When it comes to cold and flu season, prevention really is the first line of defense. Most people, and especially those with diabetes, really want to avoid any thing that can elevate their blood sugars, which is what any type of illness or stressor will do to the body. However no one wants to be sick, regardless of having diabetes, or not. To keep your body’s defense system (the immune system) in peak condition, follow these immunity-boosting tips to help your body fight off the bugs looking for a host.
In addition, check out some specific herbal products available that can also help boost your immune system, and even help ease your symptoms and support a quick recovery should you succumb to getting sick. Remember, however, if you wait too late to use some of these products, you will miss the window of opportunity to fight off the threat.
Plus, make sure you purchase these products in advance of when you need them.
Remember, that all supplemental/herbal products are not created equal, and purchasing over-the-counter products online or at convenience stores is risky. Read more here.
Cold & Flu Prevention Tips:
Your immune system is at work 24/7! The best approach to supporting immune function is a healthy lifestyle that includes stress management, adequate sleep, exercise, whole foods, nutritional supplementation, and the use of plant-based medicines. On a daily basis, you can take the following steps to help your immune system keep you healthy:
- Wash your hands regularly to help prevent transfer of bacteria.
- Stay clear of people sneezing or coughing. Avoid shaking hands or other close contact with anyone whom you know to be sick.
- Make sure your home and work space are well-ventilated. Even on a cold day, open a window for a few minutes to clear out stale air.
- Follow a consistent sleep/wake schedule so the immune system can repair and recover.
- Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and veggies, which contain antioxidants that help the body neutralize cellular damage.
- Get regular exercise, which will slash your chance of getting sick by 50%.
- Take additional antioxidants, other than from food, e.g. curcumin (tumeric), vitamins A, C, E, zinc and CoQ-10. Your best bet is to have a micronutrient test completed to assess your individual micronutrient status, so you can take supplements that are designed for you specifically, and not just a generic formulation. Understanding your deficiencies and correcting them is worth its weight in gold.
- Use a diffuser with essential oil of eucalyptus to help sterilize the air, killing microorganisms traveling in air droplets.
If you have more threats than usual, such as you are a healthcare worker and always around sick people, or you have small children in school and daycare (or a teacher), or you are stressed more than usual at work or traveling often, your immune system may need a boost with additional ammunition. Check out the recommendations below.
More often than not, over-the-counter cough and cold remedies will NOT lead to a speedier recovery. In fact, many prolong your agony by working against your body’s natural defense- and healing mechanisms. For example, aspirin and Tylenol were shown in one study to suppress the body’s ability to produce antibodies to destroy the cold virus. Of course, this is the exact opposite of what you want.
“Additional” Natural Remedy Immune Boosters to Help Block Colds & Flu:
- Thymucin: This is an immune booster that helps activate killer T cells while boosting energy with an adaptogen. It is a preventive natural medicine strategy to help block colds and flu.
- Vitamin D3, 5,000 IU: Take this daily. Catching colds and flu may actually be a symptom of an underlying vitamin D deficiency. Less than optimal vitamin D levels will significantly impair your immune response and make you far more susceptible to contracting colds, influenza and other respiratory infections. Vitamin D is an amazing anti-microbial agent that kills both bacteria and viruses. Risk for deficiency is even higher in the fall/winter due to less sun exposure.
- Immunotone Plus: If you travel a lot and are in airports and airplanes, than you are at an even higher risk for getting sick. This product will prime the immune system. With astralaglus root extract and mushroom (reishi and maitake) extracts, it activates the natural killer cells to get rid of any invaders before they have a chance to take root.
- L-Lysine: This is an immune supporting agent that is specific to the lining of the sinuses and lungs. If you are on the go and need a boost to your immune system, this can be helpful to load up for 3 days.
If You Think You Have Been Exposed to the Flu & Starting to Have Symptoms:
Even if you have had a flu shot, remember that vaccine makers try to “guess” which strain of influenza (A or B) will be most predominant in circulation. Often they guess wrong, therefore, an arsenal of natural remedies with proven efficacy against the flu should always be on hand.
- Vitamin D3, 25,000 IU: Bump up your vitamin D to this dosage at the first sign of fever or flu-like symptoms (high fever, body aches, respiratory symptoms, cough, congestion, runny nose). Repeat this dose for 3 days.
- Oscillococcinum: This is taken at the first sign of flu-symptoms (whether you have the flu or not). This is a natural remedy that can help temper some of the worst symptoms, including fever and body aches. This has been shown to have activity against both influenza A & B. It comes in an adult and children’s dose.
- Elderberry syrup or extract: This high antioxidant fruit extract has anti-infective properties against the flu virus. It actually prevents it from spreading from cell to cell. In studies that looked at its efficacy against influenza strains A & B, elderberry was found to shorten the duration of the flu from the typical 7 days to 4 days. The prescription medications on the market to treat the flu only shorten it for one day, and there are risks to these synthetic products. Black elderberry is also known for inducing sweating and helps relieve congestion. You can also use the extract form in tea or water. Combined with vitamin D, you have a powerful combination that works better than any prescription remedy.
