This post was first written in 2018 after the flu shot for the 2017-2018 season was terribly ineffective. This started my path into looking into other ways to prevent and treat colds and flu. In 2017-2018 our family fought several colds and the flu naturally (see post here) and I thought it was important to have my recommendations written down. I’ve added a few supplements to this list and tweaked things since it’s inception. As I will always say, these supplements are as an adjunct to other things we should already be trying to do in our lives like eating a well balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, drinking enough water, getting fresh air, and exercise. I will always say you can’t out supplement a poor lifestyle. I’ve also included some key players in our line up. There are always so many others that can be added along with symptom specific supplements/tools, but I tried to keep this simple for you all! If you have any questions about anything, please let know.
A lot of this arsenal is about supporting the immune system and letting it do its job. I think when we take power over our health and trust that there are things we can do to heal ourselves, it is a remarkable thing. I’ve found many people will choose other options (like quickly turning to antibiotics) because they don’t feel they have a choice. Now don’t get me wrong, antibiotics have their time and place, but oftentimes we can get through an illness without them!
Also, it should be noted that as you start feeling better please remember to take it easy and continue with your regimen (I would recommend continuing this for a week unless I indicate differently) as that is when the secondary infections settle in. Stay home from work and rest! In terms of influenza you can be contagious “1 day before you have any symptoms and can stay contagious for 5 to 7 days after you start feeling sick. Kids may be able to spread the virus for even longer, until all of their symptoms fade.” (3)
The supplements below are the brands we like and use and it’s not to say that these are the best of the best. I know there are many other great brands out there! And, as always with medications and supplements, please check with your healthcare provider to make sure there aren’t any interactions and these recommendations aren’t in the place of medical treatment so please seek out evaluation when needed. Also, if you are pregnant, please check before starting anything as some of these remedies are contraindicated.
If you like to get your supplements from Amazon for convenience please be careful in making sure you are getting it from a reputable source. I personally love getting a lot of my supplements directly from the company or a place like fullscript.com, which is where a lot of our supplements come from. I have a provider account with them so you can easily shop once you set up an account.
Kid’s Daily Vitamins
One question I’ve gotten many times is what do my kids take daily for supplements. Supplements are just that, supplemental. Most of our nutrients should come from our food and environment. I like to think of supplements as filling in gaps that might exist. This is a fairly exhaustive list and I will say that my kids are extremely good at taking supplements. I try to get as much as I can into their daily greens. You will also notice that a lot of the supplements are liquid as this tends to be easier to digest/absorb. If I had to narrow this list down I would keep the Multivitamin, Vitamin C, Minerals, and D3/K2.
- Mary Ruth’s Daily Mulitvitamin or Hiya Multivitamin– fills anything missing that they aren’t getting from their diet
- Nutridyn Fruits and Greens- we get these from our chiro and act as the base for their powder/liquid supplements. There are many fruits and greens out there, this is the one we have used for years.
- Tropical Oasis Trace Minerals– It’s important that we are getting adequate minerals and since we have a reverse osmosis water filtration system it’s important to replace. Again, there are a lot of mineral options out there, we just like this one! We’ve also used this one.
- Hyperbiotics Pro-Kids– We started this probiotic to help with Elijah’s teeth issues, you can read more about we are doing here.
- Vitamin D3/K2- You can read more about D3 below. We use the Nordic Naturals version, but also have the Seeking Health D3 + K2 (found on fullscript) as well! We try to get our D3 from the sun, but as winter approaches that gets harder and harder. We do take our D supplements year round.
- Vitamin C- On a daily basis the kids get the Metagenics Ultra Potent C Chewable, I love that it also has glutathione (which I talk more about below).
- Fermented Cod Liver Oil- read more about it below!
- Magnesium- It’s an extremely important mineral that many of us are deficient in. It’s essential for many of our body’s functions. I love using topical for kids and use this cream at night which also helps them sleep. Topical is well absorbed.
Immune Support Supplements
The thought behind some of these supplements is when we get sick it depletes our bodies of these vitamins and minerals. This is why you’ll see a boost in dose from the daily amount we take for some things. Other items are geared more toward having natural antimicrobial properties so we use them to help fight an infection off. These supplements are what we use for the kids (not Elliott) and adults.
