taking just tiny breaths at the end of the out-breath. When this is combined with lack of exercise, there is little air exchange and a build-up of carbon dioxide which acidifies the body and lays us open to infection. Brrrrr! It makes you shiver just to think about it, doesn’t it – and if you recognise that this is you, a good acupuncture treatment with some added moxa herb treatment can make a world of difference to bring heat and energy to your chest and kidneys, or simply regular hot dry saunas to get heat deep into your system.

Another important thing to consider is whether ‘flu vaccinations help? One of the difficulties with the ‘flu jab is that the ‘flu virus with which we are inoculated is ‘old’, developed from last season’s ‘flu if not older, and each year the big ‘flu epidemics are mainly caused by new strains of the virus. In some years the ‘flu jab has been shown to be only 15% effective*. So perhaps a better approach is to work on building up your natural immunity.

So, let’s get positive and define the ten steps that we can all take to send those viruses packing:

  • Step 1 - Get as much outdoor light as you can, every single day! Swop to daylight bulbs and take 2500-5000 IU of Vitamin D with K2. You are aiming to get up to a blood level of over 100 non mols per litre. (nmol/l)

  • Step 2 - Increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, far exceeding the five-a-day target. Ensure that you have something fresh at every single meal, be that in the form of freshly made juices, smoothies, salad, lightly steamed vegetables or fruit. Most protective of all are blueberries, which have the strongest antioxidant properties of all fruits, along with acerola cherries (found in Cherry C) or Sea Buckthorn. You can also give yourself an overall nutrition boost with a good quality daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.

  • Step 3 - If you are at risk through public transport, or public-facing work in schools, shops or crowded offices, take natural immune boosters based on beta glucans. And if you do get a cold or ‘flu, keep it to yourself. Stay at home, make sure you sneeze into a tissue and ideally burn your tissues or bag and dispose of them every day to help keep others safe.

  • Step 4 - Ensure that you take at least 45 minutes of aerobic exercise per day, ideally in the fresh air to raise your oxygen levels and get rid of carbon dioxide.

  • Step 5 - Install or use free standing air filters in crowded offices and clean the filters regularly, treating them before use with anti-viral oils.

  • Step 6 - Use an essential oil diffuser in your home with oil blends including Tea Tree or Eucalyptus, which are anti-viral, from good quality organic brands.

  • Step 7 - Eradicate damp and mould from your home, throwing away any clothes, books or papers that have become mouldy or any stored fruit or vegetables that have mould on them.
  • Step 8 - Practice yogic breath exercises known as Prana Yama to ensure full and deep breathing and elimination of any stagnation of energy, air and bugs in the lungs. Another way to do this is by singing – so join a choir or play with a karaoke set-up on your computer or TV if home based!

  • Step 9 – If you are smoking, taking in the smoke of others, or vaping, address this problem actively with support from the NHS Quit Smoking services.

  • Step 10 - Reduce your stress, sleep deeply, stay warm and if feeling sad or lonely, reach out to connect with others and use Emotional Freedom Technique to release the emotions of grief or distress from your system.

Weleda has a range of natural remedies for coughs and colds to support you through the winter:

Sea Buckthorn Elixir 
If you are looking for a high quality natural source of vitamin C, this certified organic drink is made with tart Sea Buckthorn berries and naturally sweetened with sugar and honey. Vibrant orange Sea Buckthorn berries are sun-ripened for a delicious solar-powered drink.
Not suitable for diabetics
Prunus Elixir 
This wellbeing product is made from the juice of blackthorn berries or sloes. Ripe sloes are gathered in November and the juice is gently sweetened with organic raw cane sugar, adding a twist of organic lemon juice, for a totally tasty elixir bringing you natural energy.
Not suitable for diabetics
Rhinodoron Nasal Spray 
This handy pocket-sized spray is designed to clear blocked, stuffy noses, soothing irritation along the way. The spray contains organically-grown aloe vera which gives a long lasting moisturising effect. So it won’t aggravate the mucous membranes - unlike many nasal sprays that may initially offer some relief from congestion, but can leave nasal passages painfully dry with regular use.
Always read the label
Cold Relief Oral Spray 
This homeopathic medicine contains 6X potencies of Allium Cepa, Drosera and Gelsemium and is indicated for the relief of the common cold, cough associated with the common cold, and related flu-like symptoms. An ideal winter remedy for all the family, this handy little oral spray is easily zipped into a pocket or handbag if you feel the sniffles coming on.
Always read the label
Prunus Spinosa 6X Drops
Feeling sluggish after a nasty virus or series of colds? Our medicinal Prunus Spinosa 6X drops are formulated for the symptomatic relief of fatigue following stress or illness. The product is made from the fresh leaf tips of biodynamically grown blackthorn, hand picked from hedges at Weleda’s own Derbyshire gardens.
Always read the label

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