As a civilisation, our usual approach is suppressing our symptoms with painkillers. Modern medicine is overwhelmingly reactive and less proactive. But, if you look back to ancient ways of medicine the focus was on prevention rather than cure.
For centuries, different cultures around the world have used natural herbs, spices and various techniques to ensure the body is protected from harmful toxins, so that the requirement for conventional drugs as a cure is not relied upon.
Here’s a few preventative health measures taken by different societies across the globe and some natural remedies that you could consider to help boost your immune system this winter:
There has been a lot of excitement about this naturally golden spice recently, and it isn’t without cause. Turmeric is native to southern India and has been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedamedicines to help with healing. In Japan, it’s widely taken as a precursor before consuming alcohol as it aids the liver to process the alcohol whilst you are eating and drinking. It is also restorative while you sleep, as it helps to detoxify the body.
Try a turmeric latte, a curry or a good quality organic supplement of turmeric or curcumin; the compound in turmeric which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties which can help negate the effects of the irritation and swelling caused by allergenic foods and alcohol. Or try mixing turmeric into mulled wine with other spices, as an evening tonic.
In the Mediterranean culture, it is common to have a teaspoon of olive oil before consuming alcohol. Fats decrease the absorption of ethanol in the digestive system, lessening its effects on your body. Try drinking a fat-based concoction before you go out, drink either milk, coconut cream or butter, or nibble on a few olives as you wait to be served your aperitif.
In Japan, turmeric is taken before consuming alcohol, as it helps the liver to process the alcohol whilst you are eating and drinking
Keep it Simple
In India, they take a very simple approach to help the body recover from excess – drinking lemon infused water or ginger tea before going to bed and the same when getting up in a morning. This will leave you feeling refreshed, as the antioxidants in the lemon and ginger help your liver to detoxify the body as you sleep. Then you can rise with a smile!
Safeguard with Magnesium
It is believed that the tiredness and tenderness experienced after exposure to alcohol and toxins is due to magnesium depletion which is essential for nerve and muscle function. In Russian tradition, it is customary to consume a fermented beverage called Kvass to help relieve the body of hangover symptoms, which is made from rye bread and is rich in magnesium. Try stocking up with magnesium rich foods such as kefir, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, spinach, almonds and cashew nuts.
Wallow in Willow Bark
Willow bark has been used for centuries to treat pain and inflammation and dates back to ancient Egyptian, Roman, Greek and Indian civilisations. It has been referred to as a ‘natural aspirin’ and works wonders for those crippling headaches that we have all experienced the day after the night before. Take as a tonic the next day mixed in water or find a white willow bark supplement at your preferred health store.
Empower with Prevention
Prevention does take a little planning but investing time upfront can be transformational to the way we feel and live our lives. We should all be entitled to guilt free fun and we should also respect ourselves enough to give our bodies the protection that they need to ensure that we can still work optimally, be productive and most importantly be healthy in body and mind. Deck your body with preventative measures this winter, you’ll thank yourself for it later on.
Article by Victoria Hamilton. (BSc in Biochemistry with Immunology) She is studying nutrition at the Institute of Optimum Nutrition, London.