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6 Unconventional Ways to Kick a Cold or Fight the Flu By Josh Axe

Winter ushers in a lot of fun things, including cozy nights in front of a fire, marathon Netflix sessions to escape the

cold and a months-long free pass to dress in sweats as often as you like. Unfortunately, though, the cold months also

bring along something more unwelcome: colds and the flu.

There are plenty of over-the-counter meds that promise to soothe sore throats and dry up runny noses, but they also

tend to have a long list of side effects. This winter, instead of chugging ill-tasting cough medicines or struggling to

stay awake even after swallowing pills that promised to be "non-drowsy," try these natural solutions that will kick your

symptoms without the side effects. You'll be back to your old self in no time.

1. Reduce stress.

We joke about being crazy-busy and living increasingly hectic lives, without acknowledging the very real impact stress

has on our health. The truth is, chronic stress severely diminishes your quality of life and affects every body system,

from your immune system to your metabolism.

Stress is directly tied to the body's fight-or-flight response, and when we appear to be in a dangerous situation, we

experience a surge of adrenaline that slows down other basic functions in order to give us the energy we need to

escape safely. When that stress is ongoing, and the body's fight-or-flight response is triggered repeatedly, it taxes the

body and makes it difficult to fight off cold or flu viruses.

Effective stress relievers are as varied as the people experiencing the stress. Some ideas include writing down

stressors and the resulting feelings in a journal, practicing yoga or setting aside a half hour for a hot bath and some

private time. Each of these activities will relax you and give your immune system the support it needs to head off the

next cold that comes your way.

2. Get more sleep.

If you're not getting enough shut-eye, you're raising your risk of getting sick and prolonging the time that pesky cold or

flu will stick around. In fact, not sleeping at least seven hours per night on a regular basis triples your chances of

getting sick. That's because while you sleep, your body uses that time to repair itself and keep all systems running

efficiently. Reduce the amount of time your body gets for the crucial rejuvenation period and you're all but guaranteeing

the sniffles.

To prevent getting sick, aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you're already feeling under the weather, make

that a priority. The more time you can rest, the faster your body can get that immune system pumping. And, if you're

having trouble falling asleep (whether because you're sick, or because it's an ongoing problem), these 20

strategies can help.

3. Supplement with vitamin D.

While cold weather doesn't technically trigger colds and the flu on its own, the fact that so many people are stranded

inside due to inclement weather certainly helps cold-causing viruses to spread. Part of this may be due to the fact

that, in the winter months, most people are running low on vitamin D, which is best obtained from direct sun exposure.

Vitamin D strengthens the immune system and fights against disease, and it's also full of antimicrobials, which attack

viruses and bacteria that cause colds and the flu. Unfortunately, it's estimated that up to 90 percent of Americans

aren't getting enough of this vital nutrient. So, if you're not soaking up the sun's rays for at least 10 to 15 minutes a

day, you should definitely consider taking a vitamin D supplement. It can help keep future sickness at bay and, if

you're already sick, vitamin D can help speed up your recovery time.

4. Try eucalyptus oil.

I'm a huge fan of the healing power of essential oils and, when I'm sick, I especially rely on eucalyptus oil. It helps

cleanse the body of toxins and the harmful microorganisms making you sick. Plus, it smells great and can help clear

up your pathways if you're struggling with a stuffy nose.

One of the most effective ways to use eucalyptus to combat a cold is by adding it to an aromatherapy diffuser before

bed so you experience its healing benefits throughout the night. I also recommend making a eucalyptus steam bath

for your face. Just pour a cup of boiling water into a bowl and mix in 10 drops of the oil. Place a towel over your head

and inhale deeply for five to 10 minutes.

5. Cut out sugar.

You wouldn't leave a cheese platter on the counter if you were trying to rid your house of mice. Likewise, when your

body is being taken hostage by a cold or flu virus, it doesn't make sense to encourage the illness to stick around by

giving it more strength. Sugar wreaks havoc on your immune system by suppressing it while also encouraging the

growth of viruses, bacteria and microorganisms whose main job is to keep you sicker, longer.

Natural sugars, like those occurring in fruit, are OK to consume in moderation because the body treats them

differently. But eliminating processed foods, refined carbs and sweets are a must for helping you recover quickly, not

to mention their importance for maintaining good health. Remember, food is medicine – replace the junk with healing

foods such as grass-fed meats, organic dairy and loads of fresh fruits and veggies.

6. Take echinacea.

Echinacea used to be a favorite health-promoting herb among Native American tribes and, later, the medical

community, until antibiotics became all the rage in the 1950s. Thankfully, we're rediscovering how useful echinacea

can be when fighting common sicknesses.

Echinacea actually stimulates the immune system and kicks it into overdrive, which is just what you need when

waging the cold and flu battle. It also helps relieve those upper body aches and pains that often accompany colds.

You can buy the herb and prepare it as a tea, or purchase echinacea tablets or capsules to enjoy its full, immune-

boosting properties. 

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