Thriving Naturally During Cold and Flu Season
Surrounded by coughing and sniffling people? No need to hide in hibernation mode during cold and flu season—there’s an abundance of natural ways to support your immune system.
Beyond a foundation of healthy habits—washing your hands frequently, getting enough sleep, eating lots of antioxidant-rich veggies, keeping warm and dry (especially the head, neck, and feet)—consider adding a 1000-IU sublingual Vitamin D supplement to your daily routine for prevention. If you like to cook, fortify your soups with astragalus root and mushrooms. Regularly drink nutritious teas like tulsi, nettle, and rooibos. If you’re prone to getting sick, try building up your immune system with a teaspoon of elderberry syrup each day or tablets of Jade Windscreen, a time-honored Chinese herbal formula for allergy and cold season (Dao Labs makes a convenient drinkable powdered version similar to Emergen-C packets).
If despite your best prevention efforts you feel a cold coming on, start treating it right away. Allow yourself to get extra rest if possible. Rather than suppress symptoms, boost your body’s natural ability to fight and expel pathogens with warming spices. Fire cider is a potent combination of herbs in vinegar; just a shot or two can knock out pesky microbes. My favorite go-to delicious immune booster is taking a teaspoon of elderberry syrup every couple of hours as needed; I like to support local herbalists, but the Sambucol brand is readily available in larger pharmacies (and Gaia Herbs makes a nighttime version with extra herbs to promote sleep). Supplement with liposomal Vitamin C, echinacea, or medicinal mushrooms (check out the Mycoshield blends of reishi, lion’s mane, and other powerhouse immune tonics). Drink lots of fluids to thin mucous and flush out your system; Traditional Medicinals makes a great Gypsy Cold Care tea, and Yogi Tea has a soothing Throat Comfort variety.
To further relieve sore throats and coughs, look for syrups with wild cherry bark, slippery elm bark, or loquat (Planetary Herbals makes a Loquat Respiratory Syrup that skillfully combines traditional Chinese and Western herbs for throat and lung support). Keep Ricola cough drops—a classic mix of beneficial Western herbs—or zinc lozenges nearby also. Elecampagne and mullein are two additional herbs that bolster lung function; mullein oil can also be beneficial for ear infections.
Don’t worry if you don’t have fancy supplements on hand—check your kitchen cabinets. Add garlic, ginger, cayenne, green onions, and carrots to chicken broth or miso soup for a nourishing snack. Make a simple tea with ingredients that are common but powerful: ginger, turmeric, black pepper, lemon juice, and raw honey (Manuka is the strongest variety) or sage, orange, and raw honey blend nicely. And easiest of all: Add a half teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water, then gargle with it to help a sore throat.
Remember the power of scent. Place some eucalyptus sprigs (or a couple drops of essential oil) underneath your showerhead and take a fragrant, steamy shower to clear your nasal passages. Rub some mentholated ointments (like Vicks VapoRub) in the center of your chest to help open your breathing. Put a drop or two of essential oil in your palm and inhale deeply, or diffuse it throughout your space; Floracopeia makes a Legends Protection blend with clove, rosemary, lavender, thyme, basil, white sage, and mint essential oils that smells delightful while supporting your body’s defenses.
Stronger antimicrobials to consider when you really need to knock out an infection are oregano oil and colloidal silver—a little goes a long way, so use judiciously.
Seek help too—acupuncturists have many techniques, including cupping and gua sha, to help relieve sinus and chest congestion, coughs, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
Please note that these are general suggestions. Anyone with an autoimmune condition may need to be cautious using immune boosters. If you currently are pregnant, have a serious medical condition, or are taking prescription medications, consult your health care practitioner for what’s best suited for you.
There’s a multitude of natural options—try a few of these ideas to see how you can effectively lessen the severity and duration of colds and flus. Enjoy a vibrantly healthy winter!