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Cold & Flu - How to Prevent it, What to Do if you Have it?

Updated: Apr 17, 2020


*You can skip the chat and scroll down to a more direct guidance on what to do, what to take to prevent and to care for colds and fevers!


It is cold and flu season and I get pretty apprehensive this time of the year. I do get “healthxiety” often, something I am working on getting better for the sake of my family, but I confess that my obsession with staying healthy does get the best of me. Anyhow, because of that I do spend a lot of time researching prevention, virus, bacteria, natural remedies and have decided to save you some “Google searches” and put them here for you.

As a parenthesis, is it funny how our society gets super ramped up about the “coronavirus” of the world and the new deadly flu and on the same token fails to address the simple actions we can take collectively to keep us healthy.

Sorry, this may sound a bit like a rant, but please do not wear your sickness as a badge of honor.

If you are sick, stay home, period. Don’t go to work moaning of how bad you feel and how tough you are for being there with 103 and face full of snot. You are not doing anybody any favors. And from a workforce stand point, it is better if you stay home before you are really sick and miss a day or two of work, then wait until you actually develop more serious symptoms that can linger for weeks.

And Parents, sorry for ruffling some feathers, and I know you are good parents, but, please, don’t be a prick and send your sick kids to school.


(Or, worse, don’t keep your child home during school time and send her to dance afterwards… that is really not cool.)

I am a mom and understand that it sucks to be home with a child that is not all that sick and still have energy left and you have to go to work or you want to go to the gym, therefore you decide that she is good enough to go to school, to sports, to playdates, etc, just because she is fever free. Incubation is around 48 hours.... We need to reframe our rationale. A congested kid will not learn anything and you are contributing to the flu epidemic and putting kids with seriously compromised immune systems at risk. Society has taught us to be tough, to push through it, but that is the opposite of what we need to do to prevent getting sick.

Today I am home with my daughter. She does not have a fever and does not have a runny nose. She was coughing all night and in the morning said her head did not feel good. I could have sent her to school, for sure. But I rather keep her home today and give her Epson salts baths and rest instead of waiting for her to come down with something. It is much easier to do prevention than healing.

So what do you do at the first sign that you will come down with something?

REST. Yes, drop everything, go home and horizontalize.

DO not study, make phone calls, reorganize your cabinets and do a week’s worth of laundry.

GET some rest.

AVOID stress. Your body needs to use all its resources to mount a defense to whatever it is dealing with. If you use up those resources to go exercise or even to learn stuff, it will divert resources from healing and repairing.

Remember: the body is either on flight and fight mode, or rest and heal mode. It does not operate on both at the same time.

End of rant. Back to what you should do to prevent and to take care of yourself when you have a cold or the flu.


First of all, best prevention is maintaining a strong immune system. I have just read a paper on the New England Journal of Medicine stating that the coronavirus is not as fatal as SARS and should not pose a deadly threat for those who have a good immune system but, because of that, people are going to work and out and about and the disease is spreading fast and furious. Seems to be affecting people over 50 more. But it could be fatal to those with a more compromised immune system. (For the record, I am not a doctor and not an expert on coronavirus.)

How do we strengthen our immune system? Lifestyle.

Sleep at least 8 hours per night, find ways to mitigate stress, eat a diet that supports a healthy gut and that allows you to have the fuel your body needs. Have positive thoughts, exercise (not too much, not too little). It does sound boring, I know. But nonetheless, that is the secret.

Sometimes it is hard to get all our required nutrients from food and, if our stress levels are high, our body uses up vitamins and minerals too fast and we might need to supplement a bit to stay on top of it.

Here is what I use ongoing as prevention:


Astragalus, Cinnamon, Garlic, Ginger, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Shiitake Mushrooms, Thyme, Turmeric. If the immune system is amplified, it uses up more nutrients than when it is at rest.

Therefore, supplementing it either using FOOD AS MEDICINE or SUPPLEMENTS might be a good idea.


Use mineral rich water. If using a home filter, add a pinch of Celtic sea Salt.

Drink lots of herbs infused teas. I love my turmeric, ginger tea when I am sick.

