Winter Wellness Warriors

by Michael Braunstein

In what universe does it make sense that corporations have to bribe you to take medicine? If the flu shot were so great, why would Big Box stores and supermarket clinics have to offer gift certificates, money and promotional gasoline discounts just to get folks to offer up an arm for a jab? And further, if the flu shot actually protected one from the flu, why should anyone care if somebody else opts not to suffer one? If the poke protects and Jane Doe got the the shot, why should she care if John Smith shuns the needle?

Adoption of the Option. Flu vaccines aside, there are many tried and true traditional medicines that can help anyone through the winter, the time of year that stresses the body and seems to visit colds and flu and other ailments upon us. For the most part, these options seek to boost the immune system naturally rather than attack the supposed viral cause of the cold or flu. The following are brief descriptions that should lead the reader to ask a healthcare provider about them.

Salt Alright, I admit it. I haven’t really consulted with the Great God Google to see why salt water is so healing. I know swimming in a clean part of the ocean (once easy to find) always seemed to heal minor cuts, etc. And for sure, my dad, whom I never saw with a cold, ever, gargled with salt water in the morning during the winter. With that as background, I find gargling with warm salty water whenever I feel that dry, scratchy symptom in my throat almost always brings immediate relief and holds a cold at bay.

Salt is also part of the neti pot regimen. Thousands of years ago, the wise men on the subcontinent of India realized that a regular nose douche with a saline solution would improve the health of the nasal membranes. It keeps the nose and sinuses clean, removes pollutants and allows the nasopharyngeal cavity to function at peak ability. As described in the ancient medical practice known as Ayurveda, the rishis, or Ayurvedic wise men, used a device known as a neti pot. The practice of using the pot is known as jala neti. Though a common part of daily hygiene in other parts of the world, jala neti is only recently catching on with Western culture.

Honey and lemon in hot water is another protocol to stick with. Honey is a known antibiotic and lemon an astringent. Both would tend to lower the bacterial and viral load in the buccal cavity.

Echinacea  As an herbal tincture, it’s a real “go to.” There are a couple different species within the genus, angustifolia and purpurea.  Echinacea is actually the common coneflower. You see it all over the Great Plains and native Americans used it extensively. The species common in America is angustifolia. Nearly all reliable sources say to look for that source of tincture as it’s stronger, more direct and versatile. Not only is it good for flu, colds and so on, it seems to work for general infections, too. My sister, the OB/GYN herbal skeptic had a lingering strep infection in her knee. Strongest antibiotics on the planet weren’t touching it. Amputation was being considered. I gave her some echinacea tincture. It worked. No longer a skeptic. As for tinctures and herbals, look for a brand called Energique. It’s been made just up the road from Omaha in Woodbine, Iowa for the past 50-plus years. I’ve visited the plant, observed the system and quality-control and trust the product.

Jade Screen This is a composite herbal supplement popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine. I’ve gotten Jade Screen from my herbalist, Nicholas Schnell. It’s used to protect the body from microbial attack, just like an impregnable jade screen would do. The primary ingredient is a variety of astragalus and is blended with siler root and bai zhu . There are few supplements that garner more rave reviews than Jade Screen.

Olive Leaf and Oregano. Olive leaf extract is a botanical gaining popularity as an antibiotic. My preferred use is to place 40 drops in a shot glass of pure water. Gargle with half of it then swallow. Drink the rest. Oregano oil is also an effective antibiotic I would use similarly.

Et cetera. Chinese Astragalus root tincture is another herbal supplement to keep on hand. As with all my herbal tinctures, I use the version from Energique.

In any case, there is rarely a need to resort to drugs to give the immune system and the body the ability to reclaim health. Keep these tinctures and items on hand. They don’t spoil. Then you at least have the option to use them.

Be well.

Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit

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