Monday, March 12, 2018

Spring Transition; Tips for Fighting the Common Cold and Flu

As we approach the first day of spring I still have two feet of snow on the ground. Spring is almost always late here in the northwoods. The blankets of snow remain, stubborn against the changing season.

It is a transitory time, as it is for all season changes. Those changes often bring with them changes in our health, the most common of which is the cold and although less frequently it also usually has a ramp up in flu cases. This is particularly true for fall into winter and winter into spring.

Rhinoviruses and cornoavirsues — the two agents that typically cause the common cold — replicate more easily in cool, but not too cold weather, Kittu Jindal Garg, M.D., an internal medicine specialist with the Cleveland Clinic, told

"A lot of the viruses that cause the common cold are shown to cause outbreaks more frequently in the early to late spring and early to late fall," she said.

What can the aspiring herbalist do to help stave off the common cold or flu, what can we do to boost our immune system? Well, there's more to it than just a herbal.

Practice good hygiene. Washing your hands regularly and avoiding touching your face to stave off potential risks of catching the flu, or other related illnesses. Avoiding close contact with others who are sick and staying home when sick can help prevent spreading the flu too.

Exercise. People who exercise moderately have a lower risk of getting a viral infection, which also has a positive effect on your immune system. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity at a moderate intensity for five days a week, totaling 150 minutes. Get some sun, seriously;

By Dr. Mercola
Mounting research confirms that sun avoidance may be at the heart of a large number of health problems. Not only does your body produce vitamin D in response to sun exposure on bare skin, but sunlight also produces a number of other health benefits that are unrelated to vitamin D production. 
In fact, humans appear to have a lot in common with plants in this regard — we both need direct sun exposure in order to optimally thrive, and while artificial lighting sources offering specific light spectrums may be helpful for various problems, ideally we need the full spectrum of light that natural sunlight offers. 
Most recently, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) published a laboratory study using cells in petri dishes, showing that exposure to blue and ultraviolet (UV) light increases T cell activity — white blood cells involved in immune function and fighting infections.

Get proper rest. Minimize holiday and winter stress by getting proper sleep every night. Most people who feel refreshed in the morning get about 7½ to 8½ hours of sleep, which is about ideal for adults.

So, we're taking care of hygiene, we've gotten some sun and exercise, we're getting plenty of rest, what else?

There are several natural immunity boosters, many of which are in your kitchen, let's review two of the best in my opinion and experience.

Oil of Oregano

The ancient Greeks and Romans have a profound appreciation for oregano, using it for various medicinal uses. In fact, its name comes from the Greek words "oros" and "ganos," which are words for mountain and joy — oregano literally means "joy of the mountain."

Oregano oil has antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

Beware, though, as many of the oregano oils sold in grocery stores are not made from this variety, and may have little to no therapeutic value. Opt only for oregano oil made from Origanum vulgare and Thymus capitatus, a variety that grows in Spain. To obtain oregano oil, the dried flowers and leaves of the wild oregano plant are harvested when the oil content of the plant is at its highest, and then distilled. The resulting oil is golden to dark yellow, with a strong spicy odor.

If you're not able to make your own, I've found the Gaia Oil of Oregano to work just fine for me.

Benefits of Oregano Oil

• Urinary tract
• Respiratory infections
• Yeast infections
• Parasitic infections caused by the amoeba giardia
• Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection — A team of Indian and British researchers found that oregano oil has strong antibacterial properties that can help kill this deadly superbug.

Oregano oil has also shown promise in preventing food-borne illnesses caused by pathogens like listeria, salmonella, E. coli, and Shigella dysenteria. Adding it to foods not only helps kill the bacteria, but may also alleviate food poisoning symptoms.

An animal study from University of Arizona researchers also found that oregano oil can help kill norovirus,18 which causes gastroenteritis. Oregano oil is also a prized antiseptic essential oil in aromatherapy because its proportion of phenols is said to be the highest of all aromatic plants.


In general, its benefits fall into four main categories:

Reducing inflammation
Boosting immune function (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiparasitic properties)
Improving cardiovascular health and circulation (protects against clotting, retards plaque, improves lipids, and reduces blood pressure

The combination of biochemicals in garlic, including tannins, saponins, phenols, flavonoids, and essential oils, has even been found to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Some of the superbugs killed by garlic were resistant to more than 10 different antibiotics.

In my opinion, using both of these during the seasonal transitions has a dramatic effect on boosting my immune system. I wouldn't recommend taking the oil of oregano for more than a ten day stretch however. As for the garlic, that's a daily supplement for me.

Let me know what you think below in the comments section, have you used them before? What was your experience?


  1. And please, if you are ill, stay home. No need to share.

  2. Also, I work in a pharmacy in a state that had the third highest rate of the flu. Oscillococcinum which is a homeopathic preparation that is sold over the counter and black elderberry went flying off the shelves. Still cannot get it through suppliers. Most health professionals just think of it as a placebo but I have had people swear by it. I took Emergen C as a preventative and sailed through the flu season.