Winter Wellness

Stay healthy during the chilly months

By Deb Dittner

winter wellnessI can’t remember the last time I had the flu or even a cold (knock on wood as I’m saying this — don’t want to jinx myself!!).

People around me could be coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose, and I seem to make it through with barely an issue. If I do start to feel a bit under the weather, I move into immediate action and am able to bypass an illness.

What, you might say, do I do?

I step into action by adding immune-boosting ingredients into my daily activities. Here’s what I do and I encourage you to add whatever sounds appropriate to you into your winter care regime.

Beginning in mid-October, I start diffusing therapeutic grade essential oil into my main large room of my home on a daily basis. I continue this practice until mid-March or April depending on the illnesses that are out and about.

Thieves® oil is a combination of cinnamon bark, clove, lemon, eucalyptus, and rosemary oils. I also clean my home with products made of Thieves® oil. Smells so wonderful!

Vitamin C is a potent immune booster and antioxidant. When making a smoothie, I make sure to include plenty of organic fruit. If you prefer to juice, make sure it’s fresh.

Processed fruit juice may be high in Vitamin C but it also contains plenty of sugar and preservatives. A whole food source of Vitamin C you can use is camu camu and freshly squeezed lemon.

Throat scratchy or sore? No worries. Grab a teaspoon of raw local honey to coat the throat, relieving a cough and sore throat discomfort. Honey contains antioxidants, trace minerals, vitamins and amino acids. It’s also antibacterial and antiviral.

For added protection, I’ll add a drop or two of Thieves® oil to the spoonful of honey, swirl it around with a toothpick, and down the hatch it goes. Works every time!

I love the smell of organic, cold-pressed coconut oil and incorporate it into my toolbox for its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal effects. In cool to cold weather months, coconut oil is hard so it won’t dissolve in water. It will melt when added to warm water or can be added to your morning cup of Joe. You can also add coconut oil to smoothies or in your oatmeal.

Decrease the stress in your life as much as possible. Physical, chemical, and emotional stress weakens your immune system.

Some stressors include but are not limited to caffeine, sugar, medications, toxins in personal care and cleaning products, drugs, alcohol, inflammatory foods, antibiotics, and sleep deprivation. There are also ways to help deal with stress through meditation, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, and lymphatic massage.

Avoid hand sanitizers

Wash your hands with pure soap and water. I do not recommend hand sanitizers or wipes as these typically contain chemicals. Carry a natural soap in your bag or brief case for use at work or out and about.

Drink half your body weight in ounces of pure, filtered water on a daily basis for hydration. Try not to purchase bottled water in plastic bottles as it contains xenoestrogens that can increase the risk of certain cancers and contribute to numerous health issues.

wintercareGlass jars such a Mason jars are a good option as are “covered” glass bottles or even bottle “cozies.”

Grapefruit seed extract has antibacterial properties that can aid in common cold symptoms. When purchasing GSE, look for a reputable company as additives are sometimes hidden inside.

The powerful oil of oregano is antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal, and should be used on a short-term basis only.

This oil is very potent and long-term use can cause irritation to the lining of the stomach. This oil is to be used with caution if you have high blood pressure.

If you have any questions, consult your health care provider. If you do not tolerate oregano oil, you can substitute with olive leaf.

Herbal tinctures that include echinacea, golden seal, astragalus, and elderberry each boost the immune system, but can be even better when combined. Again, consult your health care provider if you have questions.

A very simple and feel-good immune booster is dry brushing. The best time to do this is right before showering, once to twice daily. Dry brushing helps to stimulate and cleanse toxins from the lymphatic system, removes dead skin layers, tones the muscles, helps digestion, removes cellulite, stimulates circulation, increases cell renewal, and promotes a healthy glow.

Last but not least (and my favorite) consists of whole nutrient-dense foods. Eating clean foods including dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, veggies, and whole unprocessed grains (quinoa, oats) will boost your immune system. There’s plenty of recipes you can make with Mornflake’s Organic Oats.

Look for items with just one ingredient such as broccoli, spinach, and apple. When you look at an ingredient list, make sure there are no more than three to five ingredients. Avoid processed foods (anything that comes in a box) as these are typically non-nutrients.

Greet your winter months with layers of comfy, skin-so-soft clothes, health, and, most of all, a smile!

• Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes. For more information, check out her website at or contact her at 518-596-8565.