VITAMIN C (daily and increase dose with illness)
If you remember hearing from your mom or grandma to take Vitamin C when sick, they were right! But, you may have noticed it didn’t really do much and here is why. You weren’t taking enough! When you first get sick, you need to find your bowel tolerance with vitamin C. To do this you will need to take one dose (I recommend 500-1000mg) of vitamin C every 1-2 hours until you reach the point that your stools are loose, and, if you were to continue taking more C, you would then have diarrhea. Once you’ve reached this point, you figure out how much Vitamin C you’ve taken TOTAL, and divide that into equal doses which you take every day while you’re sick. The range of Vitamin C tolerance can be as low as 3000mg/day or as high as 40,000! Everyone’s tolerance is different so it’s important to ensure effectiveness that you do this “test”. It should also be noted that it can change with each illness so I would do this test each time you are sick.
Lypospheric tends to be easier absorbed, so that is why you will see that option as well. I generally recommend 500-1000mg of Vitamin C daily.
Here are the brands I recommend for Vitamin C
- Metagenics- Ultra Potent C Chewables daily and use the Ultra Potent C Powder for high dose. Obtain from fullscript.com.
- Liposomal Vitamin C from Seeking Health available at Fullscript
- Thorne Buffered C Powder
- Bulk Supplements Vitamin C Powder
Information: Vitamin C and Infections
VITAMIN D3 + K2 (daily)
Vitamin D is an incredibly effective antimicrobial agent, killing bacteria, fungus, and viruses. So many of us living in cold climates are deficient. Read more here. This can also be obtained from supplements like Fermented Cod Liver Oil. There’s some significant evidence that vitamin D deficiency is an underlying cause of colds and flus. Taking D along with vitamin K2 is important, however, as the K2 your body cannot get the full benefits of the Vitamin D. Most adults need around 2,000-10,000IU a day and children need about 35IU per pound of body weight. I always encourage people to get levels checked as more is not better and proper dosing is important!
- Metagenics Vitamin D3/K2 5,000IU (Fullscript)
- Designs for Health D/K1 K2 5,000IU (Fullscript)
- Seeking Health D3/K2 drops (Fullscript)
VITAMIN A (daily and increase dose with illness)
Vitamin A is important for a strong immune system. I love taking fermented cod liver oil daily to make sure we are getting our daily dose.
Vitamin A has strong anti-viral activity. Using it for illness requires a strong dose, twice a day, for 2 days when symptoms present themselves. Too much vitamin A can potentially be bad for the liver, so it’s important to only use the high dose for 3 days and then stop.
The dosing chart is from the Newbridge Clinic.
- Children under 6 months 10,000IU per dose
- Children 6-12 months 15,000IU per dose
- Chldren 12-24 month 20,000IU
- Children 2-4 y.o. 25,000-30,000IU
- Children 5-7 y.o. 50,000IU
- Children 7-10 y.o. 75,000IU
- Children 11-14 y.o.100,000IU
- People 15 and older 150,000IU
- Pregnant and lactating women should not take more than 25,000IU
It is recommended to take a 1/2 dose when healthy to be sure it’s tolerated.
- Klaire Labs Micellized Vitamin A Liquid or Seeking Health Vitamin A drops (Fullscript)
- Daily Supplement- Rosita Cod Liver Oil or Green Pasture Blue Ice Royal Butter Oil / Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend
ELDERBERRY SYRUP (1 week on/1 off daily, and illness)
Here is the blog post I wrote that includes the homemade recipe I use, which is my recommendation as it’s easy and cheaper.
For premade options I love Earthley.
Additional studies on elderberries benefits
- Effects on Influenza
- Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial
- Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections
Garlic has long been hailed for it’s healing powers. It’s strong enough to knock out many viruses, including the hard to kill Norovirus. It’s a potent anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral; in fact, a study done at Washington State University showed garlic to be more effective than two antibiotics at fighting bacteria known to cause food borne illness. Cooking with fresh garlic is the best option, but you can also get a high quality garlic supplement if you don’t enjoy eating raw garlic. We’ve used garlic oil drops for a couple of ear infections with great results! I put crushed garlic into the elderberry syrup I make while it cooks down.