This water is extraordinary. I highly recommend it to everybody as a daily prevention and overall health. It's like magic!

Ginger Juice Tea

  • Pour 3 to 4 ounces of the ginger juice into a mug and cover with hot water. If you don’t have a juicer, use a cheese grader and grade ginger instead.

  • Add some fresh lemongrass

  • Squeeze in the juice of a quarter lime.


  • Stir in a tablespoon of honey, (I do not add sugars on mine, but it is hard to make the kiddos drink this one unless it is sweet. If you do add honey or maple syrup, make sure to have only a slight sweet note, do not let it overpower the taste… I like Manuka due to it's probiotic and antiviral and mineral rich properties)

  • Add a tsp of astragalus powder to the mix for some extra immune boost. (I add it to my smoothies everyday for ongoing immune support)


VITAMIN A When I am not fighting anything, I find it better to get from food sources. I only do it as a supplement form if I feel that I am coming down with something or if I am going on a plane!

Many supplements sold as Vitamin A area actually beta carotene. Sounds crazy but beta carotene and vitamin A are not synonymous. Beta Carotene is actually 2 molecules of vitamin A joined together and the body liberates very little vitamin A from Beta Carotene (it has it’s function, but not here)

True Vitamin A Helps support mucous membrane and helps raise Secretory IgA which is the first line of defense in your nose, throat, gut and other mucous membranes.

I like to use Pure Vitamin A and cod liver oil. High levels can be toxic, but it is pretty hard to get to that toxic level. Therefore, be aware and never go with very high doses for more than 3 days.

Dosage Adult up to 20.000 IUs a day with food, children 10.000 ius with food

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin so you do want to have it with food to help the body better absorb it.

Food Sources are liver, cod liver oil (my absolute favorite), grass fed dairy.

My Favorite supplements are Genestra Cod Liver Oil and Seeking Health Vitamin A drops. (Not beta carotene)

VITAMIN C - Supports the immune system, connective tissue and is pretty well tolerated. I love liposomal or buffered form, a little easier on the gut and less prone to cause loose stools.

Our body does not retain this one for very long, therefore it is better to take the supplements in lower dose more often than a higher dose all at once, too much can cause loose stools.

Dosage: adults 1000mcg 2 to 3 x a day Children half that dose.

Food Sources are acerola, citrus, bell peppers, kiwi, peaches, broccolis.

Dosing for supplements: Up to 3 grams a day depending on your sensitivities. I like taking liposomal (It by passes the gut and it is supposed to go faster into the cells) or buffered.

My favorite brands are Quicksilver Scientific, Seeking Health and Metabolic Maintenance if you prefer a pill form.

VITAMIN D3 - please note that vitamin D is actually not a vitamin, it is a hormone and immune modulator. We get it when exposed to the sun through the skin, in winter we don’t get as much exposure. So, we are actually getting very little conversion through our skin and we don’t really get as much from foods. Taking a supplement can help. But I only supplement with when I know the current vitamin D status. A healthy person should be able to keep vitamin D up even through the winter. (we need a little faith in our bodies!)

My preferred way is with Cod Liver oil, which has both Vitamin A and D, plus fatty acids that help the body absorb it all. I do that one on a daily basis and in the winter twice a day.

If supplementing directly with Vitamin D3 the dosage for adults are between 5000 to 10.000 IUs a day, kids 2000 IUS a day. (study)


I really LOVE minerals; I feel that most of us are more mineral deficient than vitamin deficient. Our soils are depleted and so is our water, therefore supplementing with multi minerals could be a good idea. I really like the marine base ones like Ocean’s Alive Marine Phytoplankton or Trace Minerals. I also add Celtic Sea Salt liberally to everything.

SELENIUM – Very important to prevent viral replication. It is a powerful mineral that is essential for the proper functioning of your body. It plays a critical role in metabolism and thyroid function and helps protect your body from damage caused by oxidative stress. Dose up to 200 mcg/day is considered safe.

Food sources are Brazil nuts (Always organic, keep it on the fridge), seafood, sunflower seeds.

