The Top 3 Natural Medicines For Winter Ailments

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sick woman checking her temperature

How can you prepare yourself to navigate winter in top health? You may want to give natural medicine a try.

As the nights grow longer and the days colder, we naturally turn inward and spend more time in quiet activities.

In Scandinavia, people take out their favorite sweaters and speak of "hygge," happiness that comes from closeness and having more interpersonal time with friends and family — far more than the simple translation of "cozy."

While some adore the cooler temperatures and changing leaves, others find the shorter days a damper weather a liability.

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You may struggle with colds, asthma, bronchitis, or digestive symptoms in the colder months.

Chinese medicine recognizes that the body "leans" on different organ systems at different times of the year. The autumn is associated with Lung and Large Intestine so, not surprisingly, this is peak cold and flu season.

How can you keep yourself healthy, then? Natural medicine can be your ally and here are the top 3 to get started with.

1. Bergamot citrus (bergamia var. aurantium).

This is one of the top performers for reducing anxiety and improving moods. Like the sunny, warm climates where this fruit grows, bergamot brings a sense of peace and relaxation.

Inhaling bergamot essential oil for 15 minutes reduces salivary cortisol, a marker of stress and anxiety that has a calming effect similar to benzodiazepine drugs without the sedating side effects.

Local application of bergamot essential oil also effectively reduces chronic pain.

According to a 2019 study, bergamot even reduces agitation in those suffering from dementia, a symptom that is untouched by pharmaceutical medications.

Try saturating a blank inhaler with bergamot essential oil. Hold near the nose and breathe normally for five to 10 minutes, up to six times a day.

2. Zinc.

This nutrient boosts immune function and speeds wound healing. Take 30 mg daily during cold and flu season. Taking zinc on an empty stomach can make you nauseous, so be sure to take with food.

Most high potency multi-vitamin and mineral supplements already contain this amount of zinc. At the first sign of a cold, increase to 30 mg, three times a day.

Zinc can speed the resolution of the common cold by 1.65 days!

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3. Yin qiao san.

This is a Chinese patent medicine for "wind-heat invasion." Symptoms include sore throat, feeling more feverish than chilled, slight headache, and yellowish mucus discharge.

Don't take the remedy if you feel more chills than fever and have no sore throat — the formula is very cooling.

Yin qiao san is meant to cause sweating to help push out "wind and heat." Make sure to avoid drafts and chills after taking the remedy.

Take three tablets four times per day for a sore throat.

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If you have a fever, increase the dosage to three tablets every two to three hours. This remedy is for the very beginning of a cold, within 24 hours (optimally, within one or two hours) of the onset of symptoms.

Sleep as much as possible.

As a bonus treatment, sleep as much as you can. Most people need nine to 10 hours of sleep, rather than the eight hours routinely recommended.

Two areas that suffer most from lack of sleep are the nervous and immune systems.

Increasing sleep by one hour will improve concentration by 25 percent and bolster concentration.

Lack of sleep will diminish natural killer cells, B-cells, and other important components of the immune.

To improve your immune system and reduce your risk for colds and the flu, guard your rest time and sleep at least eight hours per night.

So, go ahead and start working with these natural medicines to improve your mood, boost your immune system, and address the first signs of a cold so you can enjoy "hygge" this season.

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Dr. Judith Boice is a naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist, and fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology. Discover how to use essential oils safely to boost your family's health with her free report, Seven Myths About Essential Oils.

This article was originally published at drjudithboice.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.