Sniffle stoppers


holistic wellness solutions Beat colds and the flu with our expert action plan

tHERE'S STILL no cure for the common cold, but keeping your sinuses clear, a fever down, and your immune system in top condition can reduce the misery by as much as four days. At the first sign of symptoms, our experts suggest the following steps:

RINSE OUT YOUR NOSE. To keep nasal passages clear and flush out the cold virus, fill a neti pot (pictured) or nasal rinse bottle with saline solution — ½ teaspoon of salt per 8 ounces of warm water. Tilt your head forward and pour the solution into one nostril and let it drain out the other. Repeat on alternating sides until all the water is used. "Add a packet of probiotics powder like Lactobacillus GG or Bifidobacteria to the water," suggests Ronald Stram, M.D., director and founder of the Center for Integrative Health and Healing in Delmar, N.Y. "It stimulates your body to produce more beneficial bacteria, which can reduce the number of days you're sick."
WEAR WET SOCKS (REALLY!). Before bedtime, soak a pair of cotton ankle socks in cold water and wring them out. Warm your feet for ten to 15 minutes in hot water, put on the damp socks, then a pair of dry thermal or woolen socks, and go to bed. "As your body warms up the socks, it sends blood to your feet, which reduces a fever, makes you less congested, and helps you sleep," says Stram, who suggests doing it for three consecutive nights.
ZAP A COLD WITH ZINC. Your body's levels of zinc — critical in fighting infection — dip when a cold sets in, says Stram. To reduce a cold's duration by up to four days, take a zinc gluconate lozenge (like Cold-EEZE) every two hours.
LOAD UP ON C. Take 600 to 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily: it mobilizes antibodies to quickly travel to the infection site. It can't prevent a cold, but it may help you recover faster. Look for a buffered supplement, which will be easier on your stomach. If symptoms worsen, increase daily intake to 2,000 to 3,000 mg.
TRY SOUP AND SALT WATER. Plenty of chicken soup — with its amino acids and antioxidants — and gargling with warm salt water (1 teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of water) can ease a sore throat and flush out mucus.
TAKE A BATH. "A warm bath helps stimulate blood and lymph circulation which can help clear toxins," says Mario Roxas, N.D., a naturopath in Sandpoint, Idaho. Or take a shower alternating three minutes of hot water with 30 to 60 seconds of cold water. Do this three times, ending with cold, to jumpstart lymph circulation, he suggests.
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Stay healthy all winter long with these 5 tips.

POP A DAILY MULTIVITAMIN. Take a daily multi with zinc and vitamin C in addition to eating a well-balanced diet, says naturopath Mario Roxas.
TRY EXTRA VITAMIN D. Low levels of vitamin D, which your body synthesizes from sunlight, is linked to the increase in cold and flu during winter months, research suggests. What's more, a small study from a California hospital found that people who took 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily (the current guidelines recommend only 200 IU per day for adult women) for one year survived cold and flu season unscathed, while those who went without suffered the usual number of complaints.
TAKE GREEN TEA SUPPLEMENTS. Green tea extracts like ImmuneGuard contain powerful antioxidants (the catechin EGCG and the amino acid 1-theanine) that can help ward off viruses. A 2007 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that of those who took green tea extract during the winter season, only 42 percent were hit with cold or flu for two days or less compared to 64 percent of those who took a placebo.
NIX THE NIGHT LIFE. Get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night and avoid excess alcohol, says Roxas. More than one drink a day reduces antibody protection by two-thirds.
GO SUGAR FREE. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruits and natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. Several studies have shown that the refined sugar in two cans of soda can reduce your white blood cells' cold-fighting abilities by up to 40 percent, says Roxas.
PHOTO (COLOR): COLD WAR: Wear wet socks to bring down a fever, add probiotic powder to your nasal rinse, and take extra vitamin C and zinc.



By Amy Paturel

Photography by Levi Brown

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