ZINC – It is found in cells throughout the body. It is a natural antiviral and helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells.

It is a trace mineral so not very high in many foods therefore adding it in supplemental form can keep the immune system primed during cold and flu season can be helpful.

Very important to take it with food. Zinc on an empty stomach can make you nauseous.

Food Sources are oysters, shellfish, red meats and pumpkin seeds.

Dosage: adults 20 to 30 children 10 to 15 mcg.

Bear in mind that zinc can deplete copper so if you are going to take a long term (more than 2 or 3 months) let your health care practitioner know so you can keep track of zinc impact on your copper levels. (blood tests can measure that, do not play around since you can really mess up the body’s natural balance if you go willie Neely supplementing with stuff long term)

On this guide the idea is not to use zinc because you are deficient, it is more of a therapeutic use to kick start your immune system and keep you from getting sick.

I use this as a prevention but if I am already down with something, I might bump up the dosage a little bit.


PROBIOTICS - Very important to support the gut since up to 80% of our immunes system is in the gut. I love Soil Based Probiotics (favorite brand is Microbiome Labs MegaSpore) and Saccharomyces Boullardi.

If you have supplement “FOMO” (I embarrassingly do and tend to go balls to the wall when supplementing, so I allocate a big part of my budget as health prevention, which I consider my true health insurance), other supplements I include are:

GLUTATHIONE - Since the molecule is pretty unstable it is a hard one to supplement with. I only trust liposomal forms. My favorites are QuickSilver Scientific, Apex Energetics (Trizomal which also contains NAC*) and Seeking Health.

NAC: The antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine has been shown to inhibit replication of seasonal human influenza A viruses. It is great for upper respiratory issues since it breaks up mucus in the lungs, helps with sinus congestion, wet coughs. Pro tip, do not use it at night since it might make mucus loose, which is great, but may keep you or your kiddo up coughing all night.

Do not use with dry cough.

NAC is a Precursor to glutathione: 500-600mg 3x day for adults.

With my kids, I do use it 500mg, but I am not a pediatrician, so make sure to check with your healthcare provider!

STRUCTURED SILVER - Silver has been shown to destroy the SARS coronavirus and MRSA when taken internally and nebulized. (Study).

I HIGHLY recommend nebulizing one teaspoon of silver daily in distilled water. Nebulizing is simply taking water and adding products to it (like silver) and then breathing the cold steam produced by the nebulizer into your lungs and sinuses.

I like My Doctor Suggests Structured Silver or ACS 200 by Results RNA.

DOSAGE: Take ½ teaspoon internally per day or nebulize it.


Elderberry Syrup - Elderberry syrup is an effective botanical for preventing - and shortening the duration of - the common cold and flu.

Since most store bought types are full of sugar, I make my own. It is super easy and you can dose how sweet you want it to be. Click here for recipe.

Note: Elderberry *might* not be appropriate for some AID because it can increase cytokines. If you have an autoimmune disease this may impact you, check with your healthcare provider.


Essential oils have antiviral and antiseptic properties. Disperse them into the air in a diffuser or make cleaning supplies out of them (add a few drops to water and wipe down surfaces). The bottoms of the feet are a safe, effective place to apply undiluted essential oils.

My everyday oils are

lavender and Frankincense – (Frankincense can increase activity of white blood cells and calms cytokines storms (viral symptoms). (Study),

You can make your own blends. Essential Oils I like are Thyme, eucalyptus, rosemary, sage essential, cloves. They are all antiviral for influenza. Inhaling them through steam can reduce the coughing reflex, thin mucus and help clear it, improve airflow to bronchial tract. You can use a diffuser and let it mist (pay attention that most come with blue and bright lights which are a terrible choice for sleep!), I am currently using this one . But if you don't feel like investing on a diffuser you can simply follow these steps:

  • boil a full pot of water.

  • Add several drops of each kind of oil to the pot.

  • Sit over the pot and breathe in for as long as you can, every few hours.

Be careful with your eyes, if too hot may irritate the thin mucosal layer of your nose as well, therefore use common sense, it should feel good.

