So, it snowed this week in the Vancouver area. My parents are visiting from Onterrible (yes, you read that right), on a swing back from China where my mother became a world-champion in dragonboating all over again. She has more gold in dragon boating over the last few years than I ever amassed playing competitive sports. She makes my brother and I look like rookies.
But with lots of travel and my parents visiting, a 3-year-old son in daycare, a wife who works in a hospital setting, and working personally in an integrative medical clinic, I'm exposed to a lot of viruses.
And it's that time of year. The flu immunizations advertisements are out, the media are telling us it's going to be another "bad year" for the cold and flu, and of course, that it's also supposed to be another fantastically cold and snowy winter (can't wait to take my kid tobogganing).
Fear. Our world is full of it. So much talk about evil, and of course, prevention. Prevention is great. But prevention is fear-based. And I've had just about enough of the fear-mongering in our world (Ahem, cough cough. America... cough cough) quite frankly. So we can spend our whole lives trying to prevent negative, bad things from happening and live in a constant state of negativity, fear and stress ("sympathetic overdrive", for you adrenal dysfunction savvy folks) and read the news and our Facebook feeds and think "wow our world sucks"... Or, we can do something about it.
Prevention is taking action now to stop something bad from happening (avoid a negative outcome). It's a virtuous and a reasonable mindset, but it's fear-based.
Instead, how I challenge all my clients to think, is in a proactive manner. It's not that we're NOT worrying about the future or that we're not preparing for it, but rather, than we're putting ourselves in the best position to thrive through all the challenges and stressors that may come our way. Proactivity is about resilience. Proactivity is about taking action now to create a better future - To create a positive outcome.
So, back to our current predicament: The cold & flu season is upon us, and yes, we're worried about losing days of work, or losing productivity or efficiency due to sick days taken, or just because we're not 100% when we're at work with a cold or flu. And whatever you think about the flu shot, but truth is that statistically speaking, it's unlikely that the flu shot is going to help you prevent the flu (that's a post for another day), and it certainly will not prevent you getting a cold.
So here's a little home secret to keep your immune system up: Elderberries, Astragalus, and Ginger are my 3 favourite antiviral, immune-boosting herbs. And they taste great together. Sure you can add a little honey and a cinnamon stick if you'd like to sweeten it up, but I like my medicine straight up (don't be a wuss). I personally use herbs from Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, and many of our herbal products, tinctures and loose herbs at my clinic in Vancouver, Evoke Integrative Medicine, are from them as well.
Immune Boost Elderberry Elixir
- 1/4 cup organic elderberries
- 3 large slices organic ginger root
- 3 slices of organic astragalus root
- 1 cup water
- Place all ingredients into a small pot, bring to a boil;
- Reduce heat and simmer until fluid is reduced to about one-half;
- Let cool, pour elixir into a storage container or cup through a strainer while pressing the last drops of juice out of the leftover solids;
- Sip 2-4tsp of elixir every 3-4hrs.
Dr. Jason Marr is a Naturopathic Doctor, Performance & Productivity Coach, Expert Wellness Speaker and Director of Evoke Integrative Medicine in Vancouver, BC and one of the faces of Naturopathic Medicine in Canada. He arms urban professionals, executives and entrepreneurs with real-world, pragmatic tools to overcome fatigue, stress & burnout and to maximize performance, productivity and resilience using evidence-informed, integrative and functional medicine.