Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu-Treatment and Prevention
What are the best natural remedies for treatment and prevention of the dreaded cold and flu? What do you do about a sore throat, body aches and cough. Which remedies are safest for babies and children, and breastfeeding?
- Is there a secret natural cold remedy or cure?
- Should you get the flu shot or are there alternatives?
- Is there anything else you can do to assure not getting sick this season or if you do, how can you get over it quickly?
- Are there natural antibiotics and antivirals I can use?
Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu-Prevention and Treatment
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the change of seasons always increases the chances of falling ill due to “external invasions of wind, heat, cold or dampness”. Cold, windy days and heavy fog are the most typical times to come down with something, as the humidity and wind literally carry the germs and microbes off surfaces and through the air. Drastic temperature changes from and cold to damp to warm again make us especially vulnerable. In TCM, you really do “catch cold” or “catch wind”. The feeling of a sore throat, raspy voice, fever, chills and body stiffness are the initial signs you have been invaded with something. When illness penetrates deeper, you can feel it in the glands, settling into the lungs and down to our very bones. This is the best time to take natural antimicrobials to prevent the illness from taking hold.
Protect Your Immune “Screens” With Natural Cold and Flu Prevention
Your defense system, the immune system, or Wei qi (pronounced way chee) as it is known in TCM, is viewed as a screen. If your screen is torn, it is easier for invaders to enter. The mission of the classic herbal formulas used as natural antibiotics for treating illness is to expel and clear the invasion and fortify your screens, dry up pre-existing mucus and quell inflammation.
In addition, you must support your immunity by being in balance. Unfortunately, when mentally overwhelmed, under chronic stress or in fight or flight, your cortisol increases which suppresses your immune system and increases your chance of getting sick.
Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu
How do you fortify your immune screen and what can you do if you get sick to speed up the process of getting rid of it fast?
Here are a variety of new and different strategies for natural cold and flu prevention you may not have heard of:
- Bundle up-Germs typically enter through the nose and mouth, behind the head and neck and through open pores, according to TCM. So bundle up, especially the area behind your head and neck. Wearing a hat or scarf on a windy, damp or foggy day actually does help. If you are sweating at the gym, be sure to bundle up if you go out into the cold.
- Jade Windscreen-The classic TCM formula to build immunity when you are not actively sick is called Jade defender or Jade Windscreen. It contains the herb astragalus, and other herbs that help to dry dampness and existing mucus. Try Planetary Formulas Jade Screen Formula. It is safe for kids 2 and up and nursing moms, provided they are not sick presently or having to many heat symptoms. If you prefer tablets, try Planetary Formulas Astragalus Extract. Take it before travelling for about 5 days before a trip. Take it for 2 weeks, then take a break and repeat.
- Build your immune system- Eat high vibrational frequency herbs and food and eat right for your blood type. If you don’t know your blood type, it’s easy to find it out. You can ask your doctor or get an easy home testing kit. For all blood types, don’t eat anything white if feeling rundown. Wheat, dairy and sugar are major immune suppressors. Shitake mushrooms, garlic, turmeric and ginger and fresh herbs like dandelion, basil, oregano, parsley and mint can deliver immune supporting nutrients and act as natural antibiotics. Especially if you feel stressed, it can be helpful to eliminate foods that weigh your immunity down or create more dampness, such as cheese or ice cream.
- Disinfect-Get some good antiviral and antibiotic herbs. Have them on hand for that first feeling that you have been exposed to something. The sore throat, sneezing or just being near someone who is sick. Be proactive before it takes hold. Some of my favorites are antibacterial Oregano by Gaia, which has an antimicrobial quality. Oregano oil should be avoided during pregnancy. For antiviral effects, there is the bitter antiviral Andrographis which has been used for centuries for infectious diseases including SARS, herpes and the flu virus. Consult with a herbalist or natural health practitioner as to whether Andrographis is ideal for pregnancy or while nursing.
- Oil up-Get some good quality essential oils and immune blends. Make a point to breathe in their goodness regularly. Gargle with them, make a room and surface spray with them, or diffuse them with a cold diffuser (I love the On Guard line by Doterra.) OnGuard beadlets are my go to if I feel the slightest sore throat or exposure to germs. You can gargle with a very small amount (1 drop) of certain oils, such as lemon, clove, sage mixed with in a bit of salty water. In addition, a room or homemade throat spray can be made with a few drops of an essential oil added to vodka or grain alcohol. Duffusion of OnGuard is safe for pregnant and nursing women.
- Get Homeopathic- Invest in a family homeopathy kit and Oscillicoscillum. This strange sounding remedy is taken at first sign of body aches and chills or once per week preventatively. Backed by a study, pronounced Oss-silly-o kos- ill-um or in short “ossilly-oh” comes in a pack of 10 or more, ideal for dosing the whole family once a week. It is safe for kids as well as during pregnancy, breastfeeding and kids. Cant find it? Try Hylands Flu Care it has the same ingredients plus a few more. Homeopathy offers and a remedy for most common ailments including many symptoms of illness. Aconite is ideal for fever and chills from initial exposure to cold and wind. Mercurius solubilis and vivus for sore throat. Gelsemuim is great for the flu symptoms of nausea and fatigue. Many homeopathic remedies are safe to take during pregnancy and nursing, however please consult your homeopath for specific remedies to avoid. For more info on homeopathy check out my post.
- Release the invasion-Get acupuncture regularly to stay balanced, or get a cupping and Gua sha treatment or learn to do this for your family at the first sign of a cold or illness. Cupping is great for a cough and helping the lungs loosen trapped mucus. It’s also a great treatment for post illness that lingers that you can’t seem to shake. Cupping is great for children and safe on the upper back during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Sweat it out- Take a warm shower or bath as hot you can stand it, or get in a steam room or hot tub and break a sweat. Sweating is one of the oldest natural cold remedies, but adding something new can make it more effective. Make a tea of Elderflower and berries or take Sambucol, a viral immune booster or Sambucol Black Elderberry Gummies. Elderberry is safe for kids, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Want to make your own Elderberry syrup and gummies? Read all about it on The Snap Moms website.
- If you usually reach for Vitamin C, try Lipospheric Vitamin C. It gets into the cells rapidly and delivers a soothing dose quickly, so you can actually feel working to reduce the inflammation. Mix in a smoothie or pineapple juice to soothe a dry cough. If you prefer capsules try Dr. Mercolas Liposhheric Vit C. Safe for kids, pregnancy and breastfeeding moms.
- Up your nutrients-Make sure you have adequate levels of Vitamin C, Zinc, B’s and Vitamin D. Sit in the sun for 15-20 minutes per day to activate Vitamin D. If you want to see your current levels of these vitamins and much more contact me for how you can get a full nutritional evaluation with NutraEval by Genova diagnostics.
Louise Hay, well known author says in her book “Heal your Body”, a cold is “too much going on, mental confusion and small hurts.” Getting sick forces us to take time to slow down and rest.
In summary, there is certainly more than chicken soup for the common cold. Add a few new things to the arsenal so you can put up a good fight and stay prepared to get better faster. If you have a good magic cure-share it with us!
Disclaimer: The advice written here is not intended to replace the care and advice of a health practitioner. Consult your health care team to customize the best results for your body.