It’s winter! That means sniffles, colds, the holidays and flu season. The temperature see-saws, the stress, the travel, the year-end bills and the months of lessened sunlight. I’ve got a few stand-by supplements for winter that I always keep nearby at this time of year for the inevitable immune system stresses. Here are the first five in our supplements for winter series.
- Singer’s Saving Grace throat spray by Herbs Etc.-comes in 4 flavors, 2 sizes. An indispensable item to have on hand for people who rely on their voice for work: teachers, sales staff, singers, preachers, filibustering politicians; but also useful for anyone with a scratchy voice and a long day ahead of them. The higher strength formula with osha doesn’t taste as good as the others (cinnamon being my favorite) but can also be appropriate for certain cases of laryngitis and pharyngitis. Four quick sprays to the back of your throat and you’re good to go. This product has helped me to get through many shifts in the supplements aisles over the years and a few singing gigs as well. The smaller size (see picture) is super convenient for travel, work and discrete usage. I simply order Singer’s Saving Grace online if none of my local stores have it in stock.
- Vitamin C+ powder packets, 1000mg. Another one that’s great for travel, these mixes dissolve readily with water, no spoon or shaker bottle necessary. Several popular brands such as Alacer’s Emergen-C have electrolytes and B vitamins too. Many of these drink mixes are somewhat ‘fizzy’ as they dissolve, so just remember to sip instead of gulp your vitamin C drink unless it’s been settled for a few minutes. Whether you feel the dregs coming on or simply want to fortify your C intake and replenish your electrolytes, take one to three packets (1000-3000mg vitamin C) of these over the course of the day. Being a liquid, it absorbs into your system faster than a capsule/tablet. If you have a sensitivity (stomach-lining or otherwise) to mildly acidic supplements such as vitamin C in its ascorbic acid form and you would like to up your C intake, stick with a buffered C (calcium ascorbate) or food-sourced C as can be recommended by your general practitioner.
- Oscillo -shorthand for Oscillococcinum™, a homeopathic flu remedy made by Boiron Labs. At the first signs of a flu, just take the contents of a single tube and let them melt under your tongue. Take all 3 tubes of pellets (a single serving box) within 24 hours to help support your body’s efforts to ward it off as it starts. No side effects, no contra-indications. It’s pretty much the only thing I’ve kept around for the flu for a dozen years. Tiny and convenient for travel like everything else in this list.
- Rescue Remedy -a Bach (not Johann, music lovers) Flower Essence remedy that is great for everyone in the family, including our tinier family members; even cats and dogs! It can help us stabilize a bit when under duress. Going to the vet? Stressed making your connecting flight? Sudden panicky situation or interview or performance coming up? Four drops on the tongue or simply applied to the skin. It’s about frequency, not quantity, so don’t go thinking that 20 drops is going to be five times the strength of a 4-drops dosage. Rescue Remedy can be taken orally via spray, drops or lozenge, but also applied to the wrists for absorption and ease of use should you not want to taste the drops’ alcohol base or try to get it down your pet’s mouth. Administer in a half dose or pro-rate for tykes and pets.
- Olba’s Inhaler -These lipbalm-sized containers are a strong aromatic blend of menthol with oils of peppermint, cajeput and eucalyptol. Just take the cap off, hold the Olba’s Inhaler under each nostril and breathe lightly in. Wow; major clearing up of stuffy noses almost immediately thanks to the action of these strong penetrating oils. Also comes in pastilles form. Comes in handy during allergy season too.
So there are some of my favorite supplements for winter. None of them break the bank, and all travel easily, whether to work, school, dayhikes or going home for the holidays. Hopefully there was something new in the list for you that you can make use of or chat with your GP about. For those already familiar with the above items, let this just serve as a quick reminder to get your winter inventory of helpful supplements stocked up and ready to go in case you haven’t yet done so. We’ll cover some more items for the cold and flu season and immune support in a future installment. Have a healthy winter!
Outside of a few medicinal herbs for immune support which may be in the vitamin C blends and the Singer’s Saving Grace throat spray, most of these particular supplements have few, if any, contra-indications with over-the-counter and prescription medications. As always though, keep in mind your allergies/immune status and check with your doc before trying something new.