Winter Colds & Flu: anything natural we can do?

Winter Colds and Flu…..anything natural we can do?
Yes….definitely! Why our physicians are not instructing us all on the immune protective properties of certain herbs like: Echinacea, astragalus, elderberry syrup etc and encouraging us all to drink fresh made organic veggie juices, use miso soup, take fish oil, probiotics, a great multi and Vitamin D….I’ll never know! Well actually I do know. Except for a few docs who have broken from the pack, physicians are not trained in nature’s healing secrets. And when these strategies are not part of one’s tool box ……well, you know what they say: “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” If all you have to use is pharmaceuticals and vaccines, then every infection and condition looks like something they should prescribe a drug or give a vaccine for.
I think there is a better way to keep ourselves and our kids healthy. For 32 years I’ve been adhering to most of these principles (not completely of course, remember I’m not a saint). Because I was lucky enough to have a naturally oriented pediatrician and learn a few simple strategies from people much smarter and wiser than me when my kids were young, there was very little need for antibiotics, or any other prescriptive meds during their formative years. Now, they are really healthy adults. In my son’s case, he and his incredibly knowledgeable wife Jen are applying these same natural techniques with their own two healthy little girls with great success So, what I’m saying here is, these suggestions are tried and true!
As far as staying in optimal health, everyone is different; and each of us may require different types of diets and or levels of nutrients. But there are certain general health rules that everyone can benefit from and that is what I’d like to focus on in this post.
Let’s start with Sugar: Did you know that a serving of sugar that exceeds 4gms (a little over a teaspoon) causes our immune system to function less effectively. So it makes sense then to cut way back on sugar when the goal is to keep your immune system strong (think Christmas cookies!) Look for those not so obvious sources too like juices (typically loaded with sugar sometimes 30-50gms per serving), ketchup is 33% sugar, some granolas can have 45 gms of sugar per serving. Don’t be fooled because the package says it’s a health food . Read the sugar content on the label first. If you are going to have something with sugar in it, try not to exceed 4gms of sugar per serving. Still not convinced, check this out: Sugar and Immunity William Stoll, M.D.
Vegetables and Fruit: To get enough fiber (which helps to clean out toxins in our colon) and antioxidants (nutrients that prevent free radical damage), it’s recommended we eat 4 ½ cups of veggies and fruit per day. That’s not always easy even if we have a big salad with lunch or dinner. Solution?….., get out the juicer and juice some of those veggies and fruit. Yes, it’s a pain to clean, but there is no better source of nutrition then a fresh made batch of organic vegetable juice. You might be thinking let me grab a V8…same thing right? Not really, although there is some nutrition left in those cans, even the nutrient content of fresh made juices begins to decline within 20 minutes after making it, so you can imagine how little is left in the canned juices that have been sitting on the shelves for months. Organic carrot/apple is a great combination to get you started because it tastes great. From there, you can add more greens like watercress, parsley, beet greens, celery….for kids: get bolder as they get older!
Why should I choose organic? It’s not just the fact that certified organic produce and grains are free of pesticides (although since the EPA tells us 2 billion pounds of chemicals are sprayed on our crops each year, that is probably a good enough reason). But also they taste better because the soil they grow in is rich in mineral content (not depleted of nutrients like food grown on large farms that do not rotate crops and use the same depleted soil season after season). If you are not convinced that organic is worth the extra money, the best study showing the difference is the 2007 study QualityLowInputFood Project

There’s so much more to tell you!

For the full article, go to my website Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet.
and read all my suggestions for avoiding winter colds and flus (way too long a list for a blog I’m told)

Maureen H. McDonnell, RN

I am a registered nurse with a strong interest in helping to reverse the escalating number of children affected by chronic illnesses. After coordinating the Defeat Autism Now! Conferences for 10 years, I joined forces with Jill Urwick to form Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet. This website and our conferences focus on the role nutrition and toxins in the environment are playing in Autism, ADHD, childhood cancers, etc. More importantly, our goal is to offer solution-based information that is both practical and affordable.

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6 thoughts on “Winter Colds & Flu: anything natural we can do?”

  1. Hi Maureen,
    These are all such great ideas. I'll include a few more that I learned from Dr. Pavelsky when he spoke at school last year. When your child is sick, keep everything low key…lights, noise, family activity. Rest more, do less, eat less, the body will get better if you give it a chance. He stressed that the child is not a separate entity from the home. Chaos in the home, chaos in the child. For young children, have them rest with mom. Mom's breathing cadence helps the child regulate their own breathing. Another suggestion is to use high quality lavender oil, neat, along a child's spine, especially by C7 and T1 (acupuncture points) and the tops of the earlobes. This improves the body's ability to heal. German chamomile is also beneficial, it works on more of an emotional level than the lavender oil. He also stressed a warm bath, the same temperature as the child if the child is running a fever. This allows the body to sweat. As you mentioned, epsom salts are great but you could also use baking soda. He suggested turning off the lights, lighting a candle. Encourage the child to have bowel movements, not with a laxative but by having the child on his/her back, take knees to the chest and massage the belly clockwise. Hydration is critical, no juice, just water or tea. Hope this helps parents!

  2. Oops, a clarification on the above post. It was specifically fruit juices that Dr. Pavelsky mentioned should not be given while a child was sick precisely as you mentioned in your post…too much sugar. Nothing at all was said against freshly made veggie juices. Sorry for the confusion!

  3. Thank you for your article, I founda few suggestions in it I hadn't really though of before (specifically, the sugar content in juice, I knew cancer patients should avoid sugar, but I didn't translate that idea into my children's colds). Since you are interested in a more holistic approach when appropriate, I wanted to mention Beta 1,3-D glucan, you may already know about it, but it actually makes your immune response smarter, not just stimulated, and is completely safe to take everyday if it is highly purified. The Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association recently published two studies showing the immunological benefits of various brands of Beta glucan (including cytokine production, and phagocytosis). The articles are available in the PubMed library, or

    Thanks again, I hope the suggestion about Beta glucan benefits you as much as your article helped me. Happy New Year!

  4. So many of these tips were hugely helpful in my own battle with swine flu. A lot of us know the basic flu treatments, but your tips and insight take full-body support and healing to a completely new level. Thanks for posting this – I will come back to these tips for years to come!

  5. Thanks for the feedback on this post. So many smart people out there! Together we can help spread the word that we no longer need to rely on the pharmaceutical/medical model as the single way to treat illness.

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