5 Of My Favorite Natural Products For Fighting Cold & Flu Season

November 4th, 2014 - filed under: The Food » Food and Health

natural cold remedies

It’s official. Cold and flu season is HERE. It’s only just early November and I’ve already been through one cycle of sniffles and sore throats, and it feels like another one might be looming (ahh, life with a preschooler). And all around me it seems like people are dropping like flies from some terrible tummy bug. Already!

So. This post, which I intend to write every. single. year. but never actually get out in time, may actually be able to do some good this year. Yay! (or, well, boo! Sick is no fun!)

As an all-natural pharma-phobic healthy-living hippie, facing cold and flu season can be pretty confusing. The “natural remedies” aisle at your local health food store is most likely rivaling CVS in sheer size and volume of products, with each one promising it’s own miraculous one-ingredient wonder-cure.

But personally, I’m not so into the newfangled, specially-formulated power-powders. I like my remedies tried and true, and those are the ones I’m choosing to share today. My own small-but-fearsome arsenal of all-natural bug-busters. Trusted and standing the test of time, most of them are old – ancient even – because, well, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?

Right! So here they are:

1) Dry Skin Brushing
A few months back I was chatting with an old scientist friend of mine, and she remarked that thanks to me, she’s been using a dry skin brush and loving the results (namely, a much stronger immune system – essential for her with 2 young boys). She said something to the effect of, “You know, lots of times when you blog about something it sounds pretty kooky and I have to admit, I’m a bit skeptical. But then I go do the research and it always turns out to be totally scientifically legit!” I had to laugh at that because I think it’s a great description of me: Kooky, but scientifically legit. Ha!

Anyway, dry skin brushing (I use this brush) stimulates the lymphatic system to activate blood flow and eliminate cellular waste. The increased circulation can also help to energize you, and as an added beauty bonus, it’s a great exfoliator! Use your skin brush before your daily shower, and keep your immune system going strong.

2) Green Juice // Wellness Shots
Like the dry skin brushing, green juice is great preventative medicine. Jeremy and I have been under so much stress lately, and I’ve been trying to keep the green juice flowing – pumping us full of precious antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to combat any germs that we might come across. I especially love parsley and cilantro in my green juice, since both of these are potent chelators which help to release and remove heavy metals and other bioaccumulative toxins.

I also love to make “wellness shots” (featured in the photo up top) – usually some combination of citrus like lemon, blood orange, mandarin, lime, etc, plus lots of ginger and some sort of pepper (either a juiced jalapeño or a liberal sprinkling of powdered cayenne or chili). Sometimes I add powdered turmeric, apple cider vinegar, or crushed garlic (yuck!). But the real key is citrus, ginger, and chili. Plug and chug!

3) Mulein Garlic Oil
I use this brand and I love the stuff. It’s cheap and it’s potent and it’s my number one go-to at the first sign of a sniffle.

Mullein garlic oil is actually intended for ear infections – which is how I discovered it and why I love it, because it’s safe for wee babies – but I use it for all the bad little bugs. Mullein (an herb) is an antiviral and an expectorant and has a long and rich tradition as an illness-fighting herb. And we all know that garlic is a powerful antibacterial, antifungal, antimocrobial immune-booster. With their powers combined, this is one of my favorite remedies. A single drop in each ear at the first sign of sickness, and in most cases it never progresses past the first stage. I swear by it!

4) Oil Of Oregano
More recently I’ve been experimenting with oil of oregano, an old hippie favorite for all sorts of ailments. This stuff is strong so be careful when using it with children. It’s powerful (which is why I like it!) and definitely worth adding to your sickness-stopping toolbox. You can read more about why I love oil of oregano, and the science behind its powerful healing properties, here.

You can buy high-quality oil of oregano online, or you can try making your own at home!

5) Neti Pot
Ahh, my dear sweet neti pot. I never thought I could love a piece of porcelain so much – especially a piece of porcelain that I fill with salt water, shove up my nose, and allow to flow through my entire sinus cavity and out the other nostril while I try not to sputter and snort and fall into a flailing mess on the shower floor.

But seriously, it’s sort of fun.

Much like dry brushing, neti can be used prophylactically as an ilness preventative. Keeping the ol’ sinuses all clean and flushed out will go a long way in upping your overall chances against some bastard bug this winter. But, if you’re a busy busy bee and you can’t make neti a regular part of your routine (like for reals, who has time for that?) it can still be used to speed along and soften up the symptoms of an already-existing cold, should one actually take hold of you. I use this popular model and I love it.

And yes, there’s will always be some immature part of me that will have to laugh when I see a stream of water pouring out of my nostril. ALWAYS.


And finally, make sure you’re getting enough sleep and drinking enough water. Probiotic rich foods, like store-bought or homemade ferments, are also a great immune-boosting addition to your diet. And remember – stress is death to your immune system! So take care of your mental health with the same love and attention that you give to your physical well being.

