I can honestly say that last winter was one of the hardest seasons I’ve ever lived through. I’ve been through a lot in my life, but nothing could have prepared me for that. It was so bad that our family finally said “enough is enough,” packed our bags and headed south…for good!
Let me back up a bit. For nearly a decade, we were living in a Canadian city that had snow for 9 months out of the year. Temperatures were known to go down as low as -25 degrees C (-40 with the wind chill). Even going out to get groceries was painful with bitter cold that could freeze the tears in your eyes within seconds.
But the worst was the bus stop. We would have to wait at the bus stop for 10-15 minutes twice a day. Kids went out for recess 3 times a day at school. Being healthy wasn’t even an option. Before you could even get over one sickness the next would be starting. It was B-R-U-T-A-L!
We did the best we could with taking extra vitamin C and eating a healthy diet. For the first couple months of winter, it seemed to be working. Other families were dropping like flies, but we hadn’t caught anything yet.
And then it hit.
I don’t even remember who caught it first, but within a week, we were all sick with strep. And we didn’t just get the kind that’s in your throat…we had it everywhere. For 4 long months, we battled strep, passing it back and forth no matter how hard we tried to clean and disinfect.
When we finally got better, I vowed to do everything in my power to never go through that again.
Fast forward an entire year and a 700-mile move south of the border, and we once again find ourselves facing the dreaded cold and flu season. But this time it’s different, and not just because we’re living in a warmer climate.
After surviving months of being sick, I learned everything I could about strengthening our immune systems. I wanted to go beyond the typical recommendations and look for solutions that would actually work. That’s what this post is all about.
I have three kids ages 2-7, and what I’m about to share with you are the natural remedies I’m using to protect them this cold and flu season.
10 Natural Remedies for Immune Boosting
Elderberries have been a tried and true remedy for whatever ails you since antiquity. Even Hippocrates was known to use the berries and flowers of the Sambucus nigra plant for their healing properties.
Elderberries are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that have immune-boosting properties. According to research, these tiny berries may help to prevent and treat colds, influenza, sinusitis, and other types of infections. (1, 2)
Elderberries grow abundantly and many people like to make homemade elderberry syrup to keep on hand for immune boosting year-round. If you don’t have time to make your own syrup, this brand is a great choice. You can also check out this post on how to make DIY elderberry gummies.
I always knew xylitol was a great choice for oral health and preventing cavities in kids, but I recently learned that it has other benefits too. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables. It’s commonly used as an alternative sweetener that is as sweet as sugar but without the unwanted calories.
Xylitol became popular when it was discovered that it can fight Streptococcus mutans—the main type of bacteria that causes cavities. Other research has found that xylitol may have the ability to fight other types of viruses and bacteria, preventing and treating respiratory infections, ear infections, sinusitis, and others. It also acts as a prebiotic in the body, increasing butyrate and stimulating the immune system. (3)
Xylitol is popping up in all sorts of products, but I like to buy it in powdered form to add to baking, tea, or to make homemade lozenges. If you’re looking for some ready-made options, check out these and these.
Detox baths are a great way to remove toxins (like viruses and bacteria causing illness) and give the immune system a boost with powerful minerals. They’re also a great way to relax little ones so they can get some much-needed rest to fight those nasty germs.
Detox baths don’t have to be complicated or use any fancy ingredients. Epsom salts, baking soda, and essential oils are the key ingredients, but you can also use things like bentonite clay and herbal teas. Check this post for 7 cold busting detox bath recipes you can use for kids.
Like many natural remedies, homeopathy isn’t about attacking viruses and bacteria. Instead, the goal of homeopathy is to stimulate the body’s own immune system to defend and heal itself. Homeopathy first became popular in the 1800s when it was successfully used to treat conditions like cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, and scarlet fever.
Influenzinum 9C and Thymuline 9C are two remedies that can be used together to prepare the body for cold and flu season, support the immune system, and help build natural resistance and immunity. Similar to the flu shot, the composition of Influenzinum changes yearly and is based on the 3 most recent strains determined by the World Health Organization. These remedies can be taken as pellets or liquid under the tongue.
