The dog days of summer are behind us. Shorter days, cooler temperatures, ah…, the blessed onset of fall. As a transplanted Southerner, I look forward to this time of year. As I am sitting here writing this post, a cool rain is falling and the trees are turning from green to gold and red. Bring on the sweatshirts, football, warm soups and inevitably, the holiday season. All reasons why we love fall but ironically, the very reasons why are bodies become immunocompromised. Parents ferrying children to and fro from after school sporting events, no time to eat a healthy meal, much less cook it, its no wonder the advent of fall correlates with the beginnings of cold and flu season.
As a retired emergency room nurse, I know the spread of cold and flu viruses ramps up steadily with seasonal changes. So what are you going to do about it? Many of you have and will recieve a flu vaccine, believing themselves protected from the ravages of the flu virus. I applaud your choice of prevention but want you to be aware of other lifestyle choices. An interesting article, I ran across might have you scratching your head and saying,”why bother.”
As you can see, most flu related deaths dramatically decreased since 1918 well before vaccines became a standardized practice. And the rate of flu- related deaths in seniors has not decreased despite vaccinations.
So, what’s a person to do. Well, there is no way to completely protect one self from the flu but, a number of important and easy to institute steps can be taken to prevent and shorten the onset of symptoms. One of the things I do is to use echinacea as an immune booster at the onset of any cold or flu symptoms.
Echinacea or coneflower is a medicinal plant native to North America. It was used by Native Americans to treat wound infections and other topical and internal infections long before the advent of antibiotics.
With the discovery of antibiotics, echinacea has fallen out of favor only to rediscovered in the past 20 years as an immunce booster to shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms.
The distinctive cone like shape and cheerful color of this flower is a favorite amongst pollinators and makes a useful addition to your garden. As summer wanes, I collect the leaves and dry them. At the end of the season, the roots, a nutty shaped bulb is chopped and added to the collection of dry leaves to make a echinacea tincture. Commercial preparations are available in oral forms as well, but the efficacy of these supplements vary amongst brands. The normal adult dose is 300-900 mg 3xs daily at the onset of symptoms. Please consult your medical professional or herbalist for dosing guides for children.
(color of tincture after 3 weeks)
How to Make an Echinacea Tincture
Of course, there is no cure for the common cold or flu but the goal is prevention and to shorten the duration of symptoms. Lifestyle choices to keep the immune system strong through the season is a must and include.