Ask the Bartender, Ask the Plants, Ask Karoline #70

    I’m having a hard time on this column...technically, it’s winter, but living in California tends to give me a very skewed outlook on the seasons these days. It’s kinda difficult to get all wrapped up in winter illnesses when the grass is green and the flowers are blooming. Here are a few of my personal favorites for possibly preventing colds/flu and trying to stay in tip top immunity shape.
Curl up with a good book...
    Okay, my first suggestion is that everyone buy a copy of the incredible book called Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch, MD. If you have an ailment, you will find some answers and some recommendations on how to take care of it. I know I have mentioned it in previous columns, but this a must have reference book. The cost is $23.95 and worth every darn cent. You can find it at health food stores and at any bookstore that has a decent health section. I think that one of the best ways to take care of yourself is through education. The more you know about your own body, the better you can prevent illnesses. Look for other great herb books by: Judith Berger, Susun Weed, Rosemary Gladstar, Jeanne Rose, and Michael Moore (just to name a few). Winter is also a great time to slow down and read all those other books you’ve probably been piling up during the year.
Drink plenty of liquids...
    Yeah, yeah, you’ve all heard that line a million times, right?! I cannot emphasize this point enough. If you feel like you’ve got a cold coming on, go out and buy a gallon jug of distilled water (just to see how much it actually is) and drink the whole damn thing. You will be peeing all day, but you will be flushing the system and doing yourself a world of good. Continue to do this and you will be surprised how much faster your cold will go away (at least it does for me). Another favorite of mine is quart after quart of hot water with lemon. You will flush the system, get some vitamin C, and stay warm! Experiment with herbal teas...there is a huge variety of cold/flu related blends from Traditional Medicinals and Yogi Tea. Try these, see what you like and then you can venture on to making your own blends from the bulk herb section. Nettles are a great year round staple (super nutrient powerhouse!). Lemon ginger echinacea juice, even regular old orange juice...just make sure you keep yourself hydrated! Especially the water, that is the most important part!

Glorious Garlic...
    Obviously, garlic is great any old time, but I really go through it in the winter. I love to make huge batches of spicy soups full of garlic when it gets cold outside! My favorite tour trick is keep garlic on hand at all times and either just swallow it whole (okay, actually, cut up in little pieces) or eat it raw with everything (I’ve even had it in a peanut butter sandwich). It makes me sweat like crazy (which is great for a cold) and feel a bit weird, but it sure helps hold the viruses at bay. The best garlic tea recipe I’ve tried goes like this...
Herbatussin or Throat Coat tea (from Traditional Medicinals)
grated garlic
grated ginger
honey
cayenne pepper
let steep (covered) for at least ten to fifteen minutes
    This will knock those proverbial socks off, but it will make you feel great in the long run. This is something that you have to tailor to your tastes (I use a pretty big pinch of cayenne, but that might not work for you). Make it a few times and see how you like it best. You can also try different tea bases...peppermint and pau d’arco would be pretty good in here as well.
Echinacea, Goldenseal, Elderberry, Vitamin C, Yin Chiao...
    These are all helpful in zapping a cold, but you must use them at the first sign of cold or flu. Prevention is the key. Remember that Goldenseal should not be taken for more than a week at a time and do not take it if you are pregnant or nursing. Vitamin C is also great, especially if you can work it into your daily diet...like grapefruit and oranges (but make sure to leave as much white stringy stuff as you can stand on your fruit...this contains bioflavonoids, which help you absorb the Vitamin C properly). If you take Vitamin C supplements, buy one that has bioflavonoids in the blend. Elderberry is recommended for upper respiratory infections and headaches associated with colds. It promotes sweating and can help break a fever. Elderberry contains antioxidant flavonoids that protect cell walls against foreign substances. Yin Chiao is a traditional Chinese herbal remedy taken at the first sign of cold/flu.
Eat your greens...
    You should always make a point of eating as many green leafy vegetables as possible, but in the winter it’s even more important. You need as many nutrients as you can get in the winter. Your body is working hard to deal with the weather, depression caused by the weather/lack of sunshine/holiday stress/etc, plus just dealing with everyday life. You need to give it as much good nutrition as you can stand...and then some! Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, Wheat Grass, Bok Choy, Chard, Dandelion, Collard Greens, Mustard Greens. Challenge your tastebuds!
The End...
    This column turned out a bit scattered...I hope someone finds something useful in it. Please remember that it’s okay to take time out for yourself. We only get one shot at life and spending it in a constant state of stress and anxiety is no way to live. Treat yourself to a day of relaxation, liquids, peeing, reading and creating some crazy garlic lover’s soup...you’ll be glad you did. See you in the spring!
—Karoline