Preventing Colds and Flu this Winter

admin October 11, 2010


If you’ve seen my other post today, Why You Shouldn’t Get the Flu Shot, then you already (hopefully) know why that isn’t a good option in preventing illness this winter. However, I’m not suggesting that you do nothing. There are many natural ways that you can prevent colds and flu — and also many things you can do just in case you get sick anyway.

There are several things you can do to ward off illness this year.  Here’s a brief summary of what we are doing, all of which will be beneficial to many!

  • Take cod liver oil/keep vitamin D levels up — The reason the winter is flu season isn’t because it’s cold.  It’s because people don’t get enough sunlight, which causes them to be vitamin D deficient, which then causes them to get sick.  Low vitamin D levels are the cause of many illnesses!  Taking cod liver oil will help keep your vitamin D levels up, reducing the likelihood that you’ll get sick.
  • Take elderberry syrup dailyElderberry is awesome stuff.  It has properties in it that make colds and flu very unlikely to take hold in your body.  In one study of people who had contracted the flu, people who took a placebo had flu symptoms that were moderate and lasted 6 days, while people who took elderberry had symptoms that were mild and lasted only 2 days!  I’ll take the elderberry, please.  It’s easy (albeit expensive) to buy, and easy to make.  I’ve made some and we all take some daily.  Just a teaspoon or two is fine, but you can’t overdose.
  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of healthy fat (especially pastured butter and coconut oil) — You need a healthy diet all the time, but especially when illness is circulating and you don’t have access to sunlight.  Pastured butter has some vitamin D in it, as well as K2 and other fat soluble vitamins.  Coconut oil contains the medium chain fatty acid called lauric acid, which is anti-viral and can help keep you from getting sick.  Make sure you watch your sugar consumption, too!  Excellent nutrition in general, though, will boost your immunity!
  • Consume plenty of probiotics — In addition to your “regular” healthy diet, make sure you are getting lots of probiotics!  It will promote healthy gut flora and can help clear out any illnesses that might be trying to take hold in your system.  Ideally you should consume a small amount of probiotic foods with every meal.  We like yogurt and kombucha, but there are lots of options.
  • Vitamin C — Take a bit of extra vitamin C to ward off colds, too.  It fights cold symptoms and taking a fairly large dose will help you stay healthy.  It’s also water soluble, so your body will flush out what it doesn’t need.  Therefore it’s not dangerous to take too much (though it will cause loose stools if you do take too much, so if that happens, back off some.  Experience tells me it’s upwards of 10 grams a day though.  The RDA is only 60 mg, so…you’d have to take a lot to experience anything).  We are taking 3 – 4 grams a day.
  • Get out, get moving — It’s easy to just sit around and be cozy when it’s cold outside.  But getting up and moving around will get things moving in your body and help it clear out the “junk” that is sitting in your cells.  Adults in particular must move around for this to happen!  Exercise also strengthens you and just plain makes you feel better!
  • Get plenty of rest — If you’re exhausted, you’ll be more susceptible to illness.  Try to get rest and sleep so that you’re not overtired, and you’ll be less likely to get sick.
  • Be prepared, just in case! — There’s nothing worse than realizing that, despite your best efforts, a cold is coming on (or worse) and you’re not prepared.  The last thing you want to do at that point is try to remember, shop for, and prepare remedies!  Get your remedies ready in advance so that you’ll know that they’re there in case you need them.

Hopefully, if you’re on top of things, you won’t get sick.  But the truth is, especially if you’re still in your transition from SAD (Standard American Diet) or have recently switched to real food, you probably will get sick at least once.  Your body will still have a lot of “junk” built up, and it takes time to rebuild your immune system.  So just be prepared for this possibility.  The longer that you are on a real food diet and lifestyle, the less often you will get sick, until you simply “never” do.

What should you have in your medicine cabinet, in case you get a cold?

If you feel a cold coming on, take 4 – 5 grams of vitamin C, some zinc (read the directions on your supplement), some echinacea (3 – 4 pills); drink some tea made of lemon and ginger with raw honey (warm, not hot, so you don’t kill the enzymes in the honey); rinse your nose with the neti pot if you’re already congested; take a couple drops of the peach pit brandy; eat some raw garlic (you can add it to a salad, warm bowl of soup, or fresh garlic bread); go to bed!  You may wake up no longer sick. 🙂

If the cold persists, you can continue the tea and supplements, continue the brandy tincture, and take warm baths with lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary oil in them.  You can also mix these oils with coconut oil and rub on your skin to promote breathing and break up congestion (I did this to both my kids last year).

