I think I am a real germaphobe because I get very conscious when someone sitting next to me starts coughing, especially when they don’t cover their mouth. I’ll let the first one slide but if it happens again, I am apt to leave or hand them a Kleenex. Cover it!
Is it just me or are you that way too? It’s especially irritating if I’m eating, and trapped, like on a plane. Now, I’m not without compassion. Sometimes I have to sneeze or cough too, but I do so consciously, into my elbow or a napkin and certainly looking away from a person eating next to me. Having a lot of training on the immune system I’m very aware of how ‘bugs’ can hide in your system, sometimes for decades if they are protected in biofilms. At this time of year, we need to protect ourselves and others who might have compromised immune function. So whether you have a cold or influenza bug, you’ll still have to do similar things to protect yourself.
And now for some of the things I stash in my purse…
1. Oil of oregano is a super strong germ fighter, just like garlic but don’t take that as an excuse to order Domino’s. We all know about garlic, so let’s focus on the essential oil of oregano which is sold at health food stores and online in a little dropper bottle. Pour one or two drops in your own ‘medicinal herb tea’ (wink) and then drink it. It will not taste pleasant. You will probably curse me. But it’s going to help you.
Squeeze some lemon and honey into it. The key ingredients in oregano are carvacarol and thymol, both of which inhibit the growth of hundreds of microorganisms. This is a very strong antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal herb. In terms of antioxidant power, which you want when you are sick, oregano is about 42 times stronger than apples! A pizza a day keeps the doctor away? (Nah, c’mon ya’ll, I’m kidding around now!)
2. Probiotics should be taken daily for proper immunity but when you feel symptoms coming on, then of course I feel like you should at least double up on the dose. I am not afraid of taking probiotics throughout the day, I’m more afraid of feeling miserable and sick. High-quality probiotics will improve the quality and count of your healthy disease-fighting bacteria. Some strains will even induce IL-10-producing regulatory T cells which is a scientific way of saying they reduce inflammation, and can help immune function as well as inflammatory disorders of the gut like painful Crohn’s. Whenever tempted, silently say to yourself “Less pasta, more probiotics, I got this!”
The probiotic brand I recommend and represent is Dr. Ohhira’s.
To learn about postbiotics read this article by my good friend Dr. Ross Pelton.
3. FluNada – This is a natural over-the-counter spray that I squirt into my throat, and sometimes my nose. You can (and should) spray this product into your throat and/or nose because those are the entry points for germs. That’s how they get into you. Flunada contains a homeopathic blend of wintergreen, eucalyptus and elderberry essential oils. FluNada is sold at Walgreens if you need it right now, and if you’re feeling like you’re coming down with something, NOW is the time. This product was tested by 2 independent labs and found to be 99.9% effective against multiple cold and flu strains, including Swine, Bird and Seasonal flu. Flunada provides non-drowsy relief from multiple symptoms, including runny or blocked nose, sore throat, cough, and body aches and pains. Elderberry is known for its high flavanoid content and antioxidant activity as well as its ability to fortify the body’s natural protective systems.
Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra) is widely considered the most powerful of the elderberry species and known to support immunity. Eucalyptus is a well-known essential oil known for providing relief from sore throat, runny or stuffed nose, and headache. Altogether, Flunada is used as a “spray to stop” certain microorganisms before they stop you!
4. Tea, in the color green! If you keep rummaging around in my purse, you will find teabags of flavored green tea. It is normal for me to ask the waitress at a restaurant to bring me a little cup of hot water “because I have my own medicinal herbs that I’d like to steep.”
Sam affectionately scolded me once saying, “Suzy–Do you realize we live in Colorado? She thinks your little ‘medicinal herbs’ are a special strain of GREEN tea!” Which they are NOT. My tea bags are really green tea, the Chinese kind! The EGCG in green tea was shown in numerous studies including a 2005 Antiviral Research article to have antiviral effects by unraveling the viral membrane.
5. Vitamin D is a strong immune modulator, we always think of it for autoimmune diseases or for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression). But vitamin D can improve intestinal permeability which reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines. D can increase your Natural Killer cells as well as certain infection-fighting T cells. Since we’re all hiding in the shade, it’s easy to realize why America’s so D-deficient. Proper D levels reduces susceptibility to all sorts of infections. And also, D controls the expression of more than 900 genes involved hundreds of bodily functions. 900 genes! Do you realize when you talk about methylation, you are talking about just ONE gene?
Vitamin D regulates 900 different genes, including methylation. Important genes in the vitamin D signaling system, such as those coding for your receptors (termed VDR for vitamin D receptor) and your enzymes 25-hydroxylase (CYP2R1), 1α-hydroxylase (CYP27B1), and 24-hydroxylase (CYP24A1) can be silenced by DNA methylation. Don’t worry too much about all those genes, the point is D is important for methylation as well as supporting health, and auto-immune reactions. There are many high-quality brands of vitamin D at any health food store. If you’d like to explore my line, I’ve created a D supplement that is suspended in non-GMO EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and the softgels are conveniently tiny for having 5,000 IU.
6. Diffuse essential oils. This is so easy you’ll laugh. Diffuse essential oil of eucalyptus in your home each day using a room aromatizer. Yes, that simple, don’t dab it on, put it through your diffuser okay? If the scent is too strong you can either tone it down with some lavender or you can change from eucalyptus and use Thieves instead. Thieves is a powerful combination of Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus Radiata and Rosemary essential oils.
7. Hot lemon water! Here’s another simple remedy intended to move the lymph in your body, which is really your best bet for filtering out toxins. We underestimate our lymph. It’s kind of Unglamorous isn’t it?! Well, do this and your lymph will thank you, and you’ll be more likely to avoid the cold and flu this season. Heat some water and squeeze real lemon into it, just squeeze a little wedge to taste. If you don’t have real lemon, use 1 drop of essential oil of lemon, that’s what I do. Sip it slowly, like a sip every 2 to 3 minutes until it’s gone. Keep repeating throughout the day, there’s no way you’ll overdose. It might give you a little spark of energy. Staying hydrated like this can also reduce frequency of migraines. If you need a teeny bit of honey in your lemon water, I’m fine with that, just keep drinking. This hot “lemon water” stimulates your lymph to clear out toxins. It’s comforting and easy to work into your day.
THE FOUR NO-NO’s
1. In my opinion, taking ZINC at the onset of symptoms may NOT be right. If it’s a cold, you’re probably okay, but if it’s the flu, zinc will fuel symptoms. The influenza virus loves zinc so until you are 100% sure what you are dealing with, I’d avoid zinc. Generally speaking colds are wet and above the head, while influenza is a whole-body affair, causing body aches, pains, high fever, chest problems and more of a feeling like you got hit by a truck! Colds don’t generally make you feel that horrid, and again, they are wet. But in the early hours you may not be able to tell, so I’d avoid zinc until you are sure you do not have the flu.
2. Peppermint tea is another consideration that is iffy. I like it, don’t get me wrong. And also, if you want to increase sweating or break a fever, peppermint would be alright, if not recommended. However, if you have reflux disease (and there is a condition called “silent” reflux too) then peppermint will increase the ‘burn’ so I’d avoid it. Catnip can help break a fever, just FYI.
3. Milk or dairy will increase mucus so I’d avoid those types of foods as well.
4. Sodas, even diet sodas…. Um, no! Seriously, why would you do that to yourself? Your body has to figure out what to do with that, and besides, it’s the kind of thing that ultimately ends up on your lovely thighs. Please just stop. Yes, I’m talking to you. STOP!
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.