Cold and Flu plan by a Naturopathic Physician

How to Stave Off Colds, Flus by Dr Celeste Ruland, ND LMT CPT:

Steps You Can Take

When you first feel yourself becoming sick, there are things you can do to avoid becoming ill or to shorten the duration of the illness.  These suggestions are especially helpful if you do them early on – as early as possible – some of them can be done for prevention year round.  They will help you fend off influenza, colds, or minor infections.  Call a physician if your symptoms become severe.  These are some steps you can take to boost your immunity:

Get Rest As Soon As Possible – Many people ignore the early warning signs of illness and keep working until they “drop”.  You will take longer to heal if you allow the illness to get a foothold.  If you feel a sore throat, headache, congestion, etc., coming on, take it easy.  If possible, take a day off from work.  This may prevent you from having to take three days off later on.  Getting at least 8 hours of quality sleep nightly will also help strengthen your immune system.

? Exercise ? It may be hard to keep away from the gym, but it is best if you give yourself rest and avoid fitness facilities where many people are sweating and spreading germs.  It can help others not get sick by not being exposed.  If and when you are no longer contagious, use the rule that if symptoms are “above the neck” you can exercise moderately.  (“below the neck” includes chest congestion, hacking cough, upset stomach, fever, widespread muscle aches).  When you are feeling better, also take your workouts easy for another day or so.  On the other hand, regular exercise helps you immune system, to prevent colds and flus.  

Eat Very Lightly Or Not At All – With most illnesses, the appetite is diminished.  This is a natural response of the body.  Energy is needed to fight off the “bug” and the body doesn’t have the energy to process food.  Give your digestive tract a rest! If you are hungry and eating, chicken soup is so healthy for your soul (and immunity) – BONE BROTH.  Eating mostly organic food, with less chemicals and more vitamins/minerals can help optimize your health and immunity as well.  Colorful fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients, carotenoids, bioflavonoids, and antioxidants which provide your body with proper nutrients and cofactors for immune system and health in general.  

If you follow the rule: “eat the rainbow”, and keep it as organic as possible (refer to for “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen”) you will be eating most of these Phytonutrients.

Another option is to consider Eat Right for your Type to guide your to eating least inflammatory foods for optimal health year long. 

Make sure to avoid sugary drinks, sugary foods and most white foods like bread, sugar, ice cream.

(refer to for more information about foods and their components) 

Drink Plenty of Fluids – This standard advice is good advice.  You can clear the toxins from a “bug” out of your system with large amounts of filtered water and herb teas. Urine should be light straw colored when well hydrated.  Avoid alcohol when not feeling well, and in moderation otherwise. 

Immune tea – honey, lemon, ginger, cayenne pepper. No specific recipe, but each ingredient has its own purpose.  Drinking more fluids in general will be helpful, and drinking room temp/warm fluids is even better.  

Honey – see below

Ginger – see below

Cayenne/Capsacian – heating, speeds up metabolism and body temperature.  Increasing body temperature can help naturally kill bacteria/viruses.  (Fever is body’s natural response to fend off infections, as bacteria/viruses can not survive at an elevated temperature). 

Lemon -Drinking warm lemon water may provide relief from a sore throat or pharyngitis.  A good source of citrus bioflavonoid, vitamin C, and phytonutrients, which help in improving the strength of the immune system.

Take Immunity-Boosting Supplements and Homeopathics 

10% off all:

Vitamin C: Take 500 mg every 3-4 hours with a small amount of food.  Cut back slightly on dosage if your stools become loose.

Vitamin A: Take up to 10,000 IU 3 times daily.  Women who are pregnant should not take high doses of vitamin A as the fetus can be affected.  Stop taking Vitamin A once you feel better. 

Zinc: Take 30-80 mg once daily with small amount of food.  This can be continued for 1-2 weeks without depleting copper stores.  After 2 weeks, 1 mg of copper should be taken for every 15 mg of Zinc.  Foods that contain zinc: Beef, oysters, shellfish, poultry (dark meat), and beans.  My favorite zinc spray is by Quantum therapeutics “Therazinc”

Vitamin D3: a potent immune system modulator. In a large study including 19,000 Americans, it was found that people with the lowest blood vitamin D levels reported having significantly more recent colds or cases of the flu (and covid!)

NAC 600mg 2x daily to reduce mucus and improve liver detoxification (glutathione producer)

Probiotics: It’s believed that up to 80 percent of the body’s immune capacity may reside in the gut – the “mucosal immune system.” It acts as a front-line defense against a wide variety of germs. Medical researchers are finding that one of the keys to good health could be living in our guts – specifically, in the world of microbes that live in our digestive tracts.  Plain yogurt, pickle brine, kombucha, kimchi, kefir, real sauerkraut – are some examples of food with naturally occurring probiotics.  

Oscillococcinum: Homeopathic remedy specifically for influenza symptoms.  Take 6 pellets or 1/3 the vial (not the whole tube) every 3-6 hours at the first onset of flu or cold symptoms.  Take away from food or taste in mouth, as you want the pellets to dissolve under the tongue.