Disclaimer: That is what I would do if I were getting a cold.  I am not a doctor of any kind and I am not offering you medical advice.  If you have questions, please ask a qualified health professional.

Hopefully, you will be healthy this winter!  Here’s to health!

Family Supplement Plan!

Get our complete family supplement plan (which we take, in what doses, and when), along with our NEW preventative elderberry syrup recipe. Not available on the blog!

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  1. I just had a cold two weeks ago, and I have found a few other things that Kate didn't mention that helps. First, if you mince garlic and chop onions and cook them in olive oil on the stove and breathe in the steam, it promotes sinus drainage. Don't ask me how, but my mom ALWAYS did that when we were kids. Just breathe it in and you'll find your sinuses moving around better. Second, take a walk! If it isn't raining outside, go outside and take a walk. You'll feel a bit silly since you'll most likely be having trouble breathing, but as you walk, your body goes into "fight or flight" mode to some extent and your sinuses will force themselves to drain. Besides, if you're outside, even if it's cloudy, there's some sunlight coming through and you'll be able to make a little bit of vitamin D. I found a tea that really made me feel better – it is an herbal tea with dried fruit and flowers in it that really helps. Tea with legitimate dried fruit in it is good because you're getting the vitamins out of those fruits. Look for strawberry, peppermint, even chamomile in a tea and see if it helps!

    I do saline nosewashes, but I don't use the little neti pot. I always thought that paying money for one was silly. What I do is use a teaspoon of salt in a mug of warm water, and block one side of my nose and breathe in the water from the teaspoon. It doesn't feel like you're drowning, I promise, and the amount of gunk that comes out of your nose is amazing. If one side is too stuffed to let you breathe in, clean out the other side. Your sinuses are connected and more than one time I have been doing a nosewash and breathed water into the right side and had it come out of the left side with all sorts of mucus. Trust me!

    Oh, and one other thing – green tea and pomegranate fruit both have antibacterial/fungal/viral properties. I actually had a doctor tell me that you can cure your own strep throat by drinking green tea (hold it in your mouth or even gargle lightly with it at the back of your throat) and either eating pomegranate or drinking 100% pomegranate juice (NO sweetener in it, or any other fruit juices mixed in!). You can mix the two together and have a fruity tea if you want.


  2. I have made elderberry extract by soaking dried elderberries in Everclear for three months. We don't have elderberries in Texas (that I know of) so this is my next best option.

    Here's an outline that I followed.


  3. Great blog! In our office, Tuttle Chiropractic, we know that getting an adjustment boosts the immune system and our patients have found that if they come in while feeling sick they get better quicker because their immune system has been stimulated. We always encourage our patients to get adjusted as much as possible at the first sign of a cold or flu to make sure that their immune system is functioning at 100% and they are able to avoid sickness.


  4. Great, informative post! We, too, believe in chiropractic to boost the immune system. I like your list of herbal remedies. I'd like to try some of these myself.

    Stay healthy this season!



  5. Hello! I am really enjoying getting into your posts. They are really well written and it’s nice to know that there are other mama’s out there that don’t agree with the “norm” of science and doctors :/

    As far as elderberry goes, what exactly is that, and can it be made at home or is it store bought? 🙂 Thank you so much! Loving your blog <3


    • You can buy or home make! I usually buy Sambucus bc the kids like it and it’s easy but it would be way more cost efficient to make it yourself.


  6. Is elderberry juice safe for infants? I have a 10 month old who has chronic colds.


  7. Stumbled to your article through bing and definately worth read. Thanks.


  8. I was trying to find a link to a good zinc supplement, but the two I’ve found on your site lead me to the FCLO (which I’m already taking & love). Is it a good source of zinc/what you intended?



  9. When taking garlic for helping colds, does it have to be raw to get the benefits? or can it be roasted?


  10. […] syrup is awesome stuff.  If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s on my list of Ways to Prevent Colds and Flu this winter.  I simply love it.  (Along with fermented cod liver oil; more on that next week.)  […]


  11. […] course, ideally, we want to prevent illness in the first place, not just try not to spread it.  Is that even […]


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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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