by Monica Marcu
by MONICA MARCU
Holidays, feasts and parties are gone, and many of us start to feel a little lethargic, or even sad Well maybe we are really SAD like in "seasonal affective disorder," a cyclical period characterized by depressive periods during the fall and winter seasons. Many people feel more irritable, down, unable to focus, even unsociable but cannot easily pinpoint the cause. Diminished sunlight is the main culprit, but other factors such as being less active and indulging in heavier meals might play a role. By learning to work with the rhythms of the seasons and forces of nature, alternation of day and night all these affecting us we can be in tune with nature and our individual constitution.
There are a few simple, natural ways to navigate through this difficult (for some) season. Sun exposure is vitally important, so go out when it is sunny and spend some time exposing the skin when it is not too cold. Make sure you always protect your eyes with sun glasses though. The snow reflects back into your eyes and amplifies the ultraviolet rays which contributes to the macular degeneration and premature blindness. Pick a place by a sunny window when you do your work, and try to increase the light coming into your house at the maximum. Taking supplements of vitamin D is recommended for most of us living at the Northern latitudes. Vitamin D is extremely important for maintaining good health and it is produced in the skin only when exposed to sun light or ultraviolet radiation. Fish oil, especially cod liver oil, is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids and vitamins A and D, so this is a good choice to include in your diet over the winter. Keeping your mind and interests active with a new, exciting activity (maybe a new hobby) also seem to ward off symptoms of SAD. Orange oil on your temples is effective to lift up your spirit.
How about the miserable cold and flu? Why is it difficult to escape winter without sneezing, coughing and fever? Why do we feel more heavy and less energetic now? It’s certainly tempting to reach for decongestants and other drugs, but a better choice is to support our body’s inner strength and deal with the uncomfortable symptoms using natural ways. Support your immune system with vitamins A, C and D, zinc lozenges (with food to prevent stomach upset), Echinacea, ginger, licorice or elderberry extracts at the first signs of illness! Elderberry has potent antiviral properties. Maybe next season you consider to make a delicious syrup using its berries, honey, grated ginger root, cloves. You can cook the berries briefly in water, then add the rest of components and honey 1:1 to the liquid. Preserve at cold temperatures.
In case of colds and flus sip hot water or teas (ginger is highly recommended) throughout the day. Coffee is not indicated since it is diuretic and will induce dehydration. Plenty of liquids will counteract the dry indoor environment, dryness of the nose and its protecting mucosa, and it will help to eliminate toxins out of the body. Honey is a good choice for sweetening the teas, as it also helps with the throat and congested bronchi.
If you have a fever, wait it out! Don’t rush with the aspirin. The latest medical studies showed that people might stay sick longer when fevers are suppressed with medication. A fever is the body’s way of mounting a fight and destroying the foreign viruses and bacteria. Many wholistic medicine practitioners do not treat a fever unless it’s over 102. One can use cold compresses or take tepid baths to alleviate the fever’s discomforts. If you cough or are congested put a few drops of eucalyptus oil or ginger root into a pot of boiling water, drape a towel over your head, and breathe in the steam for several minutes, 2-3 times a day. Eucalyptus oil will energize you while increasing the circulation and mucus drainage within the respiratory tract.
If you have a sore throat, gargle with warm salty water every 2-3 hours.
Rest a lot! Eat plenty of fruits, greens and vegetable, add diverse juices, broths, add some garlic. While many have saved the fall’s treasures in jars and cans, don’t’ forget that by boiling and preserving fruits and veggies most vitamins are destroyed. The best weapons against colds and flus are made of fresh or frozen fruits and greens. Drink 1- 2 spoons of apple cider vinegar with water or soups during the day – it is a great aid to maintain proper body alkalinity balance. This vinegar can also be used for body massage to stimulate blood flow in case of fever and congestion. Another good choice to maintain healthy acidity-alkalinity balance in the body is the lemon. Meyer lemons are sweeter and have a more pleasant flavor, but any lemon would be helpful; make a lemonade with freshly squeezed fruit and water with honey. Drink on empty stomach and wait for 30 minutes before a meal.
To maintain good health, a whole body massage with sesame oil in the morning would do miracles, especially if you have time to let it soak into the skin for 10 min and then take a warm shower. If you do not have the time just brush briskly the whole body with a dry, natural hair brush, to stimulate the immune and lymphatic system.
Eat a nutritious breakfast such as oatmeal, other cereals mildly spiced with cinnamon or cloves. These spices are wonderful to warm up the senses and body. During the day incorporate whole wheat bread or pasta, buttermilk, warm soups cooked with ghee (clarified butter) and more spices such as curry and paprika. Curry is one of the most potent natural medicines scientific literature has linked this plant and spice with beneficial effects in a multitude of diseases, a list too long to be included here.
Indeed, powerful and compassionate is Nature’s medicine cabinet! There is something for everybody and for any trouble, oftentimes right there in your kitchen.