Melbourne Doula

Welcome to 'Melbourne Doula', the place where I share what birth work is teaching is me, and what I am learning from the wonderful families who have invited me to share this most special season of their lives. Here you will find information about me and the doula services I provide, birth stories from remarkable women and their loved ones, as well as all kinds of resources to enrich your own journey of discovery. And welcome also to BLISSFUL HERBS, the home of beautiful herbal teas and bath herbs to support wellness through every season of life.

A Plague* on All Our Houses - how to beat the Dreaded Lurgy

(* Apologies to dear Mr Shakespeare .... I do realise it's meant to be, "A pox on all your houses". Just elaborating on a theme for the purposes of poetic license. I'm sure the Bard would understand).

It's that time of year again ... colds and coughs and flu and all kinds of nasty random viruses running amok, rendering whole households sick with fever, aches and pains, sore throats, lingering coughs, horrendous sinus infections and tsunamis of snot.

It's not fun - from the baby who can't stop crying and is so stuffed up she can't breathe properly and keeps coming off the breast - to the kids who end up taking days off school - to the Mums who end up crawling from couch to bed - to the Dads who end up home from work with the most dreaded malady of all: Man Flu!

So here are few strategies and remedies for boosting your family's immune systems and hopefully avoiding a round of the "Plague", and for alleviating the worst of the symptoms if hard times do dare come 'round your cabin door.

1. Vitamin C, Zinc and Echinacea. Grab some capsules from your Chemist. Be generous with the citrus fruit, berries and beauties like feijoyas. Add a bit of red meat to the menu for the Zinc, if you're an ominvore.

2. Active Manuka Honey. This stuff is awesome for sore throats and general immune-boosting properties. You can add it to herbal teas. There's also my herb-infused hone mel: Herbal Honey, with Sage, Thyme, Lavender, Oregano and Rose.


3. Elderberries (Sambuccus nigra). These delicious little berries, as well as being loaded with Vitamin C and anti-oxidants, have anti-viral and immune-enhancing properties as well. They are ideal to add to the pantry to prevent and treat influenza, the common cold and other acute viral infections. They have a delicious blackcurrant-type taste, which is handy when you want something that tastes great to convince unwell children to take. You can buy whole organic Elderberries from Blissful Herbs if you would like to make your own Elderberry Cordial (recipe here), or, we can post you a 200 ml bottle of this cordial for $20.00


This cordial is kid-friendly. They can take it right off the spoon, or you can add to it cold or hot water. Best idea ever - add natural gelatine for special "make you better" jelly or even gummy bears! Winner!

Next thing to have in your survive-the-plague arsenal:

4. Olive Leaf Extract. You can purchase this in liquid or capsule form. Olive Leaf Extract enhances immune system functioning and is helpful for the management of viral infections. Studies were able to establish that two of the constituents in the olive leaf are effective against viruses involved in influenza and other respiratory infection.

60g Cold & Flu Blitz tea, $10.00

5. Cold & Flu Blitz tea.
You're likely to find such herbal blends in Health Food Stores and some Pharmacies - or you can order from Blissful Herbs and we will post to you. We have this stuff on the go all day everyday if ever the "plague" should darken our door. Our Cold & Flu Blitz tea - made with a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of Herbal Honey - is so soothing for a raw, inflamed throat, reduces fever and it's amazing - all our symptoms seem much less severe and recovery is quicker. We have kid-friendly, pregnancy-friendly and breastfeeding-friendly variations of this tea, so the whole family can partake. Even better - you can make a concentrated brew of the tea into gummy bears" just like the Elderberry cordial!


That's a turtle-shaped Cold & Flu tea gummy - with a bite taken out! Yum yum!
6. Healing soup or broth. Isn't it amazing how many cultures have variations of healing chicken soup? Chinese, Jewish, Russian, Indonesian and African cultures all have wonderful recipes and nourishing traditions based on this idea - and in each continent, locally available roots, berries, herbs and fungi are used to enhance the healing and immmune-boosting properties. Here is my own recipe for Love Soup. The healing roots within this recipe (Astragalus, Withania, Schisandra, Echinacea etc) may be purchased from Blissful Herbs.

