Cold & Flu Season: Immunity Protocol
Updated: Aug 22, 2020
I'd like to share with you my protocol that my family and I follow from September to April or anytime we feel our immune systems could use a boost. All of these suggestions work well for children and adults alike with appropriate doses.
Yu Ping Feng San (Jade Screen) - This is a traditional Chinese herbal formula of astragalus (huang qi), atractylodes (bai zhu), and ledebouriella (fang feng). It is used to boost immunity, improve digestion, and protect against acute illnesses. This can be taken in capsule, tea, tincture or glycerite form. For adults the dosage is 1 dropperful of tincture 2x/day throughout the cold and flu season. For children 1 dropperful of glycerite 2x/day or 1/2 tsp of powder mixed into applesauce or juice per day and taken throughout the cold and flu season.
Mushrooms - Shitake, cordyceps, and reishi are my immunity go-to mushrooms but I also use turkey tails, maitake, chaga, and agarikon. The immune-modulating beta-glucans in mushrooms are best consumed in powdered form rather than tinctured or made into tea.
Elderberry - Elderberries have been shown to have antiviral, immunoprotective, and immunostimulatory properties. Conveniently enough, they are also delicious. Elderberry syrup is a common preparation and easy to give to children. Adults can take 1 tbsp 2x/day and children 1 tsp 2x/day.
Low sugar (if any at all) - Sugar can weaken your immune system significantly for hours. Avoid all added sweeteners and reach for complex carbohydrates or whole fruits as substitutes.
Warm, cooked foods - Soups, steamed dark leafy greens, and baked fruits are easy to digest and allow your immune system to take priority. You can also eat simple meals and the same thing for multiple meals per day to lessen the load on the digestive system.
Adequate protein and fats in every meal - Double check that each meal has a source of protein and fat to keep your body well charged and strong. Incorporating fats in every meal also helps your body absorb important fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin D. (Meats, bone broths, legumes, nuts, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, eggs, etc.)
Hand washing - Frequent hand washing can make a huge difference in the fight to keep germs out of our system. Make it a habit to wash your hands the moment you walk into your house or arrive at your next destination, after you use the restroom, before you eat, and after coming into contact with anyone who might be sick. The second part to making hand washing effective is not touching your face except with clean hands.
Hand sanitizer - Hand washing is king but hand sanitizer comes in at a close second when soap and water is unavailable.
Rest - Getting enough sleep is important for all functions of the body, but being tired and run down has a special affinity for hampering our immune system. I like to check into my body often and take stock. If I'm feeling run down or frazzled I try to prioritize rest. That may mean that I make the hard decision to finish a task later than ideal or decline commitments (or even some much needed fun!) in favor of going to bed early or lying down.
While I mostly use herbs, foods and lifestyle practices for myself and clients, supplements can be wonderfully helpful in filling in any gaps in our diet. These three supplements have been shown to play a direct role in our immune systems and can be obtained through diet, supplementation, or both!
Vitamin D (preferably with K2 & A)
Herbal and dietary recommendations:
Bensky, Dan, et al.Â Chinese Herbal Medicine, Materia Medica. 3rd ed., Eastland Press, 2015.
Tierra, Michael, and Lesley Tierra.Â East West Herb Course Materia Medica. 6th ed., vol. 1, 1981.
Vitamin D resources: