If you have happened upon this page my guess is you are not living the healthy dream [or you want to make absolutely sure you stay healthy]. You are probably exhausted, stuffed, irritable, in pain, your throat is killing you, the toilet may be a close companion, and you are desperate. I'm so sorry if this is you. I've been there too.

Here are some of my tried, and tried again, prevention tips and remedies for those nasty little bugs called "cold" and "flu".


You have probably heard it a million times yet it is still worth repeating: wash your hands...A LOT. Use your elbow to cough and sneeze into, don't touch your face [not your eyes, not your nose, not your mouth] until after you have washed your hands and even then, only if necessary.

Avoid using anti-bacterial soaps and lotions. They may seem like a good idea but ultimately the bad bacteria will mutate and become immune to the chemicals designed to kill them. This will lead to bigger, badder forms of bacteria and render our bodies unprepared to fight them off. That being said, in school season I keep a pump bottle of this hanging on our door and have my kids squeeze a bit on their hands whenever they enter the house.

Get enough sleep. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Sleep, sleep, sleep. There is a reason the days are shorter and nights are longer during cold season. Or maybe it's cold season because we are not paying attention to our body's need for additional sleep during the winter months. Either way, get enough sleep [at least 8 hours a night]. 

Eat organic, local, whole foods and avoid ones that are processed, packaged, contain sugar / preservatives / artificial colors / chemicals, limit alcohol, don't smoke, you know the drill. Skip fast food and make some soup. Learn to love beans. Eat leafy greens and then eat some more. Onions and garlic are your friends - use them often.

Eat raw garlic daily. If you are brave, just chomp on a clove and chase with some water or [my preferred garlic chaser] kombucha or honey. If you can't stand the stuff, finely chop a raw clove or two and add to your food just before eating. Raw is important here. Note: make sure your child is at least 1 - 2 years old prior to giving them honey.

Eat raw honey. Both honey and garlic have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Having a teaspoon to a tablespoon a day [rough, right?] can go a long way in illness prevention. Note: make sure your child is at least 1 - 2 years old prior to giving them any kind of honey.

Make or purchase elderberry syrup made with honey. Add to tea, smoothies and homemade popsicles, use on oatmeal, or simply take a tablespoon or two every day. Check out Rosemary Gladstar's "Medicinal Herbs" for a great elderberry syrup recipe. Note: make sure your child is at least 1 - 2 years old prior to giving them any kind of honey.

Throughout the cold season, cleanse your sinuses using a Neti-Pot on a regular [if not daily] basis. 

Either purchase or make a medicinal mushroom tincture and take a dropperful 1 - 2 times daily. I like Mycoferon by Metagenics.

Take an echinacea extract / tincture or supplement every day throughout the cold season, grind the dried herb and add to smoothies [try this super herb smoothieblend], or drink an echinacea tea.

A humidifier can work wonders during the dry winter months. If your furnace is hooked up to one make sure it is on and working properly. You don't need to use an additional humidifier if your house has one - too much humidity can cause yeast for form in the ear. You can add bacteria fighting, anti-fungal essential oils to the humidifier [eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint, etc.] just do a little research especially if you have an infant. 

Get outdoors. The more you are outside the less likely you are to get sick. Your body is able to adapt to the changes in season more easily if it is accustom to outdoor activity. You are also breathing cleaner air - stagnant indoor are is more likely to host numerous strains of bad bacteria.

Use Thieves OilWinter Blend, or Oil of Oregano essential oils and / or garlic oil [recipe under "adult remedies"] on feet and pulse points prior to heading out of the house.

Take a vitamin D3 supplement daily.

Grapefruit seed extract. It tastes like soap but the stuff works and works well. Take 8 - 10 drops 3 times daily if you feel any symptoms coming on or if you know you will be in a an area packed with germs [school, airport, grocery store, etc.]. Note: Recently I've heard mixed reviews on the efficacy and safety of GSE so please do your research and be an informed consumer!

Take a high quality probiotic daily. Make sure it has Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus acidophilus as the two primary ingredients. It's also important you purchase a product that requires refrigeration.

Drink kombucha, water kefir, coconut kefir, and eat other fermented foods [like fresh, unpasteurized sauerkraut and raw apple cider vinegar]. Fermented foods are full of good bacteria that help ward off viruses. 

Stay hydrated - drink a lot of pure water and then, drink some more.

Drink bone broth daily! Not enough can be said about the health benefits of homemade bone broth. Make sure your bones, no matter what species you choose, come from pasture-raised, grass-fed, organic animals.

Do a detox at every change of seasons [meaning the transition from winter to spring, spring to summer, summer to fall, and fall to winter]. This will help eliminate built up toxins in your body and give you a clean slate going into the next season. Following a detox, work hard to eat foods that are in season, organic, and whole [meaning not processed in any way]. One detox DOES NOT fit all and is not appropriate for all seasons. For example, in the cooler months and raw detox is not appropriate. If you have a predominantly Vata constitution a raw detox may not ever be appropriate. 

Wet a pair of cotton socks with cold water. Crush two cloves of garlic or use a Thieves spray or Thieves essential oil. Rub the spray or oil on the bottom of each foot or hold a clove in the middle of the bottom of each foot and gently pull each sock over the cloves. Adjust the clove is necessary. Next, put on a pair of 100% wool socks over each of the wet socks. It will feel very weird at first but the socks will quickly warm up from your body heat. Crawl into bed and sleep. By the time you wake up the wool socks will have pulled the moisture from the cotton socks as well as the toxins in your body. 

