I don’t know why this isn’t more common knowledge, but if you want to keep your immune system on top of the ever-present attacks of viruses and bacteria, you need to support it and not inhibit it. And when you feel that viral or bacterial load getting a foothold in your sinuses or throat, don’t wait and hope it clears up. You should put the hurt on the bad guys right away! Here’s how.
Nose and throat irrigation with saltwater🧂💧— gargling and Neti — are easy ways to take the fight to the germs with a little old fashioned home care. If you have a remotely sore throat or congestion, do this morning and night. No, it’s not a guarantee you’ll never get sick — there’s no such thing — but lots of people rarely get a serious cold or flu, and a healthy immune system is why. Good nutrition, sleep, exercise — simply getting them in moderate daily doses — is the only “secret.” It doesn’t take a lot of time or energy either — check out my post on lazy ways to exercise — just do less sitting. 🏋️
Here’s my list of immune boosters and ear-nose-throat (ENT) soothers and cleansers — good in every flu and cold season for prevention and healing.
- Chicken soup 🍲 — from real, healthy, happy, free-ranging, undrugged birds.
- Bone broth 🦴 — an amazing immune system booster. You can make it along with, or as part of your chicken soup, using a whole roasted chicken carcass. Quality beef or pork bones are good too.
- Vitamins — especially C and Emergen-C powder for immune system support.
- Garlic 🧄 — fresh crushed and left in the open air for 15 minutes — has antiviral and antibacterial virtues. Swallow it or add it to butter on toast. You’ll stink and possibly excite your guts, but garlic is one of the best things for staying well. Experiement to find the time, dose, and form that woks best for you.
- Ginseng — an immune booster, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
- Probiotics — either the kind you can get in pills or fermented food, yogurt, or all of the above. There are gut and oral probiotics to support beneficial bacteria all through your gastro-intenstinal tract, from your mouth to gut. Good bacteria crowd out the bad ones.
- Beets — fantastic for gut health, stamina, and detoxing your system. Roast them, or make borscht.
- Echinacea — an anti-inflammatory flu-fighter. Find it in many herbal teas and other forms.
- Zinc — an antibacterial and antiviral taken in tablets sometimes combined with Vitamin C.
- Apple cider vinegar 🍏 — an immune booster and throat cleanser, antimicrobial and antioxidant. Can be harsh to swallow, so dilute or take a quick shot chased with water.
- Chaga (mushroom) 🍄 — an anti-inflammatory immune support and traditional cure-all. It’s a hard shelf mushroom that looks like old wood. You grind it up and make tea with it. Tastes quite good!
- “Dragon’s Blood” 🐉🩸— an antiviral and antidiarrhoeal plant resin taken as an extract, powder, or tablet. A traditional cure-all, it’s supposed to have many beneficial properties. There are several different species with different botanical origins and lineages. Most are from Latin America. Other names: sangre de grado (Peruvian Spanish) or sangre de drago (Ecuadorian Spanish).
- Elderberries — an antioxodant and anti-inflammatory sold in extract or syrup forms.
- Bee Propolis 🐝 — an anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial taken as powder, pills, or extracts.
- Oregano oil — an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial. Just one drop in a drink will do. It’s harsh on the throat and stomach, so dilute it.
- Grapefruit seed extract — an antiviral and antibacterial oil. Very bitter, so dilute heavily.
- Menthol and Tea Tree Oil — soothes and clear your throat of pathogens. I especially like lozenges like Fisherman’s Friend.
*Be careful about making cocktails of several of these items at once that you’re not accustomed to taking. The harsher ones for me (and many most people) are the extracts and oils, so small amounts diluted in a drink and taken with food will generally be the best way to take them.
- Sunlight and exercise — De-stress. Drink plenty of water too. 🌞
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol — at least when you’re feeling low or during cold season. Better if you keep it moderate, or zero, especially the smoking and excessive drinking. 🚬🍷