Last year’s cold and flu season was no joke for me. It felt like I was sick every other week during the winter. My preschooler would bring home whatever cold or flu bug was going around, and then I would usually get an even worse version of the bug than she did. It didn’t help that I was pregnant with baby No. 2 at the time, and pregnancy actually suppresses your immune system to keep your body from fighting off the baby. So when all was said and done, I swore I was going to come up with an all natural, baby and kid-friendly regimen to get my immune system in shape this season. I tried basically every immune boosting practice I had heard of, and I’m happy to say that this year has been much, much better when it comes to warding off illness in our home. And now that my immune system is back in check, I consulted with Dr. Sara Norris, ND, a naturopathic doctor here in Los Angeles, to weigh in on which of my practices are really worth recommending. Read on to hear exactly what I tried and more about the results…
I’ve heard again and again that good health starts with your gut. So along with adding coconut milk yogurt and other fermented foods to my diet, I started taking a daily probiotic every morning with breakfast. When I asked Dr. Norris about the probiotic, she said that there is nothing wrong with taking this every day, but if you’re looking to cut back on some of the daily expense of supplements you could skip this year-round. She usually recommends probiotics while sick, for one month after any antibiotics, and otherwise daily for two months only in the wintertime as a little booster.
My Immune Boosting Elixer
Every evening, I combine these three or four items in a cup of hot water to make a warm, soothing, immune boosting elixer:
- elderberry syrup
- apple cider vinegar
- Natural Calm (a magnesium supplement to relieve stress and promote good sleep)
- local honey from my farmers market (optional, if you have allergies)
So was it working? When it comes to immune boosting remedies, Dr. Sara Norris, ND says that elderberry is her go-to herb when you’re looking to strengthen your immune system to fight off colds and flus. Since it’s great for raising your body temperature to fight a cold, it usually reduces the length of your illness by 1-3 days. She just warns to be careful because this herb can cause nausea if you consume too much.
Apple cider vinegar is well known to help support digestion, but Dr. Norris says that people often take more than they need to. Only a ½ tsp is needed prior to breakfast, or even better, prior to every meal.
Dr. Norris loves Natural Calm, but if you’re not struggling with constipation she says to consider trying magnesium glycinate instead of the magnesium citrate. The glycinate is better at relaxing your brain and body, and the citrate is better for relaxing all muscles, including your bowels.
I’m no expert when it comes to essential oils and haven’t experimented with mixing or diffusing them myself yet. But I did find the On Guard roller by doTERRA that claims to boost your immune system, so I decided to give it a try. It contains Laurel Leaf, Eucalyptus Leaf, Peppermint Plant, Melaleuca Leaf, Lemon Peel, Cardamom Seed, Ravintsara Leaf, and Ravensara Leaf essential oils (already diluted in a carrier oil and ready to use). I would apply it to the bottoms of my feet at night, and while I’m not totally sure if it’s doing anything, I definitely enjoy the uplifting aroma.
This year I’ve been sick noticeably less than I was last year. The times that I’ve come down with a bug, I’m able to recover from it much more quickly. I had a new baby which means I obviously haven’t been getting as much sleep as I should in an ideal world, but I’ve still been able to fight off infections and stay pretty healthy overall. The same goes for the rest of my family. I’d call my immune boosting regimen a success!
How do you fight off a bad cold or flu?
Share your tips in the comments below.