Ten Things You Can Do to Prevent Colds And Flu

Photo of Sharol Tilgner
  •  Stay away from sick people - seems simple but needs to be said. If you have to be around them, wear a mask. Consider a mask when out shopping during cold and flu season. They work great.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Use an antiviral herbal spray on phones, door knobs or other devises and instruments that are shared with people at work. Use a lavender spray or another antiviral essential oil spray made for this application.  See directions below on how to make your own antiviral spray.
  • Eat antioxidant rich, organic foods, (lots of colorful fruits and vegetables), which is also a diet rich in Vitamin C, beta-carotene, polyphenols and essential minerals, as they will help your body protect you from viruses.
Lavandula angustifolia Lavender in bloom

Health Tip For Colds & Flu

I like to squeeze 1/4 - 1/2 a fresh lemon (depends on size of lemon) into a large tea cup, add the leftover lemon peel and pulp to the cup (just drop it all in), then add hot water and a tiny bit of honey. I mush up the lemon pulp and peel a bit with the back of a spoon while mixing the honey in. This is a great way to get your vitamin C and other antioxidants. It keeps both colds and flus away and is helpful if you have a sore throat and/or cough. Both lemon and lime help decrease colds and flus as well as reduce mucus.

  • Increase immune system supportive nutrients such as vitamin C with bioflavonoids 500 mg in the AM and PM at minimum. Alternatively, if someone is sick they usually take vitamin C up to bowel tolerance. (This is the amount that causes your stools to become slightly loose.) Once they reach bowel tolerance they lower the dose slightly so they don't have loose stools. Also zinc, about 15-30 mg per day. If taking zinc for more than 3 months you should take copper in a ratio of 8 parts zinc to one part copper. So if taking 15 mg zinc per day you would take 2mg copper also. Last but not least consider vitamin D (sunshine, supplements (needs to be D3-check lab levels to decide on amount to take-see below), cod liver oil) . A multiple B vitamin can be helpful in addition for general cellular energy production.• Getting a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D test is a good idea as many people do not have adequate levels of vitamin D, and often these people find they can prevent flu by enhancing their low vitamin D levels. Research shows that low levels of vitamin D predispose one to getting the flu as well as the common cold. The vast amount of new research has shown we need much more vitamin D than thought previously. People who test low in vitamin D usually need to use D3 supplementation to raise their levels to within normal limits.  One should not take large amounts of Vitamin D without testing  occasionally. Although it is best to work with a professional health care worker, many cities have independent labs that will let you order this test without a physicians order. (When taking vitamin D, make sure you have adequate amounts of K2 and magnesium first. Many people are deficient in magnesium and K2 should be taken with D to avoid calcification.) The D needs magnesium to be able to make it active.


  • Immunomodulating herbs such as Echinacea and Garlic help prevent colds and flu. I use a lot of fresh as well as cooked garlic in my food during flu season. If I am around others who are sick or if I feel I am starting to get sick I take one teaspoon to one tablespoon of Echinacea every few hours for 2-3 days to keep from getting sick. This works well for me. Yes it is a lot of Echinacea, but I find for myself this is what is necessary.
  • Congestion of tissues decreases the ability of your cells to take care of business in that area. Nipping congestion in the bud at the first signs of it can turn around the situation. So, do everything you can to keep from getting congested or attempt to keep it down to a low roar. You can do this with salt water gargles in the throat, nasal washes in the nose (use either a neti pot or snort the salt water from your hand), or saline nasal sprays. Use 1/2 teaspoon of salt in one cup of water, 4 times per day. To reach congestion in the sinuses and lungs you really need to use an herbal inhalation. You will find directions for an herbal inhalation here. If you are using a neti pot for the first time, see directions below for how to use a neti pot.
  • Get as much sleep as possible. This is necessary for your body to stay healthy. It also needs to be quality sleep to allow your body to rest and recuperate.• Homeopathic flu solutions called Dolicoccil  or Occilococcinum are helpful in preventing flus also.

Health Tip For Nasal Congestion

When you need to get rid of nasal congestion short term, using Yarrow tea or tincture can do just the trick. A few drops of tincture under the tongue will start to clear up your nose and decrease the congestion in your tissues quickly. Yarrow can be used safely short term, but should not be used continuously over a long period of time. People use it orally and in the nasal passages. The tincture will irritate the nasal passages, so a tea is best for snorting it or spraying it in the nose.

An Antiviral Spray to Use on Phones

Making the spray: You can make a simple antiviral spray by starting with a water/alcohol base of 40% rubbing alcohol and 60% water or a Base of 20% grain alcohol and 80% water. Once you make your liquid base put the base into a spray bottle. For each 1 oz of  base add 40 drops of lavender essential oil.

Applying the spray: Spray this on items you are sharing with others such as phones. Make sure you don’t spray it on anything you think will be damaged by the essential oil or the alcohol. (I spray this on most things with no problem, but it can damage wood and may damage some fabrics etc. You can test an area first to make sure it will not harm the item.) I usually spray a paper towel or rag with the liquid and then wipe the phone or other item down to ensure I get it everywhere.


How Neti pots are Used

Fill the neti pot with sterilized isotonic water. Lean over the sink and turn your head 45 degrees, so one nostril is above the other. Gently insert the tip of the pot into the upper nostril. Breathe through your mouth and raise the handle so the water enters the upper nostril and then drains from the lower nostril.

When the neti pot is empty, exhale through both nostrils to remove excess solution and mucus. Gently blow your nose.

Repeat with your other nostril.

 Health Tip On Chicken Soup

Yes, chicken soup really is healthy, especially when cooked low and slow for a long time to get all the collagen out of the bones. I add a lot of cilantro, and parsley at the end to give me beta carotene and vitamin C. I also add Garlic at the very end as partially cooking the garlic, keeps it's antimicrobial activity more intact and helps ward off bacteria that can attempt to take advantage of your respiratory tract when you have a viral cold or flu in process. (Pressing a Garlic clove and throwing it into your bowl right before consuming the soup is the best way to gain it's antimicrobial action.) You can also add Ginger or Astraglaus earlier on, making sure it simmers for some time. Be sure to keep the lid on the pot to keep all the great ginger essential oils in the soup. Otherwise they will evaporate into the air.  You can get really creative with adding herbs that support the immune system and/or help with cold and flu symptoms. Just make sure the soup still tastes good. Luckily Astragalus does not change the flavor much and Ginger adds to the flavor. Astragalus is used to prevent colds and flu, and in research with chickens, Astragalus has been shown to decrease the replication of the H9N2 virus. (Had to add that since we are discussing chicken soup. Seems a bit ironic.)

There is also something to be said for comfort food which makes you feel you are being cared for. Comfort food carries a placebo effect,  that is VERY powerful.

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See the additional article called Flu & Herbal Medicine.

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