Home > Natural Health > Life lessons Updated 01 June 2015 Smile your way to better health It’s not only apples that will keep the doctor away: laughter is just as effective! 0 Assess Ask the natural health expert » Learn Natural therapies to try » Quiz Is my vegetarian diet balanced? » Test yourself: How flexible are you? » A quick guide to The Atkins Diet This medicinal plant that only grows in the Western Cape could replace antibiotics one day The thought of your family’s health being compromised as winter approaches is no laughing matter but here’s something that will definitely make you smile: it’s not only apples that will keep the doctor away: laughter is just as effective! So says Integrated Health Practitioner Dr Erika Coertzen who maintains that having a good laugh or sharing a smile is definitely the best medicine when it comes to boosting your immune system, your body’s all-important first line of defense against those winter ailments. What happens, she explains, is that these happy reflexes trigger the production of feel-good hormones such as serotonin which stimulate your immune system, keeping you both virus- and bacteria-fighting fit. “Your immune system plays a vital role in protecting you from both of these pathogens,” she says, “By activating the appropriate response as soon as it detects the presence of foreign organisms. The problem arises when your immune response is compromised by the unnecessary use of antibiotics, cortisone and other chemicals, which unfortunately happens far too often.According to a report by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in America published in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal last year, despite the fact that 90% of respiratory tract infections are due to viruses and only 10% are bacterial in nature, about 60%-73% of patients are prescribed antibiotics. And since antibiotics are ONLY effective for bacterial infections, this has resulted in the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria and "superbugs", both of which are real threats to your health”. That’s why it’s important is to take control, by supporting and stimulating your whole family’s immune systems in order to protect yourselves from chronic, recurring and contagious illnesses such as colds and flu. Having fun and a good giggle together is a great starting point, but there’s also a far more serious side. The flu can be life-threatening so a ‘prevention is better than cure’ policy before the chilly weather sets in should be your primary focus right now. Never underestimate the all-round benefit of exercise- including as an immune system booster: current research shows that up to 90% of moderately active people pick up fewer colds or get felled by flu.And it’s not only apples that do good things for you immune-wise: fresh fruit and veggies- especially those crammed with Vitamin C; lean proteins such as chicken and fish and staying well-hydrated are all great immune boosters too. Other important ways to optimize your immune system include stress reduction and avoiding environmental toxins and chemicals, says Dr Coertzen, together with supplementing with Zinc and Vitamins C and D, while herbal supplements with Echinacea, propolis, olive leaf extract, garlic, licorice, hyssop and astralagus are also helpful. “So are natural remedies such as Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic medicine made by Boiron for the treatment of flu-type symptoms,” she adds.Research has shown that it’s effective for the severity of symptoms as well as shortening their duration. Since Oscillococcinum is stimulant-free, doesn’t cause any drowsiness, is neither habit-forming nor contra-indicated with any prescribed medication, it can be safely used by the whole family, regardless of age, throughout the winter season, either 1 vial weekly or 1 vial every six hours at the first sign of symptoms. Other tried and trusted Boiron remedies that should form part of your winter arsenal are Coryzalia (great for common colds, sinusitis, rhinitis, hay fever, runny noses and nasal congestion); Homeovox (the perfect antidote for symptoms of laryngitis, loss of voice, and hoarseness) and Stodal syrup which works wonders for any type of cough symptoms- both wet and dry. With such big guns at your side, you’ll have plenty to smile about this winter!For more information, please visit Lebron. NEXT ON HEALTH24X My midlife crisis saved my life 41 minutes ago Partner content More: Natural HealthLife lessons advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... From our sponsors Cipla today announced the launch of its innovative inhaler called Synchrobreathe. 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