Green Ways To Fight Colds & The Flu

Photo: Alita Ong

Every year, without fail, I would get sick at the beginning of September. Kids are back to school; germs are everywhere. It would start as a tickle in my throat, which would quickly become red, swollen, and painful. When I would finally begin to feel better (normally after a round of antibiotics), it would migrate down to my vocal cords and lungs (goodbye, voice). It would take weeks for me to feel better!

But now, I haven’t had a cold, flu, or strep throat in over four years. Even when people around me are sneezing, coughing, vomiting, or blowing their nose I don’t get sick. So, what changed? Well, I discovered what I call my secret magic potion. And anytime I'm around someone who is sick, or when I feel that ominous tickle in my throat, I whip one up for myself.

I have to admit, the taste isn't the greatest, but it really works. It works great to not only prevent colds and flu but will also kick that cold or flu to the curb if you are already sick. It has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties plus immune-boosting ingredients. Let’s take a look at the individual ingredients:

1. Raw honey.

The average American consumes a pound of honey a year. I go through a lot more. It's my sweetener of choice not only because it's super tasty but because it also has many great benefits. It's packed with antioxidants that prevent damage from free radicals in the body, and when sourced from local bees, it can help reduce allergies to pollen. It contains trace minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and easy-to-use carbs for energy. It coats the throat, which provides relief from coughing and sore throat pain. The biggest benefit, though, is its antibacterial and antiviral effects, which is why it is in my go-to recipe for fighting colds, flu, and allergies.

2. Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is a powerful immune booster. It supports the cell-mediated immune response and enhances lymphocyte, antibody, and natural killer cell production. It is a required nutrient in many cellular processes and is also a potent antioxidant. I prefer to use whole food sources of vitamin C like camu camu, freshly squeezed lemon, or acerola berry. If a person is sensitive to any of those, then a buffered ascorbic acid like magnesium ascorbate is a good option.

Processed fruit juices, though high in vitamin C, are full of preservatives. When I started juicing with my masticating juicer, I stopped drinking all juice from the store. When I make juice, it lasts for a maximum of four days, and after that it goes bad. Some juices are stored in vats for years before they make it to the shelf. That’s just sugar to me. If you want to use juice as your vitamin C source, make sure it is fresh, but I prefer organic camu camu powder or freshly squeezed lemon.

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3. Oil of oregano.

The taste alone is a great hint at how powerful this ingredient is. It's anti-everything, fighting parasites, viruses, bacteria, and fungus. It is best used only in the short-term unless directed otherwise by your health care practitioner. Long-term it can irritate the stomach lining and affect good bacteria. When buying oil of oregano, make sure to check the dilution. Getting it at a 1:1 ratio means you will only require three drops—it's potent stuff! Use caution if you have high blood pressure. If you don’t tolerate oil of oregano, you can substitute with olive leaf.

4. Grapefruit seed extract.

Grapefruit seed extract (GFSE) has received a lot of attention for its Candida-fighting properties, but it also has great antibacterial effects. More often than not, a common cold is a simple viral infection that may or may not cause a secondary bacterial infection due to a weakened immune system. I like to add grapefruit seed extract in as a little extra kick to prevent that from happening. Make sure that you source grapefruit seed extract from a reputable company as additives are sometimes hiding inside.

5. Coconut oil.

This medium-chain fatty acid not only provides your cells with energy, but it also helps increase good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol. It's in my secret magic potion because of its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal effects. It also tastes great. Since it's an oil, it won’t dissolve in water, but it will melt when you warm the water. If the oily feeling bothers you in this recipe, you can always add the coconut oil to oatmeal or a smoothie.

Some people don’t tolerate coconut oil. Many people believe that the coconut oil is just causing die-off Candida, and they should push through the symptoms. I learned the hard way that this isn’t always the case. If it causes stomach pain or excess gas that doesn’t go away after a few tries, it is best to avoid. When buying, make sure the coconut oil is organic and cold-pressed.

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6. Biocidin.

Even though this formula comes with a big price tag, it is totally worth it. Biocidin is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial with biofilm-busting properties. It's being studied in treatments for Lyme, has botanicals to help with detoxification and inflammation, and actually tastes good.

7. Herbal tinctures.

I love, love, love herbal tinctures. Echinacea, elderberry, golden seal, and astragalus are great immune boosters on their own but even better in combination.

Here's how to make your own green flu-, cold-, and allergy-fighting remedy: On the stove or in a kettle, warm (but don't boil) 1 cup of filtered water. Add in 1 tablespoon of honey, up to 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, 5 to 10 drops of biocidin, your vitamin C source (¼ freshly squeezed lemon, up to 1 teaspoon camu camu, or ¼ teaspoon magnesium ascorbate), 3 drops of oil of oregano (1:1 dilution), 5 to 10 drops GFSE, and 2 dropperfuls of herbal tincture. Drink a glass of this one to three times per day until you are better and feel like you're no longer fighting the virus. It is OK if you can’t get all these ingredients. Use what you can get your hands on. Each ingredient is powerful on its own, and I always have them on hand. You never know when you are going to feel a cold coming on!

8. Stay hydrated.

In addition to this remedy, it's important to drink six to eight glasses of filtered water each day in a glass container. Plastic bottles contain xenoestrogens, which increase the risk of estrogen-related cancers and contribute to many health issues. Storing water in glass jars is the best option—I like to use Mason jars.

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9. Wash your hands regularly.

You don't need to go crazy with the hand sanitizer or wipes, but washing your hands regularly is a proven way to prevent cold and flu. I keep natural soap in my purse so I don’t have to use the chemical stuff in public washrooms.

10. Cut down on stress.

Emotional, chemical, and physical stress need to be reduced in order to have a truly healthy immune system. They all put a huge burden on your body’s resources and weaken your immune system. Chemical stress includes toxins in your house and personal products, chemicals in food, the chemicals you breathe in, medications, alcohol, inflammatory foods, food additives, pesticides, herbicides, GMO foods, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, medications, drugs, metals, radiation, EMFs, antibiotics, and sleep deprivation—just to name a few. Working to reduce these will not only help you keep the common cold and flu away, but it will help you with any other health issues you may be suffering from.

11. Eat as much whole food as possible.

Clean meat, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, greens, and whole unprocessed grains like oats, quinoa, and rice (if you tolerate them). Limit processed foods—anything that comes in a box and doesn’t go bad is processed. More often than not, mental and emotional stress cannot be avoided, but there are so many techniques to help you cope. Meditation, mindset training, massage, yoga, tai chi, life coaching, and acupuncture are some great options. Make time for yourself each day and your immune system will thank you!

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