We've already had a lot of cold weather as we head into Winter. And the wind has been pretty penetrating. I've taken to calling it's effects "deranged vata"....sort of an acupuncture/ayurveda shorthand for having your groundedness blown away by the winds.
We are mammals. Mammals slow down and sleep a lot more during the short, cold days of Winter. This means us!
The holidays are often an emotional time, and they can run our reserves down in many ways. In this post I share ways you can slow down, take care of yourself, and savor just being. This is followed by a section on how to be more comfortable during a cold or flu, and how to speed recovery.
Simple Ways to Stay Healthy During Winter
Here are some suggestions to help keep your immune system healthy this holiday season.
Go for a walk. 20 minutes will do. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and promotes healthy blood & lymphatic circulation helping the immune system function well. You'll be generating much needed Vitamin D, so make sure your eyes are not covered with sunglasses for at least 10 minutes, even if it's cloudy.
When you have time, make sure to get out somewhere more wild from time to time. Leaving civilization behind and letting the sights, smells, and sounds of the forest wash over you, will refresh your body, mind and spirit in unexpected ways.
Find time for mindful moments. It is important to carve out a few minutes each day just for you. Research shows that people who practice mindfulness are less stressed, more focused, and better able to regulate their emotions. Try the "Insight Timer" app on your phone. Not only does it have varying lengths and focuses of meditations, but also ambient & binaural music/sounds to enhance various states of being.
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” -Zen proverb
Wash your hands often. I'm sure you have heard this advice hundreds of times, especially in public spaces, or if someone in your household isn't well. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
Drink lots of water. No matter the time of year staying hydrated is a healthy habit, and supports the body during times of occasional stress. Drinking fluids flushes out toxins and helps with temperature regulation.
I recently noticed I wasn't drinking as much water as I normally do since the temperatures have dropped. Consequently I've developed a new habit of heating up water in a kettle, pouring a cup and adding ginger juice to it, throughout the day. This simple habit has helped me not only stay hydrated, but digest well and stay warm too. Ginger is a digestive aid, relieves nausea, is warming. and it lowers blood pressure too! I love plants! And this is how they love us!
Make sleep a priority. Lack of sleep can affect your immune system as studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick.
Try these tricks for getting to bed early, and falling asleep more easily:
Buy safety glasses with orange lenses to wear after the sun goes down. This will block the blue light from screens and light fixtures, allowing our bodies natural sleep cycle to kick in.
Keep a tincture of the herb Valerian root near your bed for those times when sleep is not coming easily. A dropperful or two will help you sleep through the night without any side-effects. Melatonin is a supplement the some people use too, for the same purpose.
Lower the temperature of your thermostat to 60 degrees at night. A cold-air humidifier in your room while you are sleeping will keep you hydrated while heat from the furnace is keeping you warm. I found a good, inexpensive model at Target with a silver filter in the tank to fight mildew, and a aromatherapy pad where you can add lavender oil to help you sleep, and/or rosemary and eucalyptus oil to help you breathe if you have a cold.
Herbs & Home Therapies to Soothe & Heal the Nasties
When my office was separate from my home I'd carry around NAC, olive leaf extract & oregano oil capsules in my bag during the late fall through winter. At the first sign of any inkling of a cold I'll take NAC (N-acetyl cystisine), a potent anti-oxidant that also thins mucus. This is important to me as I have been prone to sinus infections. Cutting dairy out has helped immensely too. Particularly in the winter.
If the cold isn't nipped in the bud by NAC, I'll take an olive leaf capsule. And if I'm already ill, oregano oil capsules improve my symptoms within 20 minutes and will begin overpowering whatever it is that has me down.
A great way to stay nourished if you have a fever and no appetite is to sip Bone Broth, as you can. If you have a cold without fever, Bone Broth soup or vegetarian equivalent will give you a lot of the nutrients you need to speed healing.
That humidifier I spoke about above will come in handy if you get sick: Use the aromatherapy pad and add any combination of the following essential oils to help you breathe more easily: eucalyptus, rosemary; and use lavender to help you sleep.
Heat packs for aches and sore throats are so helpful. Here is a yummy neck and shoulder wrap that I have my eye on. I use a microwave to warm my heat packs up. It's the only reason I use a microwave, as microwaving food destroys nutrients.
