What do I take to prevent colds/ flus naturally?

11 May 2023 | Herbal medicine, Home herbalism, Immunity, Immunity Kit, Winter wellness

Picture of Olive leaf with raindrop on one leaf. Herbs to boost immune and blog about how to prevent colds and flu and stay well this winter.

There are a lot of herbs and natural remedies you can take to prevent colds/ flu. Let’s learn how to judge what you actually need and what’s going to most effective for you.

To work out what you need – there’s two parts to consider.

Part 1: How to assess your risk and susceptibility

Everyone is different – are you the person who always catches every cold or do you rarely get sick? Do you have overstuffed schedules and are tired and run down? Do you have an issue – relational, financial etc that’s causing a lot of stress? Are you sleeping well? Are you moving every day?

All of these directly impact your immune system function and how effectively your body can mount an immune response. Take a moment to take stock of your overall level of health and lifestyle pillars as one factor in your susceptibility matrix.

And what’s your exposure like? Are you in contact with a wide range of people every day, or work in a place where people are regularly sick?

This all paints a picture of your level of susceptibility.  If your risk level is higher, or you have an intense work period, you might like to draw on more supports. If you know you’re pretty strong and healthy, have great lifestyle foundations, then you might only want to take one herb or supplement…

And know –  it will change over the months that cold and flu season last. So when considering what herbs, supplements,  lifestyle/ self-care habits to incorporate, reflect on your current risk and exposure levels.

Lemon Balm - herbs to support fever. Learn how to prevent colds and flu naturally with herbs

Part 2 – Prevention Strategies – what can I take or do?

When it comes to prevention, there’s a host of strategies and I like to categorise them in 4 ways.

  1. Physical prevention. Our physical body is our first line of defense and there’s lots of simple strategies we can use:
    • Hand washing (not antibacterial, just soap is fine)
    • Nasal oiling (an ayurvedic practice)
    • If you or others are actively sick, maybe don’t go too close, or meet up outside — but not from a place of fear and worry – use common sense and have faith in your immune system
  2. Good foundational lifestyle pillars- immunity is built on good nourishment and having a healthy gut, quality sleep, adequate natural movement, reducing stress, sunlight and enjoying life (there’s more, but you get the picture)
  3. Supplements
    • A, C, E, D NAC and Zinc – just a personal opinion, but unless there’s a specific need, I don’t believe in just supplementing (everyone’s got a different opinion on this, and there def, initely is a case for some supplements – ie. Magnesium or individual health history – so decide what you think and your preferences). Hopefully you’ll get most of these nutrients through nourishing whole foods. At times of greater exposure or susceptibility you may want to take Vit C, NAC and Zinc. If you know you’re more likely to have sub-optimal Vitamin D levels, it’s a good idea to supplement with that or commit to increasing your sun exposure (which can be hard at really southern latitudes).
  4. Herbs
    • Immunomodulator  or immune tonic herbs– build resilience and overall function of the immune system over time. It’s good to be taking these herbs regularly over autumn and winter and they’re often easy to incorporate into your everyday food – taking a simple food as medicine approach (see previous blog for more info)
    • Immune stimulants – good to take when you know you’ve been exposed as they directly increase immune function in a variety of ways. (see this article for examples)

(and I want to mention, there are other strategies –  you can turn to yoga, qi gong, breathwork, bodywork, homeopathics etc but I don’t know specifics on these)

Purple echinacea flowers up close.

This is a long list though. How do you CHOOSE which ones to take, or do you take them all?!

Firstly, without knowing you –  you mostly likely DON’T need to take them all. We can get a bit carried away with supplementing and believing ALL THE THINGS are better than just a few.

We know all of these are effective, so we can trust our remedies and find what works for you and then leave the rest.

To find what works for you, there’s a few things to consider:

  1. What’s your susceptibility today?
  2. What actually helps you to not get sick? Track your experience over time
  3. What are your preferences? ie. do you prefer herbs or supplements, or supplements only when you’re acutely sick?
  4. What fits in your daily rhythm so you actually take it – it might mean you can take capsule Vit C but not powdered, or maybe you prefer powdered reishi to pop in your hot drink
  5. Know that not all herbs and supplements will suit us. I don’t know why, but my body doesn’t like reishi even though it’s a super trendy and an effective immune herb. So just because it works for everyone else doesn’t mean it’ll work for you, and that’s ok, we’ve got so many remedies to choose from.

Hope you find this list helpful and stay well this winter!

If you want to learn to use herbs – I’d love to support you practically –

Check out the DIY Immunity Remedy Kit –you get the herbs and recipes in one handy box!

About the Author

Cat Green

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