So you caught the sniffles and you’re not sure what to do. We’ve all been in that boat more times than one, and believe it or not, that’s a good thing. In fact, getting a cold is a good sign that your body actually knows how to fight invaders. Additionally, catching the crud can help your body to expel any built-up toxins that have remained in your system until now. Still though, the cold and flu can be a bit of a pain and put a damper on your normal day to day life. I’ve always been one to study up on exactly what can be done to support the body in defeating a bothersome virus before it has the time to make me say “a-choo”. So I’ve compiled what I do every time I get the cold or flu, along with some additional variations people can use based on their own bio-individuality.
Nutrients: This group of cold and flu fighters is the first step that should be addressed to strengthen your system and ideally as a result get back on your feet and functioning as soon as possible.
One of the most important nutrients in dealing with any illness is zinc. If you haven’t heard already, zinc is a powerful immune booster. It’s a necessary co-factor in almost every enzymatic reaction in the body. This means that it’s bound to have a wide variety of benefits and implications for supporting the body. It’s needed for building and repairing bodily tissue from the skin to the brain. Therefore, it can have an effect on one’s mood as well as acne. Most importantly though, zinc has been found in academic studies to have the potential to shorten the duration of a cold (R).
Vitamin C is a pretty well-known necessary ingredient for immune support. It is important to take a form of vitamin C that is GMO-free and has bioflavonoids. This might be sources like kiwi, camu camu, leafy greens or red bell pepper. The bioflavonoids are a component naturally paired with the ascorbic acid part of the Vitamin C complex and is actually important in preventing scurvy (R). When only the ascorbic acid part of vitamin C was isolated and studied, they actually found that this created its own problems in itself– potentially leading to oxidation in the body, and depletion of the ever important antioxidants in bioflavonoids (R). This did not come as much of a surprise– nature manufacturers everything for us just how it is supposed to be; it’s when humans try meddling with the natural processes that problems ensue. This is the same reason that it’s so important to choose a non-gmo form of Vitamin C if you buy it as a supplement– because often the ascorbic acid comes from GMO corn (which causes the insects that eat it’s organs to explode… no kidding). Another great way to get an adequate dose of vitamin C is by making your own. This is simple– it can be done simply by peeling your favorite organic washed citrus fruit, allowing the peels to dry and grinding them up in a blender to make a fine powder which can then be encapsulated or stirred into smoothies for an extra boost of ascorbic acid and bioflavonoids, just as nature intended. If you want to buy it in supplement form, which is much less cost effective, I’ve had positive experiences with the brand Alive in the past. It gave me great energy and I could definitely notice the effects it can have by feeding your adrenals (a survival gland) what they need to thrive. If you’re short on time and would like to purchase your vitamin C in supplement form, this is the kind that I use called Alive by Nature’s way, it actually comes from the whole-food plant source which means all the necessary bioflavonoids for proper assimilation are nestled right in!**
Another nutrient to have on hand for when a respiratory infection strikes, especially a lower respiratory infection (anything to do with the lungs) is Vitamin A. There are two different forms of Vitamin A, there’s plant form of Vitamin A, otherwise known as beta-carotene, or the Retinol form which can be found in supplements as well as from animal products, fats particularly. The vegetable form of this nutrient, beta- carotene, is more dependent of having certain co-factors for proper absorption, so despite it being water soluble, it’s still important for it to be taken with a healthy fat. For instance, red peppers and carrots cooked in coconut oil are a good way to maximize the benefits. Animal-based food sources include grass-fed, pasture raised butter, egg yolks, and cod liver oil as well as other types of liver. One readily available form might be a grass fed beef liver glandular. I find this much easier to digest personally than cod liver oil. Making recipes like pate is another way to get your liver in.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D, while not technically a vitamin but more of a hormone, is extremely crucial all winter long in most parts of the world and by far one of the most important things to add at the first sign of a cold or flu. This is because when we don’t get enough Vitamin D, we start to miss out on it’s immunomodulating capabilities. Immunomodulation, also known as balancing the immune system (and preventing against auto-immunity, as well as immune system “deficiency” is a property that Vitamins A and D have in common (R). One supplement where you can get both of these in one is cod liver oil. It makes that Vitamin D plays a big part in immune response since there are receptors for it in white blood cells, the skin, heart and the brain as well as in the reproductive organs. Especially important to keep in mind this cold and flu season, is that our first line of defense against cold and flu viruses, known as natural killer cells, or T cells, won’t function the same without enough Vitamin D (R). D deficiency has also been linked to auto-immunity (R). This is why I would recommend it first for a cold as opposed to herbs like echinacea or goldenseal– these have a very specific effect on only one side of the immune system– while they can be helpful for some people, they have the potential to make certain people who already have inflammatory types of auto-immune disease worse. Vitamin D on the other hand, can actually balance the immune system (R), stabilizing the entire body and acting more like the conductor of the symphony compared to simply turning up the one half of the orchestra without any guidance– which is what taking echinacea or golden seal could be likened to.