Ya hear me? Take care of you! ♥

  • Emily

    What a perfectly timed post! My sinuses started giving me grief on Sunday and I’ve been using my neti pot. It is such a funny thing to watch, but a necessity. I get mad at myself when I’m lazy and don’t bother doing it because my sinuses and I pay the price. I’m excited (ok, maybe wrong word because I don’t want to be sick) to try your other tips. My husband is an elementary school teacher and he’s always bringing home germs. I’m so paranoid about my baby boy getting sick but I know it’s inevitable. Thanks for posting this!

  • Sarah C.

    This is awesome, thanks! I haven’t done dry brushing but I’m quite interested – but I have one question: how “dry” does the skin actually have to be before brushing? That is, I’m usually sweaty from working out before I get in the shower. Ought I wait until I’m totally dried off first?

  • Rebecca Carnes

    Thank you Thank you Thank you for this post!! With Phoenyx going through his first cold/flu season at school I’ve been a little nervous of what may come. I’ve actually been rubbing Thieves on the bottom of his feet every night hoping to prevent sickness…regardless if it works or not, sure smells great:) Like a mini Cinnabon lol…vegan one of course hahaha.
    And will definitely be adding in some wellness shots and stocking up on some oil of oregano!
    Fingers crossed we all make it through the season sick free!!

  • Morgan

    Great timing for this post I’m sure! These are mostly my favourite and effective cold fighters too! i bought a dry brush a while ago after wanting one for ages and promptly became pregnant before getting a chance to try it. I was wondering if it is one of those things where it’s safe if you’ve already been using it, but otherwise steer clear. I have read conflicting info online. What would your thoughts be? I’d love to give it a try!

  • Jo

    I love these tips! I need to get into dry brushing again – it really does make me feel amazing. Just a note on neti pots: it’s incredibly rare, but possible to contract infections from bacteria/amoeba using tap water. I love my neti pot but only use previously boiled distilled water! (source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/03/rare-infection-prompts-neti-pot-warning/?_r=0)

  • Jo

    Also, my favorite thing to do when I’m feeling ill is make a tea with lemon, garlic, ginger, turmeric, a little ACV and a bit of sweetener. It’s powerful but I feel like it gets me back on my feet quickly! This winter I want to experiment with making my own fire cider (http://mountainroseblog.com/fire-cider/) too.

  • evolet0680

    Hey momma- do you have any recipes for your green juice or the citrus shots? I’m not much of a measurer, so I can guess from the ingredient list above and attempt my own, but I was wondering if you had any essentials that you could share. As always, I love your words.

  • Sarah

    I rub the oil of oregano on my son’s feet (then put socks on) before bed if I think there is something nasty going around.

  • Sonja

    thank you for those great tips. Any suggestions on how to use oil of oregano (besides rubbing it on your feet)? Get well soon!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Haha, I want to be like “So glad this was well-timed for you!” but of course that would imply that you’re getting sick, so I hope it’s not actually well-timed at all. I hope you never have to use these!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Ooh Sarah, good question! I’d say it has to be pretty dang dry. Probably not so doable after a workout. I’d say do it right before the workout, get the lymph moving, then get the sweat flowing, then wash it all away afterwards in the shower! ;-)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Aww, isn’t it sweet treating their feetsies right before bed? I’ve been giving Waits little lotion rub-downs after his baths and it’s such a nice way to wind down and have some quiet connection before bed. And medicinal oil like Thieves or Oregano just makes it all the better. ♥

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Hmm, tough call. I usually say not a good idea to do anything that releases “toxins” (amorphous non-definitive non-scientific term, I know) after becoming pregnant, but I will admit I would probably start doing it while pregnant. That’s a tough one though, and definitely a personal decision you’ll have to reach yourself.

    When is baby due?? Congratulations!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Oh jeeze, thanks for the heads up! That’s crazy!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks dearie! I actually have never posted specific recipes because I always just go with what I have and that’s sort of my juice philosophy in general. But I’ve written a few articles on my fave tips and tricks, if you’re interested:



    Hope that helps!!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks for the tip Sarah, I’ve only ever used O of O internally, but I did this for wee Waits tonight since he’s been seeming like he might be coming down with something. He was a bit suspicious at first but ended up enjoying the foot rub! ;-D

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Hi Sonja, check out the link to my O of O post from a few weeks back! I give lots of ways to use it in that article:


  • Sonja

    thanks! I just saw that you edited your post about oil of oregano :-) Great!

  • Sarah

    It absorbs through the bottom. I forgot to mention that part. My son likes it when I tell him in a very serious voice “no laughing”. He always does.

  • Sarah C.

    There’s a great idea! Thanks! I bet that would help warm up for the workout too!

  • Morgan

    Hi! Thanks! Baby number 2 is due in May. I have a little boy about Waits’ age too. I miscarried in the spring and it has made me a little more careful than I would normally be, so I guess I will pass on the dry brushing until I’m done nursing…ahh! Could be another 3 years LOL. Dry brushing, we will meet one day. Thanks for the advice!