I have not read enough research to validate the effectiveness, but in my personal and clinical experience I feel that they work so I use them a lot.

Young Living Thieves and DoTerra On guard are pre made blends I use often and so is Young Living RC a fantastic respiratory blend.



Rich in magnesium, boron and potassium. It will really help you relax and sleep!

- Fill up a foot basin with filtered hot water (clean trash cans work pretty well!)

- Add ½cup Epsom Salts + 4 tbsp Organic Borax + 4tbsp Food-grade Potassium Carbonate

- Soak your feet for 20 minutes.

I would not recommend taking a full body bath, since it can be very dehydrating for the skin. However, if you opt for a bath, add only 4 cups of Epson Salts.

You may also add a few drops of lavender essential oil.

A note on fever: Fever is our body mounting an immune defense. Our society has decided that fever is the disease. IT IS NOT! Let it rise. I know it can be scary to see high fevers and we have been infused with fear on it. But our body is smarter than you think. It is raising our body temperature to kill invaders. If you treat the fever, you are actually weakening the immune response, not to mention hurting our gut and liver, making our bodies even weaker. Fevers up to 103 are considered safe. (Exceptions apply to young children and the elderly).


Infrared sauna is a way to artificially create a fever. It is a great way to stay healthy and to boost your immune system. I use mine daily. I recommend it to everybody at least once a week. If you can’t use a sauna or a steam, you can take hot baths and allow your body temperature to rise. DO NOT DO THAT IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A FEVER. You do not want to raise the temperature higher than your body is naturally doing for you


A natural method of stimulating the immune system and zapping a cold or flu is called the “wet sock treatment”. It is commonly prescribed by naturopaths.

It may sound strange, but it works because it rallies the body’s defenses, and the best part about it is that it uses the healing power of nature and doesn’t cost anything.

The treatment is known as a "heating compress”, meaning that it's up to the body to heat the cold, wet socks, says Dr.Wallace from Bastyr University. “The body reacts to the cold socks by increasing blood circulation, which also stimulates the immune system. You have to ‘rev up’ the immune system, so it’s ready for battle against the affliction or condition.”

This treatment acts to reflexively increase the circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head and throat. It also has a sedating action, and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment. The treatment is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections.

The wet sock treatment is used in conjunction with other modalities to treat inflammation, infection or soreness of the throat, headaches, migraines, nasal congestion, upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis and sinus infections.

It’s best to start the wet sock treatment on the first day of an illness, ideally repeating it for three nights in a row. People with chronic conditions or a compromised immunity should consult with a doctor before starting the wet sock treatment. Dr. Wallace also points out, “The wet sock treatment is only one component of an integrated treatment plan that includes hydration, proper nutrition and immunity-boosting supplements.”


  • 1 pair of very thin socks, liner socks or polypropylene socks

  • 1 pair of thick wool socks or thick polypropylene socks

  • 2 sets of sweats or pajamas

  • 1 bowl of ice water


  • Soak the pair of thin socks in the bowl of ice water. Then wring the socks out thoroughly so they do not drip (Optional to put them on the freezer for 5 minutes; in that case, be sure to break any ice that might have been created).

  • Take a hot bath for 5-10 minutes. This is very important for the effectiveness of the treatment. In fact, it could be harmful if your feet are not warmed first. If you don’t feel like taking a full body bath you can do just a foot bath.

  • Dry off feet and body with a dry towel.

  • Place ice-cold wet socks on feet. Then cover with thick wool socks. Put on your pajamas. Go directly to bed. Have a spare set of pajamas next to the bed. Avoid getting chilled.

  • Wear the socks overnight. During the night, you may wake up with your whole body wet from sweat and it is good to have those extra pajamas handy in case you do. If so, change into the dry pajamas, but leave on the socks. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry in the morning.

This information is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a licensed health care practitioner is recommended for anyone suffering from a health ailment.

If you are interested on working with Isabela you can apply for a 30 minute complimentary Consultation Here.

Isabela Fortes is a Board Certified Holistic Health Expert, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher Level II Certified Yoga Therapist

She teaches and work with clients in Southern California and Virtually anywhere in the world.

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