B complex: This is very helpful for boosting one’s vitality and overall wellbeing, especially in the face of any illness. Many of the over the counter cold and flu remedies include something like caffeine or some other stimulating ingredient (such as the pseudoephedra in sudafed, which is why people use it to make meth). But nature has offered us an alternative that can actually nourish and energize us naturally, making us healthier in the long term as well as supporting our energy levels in the short term. A great source of these B vitamins would be nutritional yeast. Glandular supplements are also a good source of B-vitamins and can also help to clean the blood (R). As you may instinctively realize, clean blood is absolutely essential to optimal health. Conversely, dirty blood is at the root of much disease and ill feelings. This is due to the Cory cycle or the Cachexia (another word for bad habits) cycle– this describes with physics the toxic buildup that most of us have in our systems that result in a variety of illnesses, including cancer. This is the mechanism by which various therapies such as the ketogenic diet, fasting, and veganism can be so helpful. What they all have in common is they reduce a waste product in this cycle known as lactic acid– this also includes acetaldehyde which i the chemical responsible for that awful feeling that comes with hangovers. This process is where the whole ideology of an alkaline diet comes from– it is one of a variety of methods of cleaning up the blood and liver. Thankfully, another great way you can help reduce this toxic buildup and support the body is with B vitamins! This is why Dr. Darren Schmidt recommends using glandulars to help the body function properly, especially in the face of increased carbohydrate intake or chemical pollutants (R), which we are all inundated with on a daily basis. I personally take a liver glandular every day for this very reason, and have found that I feel a lot more resilient since taking it.
Speaking of glandulars, a thymus glandular would also be a great way to support your natural immune system. This is because it has been shown that glandular supplements, when taken can actually go in and assist that same organ that is in the supplement. The thymus gland is the home and manufacturing area for all things immune-system related. Therefore, if you have persistent chronic or acute lung infection for instance, a lung glandular could also be very helpful (R).
Selenium is another great thing to take when you are not feeling well. Selenium has been shown to improve response to infection (R). This makes sense because this mineral helps enhance the body’s production of a substance called glutathione, which is a major modulator of the immune system as well as an antioxidant. Glutathione is famous for “quenching” the free radicals which age us and damage our cells, which cause us to “rust” for lack of a better term. A great source of selenium is brazil nuts. Amazingly, one serving of brazil nuts will meet your entire daily requirement of selenium! Selenium has also been shown to decrease risk of dying from certain types of cancer (R). Selenium is also a necessary mineral for proper thyroid function, especially in combination with the next important mineral for immune system support: Iodine*.
