A guide to living local in New Hampshire

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Boost Your Immune System Naturally

By Stacy Milbouer / Fiddlehead Contributing Editor

If you’re an adult, chances are you’ll have two to three colds this year – children will have even more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And those colds are the main reason kids will miss school and grownups will call in sick to work.

Colds last an average of seven to 10 days and usually come in the winter and spring although they can be contracted any time of year.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t prevent the onslaught or relieve some of the symptoms – first sore throat and runny nose, then coughing, sneezing, headaches and those oh-so-irksome body aches.

Of course, you need to wash your hands with soap and water often, avoid close contact with sick people and refrain from touching your face. There are over-the-counter medicines to treat these symptoms and many people swear by home, holistic and natural remedies.

There’s homemade soup of course, like Chef Marc Bouchard’s recipe for garlic soup on page 34 and so much more available right here in New Hampshire.

Speaking of garlic, whether in soup or any other form, its health properties have never been disputed. Backyard Garlic, “100 percent rooted in New Hampshire,” has made it easy to add garlic to everything.

The Portsmouth-based business’ locally grown garlic is cured, peeled, chopped, dehydrated and packaged in glass grinder-top jars and refill bags. The twist-to-taste grinders, like pepper mills, can stay on the table to season meals, just like salt and pepper, or in the spice cabinet to add to food while cooking.

Cold Bee Gone, made in Nottingham, is a homeopathic remedy that you swab inside your nose to support your body’s fight against cold and flu symptoms, according to the product’s website. It’s a blend of ingredients, essential oils and a honey blend, including raw, active Manuka honey.

Speaking of Manuka honey, A Market, located at 125 Loring St., Manchester, sells four different grades of New Zealand Manuka honey used for medicinal purposes as well as honey for everyday consumption. It has an extensive health department with vitamins, herbs, supplements and essential oils; a trained staff is on hand to help explain the products and their uses.

Its supplement department offers a complete selection of nationally known supplements, vitamins, herbs and essential oils. The store also offers free health education lectures and workshops at its nearby education center on South Willow Street, presented by local health professionals and including a class on how to maintain a healthy immune system. An upcoming class on Jan. 10 at 6:30 p.m. on the “Most Effective Exercises” to support and strengthen the whole body will be taught by local chiropractor Dr. Ernie Caldwell.

When people come into her Nashua store with the beginning of a cold or fear of getting one, Karen Steuer, owner of Tangled Roots Herbal on West Pearl Street, recommends the use of elderberry, long thought of as a natural treatment for respiratory ailments. She said the plant comes in the form of an elixir, which can be placed under the tongue; a tonic mixed with raw apple cider, mushrooms, herbs, honey ginger and cinnamon; and dried elderberries, which can be made into a tea.

Steuer is a true believer.

“When I start to feel sick, I swig elderberry syrup,” she said. “I’m a huge fan. It lessens my symptoms, and I feel it makes my colds go away quicker.”

If you prefer to eat and drink yummy treats to boost your immune system, head out to Laney & Lu Café on Water Street in Exeter. It specializes in plant-raised, gluten-free, paleo, nutrient-dense, sustainable, organic local foods, including “Wellness Elixirs,” like Boost, a bold apple cider vinegar infused with onion, garlic, turmeric, ginger, horseradish, burdock root, cayenne, lemon, rosehip and orange served with maple syrup; and the Alkalize, sweet apple cider vinegar infused with holy basil, lemon balm, calendula, marshmallow leaf, orange, cinnamon and ginger served with lemon balm and rosemary-infused honey.

And what better to pair with an elixir? How about Laney & Lu’s Superfood Donuts, which are gluten-free and contain organic ingredients like cold-pressed coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut flour.

Eating right is a big part of cold prevention. This is the time of year college students are heading back to campus after the holiday break and without the parents around to make sure they’re taking care of themselves.

Carmina Lolley of Medicine World and Holistic Health Center in Nashua has given this a lot of thought. She’s come up with Carmina’s Core 4, custom-designed to keep college kids, or anyone else for that matter, healthy during cold and flu season.

The core four, which she recommends parents include when packing their kids’ duffle bags or sending a care package, include multi-vitamins, probiotics, vitamin D and fish oil.

Lolley, a registered nurse and herbalist, is the first to say that there’s no cure for the common cold; rest and drinking lots of fluids are the smart approaches to healing. She also knows over-the-counter medications (approved by a doctor, of course) can provide some symptom relief. But Lolley believes in boosting the immune system to prevent illness in the first place.

If you do get hit with a bug this winter, the CDC reminds people to practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette: always cough and sneeze into a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose; stay home while you’re sick; and wash hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.