- Pure Encapsulations – GarliActive – High-Allicin, Odor-Controlled, Buffered Garlic Supplement
- Garlic Oil Drops for Kids (ear infections)
COLLOIDAL SILVER (Illness)
“According to a report written by Richard Davies and Samuel Etris of The Silver Institute in a 1996, there are three primary ways that colloidal silver can help heal the body: (3)
- Catalytic Oxidation: Silver naturally holds onto oxygen molecules, which readily react with the sulfhydral (H) groups that surround bacterial and viruses. In turn, this helps block the life-preserving cellular process known as cellular respiration, which is defined as “the set of metabolic reactions and processes that take place in the cells of organisms to convert biochemical energy from nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and then release waste products.” (4)
- Reaction with Bacterial Cell Membranes: Silver ions can attach to bacteria cell membranes directly and produce the same respiration-blocking effect.
- Binding with DNA: Shown to literally enter bacteria DNA, up to 12% of silver has been detected in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. According to one source, “While it remains unclear exactly how the silver binds to the DNA without destroying the hydrogen bonds holding the lattice together, it nevertheless prevents the DNA from unwinding, an essential step for cellular replication to occur.” (5)”
Fermented Cod Liver Oil (daily)
The family takes this daily as it is good source of long-chain omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA, and it’s rich in vitamins A and D, which are difficult to obtain elsewhere in the diet. I initially started Elijah on it (this one) to help improve his teeth. He and Evelyn take the Green Pastures chocolate version every morning without issue, they actually look forward to it! Now I know my kids may be the anomaly here so a liquid option such as this one from Rosita, would be a great option as dosing is a drop so easy to give or to sneak into something like Dynamic Fruits and Greens or a small amount of applesauce.
I’ll include an article Chris Kresser wrote on the Blue Ice Brand, which is one that we take.
Glutathione is an antioxidant produced in cells. It’s comprised largely of three amino acids: glutamine, glycine, and cysteine.
Glutathione levels in the body may be reduced by a number of factors, including poor nutrition, environmental toxins, and stress. Its levels also decline with age. It is also depleted when you take Tylenol (acetaminophen) so it’s important to replace if you need to take that for some reason. This is an interesting study on Glutathione and Covid.
- Seeking Health Liposomal Glutathione (Fullscript)
There have been some studies showing it can reduce the duration of a cold by 24 hours, as well as reduce the severity of cold symptoms. Zinc improves and aids immune function. Do not take on an empty stomach.
Immune-Biotic by Earthley
I recently purchased this to use for illnesses (colds) that pop up and gave it a trial run with a cold I caught from Evelyn! While it wasn’t tasty in the least it worked AMAZING!
From Earthley, Immune Biotic uses immune boosting herbs to give your immune system a little jump start to fight off this season’s germs.
Not feeling well? Kick it fast with Immune-Biotic!
- Boost your immune system with Earthly’s herbal, natural immune system support.
- Kick your cold to the curb and feel better fast.
Earthly’s Immune-Biotic utilized nature’s immune boosting herbs and is a must-have in your natural remedies cabinet. It helps your immune system kick into high gear, so that you can fight off whatever little sniffles, tummy aches, and other yucky germs come your way. Every herb is chosen specifically to help your immune system work its hardest and to make you feel better fast! Each immune boosting herb has antiviral, or antibacterial properties to help your body naturally fight off whatever is bothering you.
- Use for a short time, typically 3 – 7 days
Immune-Biotic is safe for kids over the age of 2. The whole family can use it when needed, and breastfeeding mamas can take it to help littler ones!
- organic elderflower
- organic astragalus root
- organic echinacea angustifolia root
- organic calendula
- organic dandelion root
Bee Propolis Throat Spray (can be used daily)
Natural germ fighting properties, lots of antioxidants, and 300+ beneficial compounds, we like to think of propolis as nature’s ultimate defender. Shop Here. I love using this when traveling or if I feel something coming on.
Biocidin Throat Spray
The nasal/pharynx region is said to be one locus of infection for upper respiratory disorders, and addressing this area directly is an important part of supporting healthy respiration, Biocidin Throat Spray provides immediate relief from sore throat pain, is indispensable for winter wellness and irritation due to seasonal allergies and respiratory support while traveling.
Bilberry extract, Noni extract, Milk Thistle, Echinacea Purpurea extract, Echinacea Angustifolia, Goldenseal, Shiitake extract, White Willow Bark, Garlic, Grapeseed extract, Black Walnut (hull and leaf), Raspberry, Fumitory extract, Gentian, Tea Tree oil, Galbanum oil, Lavender oil, Oregano oil
Xlear Nasal Spray
Reduces tissue inflammation and naturally opens airways. Xylitol helps to reduce swelling and allergy symptoms by reducing bacterial adhesion on you nasal tissue. Perfect for nasal symptoms due to cold, sinus infection or allergies!
