It’s that time of year when cold and flu bugs are everywhere. So what are the best ways to prepare for—and ease symptoms—during the season? We talked to practitioners across three different specialties to get their takes. (And of course, don’t forget your annual flu shot! They’re available on a walk-in basis at all Pharmaca pharmacy locations; click to find a store near you.)
Glynis C., Homeopath, South Boulder
I always recommend probiotics, fish oil (like New Chapter Wholemega or Ultimate Omega from Nordic Naturals) and a multivitamin. And if you’re a vegetarian, make sure you’re getting enough B12 to keep yourself from getting depleted.
If you’re around people who are ill, it’s a good time to start taking Plantiva ImmuneDx. And I always keep Boiron Oscillococcinum in my pocket—if someone comes into the store with the flu, I take some immediately. It’s a good prophylactic.
Once you do feel ill, I recommend ColdCalm. If you’re sneezing a lot, Natrum muriaticum can be a great add-on. If it seems like the cold is becoming more inflammatory—moving into the chest, causing respiratory problems or creating earache—then Ferrum phosphoricum is a helpful addition. And if the cold came on suddenly, try Aconitum napellus.
Jill C., Naturopathic Doctor, Queen Anne
People are already coming in for immune boosters! I typically recommend astragalus for daily immune support during the season. It also helps with the body’s stress response, so it does double duty. The Pharmaca brand Astragalus is great.
For the beginning stages of a cold, I recommend WishGarden Herbs Kick-Ass Immune, which features a number of herbs that help to nip it in the bud. And when the symptoms won’t seem to quit, I like WishGarden Get Over It. It just seems to help push out illness, especially when it’s hanging out for a week or so.
If people don’t like liquid tinctures, I recommend Source Naturals Wellness Formula. It’s a good catch-all immune booster, even once you start experiencing symptoms. There’s also a preventive dose that can be good for germ-filled situations, like if you’re going on an airplane—you can just take it for a short time while you’re traveling.
Adrienne Leeds, Herbalist, Downtown Boulder
This is a good time of year to get vitamin D levels checked and supplementing if they’re low. As people go back to school and daylight shortens, we make less vitamin D, which is important for immunity.
Zinc is another common nutritional deficiency that’s vital to immunity. We offer zinc lozenges, including ones with echinacea or elderberry, which are good if you’re already experiencing symptoms. Otherwise you can take it as a capsule, at 15-18 mg a day. Just make sure you take it on a full stomach because it can cause stomach sensitivity or nausea.
I also like the medicinal mushrooms in Host Defense Stamets 7—it’s something you can take throughout the season as a booster. And Plantiva ImmuneDx is another good one that can either take on a maintenance dose or bump up if you are exposed to something.
When symptoms do arise, I often recommend a simple echinacea tincture, used every hour or two while you’re in the first stages. Elderberry syrup is especially good if you feel like you’re getting something like the flu. I don’t recommend this is a daily tonic—I prefer to save it and use it for more immediate support.
Finally, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C either through supplementation or C-rich foods like berries, hawthorn, citrus, peppers. And of course, get plenty of rest!