7. Immunity Bliss herbal tea. Herbal medicine offers some super boosters for the immune system and I have blended some of these beauties into a delicious tea, which can be drunk all year round and especially when you or your loved ones need to enhance their own natural flu-fighting powers. This tea contains herbs such as Astragalus, Cat's Claw, Calendula, Echinacea, Lemongrass, Rosehip, Cornflower Petals and Siberian Ginseng.

8. The wonder-working power of medicinal mushrooms! Called mushrooms, but really fungi, the healing and strength-giving properties of these little beauties are quite under-estimated in the western world - but well understood throughout Asia. You can buy Shitake, Reishi, Cordyceps and Oyster mushrooms at Health Food Stores and Asian Groceries. We have Shitake on sale at our local IGA! They usually come dried, you soak them in warm water for a while, then they're easy to chop and add to any cooked dish. They don't have a strong taste so they're an easy add. You definitely want some of these on your pantry shelf during cold and flu season. As well as amazing immune-boosting properties, these 'shrooms are also wonderfully strength-giving and a great boon for fatigue, depletion and convalescence. You can also buy mushroom blends in powdered form and capsule form, such as the Mushroom 5 Complex by Herbs of Gold.

What else to have in the pantry during these testing times?

9. GARLIC! The humble Allium sativum is not just a pretty taste - it's also known as Nature's anti-biotic. Garlic contains the all-important allicin which has potent anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties. As well as boosting immunity and supporting the body to fight infection, it also modifies gut flora and so instructs us in the connection between healthy gut flora and a strong immune system. Use garlic liberally in your cooking - but choose locally grown organic if you can - and use it raw or nearly raw - add it at the END of cooking, rather than the beginning, to preserve the allicin - that good stuff that you want in your innards! If you are worried about garlic breath, there are many capsule formulations available, such as the Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract Immune Formula.

And this of course brings our attention to all the gut-healing strategies to have in our flu-fighting arsenal, such as:

10. Pro-biotics - a good quality one - and avoid chlorinated water while you're taking them (now's the time for a good filter if you don't already have one). Also: naturally fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and fermented fruit and vegetables - see this post for all the details on how to get your guts healed without breaking the bank balance.

Now while we're discussing fermenting stuff in jars and having curious-looking things percolating quietly away on the pantry shelf ..... have you ever heard of this:

11. The Master Tonic Some people swear by it. Can't hurt, huh. Give it a try and let me know!

12. Vitamin D This is vital for the immune system. We get less sunlight in the winter and what happens? We get sick. If you're prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder, this may be an indication that you need to bolster your Vitamin D. Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D when it's at home) boosts cathelicidin, which is a naturally occuring broad-spectrum anti-biotic in the body (it is an anti-microbial polypepetide). Most moderns have sub-par Vitamin D levels. So we need to be copycats: literally - copy your cat! Notice how she's a heat-seeking missile for pools of winter sun. Make like a cat and bare your skin in the winter sun (coming in through a window is good - so you don't freeze to death ....) Also: if you can't sunbathe, get your mushrooms to do it for you. Let your mushrooms sit in the sun and soak up the Vitamin D before you use them. Yes, this is one way to up your Vitamin D levels! And of course, take a good quality Vitamin D capsule through the winter.

13. Herbal Medicine If you know a Naturopath or Herbalist (*waves*), they will be able to prepare you a tincture of liquid herbal medicine or extract (herbs extracted in alcohol or glycerin) specific to your needs. Excellent immune-boosting herbs we may select for you include Andrographis, Liquorice Root, Echinacea, Olive Leaf, Baptisia, Mullein, Elecampane, Adhatodha and Elder, depending on your symptoms and needs.You generally take 5 ml in a little water or juice, 3 times a day, or 7.5 ml twice daily.

References:

Bone K. A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs. Missouri: Churchill Livingstone, 2003. Pages 352-5 Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence-based guide, 2nd ed. Sydney: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2007. 


Braun, L. & Cohen, M. (2011). Herbs & Natural Supplements (3rd edition). Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingston Elsevier.


Hechtman, L. (2011). Clinical naturopathic medicine. Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Ross, IA. Medicinal plants of the world, volume 3: Chemical constituents, traditional and modern medicinal uses. Humana Press Inc, 2005. 

Roxas M, Jurenka J. Colds and influenza: a review of diagnosis and conventional, botanical and nutritional considerations. Alt Med Rev 2007;12(1):25-48

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