A hot bath is helpful if you have enough energy to prepare one, or someone can prepare it for you. Use a cup of epsom salts and a cup or two of apple cider vinegar with lavender and rosemary essential oils in the bath. Don't use eucalyptus in a bath as it is too strong for your tender nether region.
Be sure to contact me if you are interested in exploring ways to work with me. To your health! ~Warmly, Angela
I want to offer some support for preparing for and getting through winter with optimum health. Bone Broth can be made in many different ways, but there are certain guidelines that will help you get the most nutrition from your efforts.
Bone Broth is a great staple to have on hand in the freezer. You can sip on it.....great if you're not feeling well, or for a steady stream of bioavailable nutrition and immune boosting benefits. And it is great as a base for soups and sauces.
Scroll down below this photo for the recipe. I hope you'll take a rainy weekend soon to cook this up for yourself. Don't forget to read over the tips below the recipe.
Bone Broth Recipe (and variations)
Prep time: 20 mins
Equipment: largest pot you own or a large crock pot. I have a very large soup pot and get about 10 quart mason jars full that I keep in the freezer. I also make a second batch with the same bones, but fresh veggies and herbs each time.
Serves: 4 quarts or more
about 4 pounds of beef marrow and knuckle bones
1 calves foot (optional)
3 pounds meaty ribs or neck bones **regarding meats: yes the above are yummy. And you can make this with chicken bones left over from a whole chicken that you had enjoyed earlier. (Freeze the bones until you are ready to use them). In fact I'm using lamb shanks to make some broth, as I write.) There was wisdom in our ancestors using every part of of an animal that was sacrificed for their, and our nourishment. ♥
4 quarts (liters) of cold filtered water
¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
3 large onions, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
several sprigs of thyme, tied together
1 teaspoon dried green peppercorns, rushed
1 bunch parsley
1 reishi mushroom, or 1T of powdered reishi
3 slices of astragalus
shitake & miatake mushrooms are also good additions
I also put rosemary and sage from the garden in this brew.
How To Make
Place knuckles, marrow bones and optional calves foot in a large pot with water and apple cider vinegar and let it stand for one hour.
Meantime, place the meaty ribs in an oven and brown at 350F (175C).
When well browned, add to the pot together with the fat from the roasting tray.
Fill the roasted fat tray with hot water and scrape the coagulated juices.
Add this liquid to the pot.
Add all the vegetables.
Add extra water, if needed, to cover the bones but keep the water level below 1 inch from the rim of the pot.
Bring to a boil.
A large amount of scum will come to the top – it’s important to remove it with a spoon.
After removing the scum, add thyme and peppercorns and lower the heat to simmer.
Simmer for 12 to 72 hours, the slower the better.
Add parsley 10 minutes before finishing.
The pot will look and smell repulsive at this point but do not despair – it is a delicious foundation of many recipes and a healing food.
Remove all bones with tongs and strain the stock to glass containers, such as mason jars.
Let it cool down before refrigeration or freezing.
Freeze some of the stock for maximum freshness but be sure that if you are using a glass container (recommended) always leave an inch from the rim of the jar for the stock to expand when it freezes.
Modifications For low FODMAPs - skip the onions, optionally add asafetida instead. For Low Histamine - skip the ACV.
Sourcing of bones is important – it’s important to get bones from a grass-fed animal (not just organic). I found that the best option is to find a farmers’ market (you can locate one near you here), make friends with a farmer and order your bones from him.
My Organic Market, or MOM"s at is affectionately known is also a great resource for quality produce and some bulk herbs. They have many locations in MD/DC/VA.
Here are a few things to keep you healthy as we head into cooler and colder days:
Keep NAC, Olive Leaf extract and Oregano oil in capsules on hand to nip colds in the bud.
Lemon water is much better for you when your sick, than orange juice. The high sugar content of orange juice keeps your body in an acid state. To get well we need to have our blood pH move toward being alkaline.
Use shitake, miatake (hen of the woods) and reishi mushrooms in soup stock and other meals that call for mushrooms. They are immune boosting and miatake is anti-tumoral.
I hope you are enjoying the changing season!
Yours, in health,
Nationally Board Certified
Member, American Massage Therapy Association
Certified Member, Maya Abdominal Therapy Association
Member, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America