Iodine is a very important natural way to fight against pathogenic microbes. That is why Lugol’s iodine solution is a known application for helping wounds to heal. It can be found in emerggency supply kits for this reason. This was especially popular decades ago when we were more in tune with how things from the earth are there to help us. Today, iodine isn’t used as much or very well known. Most people believe that the fact that it’s in table salt is enough. However, the Japanese are some of the longest living populations in the world and this is often accredited to the very consumption of iodine we are missing here in the U.S. And yes, we began iodizing salt for this purpose, however, this is not the ideal form of iodine, especially considering how refined, toxic, and detrimental to blood pressure levels and the kidneys such a refined and unnatural product table salt is. Instead, I advise getting your salt from the sea, where it originates. Even better, get it from France or the Himalayas for optimal quality assurance (so you may look for Fleur de Sel or Pink Himalayan salt at the store). Good sources of iodine are anything from the sea– dulse seaweed and kelp are excellent sources, as well as seafood. I am always sure t have a kelp on hand to be sure I’m always getting enough. Iodine is critical for metabolism and hormone production as well as brain function. Iodine also helps to combat the chemical pollutants that are thrown at us like fluoride, chlorine, and bromide which which will actually take the place of the iodine in our thyroid if there isn’t enough already in our body. Iodine can also be very helpful for radiation as well as supporting the body’s fight against a variety of ailments that are running rampant in America, from fibroids and cysts to, believe it or not, mental retardation, as well as cancer (R).
Speaking of antimicrobials, the next most important area of supplements to address after ensuring you’ve gotten the nutrients you need, is antimicrobial herbs. From my experience, garlic is absolutely essential in the fight against the cold and flu. It is mother nature’s one-size fits all method of defeating all forms of virulence that may come to disturb us. Garlic helps us to combat everything from parasites, to e-coli, vampires to influenza. There’s basically nothing that garlic won’t help you with. One of the first things I do when I get a runny nose or start feeling under the weather is chop up some organic garlic (and organic is important because they’ve been shipping in bleached conventional garlic from China– not something you’d want to ingest) and let it sit for a few minutes, then make a soup with bone broth. Letting the garlic sit after crushing or chopping it is crucial because that way that it’s active ingredient, Allicin is able to best survive the subsequent cooking process and kick that cold’s butt for you, via antimicrobial action (R). Another way to consume it is to simply chew or swallow a raw clove. Some people like mixing the chopped clove with raw honey for maximum cold- fighting benefits. I like it in soup though because bone broth has it’s own medicinal properties in itself, as the cysteine which is found in chicken protein has been shown to help with inflammation and alter the cytotoxic effects of neutrophils, thinning mucus as well as helping with aches and pains (R). Bone broth also encompasses all of the amino acids which together precurse that helpful and important master antioxidant I mentioned earlier called glutathione. Glutathione has an incredible ability to recycle the other important nutrients that were mentioned earlier, such as vitamin C. This is one reason it’s called the master antioxidant– it’s very unique in that it can actually help lessen the body’s need for other essential nutrients for optimum health. As if that weren’t enough, glutathione has also been shown to help break down mucus (R). So if you are sick with a cold, it is advisable to increase your glutathione. If you are vegan or a vegetarian and can’t drink bone broth you can take turmeric instead (R). I love using it in a recipe called golden milk, for it encompasses all of the necessary co-factors to optimize turmeric’s absorbtion– especially fats. Turmeric’s active phytochemical, curcumin, is anti-inflammatory and has an unending list of protective properties which support the body’s healing and optimal levels of wellbeing any time, not just in the face of an illness. Curcumin is fat soluble and also has enhanced bioavailability when combined with black pepper.
Another herb that helps to ramp up the body’s natural immune defenses in all the right ways is ginger. In the same family as turmeric, ginger is also a rhizome and can easily be grown at home and even indoors! Ginger is a very warming herb and for that reason is great for increasing bowel motility as well as overall digestion, improving assimilation of nutrients and in turn enhancing one’s health and state of being. Ginger tea is beneficial in preventing the body from getting into an overly cooled state which is all too common especially during the winter. Ginger’s warming quality has endless benefits for the body, especially strengthening digestion. This also includes helping the body to fight a cold or flu. Interestingly, viruses are able to survive longer in colder temperatures so it makes sense to want to keep warm with something like fresh ginger tea. Amazingly, our bodies are intelligent enough to know this, when we catch a virus the body naturally develops a fever– increasing temperature, lessening the virus’ life span! Pure brilliance. Ginger tea is a great way to start the day all year round as a preventative and health- enhancing measure in general, since it has this digestion- strengthening and warming aspect to it, it can benefit just about everybody. Most people need some kind of digestive support and the drinking and eating of cold beverages and food can lead to a dampening of the digestive fire. It makes sense that so many are suffering from different manifestations of this problematic behavior when done long-term or for one’s whole life. Adding in daily ginger tea, preferably in the morning, can even help women to lessen the occurrence of cramps and stagnancy issues for women during their menstrual cycles (R). It also helps that ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory so it can be especially helpful and nourishing for body aches or a sore throat.