Practice a detoxifying yoga sequence focused on eliminating toxins from the body and boosting immunity. You can find a large selection at YogaGlow.

Daily skin brushing is a good way to sluff of dead skin, improve immunity, and charge up your body.

Make super immunity jell-o and eat daily!


Continue all of the preventative measures listed above as well as:

Increase medicinal mushroom tincture to 2 dropperfuls 3 times daily.

Increase elderberry syrup to 1 tablespoon 3 times daily.

One of the best remedies I know is fire cider. Go here for the recipe [this requires prep a month or so in advance] OR make this [my take on fire cider that can be used immediately]: 

Combine in blender 1/4 - 1/2 c. raw cider vinegar, a pinch - 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 4 one inch pieces of ginger, 4 cloves of garlic, an onion, and horseradish [if you have it on hand]. Put mixture in a quart size or larger mason jar and cover with boiling water. Let steep until water has cooled. Strain and reserve "tea". Add honey to sweeten. Take a shot glass worth or as much as you can stand throughout the day. This won't taste the greatest but people swear by it.

Use garlic oil in your ears [DO NOT USE if you have a perforated ear drum]. To make garlic oil simply peel and slice 2-3 cloves of garlic and place in a pot. Pour in enough extra virgin olive oil to cover an inch or two. Warm over very low heat for 30 minutes or until oil smells strongly of garlic. Strain out garlic and pour into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Allow to cool to body temperature. Using a glass dropper, place a few drops of cooled oil in ear while head is tilted to side. Place cotton ball in ear and keep your head tilted for several minutes to allow the oil to work it's way into your ear. Repeat on other side. I have found that the pressure of the cotton ball on my ear will help to relieve any ear discomfort caused by sinus congestion. 

Drink chamomile + lavender tea with lemon juice, fresh ginger, and honey.

Eat raw or gently cooked foods that are easy to digest. For example, applesauce, bananas, oatmeal and rice, broth-based soups, and lightly cooked or steamed leafy greens.

Give yourself a steam: Boil water. Place boiling water in a large bowl or sink and add 2 - 3 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Place face over bowl or sink [not touching water] and cover your head with a towel. Steam for 20 minutes or as long as needed. Repeat throughout the day as necessary.

Sit in a steam room or sauna if possible.

Take an epsom salt clay bath: Place 2 cups of epsom salt, 1 c. bentonite clay, 1/2 cup of raw apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup of aluminum-free baking soda, and a few drops of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil in tub. Fill with hot water and soak for at least 20 minutes up to an hour.

Use this gargle for a sore throat [it is the best remedy I know!]:
Pour 1/2 c. boiling water over 1 T. dried sage leaves, cover and allow to steep for 30 - 45 minutes. Strain sage. To sage "tea", add 1 - 2 tsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. goldenseal powder [organically cultivated, optional if you don't have in the house], and tiny pinch of cayenne pepper. Stir to dissolve and then add 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar. Gargle [for as long as you can stand] a teaspoon or two every 30 minutes to 1 hour. Recipe from Rosemary Gladstar's "Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health".

Cold / Flu Tea with Phlegm Reducing Herbs

Tea for Stomach Distress, Flu and Heartburn


Continue all of the preventative measures listed above as well as:

Place a piece of raw onion by your child's bed. This will help clear congestion.

If older than 2 years of age, give them a small spoonful of honey a couple times daily. This will help restore immunity, fight the virus, and sooth a sore throat.

Make this Formula for Lung and Chest Congestion from RosemaryGladstar's "Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health". In a glass jar mix 2 T. licorice root + 1 T. cinnamon chips + 1 T. echinacea root + 1 T. elecampane root + 1/4 T. dried ginger pieces. Place 2 - 3 tablespoons of herb mix in a small saucepan and cover with 1 cup of water. Heat slowly and simmer, covered, for 20 - 45 minutes [the longer the better and stronger]. Strain herbs and reserve liquid. Give your child [younger than 2 years old] anywhere from 1/2 - 1 teaspoon, 2 - 4 years old 2 teaspoons, 4 - 7 years old 1 T., and 7 - 11 years old 2 T., 3 - 4 times daily. Store in refrigerator for 2 - 3 days.

Continue breastfeeding or, if your child is on solid foods, give them a very simple diet. Applesauce, banana, oats or a little rice [cooked very well], and broth. 

Keep your child dehydrated with extra water and pure coconut water [to restore electrolytes].

Give your child a epsom salt and vinegar bath: 1/4 c. epsom salt + 1/4 c. bentonite clay + 1/8 cup raw apple cider vinegar + 2 T. baking soda + a drop or two of lavender essential oil. If your child is an infant and in a child tub, reduce ingredient quantity by half to 1/3 depending on size of tub.

Make a simple rub to relieve congestion and respiratory problems: add 2 - 3 drops each tea tree oil + eucalyptus oil to 2 T. of lotion, salve, or coconut oil [you should be able to easily smell the essential oils] and rub on their chest as need.

Use mullein and garlic ear oils. Mullein oil is great for ear infections and garlic oil is good during colds to prevent ear infections and build immunity in the body.  

Again, a room humidifier can work wonders if your furnace isn't hooked up to one. Just remember - too much humidity can cause yeast to form in the ear.


The How To Herb Book by Velma Keith and Monteen Gordon

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