Tips for avoiding the seasonal lurgy

Seasonally, there’s little to rival that sense of newness and purpose I get when the sluggish, sleepiness of August tips over into the crisp, defined brightness of Sept/Oct. This year it’s a little later coming, granted, but I still get such a thrill when the boots and opaques come back into circulation and I can taste the chill in the back of my throat when I leave for work in the morning.

Then I get my first cold of the season and all that perky optimism is drowned out in a slow-moving wave of phlegm.

Cold and flu season is such a fixture at this time of year that we all seem to take it as read that we’ll get some kind of lurgy and all we can really hope for is a lighter dose.

So I thought I’d combine some of the knowledge from my aromatherapy course with the tips and tricks I’ve used in the past to produce my brief guide to beating the lurgy:

  1. Eat onions and garlic. Everyone knows about the orange juice thing but even more effective are these humble veggies. They’re highly regarded immune boosters and will work brilliantly to bolster your resistance. Plus there are a few more options for including them in a wintery diet. Dr Weil even recommends eating two cloves of raw garlic if you feel the first scratchings of a cold brewing but I’m not sure I can bring myself to do that. And I am a big garlic lover.
  2. If you can’t face the raw garlic…(!)…a good remedy for times when you’re feeling below par or even a little bit coldy is echinacea. Take one capsule a day as soon as you feel the symptoms. If you’re lucky and the germ was still fairly embryonic, you might just kick it into submission; if not, the echinacea will help to take the edge off the experience and should hopefully mean a less full-on attack.
  3. Finally you can harness the antiviral and antiseptic properties of essential oils to debug your home and your respiratory tract. The best oils to use are pine, fir, lemon, eucalyptus or tea tree. Pick the one you like best or blend in combination. Just remember not to exceed the recommended total dosage below. The trick is to inhale the oils, and you’ve got a number of options here:
  • Wallow in a bath containing 4-6 drops of your chosen oil, lie back, relax and breathe deeply.
  • Vaporise the oil into the air. You can use an oil burner for this but the best way to get the full effect of the oil is to use a diffuser or nebuliser. This evaporates the oil in a stream of air without heating it, so it retains its efficacy.
  • If you’re already lurgy-filled, you can help to alleviate the symptoms via steam inhalation. Fill a bowl with a pint of boiling water, add 2-3 drops of your chosen oil, lean over (you may like to cover your head with a towel to trap the vapour) and breathe slowly for 1-2 minutes. Don’t get too close to the water and if you feel at all uncomfortable, stop.

Good luck with beating the bugs. May you all avoid the inevitable this year and have much more time for tramping about in autumn leaves instead.

Fabulous autumn colours courtesy of a 2009 trip to the Lake District (I HAD the seasonal lurgy during this holiday...)

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