The big guns– Oil of Oregano: If in doubt, oregano oil good way to know that you’re probably going to kill whatever bug it is that’s ailing you. I’ve seen clinically that this powerful supplement can be effective against a wide variety of microbes and illness- causing pathogens, and that’s pretty amazing. Like garlic, oregano oil has shown to be very effective in fighting viruses and bacteria, as well as parasites and fungi (R),(R),(R). Oregano oil has even shown to be effective against strains of dreaded antibiotic-resistant bacteria (otherwise known as superbugs)(R). Oregano can be powerful though so I’d recommend starting slow with this supplement and seeing what happens. It might be best avoided if you know you have a severe case of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, yeast or parasites (this is more likely to be the case if you get bloated a lot, experience itchy skin, have a hard time sleeping at night, etc.) because it can be so potent at what it does. If this is the case, you may want to discuss it with a licensed practitioner near you first o start with a milder herb that works for parasites like capryllic acid found in coconut oil. The Monolaurin in coconut oil can be very useful but yet still very gentle against all kinds of pathogens as well (R). But this herb has saved the day for me when I was facing some of the most dreadful symptoms, from strep throat to multiple sinus infections– and it took care of all of them for me without any need for prescription antibiotics. This is something I was very happy about so as to avoid the beneficial gut- bacteria annihilating effect that antibiotics have. It is my view that nature always has a more brilliant alternative than any of man’s creations. Oregano is a very “hot” herb though, so I’d take it in an encapsulated form as opposed to the actual oil which is not very palatable.
Immune stimulants like Astragalus and Echinacea can be helpful for ramping up the portion of the immune system that fights colds and flues, this is better known as otherwise known as the TH1 or cell- mediated immunity (R). As stated previously, if you’re thinking about taking these, be sure first that you don’t already have some kind of inflammatory auto-immune condition because if so it could bring further imbalance to the delicate teeter totter that is TH1 versus TH2 immunity (one’s immune system as a whole) (R). Medicinal mushrooms are another TH1 stimulating botanical that may be able to help those of you out there with a well- balanced or TH2 dominant immune system (symptoms like a persistently runny nose or sinusitis, lupus, atopic eczema, dermititis, ulcerative colitis, or cancer) (R).
Elderberry might be a better choice for those without knowledge of auto-immunity, who would still like to give your immune system a boost. While elderberry can increase inflammatory cytokines, it also contains a wide variety of antioxidants which may be why it is not known to be a detriment to one side of the immune system or the other. In other words, these two properties could potentially “balance” each other out . Just be careful if you do have some kind of auto-immune condition though, as I can only tell you for sure that I have used it and had no problem whatsoever despite prior TH1 dominance. For those concerned about auto-immunity, it would be best to find a practitioner near you to evaluate your bio-individual needs properly. I am able to establish with the testing I use, known as kinesiology, so please contact me if you are in the area and need assistance, my e-mail is email@example.com. Elderberry has been shown in various studies to have great results in combating virulences like those you would find during cold and flu season (R). Here is the link to the elderberry syrup I would choose.**
I hope one of these remedies can help you during this cold and flu season, if you have any other remedies that have worked for you or if you try any of these, please share your results in the comments below!
*: Disclaimer- I don’t recommend taking iodine if you have an auto-immune thyroid disorder such as Hashimotos as some research has shown this has the potential to overwhelm an already over-active thyroid.
**Affiliate link: as part of the Amazon associate, LLC. program, when I recommend products I like which I would be recommending anyway, if you decide to purchase the item, I can make a small commission off of it. This has no effect on the product cost to the purchaser. I will only mention products which I have found through years of research and/ or personal experimentation to be most beneficial for one’s health as well as that of the collective.