If you’re already sick, I recommend Oscillococcinum at the first signs of flu-like symptoms. For babies under 2, the pellets can be dissolved in water and given by mouth.
A healthy immune system begins in the gut. With more and more research coming out from the Human Microbiome Project pointing to the role of gut health in overall health, it’s worth investing in a good probiotic.
We’ve tried many different types over the years, but we’ve never noticed a physical difference until we switched to a spore-based probiotic. Not only is this one shelf-stable (no refrigeration required), but you can even bake it into muffins or cookies for the kids. Use code HOLFAM10 to get 10% off your purchase.
Probiotics can also come from foods! Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, regular or dairy-free yogurt, fermented jam, fermented ketchup, or any other cultured foods are also great dietary sources of probiotics.
Essential oils are like nature’s medicine cabinet. They have so much therapeutic value. We use essential oils daily to keep us healthy and to fight off germs that could make us sick. My kids have grown up using essential oils and even know which ones to ask for when they aren’t feeling well.
Some of my favorite essential oils for cold and flu season are Defender to boost the immune system, Germ Destroyer if anyone starts to show symptoms of illness, and Sniffle Stopper to help with congestion. I also keep singles like Oregano, Tea Tree Oil, and Frankincense on hand at all times!
You can dilute oils with a carrier oil like coconut oil, then rub them onto the bottoms of the feet, chest, bridge of the nose, or behind the neck. We also always have diffusers going throughout the house and in our bedrooms at night. Adding oils to a detox bath is also a great way to enhance the benefits!
Silver has been used since ancient times as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent. Recent studies have discovered that it is effective against aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms. Colloidal silver can be used to help boost the immune system or to treat an infection.
It’s important to look for true colloidal silver and never use it for more than 14 days at a time. You can use it on the skin for cuts and wounds, or place a few drops under the tongue or in a beverage like juice.
Copper is a mineral that we require in our diet to stay healthy. It plays an important role in our immune health and protecting us against certain types of infections. (4) Our white blood cells boost their levels of copper ions when they surround bad bacteria in order to destroy them. When copper levels are low in the body, our chances of becoming sick increase.
Copper is so powerful against invading threats that some hospitals have started to install copper door handles to kill infections upon contact. (5) You can buy copper patches to install on your phone so that every time you touch it you are killing germs on your hands, copper discs to rub over your hands when you can’t wash them, and copper tongue scrapers.
Cod Liver Oil
If you ask your parents, they probably remember being given spoonfuls of cod liver oil growing up to keep them healthy. Cod liver oil is a nutrient-dense oil packed with vitamin D, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids. This oil has been used for centuries to prevent illness thanks to all of the immune-boosting ingredients.
Getting kids to take cod liver oil is the hardest part. There are lots of great brands that flavor the oil to mask the fishy taste, but when all else fails – a little juice usually does the trick for us!
Goldenseal is an herb that’s part of the buttercup family. Goldenseal has been used for hundreds of years to strengthen the immune system, cleanse and detoxify the body, and as a natural antibiotic. It’s often paired with echinacea to create an herbal duo with powerful immune-boosting benefits.
Goldenseal is especially helpful for infections that involve the mucous membranes, which line the digestive tract, urinary tract, and respiratory tract. This herb works by increasing immune fighter cells, reducing inflammation, and helping the body to get rid of waste so it can heal faster.
Getting sick is no fun. Before we had kids, we hardly ever got sick. Maybe you can relate? Once you have kids, everything changes when it comes to health. They touch and lick everything, never wash their hands, and are like little magnets for infections.
It’s important to remember that getting the occasional cold isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually important for children to get sick here and there to train their immune systems to be strong and effective against bigger threats. A cold or two over the course of a year is nothing to be concerned about, but if your family seems to get sick back-to-back all season, your immune systems could probably use a boost.
You don’t have to use all 10 of these remedies at the same time. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Changing up your routine with these remedies is a good thing, and most are intended for short-term use only. What you CAN do consistently is focus on a healthy diet, eliminate allergenic and inflammatory foods, and get plenty of exercise and fresh air daily.
What is your family doing to stay healthy this season? Leave a comment below and let me know!