My Must Haves to Combat Cold and Flu Season

I get asked all the time how I support myself and my family during cold and flu symptoms. Here are the items that I keep stocked in my cabinet throughout the season. Check back often as I will add to this list as I find new tools.

Please keep in mind: The information presented is intended for informational and educational purposes only, and hasn't been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The content is intended to be helpful and informative, but it isn't intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease, nor is it medical advice. One should consult a qualified medical professional before engaging in any dietary and/or lifestyle changes.

  • Propolis Throat Spray – Propolis is a substance bees make by collecting plant and tree resins. It is used to line the hive walls, where it functions as the immune system of the hive by protecting everyone inside from outside germs. It contains over 300 powerful natural compounds renown for helping to support immunity and wellness. Take it daily as a preventative measure throughout the season, take throughout the day at the onset and during a cold or flu. I carry this spray in my purse and take it as needed when I am exposed to a lot of people and germs. It’s great for kids and to take when you travel!

  • Life Extension Zinc Lozenges – Take at the very first sign of a cold!  I learned about these from Dr. Chris Masterjohn. They are the ONLY lozenges in the market that use zinc acetate — by far and away the best form based both on basic science, patient data, and clinical trials.

  • Elderberry Syrup – Ederberry syrup has powerful antibacterial and anti-infectious qualities and is very commonly used to ward off cold and flu. Take it daily throughout cold and flu season, double it up at the onset of sickness. Make your own to save money. The one linked is my favorite

  • Oregano Oil Tablets – Suck on a tablet for as long as you can handle (they can be intense!) at the onset of sickness and feel suck on them throughout.  Especially good for sore throats!

  • Source Naturals Wellness Formula – take at the onset and throughout your sickness. You can even take this daily when you are feeling run down or are travelling for extra support.

  • Vitamin C – Take extra vitamin C at the onset and throughout

  • Umcka Cold Care – drink up to 2- 3 times per day at onset and throughout the time you have the cold

  • Tea – Traditional Medicinals Cold Care, Throat Coat, Elderberry and Breathe Easy are my favorites

  • Four Sigmatic Chaga Mushroom Elixir Chaga is rich in Beta-D Glucans which boost the immune system, helping to support your body’s ability to fight illness.

  • Bone Broth – Make your own or find a high quality brand at the grocery store. Bone broth has multiple nutritional benefits and has been used by many cultures around the world to treat flu, colds, coughs and sinus issues for hundreds of years. Drink a cup a day as a preventative measure, more when you are sick.

  • Essential Oils – Doterra Onguard, Doterra Breathe or their equivalents in other brands are my favorite for immunity and sickness. Citrus oils and conifers (like Douglas Fir or Eucalyptus) are great cleansing oils and will kill germs and help you to breathe. Diffuse in your homes or apply topically with a carrier oil. I personally don’t recommend taking essential oils internally.

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Natural Ways to Boost Immunity

It is definitely cold and flu season.  We just entered fall, and everyone in my house has already had their first cold of the season.  We all know the usual ways to boost immunity – loading up on zinc, echinacea, vitamin C to name just a few.  Our immune systems are complicated though and directly tied into lifestyle factors like stress and sleep given their relationship with our adrenal and digestive systems.  Here are some easy strategies to support your immune function throughout this season both before you are sick and when you have already come down with something.

1. Drink bone broth.  Broths have been used in traditional cuisines around the world for thousands of years. Properly prepared meat broths are extremely nutritious – containing minerals, electrolytes and gut healing gelatin from animal bones, cartilage, marrow and vegetables.  Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, found that the amino acids produced in the making of chicken bone broth reduced inflammation in the respiratory system and improved digestion. Bone broth supports normal immune system function (probably as a link to reduced inflammation in the gut) and reduce symptoms of allergies, asthma, and arthritis. Homemade is your best bet but Kettle and Fire makes an excellent shelf stable bone broth and Bonefide Provisions is distributed nationwide and can be found in the freezer section of some grocery stores.  Let’s face it, we don’t always have the time or the means to make it ourselves.

2. Eat fermented foods. Fermented foods go through a lactofermentation process where natural bacteria feed on sugars in the food, creating lactic acid.  The fermentation helps to preserve while creating beneficial enzymes, vitamins and various probiotic strains.  Probiotics not only introduce beneficial bacteria into your digestive system and help the balance of flora, they are also known to support the immune system by secreting antibacterial peptides capable of killing off harmful bacteria in the gut. They also help strengthen the barrier function of the intestinal lining, lowering the chance of bacteria entering into the blood stream. This function may decrease the chance of infections and immune related reactions, therefore supporting the immune system.  I like to eat my probiotics through eating foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, but a high quality grass fed or non-dairy yogurt can be helpful too, as are fermented drinks such as water kefir and kombucha (watch the sugar content).

3. Minimize refined sugars. According to a 1973 study by Loma Linda University, eating or drinking too much sugar reduces the ability of your white blood cells to kill germs and bacteria (possibly up to 50%) for at least a few hours after you consume it.  White blood cells need vitamin C to destroy bacteria and viruses and sugar impacts this process by competing with vitamin C for space in those cells. The more sugar in your system, the less you will uptake vitamin C into your white blood cells. Consuming sugar inhibits your body’s ability to fight off infection and keeps your immune system from doing its job.  Try to eat mostly natural sugars in the form of fruits, vegetables and properly prepared grains and legumes.  Aim to consume natural sugars such as honey and maple syrup in moderation.

4. Get outside. Not only can getting some sun help to naturally boost your vitamin D levels naturally (which supports the immune system), but physical activity may help to flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways thereby reducing your chances of getting sick. Moderate exercise also causes antibodies and white blood cells to become more active which may allow them to detect illnesses earlier. Some anecdotal evidence shows that the brief rise in body temperature during and after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing and may help fight infection better (similar to how a fever works).  Moderate exercise or activity such as walking, yoga and light movement can be beneficial when you are sick, but listen to your body and do not overdo it. Too much and too extreme exercise could actually cause more harm than good.

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5. Minimize stress. Stress can create physiological stress in our bodies, lowering our immune defenses and making us more vulnerable to illness. Stress is also known to lower our white blood cell’s ability to kill germs which can inhibit your recovery.  When you are feeling under the weather (or even when you are not), aim to get plenty of sleep and try to take some time off from work and other daily stressors. Meditation, yoga or a short walk may help to reduce stress and allow your body to heal faster. This is the time to catch up on your reading or podcast list or to veg out with your favorite Netflix show. I know that this is easier said than done, especially if you have a demanding job or are a parent, but your ability to rest will directly correlate to how quickly you are feeling better and back on your feet.


 Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon