Where are you in your grieving process for summer?
Where are you in your grieving process for summer?
I think I’m finally at the acceptance stage. You know what helps, when I find myself backsliding into denial? Fall colors. Cozy sweaters. Hot cocoa. New seasons of my favorite shows to binge on. Nesting. And pumpkin spice, well, anything!
Autumn is the perfect time to take a cue from the rhythms of nature and energetically turn inward, check in and recharge after all the go-go-go of summer. Before you know it, the hectic holiday season will be upon us. So fill your tanks while you can, people, because you know what else is lurking around the corner? Cold and flu season. And research shows that nothing suppresses our ability to fight off infection more than stress, even if it’s associated with “positive” life events.
So what can we start doing right now to make sure we stay healthy this year?
Despite the miraculous advances modern medicine has made in the treatment of disease and lifesaving surgical procedures, we’ve made surprisingly little progress against the influenza virus. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that, in the 2015-2016 flu season, an estimated 24.5 million were stricken with the flu, resulting in 11 million medical visits, 308,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths. And yet the only weapon in the medical arsenal is the flu vaccine, which less than half of the population opts to get; and, among those individuals, is effective in only 10% to 60% of cases.
Once you have come down with a cold or flu, there is no cure. The common cold and influenza are both viruses. And despite the fact that antibiotics don’t work against viruses, many family doctors still report caving to patient pressure and prescribing them, which can make the situation infinitely worse, both for the individual (by killing off the “good” bacteria in our gut that we now know are so key to healthy immunity), and for society at large (by contributing to the evolution of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”).
What about all those cold and flu medications you see at your local drug store? As popular as they might be, all they are actually accomplishing is symptom suppression. And because so many symptoms are actually signs that our immune system is doing its job (a runny nose is the body’s way of clearing pathogens from the mucosal membranes, the elevated body temperature of a fever is its way of killing foreign invaders, etc.), many of these drugs only end up making matters worse - both by extending the length of time it takes to get better, and by encouraging people to return to their normal lives sooner than they should, thereby spreading the illness to others.
What if we work WITH our immune system instead?
Intriguingly, some of the most exciting scientific breakthroughs in recent years involve doing just that, by supporting the recently-discovered endocannabinoid system (ECS) . To fully appreciate how this works, let’s take a step back and review some basic principles about immunity.
The human body is separated from its environment by a porous membrane only a few cells thick (our epidermal layer, or “skin”, on the outside, and the epithelial lining of the lungs and gastrointestinal tract on the inside). Our survival depends on letting in the things we need to live (like food, oxygen and water), and keeping out the rest (like toxins, pathogens and infectious organisms); and, most critically, being able to tell the difference between the two (viruses are masters of disguise).
Our immune system has the daunting task of patrolling this entire border (which can amount to almost 1000 square feet of surface area!) 24-7, assessing which substances are “friend” and allowing them to pass, and which are “foe” and either barring them entry; or, if they happen to sneak by, destroying them before they can do significant damage.
A sluggish immune system allows too many enemies to slip through, or is unable to neutralize them once inside (which leads to us catching every bug that is going around), while a hypervigilant immune system mistakenly identifies allies as enemies, or overreacts to minor threats (which sets us up for conditions like seasonal allergies, asthma, eczema; and, in extreme or chronic cases, can be a contributing factor to more serious autoimmune diseases).
With this background in mind, it’s clear that a healthy immune system is neither over-reactive nor under-reactive, but rather adaptive enough to accurately identify, and balanced enough to respond proportionately to, whatever risk it encounters. And there is a growing body of evidence that this resilience is precisely the role that the endocannabinoid system plays, by modulating the reactivity of our immune response.
This game-changing discovery allows us to work in harmony with our body’s innate wisdom, rather than overriding it.
If you want to experiment with this new approach to staying healthy this winter, or layer it on top of your tried and true methods for extra insurance, try supporting your immune system from the inside out - via the ECS.
The most effective ways of fortifying your endocannabinoid system are:
- By consuming adequate quantities and ratios of omega fatty acids (the building blocks your body uses to make its own endocannabinoids)
- By supplementing your own endocannabinoid levels with plant-sourced endocannabinoid mimickers called phytocannabinoids (from cannabis) and/or cannabimimetics (from other plants).
Want to cover all your bases? Try the one-two punch of Emerald’s recently released Endo Omega + their brand new Endo Immune, which combines their cannabis-free broad-spectrum blend of ECS-loving botanicals called PhytoCann Complex with therapeutic dosages of traditional immunity enhancing ingredients astragalus, luteolin and citrus sinensis (rich in immunity-supporting compounds like beta-glucan and flavonoids).
Seasonal pro tip: three of the most potent botanical ECS activators are found in clove, ginger and black pepper, which are the main ingredients in - wait for it - pumpkin pie spice! So why not chase it all down with a pumpkin spice latte if that’s your jam (but make your own from scratch - the store-bought stuff has too little, if any, of these spices to be effective, and is packed with immunity-compromising sugar). Try blending it with the delicious creamy caramel flavored Endo Omega for the ultimate immunity elixir. Now that’s my kind of “flu shot”!
Stay healthy out there!