“Genexa Flu fix” or another one on the fullscript link This one has Gelsemium which is the 2020 viral remedy I have found to help with flu + fatigue symptoms. 

Take Immunity-Enhancing Herbs

Echinacea (Purple Cone Flower) – stimulates immune cells (T-cells), also inhibits bacteria and viruses from penetrating healthy cells. anti-inflammatory to respiratory tract to reduce cough and mucus deposition. Make sure you are not allergic. don’t use if taking pain-killers due to liver effects. sometimes causes headaches and stomach aches. 

Hydrastis (Goldenseal, Berberis) – An antibacterial which strengthens the immune system and cleanses the blood. Has anti-bacterial properties

Trifolium (Red Clover) – source of many valuable nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C.

Astragalus Propinquus (Astragalus) – this herb stimulates the immune system and aids in digestion and adrenal gland functions. soothing and healing to respiratory health. 

Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) – assists in Adrenal health, aniti-inflammatory, boosts interferon which fights off viral infections. 

Sambucus Nigra (Elderberry) – Bioflavonoids inhibit colds and viruses from infection cells.  Contains Vit A, C, rutin, quercetin.  this is one of the most effective herbs for preventing and treating upper respiratory infections. edible when picked ripe and cooked.

Propolis – is a form of resin honey bees create by combining tree resin with pollen, nectar and wax.  Antioxidant properties, immune system health, soothing to throat. 

These herbs can be taken as teas (3-5 cups/day), tinctures (30 drops 4x/day), or in freeze-dried capsules (1-2 capsules 4x/day). * combination usually used rather than one single herb.

* These are adult dosages.  Consult your physician regarding dosages for infants and children.  If symptoms do not improve after one week call a physician.

Essential Oils for Immunity

Essential Oils are highly concentrated distilled plant essences.  Many essential oils have anti-viral and immune-modulating properties.  These oils should rarely be used “neat” or undiluted, or ingested.  Stronger more potent effects occur when diffused, applied, inhaled.

Lavender, lemon, marjoram, frankincense, eucalyptus, melaleuca (Tea Tree Oil) and rosemary.

(refer to recipes on “essential oils for immunity”. Some are toxic to pets and potentially dangerous to infants)

Home spices to use for immunity

Allium sativum (Garlic) – is effective against at least 30 types of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. It has anti-inflammatory and astringent properties (also decreases BP, chol, etc)

I love to crush/chop a few cloves of garlic, then cover with honey, and take 1/8 teaspoon (pinky nail sized amount) and swallow (chew if you’re brave and alone) every few hours. can also add a sprinkle of cayenne to help a sore throat.

Zingiber officinale (Ginger) – heating, anti-inflammatory. The mixture of honey and ginger is an excellent expectorant and therefore provides instant relief to people suffering from cough, cold, sore throat, and runny nose. Both ginger and honey have antioxidant properties, thereby increasing the strength of the body’s immune system.

Honey – Honey has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, so it is often used as a natural antiseptic in traditional medicines.  Best when in natural form (not the corn syrup-infused sugary “honey”).

Green tea – Green tea has been used traditionally to build the immune system.  Green tea is rich in polyphenols, plant antioxidants, as well as a number of other chemicals that can help protect the body against cold or flu. The Catechins present in green tea prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching themselves to cell walls, preventing infection

Give Yourself a Home Hydrotherapy Treatment

Hot Foot Bath

Soak feet in hot water while wrapped in a warm wool blanket.  Put a cold cloth on your head and relax while you sit in a comfortable position for 10-15 minutes.  Take care to avoid getting chilled after this treatment.

Throat or Chest Compress

Warm the throat or chest with a warm washcloth or hot shower.  Dry the skin thoroughly and apply a thin cotton wrap (to throat) or thin cotton T-shirt (to chest) that has been soaked in cold water and wrung out so that it is not dripping wet.  Cover this with a wool scarf (throat) or wool sweater (chest).  Go to bed this way.  By morning, the scarf or T-shirt will be dry.  This treatment increases circulation and increases white blood cell activity.

Warming socks

This is a similar treatment to the throat or chest compress.  It will clear mucus from the head, open the nasal passages, stimulate the immune system, and provide a restful nights sleep.  This is can be used for children and adults alike. Begin by thoroughly warming the feet in a shower, tub or footbath. This is essential for a successful treatment.  Soak a pair of cotton socks in cold water, then ring out really well.  Place on the pre-warmed and dry feet.  Place a heavy pair of wool socks over the wet cotton socks and go to bed.  Wool socks should cover cotton socks and then some. The feet will only feel cold for a few minutes, and the socks will be dry by morning.  This can also help you sleep more soundly.  Optional: use chest compress in addition to warming socks at night if you have lung congestion. 

Neti pot

Saline nasal lavage or neti pot are great to use around cold and flu season. Every night or at least when you can. Using a container with warm filtered water and salt to flush the nasal cavity can rid the body of potential germs that would otherwise enter deeper into the body and attack your immune system.  This has been used more so for allergies, but can also be used during cold/flu season acting the same way. 

oh and wash your hands regularly, cough into your elbow, and don’t touch your face, eyes, mouth, nose after coming in contact with someone potentially contagious.