Winter Wellness Guide

20 ways to fight colds and flu, beat the blues, stay energized, and cope with other seasonal health challenges.

Winter Wellness Guide
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Soak your feet.
At the first sign of a cold or flu, I soak my feet up to my ankles in hot water--as hot as I can stand without scalding--for 20 minutes before going to bed. I also take 5,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day for five days.
--Erika Schwartz, M.D., Natural Health advisor and integrative internist

Spice up your stir-fry.
Use lots of fresh ginger root and fresh garlic in your cooking to boost your immune system and protect against viruses. Hot peppers are good for enhancing circulation and keeping you warm. Toss plenty of these into your next stir-fry. Ginseng has a stimulating, immune-enhancing effect. Get a black ginseng paste extract at natural-foods stores or in Chinatown, put a spoonful in hot water, add honey, and drink. [You can also order it online at] If you do wind up getting sick, try the Chinese herb Andrographis paniculata. It's one of the most potent cold-fighting herbs on earth, it's cheap, and the World Health Organization recommends it. Take two capsules of 250 mg twice daily. It's a pretty powerful herb and should get rid of your cold quickly. I'm also a big fan of Umcka, an herbal syrup that knocks out colds in record time.
--Chris Kilham, medicine hunter and ethnobotanist

Try a homeopathic cure.
For people interested in flu prevention, I suggest the homeopathic medicine Influenzinum 9C. Although no studies have confirmed its success, it's widely used throughout Europe by doctors and the public with reportedly good results. Take one dose per week for four weeks, and then take one dose 30 days later. For the very first stage of a cold, I recommend Aconitum 30C. Consider Allium cepa [onion] 30C if your symptoms resemble exposure to chopped onions--i.e., watery eyes and a profuse, watery nasal discharge that tends to irritate the nostrils. If you have a cold with a thick, stringy nasal discharge, take Kali bichromicum 30C. The dose schedule for the previous three remedies is four times a day for up to two days. If you're not over a cold after two days, it's not the correct remedy for you and a more accurate homeopathic medicine needs to be taken.
--Dana Ullman, M.P.H., Natural Health advisor, founder of, and co-author of Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines

Take a breath break.
The best way to keep healthy is to keep breathing! Just as not putting oxygen into an aquarium causes the water to turn thick and murky, not getting oxygen into the blood lowers immunity and prevents the release of endorphins. We should all go outside to take breath breaks the way smokers take cigarette breaks. When you notice that you're not breathing deeply, you should consciously take long, full inhalations.
Here's one exercise I do every day: I stand with my feet a little wider than hip-width, slap each hand onto the opposite shoulder, and twist side to side, aligning my breath with the movement and inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the mouth. Do this for 20 to 50 breaths--it's a quick energizer, and it really gets the spinal fluid flowing.
There's no one right way to breathe, but people who breathe through the nose are less likely to get colds and coughs. On a plane, when the people around you are coughing, be especially careful to breathe through your nose. It helps filter out cold germs.
--Devarshi Steven Hartman, director of professional training at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health