Cold and flu season is upon us again.
Colds, flu, viruses, upper respiratory conditions…I’ve heard it all, seen it all at the clinic, and experienced some of it at home too.
As an integrative functional medicine doctor, I always recommend the natural route first when my patients or family come down with an illness.
After all, our bodies are brilliantly designed to fend off most cold-weather-pathogens when given enough rest, water, and good nutrition.
But I also make good use of my favorite natural remedies to help give the immune system a boost.
I’d imagine you have your favorites too.
Some of the most popular natural immune-boosters include vitamin C, echinacea, raw honey, elderberry syrup, and probiotics.
But, what do you do when your old standbys aren’t working and you just can’t get better?
If your condition isn’t worsening or giving you life-threatening symptoms, then you try out some new immune boosters to help get you over the hump!
Here are my Top Favorite Lesser-Known Immune Boosters to help you finally feel better.
Medicinal Mushrooms for Viruses
Medicinal mushrooms are second-to-none when it comes to boosting the body’s defenses against viruses.
As a young doctor, I was fortunate to study their affects on cancer…which was fascinating and exciting to say the least! And there have been many other studies published to-date on the impact medicinal mushrooms can have on a variety of cancers by aiding the immune system
Research has also shown medicinal mushrooms to be effective against the flu and other viruses
For general immune-boosting, you can use medicinal mushrooms one of two ways:
Buy varieties like shiitakes or oyster mushrooms at the store, cook them up and eat them in a soup. OR try a medicinal mushroom tincture 2-3 times a day until you feel better.
For tinctures, look for those which contain turkey tail, maitake, shiitake, oysters, cordyceps or a combination thereof.
Tinctures can get a little pricey, but you do get what you pay for (in other words, don’t buy the cheapest bottle you can find).
Tulsi (aka: Holy Basil)
Best-known as an herbal tea, tulsi can be a life-saver when it comes to beating sickness.
This ancient Ayurvedic herb is an adaptogen, which means it helps your body adapt to specific stressors.
It’s also been shown to have natural anti-microbial properties, which explains why it can work so well to help ward off a variety of illness.
I find it particularly helpful for colds, and it can help soothe your stomach during and after a bout of stomach flu.
You can enjoy it as a tea (it’s readily available in most supermarkets) or kick it up a notch by taking a more concentrated supplement. Just be sure to look for organic tulsi/holy basil, and take up to 3 droppers full per day for adults.
The tea is also a great preventative for those who wish to minimize their chances of falling ill.
I know this may be counter-intuitive, but often there’s nothing more healing than fresh air, gentle movement, and a bit of sunshine to get you over that hump.
And science backs me up; here are a couple examples of how nature stimulates your immunity:
When we immerse ourselves in the outdoors, it automatically switches our nervous system to rest-and-relax mode instead of fight-or-flight. And when we’re in that resting mode, it allows our bodies to focus on healing.
Further, a variety of studies have shown that time spent in the forest (also known as forest bathing) can help stimulate our natural killer cells.
This is due to that rest-and-relax mode and the natural anti-microbial essential oils found in trees.
Now, there are a couple commonsense rules to follow.
- If you live in a cold climate, for heaven’s sake bundle up! I’m talking down coat, scarf, wool hat, warm socks, boots, and gloves.
- If you have a cough that’s made worse by cold air, stick to opening up a window or just go out for five minutes a couple times a day.
- And, if you’re so sick you can barely get out of bed, at least open a window a couple times a day to let the old germs out and the fresh air in. Then, when you feel up to it, go for a five-minute walk outside.
Try this Ancient Biblical Remedy for Colds, Flu, and Pain…
Boswellia, AKA: “Frankincense” or “Indian Frankincense” is one of the most underappreciated immune-boosting natural remedies out there.
This tree resin can be inhaled as an essential oil, or taken internally as a powdered supplement.
Not only has it been proven effective against colds and flu (especially when inhaled) but it’s been proven to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, which can help with bronchitis and sinusitis and ease the aches and pains that come along with sickness.
If you’re using the essential oil, be sure to buy 100% essential oil from a reputable company. Many essential oils are cut with cheaper oils to increase company profits, so you want to look for an expensive oil in the case of Frankincense.
Final Commonsense Disclaimer:
As always, if you feel your illness has gone on too long, your symptoms are causing unnatural discomfort, or you’re having trouble breathing, or other life-threatening symptoms, do not hesitate to see your primary care doctor.
That’s what integrative and functional medicine is all about, relying on natural remedies as much as possible…and being wise enough to get medical help when you need it.