Immune supports to stay healthy during flu season

Some flu tips from Sara Eisenberg, MS:

  • Key lifestyle factors in immune support: avoid sleep deficit and sugar, tend to chronic stress.
  • Neti pot/ other nasal cleansing with warm salt water and 5 drops Echinacea-Goldenseal tincture. As a daily practice this provides good support for upper respiratory mucous membranes, a major 1st line of defense during cold and flu season.
  • For adults 1 clove raw garlic a day in a little honeyOR: this garlic honey recipe from fellow-herbalist Bonnie Rogers:NOTE: If you have seasonal allergies, using a locally-made honey will help.

    “You can start using it immediately, but it tastes best once it has sat for at least 4-5 days. Take garlic (preferably organic) and cut it into small pieces, you don’t need to chop it up. Fill your jar half way with the garlic. Then pour raw honey into the jar. Use a chopstick to get the honey into the tiny spaces in between the garlic pieces. Leave a space at the top of the jar, cover it. If you don’t leave a space it may leak out the top. Then just keep this jar and use a teaspoon when you need it – when someone is coming down with a cold or flu.” Can also be used as daily immune tonic prophylactically. No refrigeration needed. Warming and very high immune support, the honey syrup should be palatable and convenient for everyone.

  • Natural Sources Elderberry Concentrate , 16 oz./ 32 servings (available online.) Use preventively and through cold or flu for upper respiratory protection. Off the spoon, very sweet, or mix in a little water, or in a water bottle to make a fruited water to drink throughout the day. With symptom onset, 1-2 Tb/day until a week after respiratory symptoms clear.
  • Biotics Research Bio-D-Mulsion Forte: Vitamin D3 (available online; also check with your chiropractor). 1 drop/day for everyone in the family prophylactically all through the winter.
  • In your workspace: diffuse essential oil of thyme, rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, which inhibit most flu viruses.

Signs and symptoms of the flu

  • Fever (Note: influenza viruses die at temperatures of 98 -99°F)
  • Fever-like symptoms: chills, feeling hot, flushed appearance, or sweating
  • Sore throat or cough
  • Runny and/or stuffy nose
  • Fatigue and/or body aches and/or headache
  • Diarrhea or vomiting

Note: according to the Mayo Clinic, H1N1 flu symptoms develop 3-5 days following exposure to the virus, and last about 8 days, starting one day before getting sick, and continuing until recovery.

Failure to allow time for full recovery before resuming activities and normal contacts with the outside world can open the body to secondary infection, often lower respiratory.

Stock up ahead of time: items to have within reach

  • Boneset Tincture: Historically use in flu epidemics, typically with fever with hot, moist skin, cough, difficulty breathing, aches back and limbs, frequent urination, difficulty coughing up abundant mucous because of debility. 20-40 drops in warm to hot water up to 3x/day for fever with aches; or 10 drops in hot water every half hour up to 6x/day with acute upper respiratory infection (viral or bacterial). Start with lower dose to test response – this is a very bitter herb and at higher doses can cause vomiting. To calculate child’s dose: divide the child’s weight in pounds by 150, then multiply by the adult dose. For infants/toddlers up to 2 years: divide the age: divide the child’s age in months by 150, then multiply by the adult dose.
  • Your preferred form of Echinacea, use maximum dose.
  • Homeopathic Gelsemium: Typically with acute flu or sore throat, with weakness, limp limbs, chills, fever, flushed face, hot head, headaches with double vision, and heavy, drooping eyelids; may be a lack of thirst, even during fever. Follow dosing instructions on label.
  • Homeopathic Bryonia: Typically with slow-starting illness; fever with apathy, irritable with movement; tongue dry, eyeballs may hurt, or with a frontal headache; often with infrequent spells of great thirst, and dry lips, tongue, and eyes. Sometimes with chilliness and tendency to sweat easily; dry, hacking cough. dosing instructions on label.
  • Homeopathic Belladonna: Typically acute illness with sudden, violent onset; with fever with cool skin, cold extremities; flushed, dry skin; sensitive to light, noise, touch, temperature changes; throbbing pain, sometimes in the head. dosing instructions on label.
  • Lemon Ginger drink (with or without Echinacea) or Ginger Tea to which you can add lemon juice and a little honey) – supports healthy fever, helps with respiratory congestion and nausea
  • Chamomile Tea – drinking it or bathing a hot forehead supports healthy fever, calms restlessness

Sara’s Tonic Miso Soup: Chop 3 large onions. Simmer with a handful of Shitake mushrooms in just enough virgin olive oil so they don’t stick to the pot. Add 4 cups water. Add red miso paste to your taste. Add Astragalus root, and ½ lb firm tofu, cubed. Simmer 45 minutes. Add handfuls of baby spinach just before serving, stir until thoroughly wilted. Remove Astragalus root before serving.

Tips for a wise consumer:

The herbs used for colds and flu are similar while the dosing for flu may be higher or more frequent.

Herbal suggestions here are for adults in good health: if you are pregnant, nursing, or have a chronic health condition, use herbs with the education & guidance of a knowledgeable healthcare provider.


Abascal, Kathy Herbs and Influenza, Tigana Press, 2006
Bergner, Paul Influenza: Lesson for the Clinic from 1918, Medical Herbalism, Winter 2007
Bergner, Paul Influenza Prevention, Medical Herbalism, Summer 2008
Bergner, Paul Treatment of Acute Febrile Disease, Medical Herbalism, Spring 2009
Buhner, Stephen Harold Herbal Antibiotics, Storey Publishing, 1999
Keville, Kathi & Green, Mindy Aromatherapy, The Crossing Press, 1995
Rogers, Bonnie Recipe for Garlic Honey, online Herb Digest Vol 79 #5 9/4/09
Winston, David Herbal Therapeutics, 8th Edition, Herbal Therapeutics Publishing, 2003

Sara Eisenberg, MS offers herself as a practiced guide and fellow-traveler in open-hearted inquiry rooted in honesty and kindness. Her nondual healing work can also be combined with herbal medicine. She focuses her herbal practice on blending teas, powders, and tinctures individually for each client’s needs, goals, life-style and budget.

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