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Oct 25

Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

October is nearly over and falling leaves and cooler weather are coming! With the beauty of the season often comes colds and flu season. The onset of holidays and outdoor fun makes pausing to fight sickness last on our list of fun things to do! What are the best ways to stay healthy, especially while pregnant or nursing? The cooler weather can have a negative effect on the immune system, so keeping the body warm and moving is important. A warm, active body also needs plenty of fluids to keep going, so be sure to stay hydrated. The stress of the holidays, and an increase in sweets also chip away at your cold-fighting abilities, so being mindful to sleep and eat well are vital. Taking your prenatal vitamin, and adding in some extra vitamin C, D and zinc can nutritionally benefit your system. In addition to limiting too many fudge squares, starches, and processed grains, instead opt for delicious broths, sautéed leafy greens, and hearty proteins. Beyond prevention, what other things can you have on hand if you do fall under the weather? Here are a few easy, body-friendly self-care ways to keep you going through the chilly months!

~Hydration – During colder months, the idea of drinking cool water is less than appealing. However, with cold temperatures in our dry Colorado climate, you need MORE fluids!! Teas and soups are great options. Notice how Venti Pumpkin Spice Lattes are not listed – sugar, caffeine, and dairy can dehydrate you and deplete the immune system, so indulge sparingly! Maybe choose a tea cambric instead, adding almond or coconut milk and a splash of honey, agave, or even maple syrup. Tulsi or Holy Basil tea has been used in Ayurvedic Medicine as a family friendly dry cough remedy. Soup and broth is always a great way to get in your fluids. Opt to make soup at home to avoid too much-added salt. Bone broth or a simple Miso is excellent to boost nutritional intake.

~Elderberry Syrup – Elderberries from the Sambucus nigra plant not only taste delicious, they have many beneficial components which support the immune and respiratory systems. According to a 2009 article from Phytochemistry, the flavonoid activity in black Elderberries has been seen to “[bind] to H1N1 virions, blocking host cell entry and/or recognition” effectively blocking the flu virus from taking hold (Alberte, R. et al.). A simple syrup can be made by reducing berries in a combination of water and honey or maple syrup. This syrup can easily be stored in the fridge, and a spoonful a day (or a drizzle on some morning oatmeal) can keep the bug away! You can find this syrup in the clinic, or at any natural food store as well. Just make sure it’s the plain syrup, and doesn’t have other herbs added in.

~ “Hot Lemon Toasty” – Traditionally Hot Toddies were enjoyed in cold, wet weather to soothe the throat and keep the body toasty. Toddies usually contain warmed whiskey, lemon juice, and honey. A pregnancy and breastfeeding friendly alternative is this Hot Lemon Toasty, to keep you warm and the throat soothed: 1 lemon cut in half, 2 cups of water, ¼ cup honey or maple syrup, ½ tbsp. ground cinnamon and ginger, a dash of cayenne pepper and sea salt. In a saucepan, bring the 2 cups of water to a boil. Turn heat to low and squeeze lemon juice into water, and put lemon halves in as well. Stir in honey/maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, and salt to mix well. Let Toasty rest for up to 5 minutes. Strain and pour into mug. Curl up with Toasty on couch with loved one/book/furry friend. Enjoy. (You can add a crushed clove of garlic and a tbsp. of Apple Cider Vinegar if you’re really stuffed up and/or very brave. The garlic is a potent anti-bacterial and the Apple Cider Vinegar thins mucous).

~ Herbal Steam – A chest cold or stuffy sinuses are a bummer. Steam is a great way to open up airways, and adding the power of herbs can give you a boost. Boil 4 cups of water and pour into a large bowl. Add a generous amount of oregano, thyme, and rosemary (dry is good, fresh is better). Take a seat, grab a towel, and create an herbal ‘tent’ so you can breathe in the steam. Oregano, thyme, and rosemary are traditional herbs that pack an anti-viral punch, and the hot water releases these potent volatile oils to bust up congestion. Essential oils wouldn’t be recommended for this steam, or for a bath, as they can be too irritating. Essential oils of Lavender, Lemon, Eucalyptus, and Frankincense are excellent options for a steamy shower. Put a few drops of each into a small bowl in the corner of your shower and breathe deep. Avoid peppermint, as this can be too cooling, and can potentially decrease milk supply in lactating women.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, look in your Maternity Guide and contact the midwives!

In merriment and health,
Mattie Tezak

Christine MacCarroll, NTP, has created a Winter Wellness Toolkit to help you and your family stay healthy throughout the winter. It includes a comprehensive guide and several supplements. Please check it out here.

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