Nature’s Flu Shot

Flu season isn’t over yet and flu activity remains elevated in California. Dr. Lori Arnold, Director of Pharmacy at MCH, created a helpful flyer with tips to naturally boost your immune system to prevent colds and flu and help you find relief if you’re experiencing symptoms. See below or click here to download.

Boost your body’s natural immune system with the follow products:

Oscillococcinum: If started early, this homeopathic remedy is used to prevent and treat the flu. At onset of symptoms, open a tube, pour contents into your mouth and dissolve the tiny pellets until gone. With all homeopathic remedies, it is important not to consume caffeine, menthol, or peppermint for 30 minutes after taking it. Take 1 tube every 6 hours. If you do not feel relief after 3 tubes, it’s probably not going to work. Oscillococcinum’s action is fast and dramatic when it works.

Emergen-C® Packets: Vitamin C supports the immune system on many levels. It counteracts histamines, which cause inflammation and congestion, and is needed for tissue repair. It acts as an antioxidant and is essential to the functioning of the white blood cells that fight disease, at the cellular level. Take 1 packet every 2 hours when you feel a cold or flu coming on, for up to 12 hours. You will know when you’ve reached your body’s maximum limit when you get diarrhea (a side effect of high doses of vitamin C). If this happens, lower your total daily dose by 1-2 packets per day until you feel better.

Vitamin C: If you feel like you are coming down with a cold, you can take 2,000 mg a day of vitamin C, and up to 4,000 mg if you are symptomatic. The esterified C works best for sensitive stomachs. Vitamin C lowers histamine levels, giving you relief from sinus congestion, watery eyes, sniffling and sneezing.

Elderberry Syrup/Sambucol®: European black elderberries have been used to treat/prevent flu, colds and coughs for at least 2,500 years. Even Hippocrates mentioned it in his writings. Studies show patients who took elderberry showed dramatic improvement in symptoms of fever, cough and muscle pain. By day 2, 75% of patients showed significant improvement, with no side effects noted. The dose is 15 mls (=1 Tablespoon) 4 times daily for at least 5 days. For prevention, take 15 mls once daily during cold/flu season. Elderberry capsules can be taken, 1 capsule, once daily, for prevention and immune boosting.

Zinc Lozenges: Zinc, when combined with vitamin C and propolis, helps aid in cold prevention. Zinc has a direct effect on boosting the immune system and may have some antiviral properties as well. The product should contain at least 5 mg of zinc. If taking a single zinc supplement, the dose is 50-100 mg daily to ward off cold and flu.

Vitamin D3: Vitamin D3 is actually a hormone, also referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” which regulates the expression of over 2,000 genes, including those in the immune system. Research shows that low vitamin D levels are linked to increased colds and flu. To treat cold or flu, take 2,000 units vitamin D per kilogram body weight, once a day for 3 days. Vitamin D can be toxic if taken at too high a dose and not monitored. In my practice, most of my clients need 4,000-5,000 units daily. If you keep your vitamin D levels between 60-90, you will be better equipped to fight future infections with the benefit of a super-charged immune system.

Peppermint and Frankincense Essential Oils: Rubbing peppermint and frankincense essential oils to neck and bottoms of feet can naturally support the immune system.

Oregano Oil: Oregano has been found to be a natural bacteria fighter that is similar to antibiotics, with the bonus of also fighting viruses. If taking capsules, the dose is 500 mg, twice daily, not to exceed 10 days of continuous treatment. If using oregano essential oils, apply to the bottom of feet twice daily for 10 days. Again, exceeding 10 days of treatment may “over-rev” your immune system, which can actually cause adverse symptoms.

Selenium: When deficient in this trace mineral, you may be more susceptible to the flu. Taking a daily dose may help the body fight off a virus. The normal daily dose is 50-200 mcg, but if fighting a cold or flu, you can increase the dose up to 800 mcg daily for 3 days. Selenium also fights the herpes virus at the same doses.