Lung Support (illness)
When you get hit with a chest cold it’s nice to have some things on hand to combat it!
N-acetyl cysteine comes from the amino acid L-cysteine. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.A primary role of NAC is as an antioxidant. NAC is a precursor to the body’s primary intracellular antioxidant, glutathione,2 but NAC also acts on its own to neutralize free radicals. NAC has been shown to have activity against oxygen radicals, peroxides, and nitrogen radicals. In addition, NAC acts as a “mucolytic agent,” which means it’s a compound that can thin mucous secretions.
Help relieve annoying coughs and cold symptoms naturally! No more synthetic, chemical-tasting cough syrups, only pure herbal relief.
Homeopathy Remedies specific for the Flu
We have used homeopathy for years and have had incredible luck! I love that it’s safe for infants. I have a whole blog post written on what it is all about that you can visit here!
OSCILLOCOCCINUM (Influenza treatment)
Homeopathy is something that I have been looking into, but only scratching the surface. I am no where near an expert, but intrigued by it’s potential. This flu season is the first I’ve used homeopathic remedies and Lucas told me that he could tell when the Oscillococcinum wore off and felt it help a great deal. According to Living Naturally, “Oscillococcinum® (Anas barbariae hepatis et cordis extractum 200CK HPUS), a patented homeopathic preparation manufactured by a French-based company (Boiron Laboratories), is marketed and widely used for the treatment and prevention of influenza symptoms, including “feeling run down,” headache, body aches, chills, and fever. It is made from the heart and liver of wild duck and undergoes multiple dilutions (one part in 100, 200 times in a row, i.e., 200C), after which there are reportedly few to no original duck liver or heart molecules in the final product.
There is some preliminary evidence in humans suggesting that Oscillococcinum® may shorten the duration of the flu. However, it has not been found to prevent the flu. Despite its popularity and anecdotal reports of effectiveness, there is currently little scientific evidence that Oscillococcinum® is superior to placebo.
More research is required to determine the efficacy and safety of Oscillococcinum®, especially in young children and pregnant and lactating women.” (2)
Oscillococcinum on Amazon
INFLUENZIUM (Influenza Treatment)
Another homeopathic remedy I have on hand each season is influenzium that I get from a homeopath. They will tailor each years dose to that flu season, similar to the flu shot. This year isn’t available yet, but I will be purchasing when it’s available. Jennie Hoglund is an incredible homeopathy expert/resource! Visit her website HERE!
Lastly, I want to touch on a few things you can do on a regular basis to boost your immune system and work to keep yourselves healthy.
- Get adequate sleep (not always easy, but one of the most important things you can do)
- Drink adequate water and eat a well balanced diet, limit sugar
- This could be a blog post all itself, but I’m a huge proponent of a whole foods/paleo style way of eating. Limiting processed foods as much as possible.
- Wash your hands!
- Simple soap and water is sufficient! Steer clear of antibacterial soaps. I like to make my own and use these glass self foaming bottles.
- If it isn’t easy to wash with soap and water, hand sanitizer is another great option and I like to make my own. Elijah loved helping me too! We also use Briotech while out and about. It’s effective at combating viruses and bacteria, but doesn’t disrupt natural microbiome.
I’m ending this post with some thoughts on antibiotics. It’s an area I have strong feelings about and in general I think as a society we use them too frequently for many things that don’t actually need them. There are some very powerful natural remedies that can be use in place of antibiotics (oregano oil, colloidal silver, manuka honey, garlic oil) at times. There are definitely times and places where antibiotics are needed, but if we continue down the path we are on the resistance rates to antibiotics will continue to rise which means they will no longer be effective and stronger more potent antibiotics will need to be developed and used. Not to mention the havoc to our gut and microbiome that antibiotics cause. When I was practicing I was very cautious with the prescription of antibiotics and so many times something like a sinus infection or ear infection (which is often viral) will get better on it’s own in 7-10 (sometimes less) without antibiotics.
I will attach this Chris Kresser article here where he talks about antibiotics in children. It has excellent information in it that I wish everyone would read!