The kids are back at school and a chill is in the air, which means Fall is quickly approaching. The following are my recommendations for staying healthy through the upcoming months.

1. Get Your Vitamin D Checked

Vitamin D has been shown to enhance immune function and provide protection against many other conditions. Since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it should be monitored with blood testing. Healthy levels of Vitamin D should be in the 30-55 ng/mL range. If your levels are low you can replace with it 1000-5000 IU/daily for 8 weeks followed by a retest. Make sure your Vitamin D supplement is D3 (cholecalciferol) rather than Vitamin D2, which is poorly absorbed. Additionally, recent research indicates that Vitamin D should be taken with other fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, E and K as supplementing with Vitamin D alone creates a greater need for these other nutrients. The fat-soluble nutrients work in harmony with one another and a critical balance between them should be maintained. Also remember to take Vitamin D and other fat-soluble vitamins with a meal containing healthy fat for best absorption.

2. Avoid Unnecessary Exposure To Antibiotics

Although antibiotics can be life-savers when used appropriately, their overuse has led to the development of super bugs, such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, that have become resistant to antibiotic treatments.

Some things to consider:

  • Avoid using Triclosan containing antibacterial products, which contributes to resistant bacteria.
  • 70-80% of antibiotic use in the United States is used in livestock to prevent illness, which ultimately affects our health when we eat that livestock. This has become a political issue and your buying power speaks volumes. Purchase only organic meat and dairy products to protect your health and to speak your mind.

3. Try Natural Antibacterial & Antiviral Agents

Many natural therapies for treating bacterial and viral infections exist. Some of my favorite go-to’s include the following:

  • Cold Away made by Health Concerns: if taken at the first sign of a cold, it can blow out (no pun intended!) most colds before it takes hold, or shorten the duration of a cold that has already started. This is one I always have on hand at home.
  • Other Chinese herbal formulas exist for most seasonal ailments. Yin Qiao San can be used for colds with sore throats, fever and thirst. Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Wan can be used for stomach flu with vomiting &/or diarrhea. Gan Mao Ling can be used for the early stages of colds and flu. Many of these can be found at your local health food store or cooperative.
  • My personal favorite immune boosting supplement is ionic silver, a newer and safer version of silver dispersed in an ionic solution (unlike colloidal silver), which is FDA-approved and EPA-certified. This product not only kills bacteria, but also is anti-viral and anti-fungal. It tastes like water and can be sipped from a spoon or added to any beverage. It can be even be rinsed through the nose for sinus infections or used topically in gel form for skin infections. It is safe for both adults and children. I give it to my own children daily throughout the winter.
  • The herb Andrographis is a great herb for infectious conditions. It is know as Chuan Xin Lian in Chinese and is useful for sore throats, upper respiratory infections with yellow phlegm and other infections with signs of heat. I think of it as an herbal antibiotic.
  • Diffusing therapeutic grade essential oils in your home can kill bacteria within minutes. My favorite is Thieves from Young Living. It is a blend of peppermint, cinnamon bark, clove, lemon, rosemary and eucalyptus radiata. This blend is named after the 15th century thieves who rubbed these oils on themselves to provide protection from the plague when they robbed the dead. Whatever oil you use, make sure it is therapeutic grade and not perfume-grade oils, which lack any therapeutic benefits.
  • For very young children I like to use diluted essential oils topically or homeopathic remedies. One useful book to have on hand to look up acute homeopathic remedies is: Homeopathic Self-Care: The Quick & Easy Guide for the Whole Family by Robert Ullman and Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman. A good reference for essential oils is Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child by Valerie Ann Worwood.

4. Make Sure You Are Doing The Basics

You have heard it before but it bears repeating. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and managing stress. Studies show that sleep deprivation decreases the activity level and functioning of your immune cells. And stress? Chronic stress has been shown to decreases immune cell numbers and functioning as well as promote inflammation.

What can you do? You may not be able to change your circumstances but you can change your reaction to stress. Take a deep breath, put things in perspective and take steps to change your situation if you can. If change is not possible, find ways to diffuse stress. This may include journaling, meditation, therapy, exercise, prayer or anything else that supports your health and well-being. That glass of vino at the end of the day is not the answer!

Many supplements can help modulate the effects of stress, especially cortisol output from the adrenal glands. Look for supplements that contain some of the following herbs:

  • Panax Ginseng
  • Ashwagandha
  • Holy basil
  • Rhodiola
  • Eleutherococcus

All these herbs can help with both high and low cortisol output. Cortisol testing is also available when a closer look at stress handling seems warranted.

If you have been struggling with recurrent illness, insomnia or chronic stress, I am here to help if needed.

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