Most people get an upper respiratory infection at least once per year, and others get them more often. A cold and flu (short for influenza), or otherwise known as an influenza-like illness (ILI), in the great majority of cases, is a self-limiting and self-diagnosable condition whose symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches and fatigue. There are about 200 known viruses that cause ILIs. Which one you pick up is virtually impossible to predict.

Why do some get colds, flus and sinus infections more frequently than others? The answer is usually a sub-optimally functioning immune system. What causes poor immunity? The most common causes are chronic unmanaged stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, toxic exposures (including chemicals and heavy metals such as mercury), imbalanced gut flora, staying up late and not getting enough sleep/rest (this includes not enough vacation time!), in other words, lifestyle choices.

Can we prevent an ILI or other infectious disease? Yes, we can do things that will decrease the likelihood of getting an infection. The best defense against the flu and any ILI is a balanced and healthy immune system. When we are chronically stressed, underslept or eat a poor diet we have a much higher chance of getting sick. Eating a healthy diet low in sugar and high in fruits and veggies, de-stressing on a regular basis, avoiding toxic exposures and detoxing when exposed to germs, getting proper rest and sleep and exercising regularly are basic, yet powerful strategies to prevent all illnesses, including colds and flus.

We also know from research in psychoneuroimmunology that giving to others, connecting to loved ones on deeper levels (including cuddling with pets), experiencing a sense of belonging and constructively expressing emotions all positively impact immunity. And let’s not forget proper hygiene. Washing hands and flushing the toilet with the lid closed will decrease exposure to germs and should be practiced daily. All the aforementioned strategies are foundational and can be applied regardless of other treatments.

Finally, we can take additional measures to prevent an ILI by utilizing natural substances known to benefit healthy immune function. Any combination, and ideally all of the following, can be taken daily starting before and throughout “flu season” to enhance immunity and help prevent an ILI, and infectious disease, in general:

1. Vitamin C: Take between 2000-4000mg, or more, per day (or up to bowel tolerance) in divided doses. A good dosage for most people is 1000mg 3 times per day. During acute illness our body’s need drastically increases and you may require much higher doses up to 15,000mg, or more, daily.

2. Immunoberry tincture – This is a combination of herbs and medicial mushrooms that improves overall immune function plus inhibits viral replication. Generally, 2 droppers 1-2x/day is sufficient for preventive purposes.

3. Garlic: Roast an entire garlic bulb in a garlic roaster and partake 1-2x/week, or add garlic to soups or use in your vegetable sautés.

4. Raw honey/Manuka honey: one teaspoon 1-2x/day. You may take the honey directly or dissolve in water and sip throughout the day.

5. Vitamin D3: Take enough to maintain your 25(OH)D level at 60-90ng/ml. Most people living in the Pacific NW need between 3000-8000IU per day, or more, to bring their 25(OH)D levels up into the optimal range. Pharmacological doses (50,000IU per day and up for a few days) of Vitamin D3 are necessary many times – I highly recommend you do this only with a doctor’s supervision.

6. Vitamin A: Take enough to raise your retinyl palmitate level up to 0.07ng/ml. Typically 10,000IU daily is good starting point. Vitamin A can be taken in pharmacological doses as well, and the same caveat applies as with vitamin D.

7. Zinc: Take 25-75mg per day depending on gender, age, health status, etc.

8. Ther-Biotic Complete: One cap daily. Our gut flora is comprised of trillions of a few hundred different species of bacteria that without which we would not be alive. Our microbiome is a key regulator of our immune system. I recommend eating fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut or kim chi on a regular basis, and supplementing on a daily basis.

9. Supreme Protector: This combination of Chinese herbs helps protect us from infections by boosting our defenses. You may also find it gives you a boost of energy.

10. Oscillococcinum: Take 1 ampule at first sign of flu (within first 12 hours). This is a treatment for the flu, and can also be taken as a preventive measure. The dosage for prevention is 1 ampule at the beginning of flu season.

Disclaimer: The information on this page does not constitute medical advice. Any person believing to have an active infection should seek the advice of his/her doctor. The information in this protocol is not a treatment plan and should not be taken in lieu of medical advice.