- NAC: N-acetyl cysteine or NAC is an anti-inflammatory agent. It will help clear any mucus production out of the lungs during times of illness, e.g. colds or flu, and help boost the immune system and fight off infection and inflammation.
- IV Immunity Drip: If you experiencing the beginning signs of sickness or preferably before the fact, as a prevention measure during traveling, holidays, and flu season, consider having an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants at our spa-like infusion center in Conroe, TX.
If you Feel a Cold and/or Sore Throat Developing:
- Oregano Oil: Oregano oil is an anti-inflammatory agent. It will help clear any mucus production out of the lungs during times of illness, e.g. colds or flu, and help boost the immune system and fight off infection. It is also has anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. So, it is an all around great anti-infective. The higher the carvacrol concentration, the more effective it is. Carvacrol is the most active antimicrobial agent in oregano oil. This can be made into a spray using a spray-bottle and mixing with filtered water. You control the strength by the number of drops you add to the spray bottle.
- Clove Oil: Clove Oil has antimicrobial properties. Clove oil helps to numb the throat. This, too, can be made into a spray using a spray-bottle and mixing with filtered water. You control the strength by the number of drops you add to the spray bottle.
- Soothing Throat Spray (Eichinacea and Propolis): This is a great immune booster with propolis and echinacea to relieve sore throat discomfort. It is ready to use right out of the box–no mixing required. Propolis is a bee resin and one of the most broad-spectrum antimicrobials in the world. It is also the riches source of caffeic acid and apigenin, two very important compounds that aid in immune response and even fight cancer. Eichinacea species are perennials that belong to the aster family that is used for treating and preventing the common cold and other respiratory infections, and used orally as an immunostimulant for fighting a variety or other infections.
- Vitamin C: A very potent antioxidant; use a natural form such as acerola, which contains associated micronutrients. Taking several grams every hour until you are better is safe, unless you start developing loose stools.
- Elder flower extract: Rich in vitamin C and a wide range of valuable flavinoids, including anthrocyanins and quercetin, elder flower has been traditionally used as a tonic to boost immunity. It is also widely known to promote lung and bronchial tract health.
- Eichinacea/Goldenseal extract: Goldenseal is another reliable antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory but tastes awful alone, so use it in a tincture such as this one.
- Zinc Lozenges: Helps soothe sore throat while providing the very important antioxidant, zinc. Not for children under 5 years of age
- Throat Shield Lozenges: Helps soothe sore throat.
A Few More Tips:
In addition to the tips above, if you think you are getting sick, listen to your body and:
- Focus on getting rest. That means scale back on your normal activities, including exercise and after school or work activities, address any emotional stressors, which can predispose you to infection and make cold symptoms worse.
- Avoid all sugar, alcohol and dairy products and fruit juices. Sugar is particularly damaging to your immune system—which needs to be ramped up, not suppressed, in order to combat an oncoming infection.
- Stay well hydrated and drink lots of fluids, including Mom’s Chicken Soup. I always keep some frozen bone broth available. Don’t want to make your own bone broth? No problem if you are here in the local area I will share with you my source: The GF Personal Chef makes delicious and healthy “clean” bone broth and even delivers to your door.
- Drink green tea throughout the day to boost immune function. Learn about my favorite source, here.
- Take a probiotic everyday, especially if you are taking an antibiotic for any reason (do not take the probiotic at the same time as the antibiotic). You will need double your usual dose if you are on an antibiotic. Even small children can take probiotics. Processed yogurts are NOT considered adequate. Here’s a recommended probiotic you can get from our virtual dispensary.
- And pamper yourself with a good book or watch your favorite movie. Find something that will make you laugh. Laughter is also a great immune booster!
Enjoy this Homemade Cough Remedy Recipe below:
Homemade Cough Remedy:
Honey can help relieve a sore throat or bothersome cough, but be sure you are using raw honey for optimal health concerns (and never in a child less than one year of age). Lemon also helps promote health by quickly alkalinizing the body, and honey will kill any bacteria. Here is the perfect recipe for a quick cough remedy:
- Place a pint of raw honey in a pan on the stove on VERY low heat (do not boil honey as this changes its medicinal properties).
- Take a whole lemon and boil in some water in a separate pan for 2-3 minutes to both soften the lemon and kill any bacteria that may be on the lemon skin.
- Let the lemon cool enough to handle then cut it in slices and add it to the pint of honey on the stove.
- Let mixture cook on warm heat for about an hour.
- Then strain the lemon from the honey making sure all lemon seeds are removed.
- Let cool, then bottle in a jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator.
- This syrup will keep for 2 months in the refrigerator. To soothe a cough, take ½ teaspoon for a 25 pound child, and 1 teaspoon for a 50 pound child, about 4 times a day, or as often as needed. Adults can take 1 tablespoon doses.