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9/14/2011
Winter Wellness
Winter Wellness

Subtle signs of autumn are all around us: refreshingly brisk mornings, sidewalks dotted with acorns, apples galore at the farmer’s market, and birds flying south in anticipation of fall’s first frost. These beautiful, postcard-perfect fall days belie the fact that cold and flu season is quickly drawing near once again. Fortunately, the body’s own self-defense mechanisms work hard to fight unwelcome germs, and simple lifestyle changes and natural remedies can help boost the self-healing abilities found within all of us, so we stay well come fall, winter and all year long.

Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Americans will suffer 1 billion colds this year. The colder months bring us in closer proximity to others, raising our chances of being exposed to a contagious bug. Scientists also believe that cold air can dry out the mucus lining in our nasal passages, making it easier for viruses to get in.

Weleda’s Chief Pharmacist Petra Augenstein says to never underestimate the power of a thorough hand-washing. “It’s one of the most important things we can do to diminish the spread of illness,” she says. Our diet can also have an effect on our immune system and our ability to fight pesky germs. Dr. Isadora Guggenheim, a New York-based naturopath, recommends eating fewer foods high in refined sugar and carbohydrates. “Viruses and bacterium utilize simple sugars to replicate and grow,” she says. “Eating nutritious and warming foods supports healthy digestive function, which plays an important role for the immune system.” Guggenheim adds that probiotics — friendly bacteria found naturally in fermented foods and in supplement form — can help recolonize the gut and make it difficult for cold-causing bacterium, viruses and fungi to make a home there.

Breaking a sweat also has a positive effect on our immune system. “Sweating activates our oldest detoxifying pathways,” says Dr. Guggenheim. “The lymphatic system has no central pump. It’s the movements of the body that stimulate the lymph flow to monitor for microbes that could make us sick.” Simply take a brisk walk to get your lymph system moving.

Support your Body’s Ability to Heal

When hand-washing, eating right and exercise are not enough, Weleda dietary supplements and homeopathic remedies help keep our bodies in balance and support our immune function, says Weleda’s Augenstein. In fact, Weleda was founded exactly 90 years ago to provide a personal approach to health care using natural ingredients that support our body’s own healing tendencies. Today Weleda offers 24 over-the-counter remedies and more than 800 homeopathic and anthroposophic prescription medicines, which Augenstein extracts, distills and compounds in the Weleda pharmacy in Palisades, NY. It’s the process of mixing a plant extract with alcohol or water, known as potentization, that releases a plant’s active healing substances.

Both homeopathy and anthroposophic medicine are holistic approaches to wellness. Homeopathy uses tiny amounts of natural ingredients, which in large quantities would cause a symptom, to trigger a healing response in the body. Anthroposophy, a method of healing created by Dr. Rudolf Steiner, who also founded Weleda, is only slightly different. It takes a personal approach to homeopathy, adapting the remedies and prescriptions based on each individual’s unique constitution and lifestyle.

Weleda makes its medicines using organic and Biodynamic® plant ingredients, many from the company’s own gardens in Germany. When it comes to the cold and flu, Augenstein recommends stocking these three over-the-counter Weleda products in your medicine cabinet: Echinadoron, Ferrum Phosphoricum 6X and Cinnabar Compound.

Echinadoron naturally supports the immune system with organically grown echinacea, calendula and chamomile.* (*This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.) Calendula and chamomile contain beneficial flavonoids, and numerous European studies have shown that echinacea helps support the immune system when taken at the first sign of a cold.

If you do come down with a cold or the flu, Augenstein recommends taking Weleda Ferrum Phosphoricum 6X as soon as your first symptoms occur. These non- drowsy tablets help reduce the inflammation in mucous membranes that triggers a runny nose. Made from the homeopathically prepared mineral cinnabar, the belladonna herb and bee venom, Weleda Cinnabar Compound can help soothe scratchy throats. “These homeopathic remedies help guide and balance an illness process when it does come,” says Dr. Adam Blanning, a family practitioner in Denver, Colorado.

So as summer turns to autumn and then into winter, be sure to eat right, exercise, get plenty of rest and let your immune system do the hard work. Nurture the relationship with yourself, and embrace nature as an ally whose healing substances can help you stay strong. -Dena Moskowitz and Carrie Ruehlman

7 WAYS TO STAY WELL ALL YEAR LONG

1. Wash hands often with warm water and soap for 20 seconds.

2. Get consistently good sleep , at least seven to eight hours each night.

3. Eat wholesome, naturally colorful fruits and vegetables.

4. Spice up your life — specifically, your food. Turmeric, cayenne, ginger and garlic all have germ-fighting properties.

5. Stay hydrated . Water and herbal teas help flush the body of toxins and stimulate the lymph system.

6. Try dry brushing before bathing. Circular motions, moving inward from the extremities to the heart, increase circulation and may have detoxifying effects.

7. Finish a hot shower with 10 seconds of cold water to close the pores. It invigorates and kick starts the immune system.