You probably already know the ins and out of boosting your immunity. But what happens when you just can’t escape cold and flu season? Take comfort in these remedies that can speed the recovery process.
First, the basics. “The average cold runs 5-7 days, but you can get back on your feet more quickly if you take your herbs, get good sleep and drink lots of water,” says Nancy Brillault, herbalist at our Carlsbad, Calif. store. “Watch your food intake as well, since you don’t want your digestive system working overtime when the immune system is really what needs help.” Instead, opt for hydrating drinks and soups and other simple foods that are easy to digest. It’s also a good idea to avoid dairy, she says, since that can boost mucus production.
If you’re prone to colds, Nancy recommends taking maintenance doses of two things during cold and flu season: 1-2 tablets of Source Naturals Wellness Formula (“It’s been around forever for a reason!” she says) and 1 Oil of Oregano capsule (try Pharmaca brand or Gaia Herbs). Together they’ll help minimize your chance for sickness.
Once cold symptoms rear their ugly heads, Nancy recommends getting started on Rainbow Light’s Counter Attack to boost immunity quickly. “But if you already have more serious symptoms, New Chapter’s Sinus Take Care—which really covers the whole respiratory system—can shorten the duration.” She’s also a big fan of WishGarden’s Kick-Ass Immune at the start of symptoms. Just make sure you take it as recommended, she says, 2-3 droppersful every couple hours.
“Infection usually starts in the throat,” says Nancy. “So if you can get the bacteria or virus knocked out in the throat, the sickness won’t be as severe in the rest of the body.” She likes Honey Gardens’ Propolis Throat Spray, which combines raw honey with soothing herbs, or Natura’s Throat and Gland Spray. For someone with very early symptoms of a sore throat, often when the pain is radiating to the ears, she also recommends a homeopathic remedy called Phytolacca Decandra.
For coughing, Nancy often recommends Gaia Herbs’ Respiratory Defense because it combines herbs with essential oils, which can be really healing, she says. “I’ll often recommend inhaling vapors from eucalyptus essential oil, or Pharmaca’s Breathe Clear blend. “Put a drop or two in your bathtub, and as soon as you’re done put the diluted oil on your warm skin.” You can also add it to a foot soak, she says, since things are absorbed really quickly through the feet.
“I also love Planetary Herbals’ Old Indian Wild Cherry Bark Syrup,” says Nancy. “It’s really good for coughs as well as all the cold symptoms.” For homeopathic remedies, Nancy turns to homeopathic Drosera Rotundifolia for dry, non-productive hacking coughs, or Spongia Tosta for more wet, productive coughs.
“If the cough hangs on, or if you’re prone to that chronic coughing, then the Deep Lung by WishGarden is amazing,” Nancy says.
Sniffles and sneezes
Aside from stocking up on tissues—and Weleda Skin Food to soothe chapped skin around the nose—Nancy often recommends WishGarden’s Kick-Ass Sinus to both support immunity and fight respiratory infections. But she also loves homeopathic remedies for these symptoms. “Hydrastis Canadensis is homeopathic and really good for post-nasal drip,” she says. She also recommends homeopathic Kali Bichromicum for when the mucus is really thick.
Aches and chills
“You generally know you have flu pretty quickly when you’ve got these symptoms,” says Nancy. “So you definitely want to take Oscillococcinum right away.” This homeopathic remedy has been shown to reduce the duration of symptoms, and can even be taken half a vial at a time, once in the morning and once at night.
One last word of advice? “Just slow down.” says Nancy. “A lot of people get sick because of stress, so I think sometimes just slowing down a little bit can give your body the rest it needs.”