NeilMed ® Nasal rinses: Many colds and flus begin with an infection in the sinuses, which then drips down the back of the throat, infects the throat and then moves to the lungs. Allergic irritation and inflammation can contribute to the symptoms. Combat sinus troubles by using a neti pot or nasal irrigator, like NeilMed, to rinse sinuses with a mixture of warm water and sodium chloride/salt. Over a sink, tilt head to one side, insert the tip of the irrigator into the top nostril and gently squeeze or pour water in, allowing it to drain out the other nostril. This should provide immediate relief by clearing the sinus passages.

Vicks VapoRub® or Menthol rub: This is one of my “old school” favorites. If congested, rub Vicks on your chest and back. At bedtime, generously apply Vicks to your neck and cover with a handkerchief, and/or rub all over your feet and cover with socks. The menthol and eucalyptus will infuse into your tissues and give you a cooling sensation, along with relief from congestion.

Ways to Supercharge your Immune System and Prevent Colds and Flu:

  • Get an extra hour of sleep, or go to bed early with a cup of chamomile tea and an uplifting book.

  • Stretching helps your lymphatic system do its job of removing toxins from your body. Be sure to stretch your neck muscles and your torso, and to stretch your arms over your head.

  • Reduce stress in your life through meditation and exercise. Chronic stress depletes your adrenals, which play a vital role in immunity. I like to use a product called, GABA Calm®, made by Source Naturals. Take 1-2 chewable tabs at onset of anxiety, or 2 chewable tabs taken 1 hour prior to bedtime to help achieve productive, restful sleep.

  • Stock up on bioflavonoids. If you feel something coming on, take 1,000 mg of vitamin C and a bioflavonoid such as grapeseed, green tea extract, or quercetin every hour. Quercetin can be taken 500 mg daily, up to twice daily.

  • Drink plenty of clean, filtered water, preferably alkaline, which helps your body detoxify. Drinking adequate water when congested with phlegm will help liquefy the excretions and bring you relief. Strive to consume half your body weight in ounces of water daily (i.e., if you weight 120 lbs, drink a minimum of 60 oz of water daily). Green and black tea are also beneficial as potent immune boosters and high in antioxidants.

  • Eat plenty of fiber to keep your colon rollin’. In addition to plentiful servings of vegetables and fruits, my favorite supplemental product is Benefiber® or an equivalent. Taken daily, it helps keep your bowels regular and assists in the removal of toxins.

  • Add a high quality probiotic daily to help increase beneficial intestinal flora. The friendly bacteria in your intestines are your best weapon against unfriendly bacteria, as over 80% of your immune system lives in your gut. My top choices are Culturelle® or Florastor® taken daily. I also suggest adding 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, preferably Bragg’s® Apple Cider Vinegar, diluted in 8 ounces filtered water with 1 teaspoon Manuka honey, taken 2 times daily. This will help balance body/gut pH, feeding the good bacteria and keeping your body from being too acidic, which promotes disease.

  • Skip candy, soda, cakes and cookies – cut the sugar. Try a piece of fruit or some nuts instead.

  • Keep alcohol consumption low. A glass of wine with dinner is fine. More than that and your liver may be diverted from protecting you from illness. My mother and grandmother believed a rough cough can be suppressed with a good shot of whiskey, blackberry brandy, or spiced rum, mixed in a mug of hot water with some honey. I still use this tonic today when I need to be warmed from my nose to my toes and to help ease lung congestion. Use caution with medical conditions and medications that interact with alcohol.

  • Eat fresh and preferably organic vegetables. Keep your meals light and easy to digest by eating soups and bone broths.

  • Consider any potential intolerance to dairy products, as this may cause an increase in phlegm production, especially when you are sick. Also, look into eliminating wheat/gluten or corn, as chronic food allergies can weaken your immune system.

  • Eat more complex carbohydrates and less white flour, which causes blood sugar spikes and increases constipation.

  • Try shiitake or reishi mushrooms with your veggies, as the Chinese use these to boost immune systems.

  • If you are traveling on a plane, take plenty of vitamin C and other cold and flu preventives for a few days prior to your trip.