10 tips for keeping colds at bay this winter

Natalia Kerkham, Medical Herbalist gives her top tips for immunity.

man preventing viruses from touching him

  1. Spend at least half an hour a day outdoors (weather permitting!). Even in a city centre the air will be fresher than in stuffy, centrally heated buildings, you’ll get the benefit of full, natural daylight, even when the sun isn’t shining, and it’ll get you moving.Start each day with a good breakfast – either slow releasing carbohydrates like porridge or muesli, or go for protein with scrambled eggs or beans on toast. A proper breakfast keeps your energy up all morning, which is important for immunity.
  2. An apple a day really does keep the doctor away, according to research. Citrus fruits are good as well, as they provide high levels of vitamin C to keep colds at bay.
  3. Go for garlic. Traditionally used to keep infections at bay, its antimicrobial properties have been confirmed by research. Add it to soups, pasta sauces and casseroles, or try roasting whole cloves in the oven.
  4. Keep your fluid intake up. Being even slightly dehydrated can dry the lining of your nose and throat making it easier for germs to take hold. Aim to drink at least 1½ litres of fluids every day, more if you work in an air-conditioned atmosphere.  Try herbal teas, still or sparkling water, or decaffeinated tea or coffee.
  5. Wash your hands frequently. Cold and other germs are often spread via door handles and other surfaces touched by a lot of people. The more often you wash your hands, the less likely you are to become infected.

And if you do feel one starting, nip it in the bud…Mortar and Pestle

  1. Take lots of Vitamin C – up to 1000mg every 4-6 hours for a day or two or until the danger has passed. Effervescent tablets that dissolve into water are easy to take and make a refreshing drink.
  2. Suck zinc lozenges to protect the back of your throat from germs. Have 5-7 per day, or follow the instructions on the pack.
  3. Have an Epsom salts bath. Put 2-3 handfuls of salts into as hot a bath as is comfortable, soak for 20 minutes, then take a tepid shower and go straight to bed with a hot water bottle. You can buy Epsom salts at any pharmacy counter.
  4. Make garlic soup.  Heat a portion of any soup gently in a pan.  Take a whole bulb of garlic, separate and peel the cloves, then chop or crush.  Add to the hot soup, and continue to heat for not more than 3-5 minutes.

Natalia Kerkham, MNIMH
Having started my professional life as an NHS finance manager, I changed career to become a Medical Herbalist after one of my children had herbal treatment.  We’d had months of broken nights and emergency doctors as she came down with one ear infection after another.  It was only when a course of antibiotics brought her out in hives that I finally realised we needed to find a different answer.  A course of herbal medicines prescribed for her by a medical herbalist turned out to be that answer: not only did the ear infections stop, but she returned to being the happy little girl she’d been before.  I decided I wanted to make that kind of difference for other people, and qualified with a BSc as a Medical Herbalist in 2003.