  • Bianca

    Love these tips. I need to check out that garlic oil! And even though I drink green juice a couple times a week (I can’t afford to every day), I need to add some wellness shots to the mix! Also, I really need to start using my dry brush again!!

  • Rebecca Carnes

    I’ve been trying to massage P since he was born, but he never liked it:( I think too much stimulation? But ever since I started rubbing his feet w/Thieves at night he’s relaxed enough to enjoy …he even tries to massage mine! lol Hey, I’ll take a free massage anytime hahaha

  • Guest

    I’ve heard of dry brushing and want to try it, but which way do you brush? It seems I’ve heard it both ways- toward the heart/ away from the heart. Do you know which is best?

  • Jentle72

    I am baffled and bummed out that you blocked me on FB so I can no longer comment. I went to see if you had responded to either of my two comments about your natural remedies, and saw that my comments were deleted. I was very polite to you and was only asking you to please post scientific evidence
    to back up your claims, and questioned the safety of you giving medical
    advice for potentially serious medical conditions. I have followed you
    for years, donated money to you in the past, and have told all my
    friends about you. I have been very supportive, actually. I don’t
    understand being blocked. You are a scientist and I was trying to engage
    you on that level so that your readers could make an informed decision
    based on peer-reviewed studies–not anecdotal evidence. Your readers
    look up to you and take your advice seriously. It would be very sad if
    one of your readers or their children were seriously ill and ended up
    being hospitalized–or worse–because they decided to drink green juice
    or oregano oil instead of seeking medical help from a trained

    Last year, 105 children died from the flu, and 90%
    of those were not vaccinated. “Wellness shots” of green juice are no substitute for a flu shot. At the very least, I hope you will consider writing a disclaimer at the top of this post that says something like, “All of this advice is based on what has worked for me. The effectiveness is purely anecdotal, so please follow
    these remedies at your own risk. This is not meant to be used a
    substitute for advice from a trained medical professional.”

    I really am not trying to be rude. I think you are a kind, compassionate
    and intelligent woman–the last thing I want to do is upset you. I love
    all your recipes and stories about your new-found happiness. However,
    when you tell your readers you are a scientist and post things like you
    have posted without any peer-reviewed studies to back up your claims, it
    needs to be brought to the attention of your readers. They deserve
    better than that.

  • Jacqueline Ryan Boissonneau

    Okay–here is our secret: a decoction of grated ginger, lemon slices, 1/2 raw onion, raw garlic, & dried cinnamon stick….works like a charm. every. time. Isn’t the most pleasant tasting cup of tea at first, but we are used to it now, and like it. Also, pouring apple cinder vinegar over ginger/lemon/onion/garlic/horseradish and letting it steep in the fridge and taking tablespoon periodically is a great preventative too!

  • http://angieeatspeace.com/ Angie

    Great tips! I add oil of oregano to my version of a wellness shot (similar to yours with apple cider vinegar, lemon, cayenne, turmeric). It’s pretty foul tasting, but knocks out sickness quick.

  • lexie

    Just wanted to say I bought the mulein oil and dry brush after reading this. Still waiting on the oil to ship but the dry brush is amazing! I have learned so much from reading this blog over the years and just wanted to finally comment and say thanks for all the inspiration and plain ol’ good info you put out into the world. I’m always super excited when a new post of yours shows up on my feed! I know this blog takes time out of your already busy schedule, but seriously thank you for opening me up to so many new things.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you so much for this comment, Lexie! That’s such a wonderful thing to hear and it means more than you know, seriously. Thank you! Oh and welcome to the comments, I hope you stay! ;-D

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Brilliant! 2 in 1, love it!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    That sounds wretched and powerful all at once. =D

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    I’m sure that both ways work, but I naturally/intuitively brush top-to-bottom and away from my heart.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Dry brushing is the best! Especially this time of year. Mine sat unused under my sink for over a year until my friend was like “You HAVE to hang it on the wall next to the shower or else you forget. It’s the only way.”

    I nailed a nail next to the shower, hung the brush, and now I do it literally every time I shower. Hang it up where you’ll see it – makes all the difference!

  • Frugal Vegan Mom

    Thanks for this! I love the “kooky but scientifically proven” philosophy and I trust your opinion and research! Just ordered 5 of the dry brushes – 1 for myself and 4 as gifts for my closest hippie mama friends =)

  • Carmela

    Hi, I have been following your blog since the time you lived in Portland, can you pls give me a good recommendation on a good vegan doctor here, and a convincing one so he/she can convince my hubby to start a plant-based diet… thanks!

  • hannah

    Can you provide scientific citations for the benefits of above remedies?

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  • http://naturalwaysofhealing.blogspot.com/ Muhammad Akram

    of people will be benefited from your writing.

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