By WIN Contributor: Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor

Here are my MUST HAVES to get through the cold and flu season. These items are easy and simple to get and can be used by everyone. Having these items on hand can help prevent upper respiratory tract infections. They can also help move along your recovery so your infection resolves in a timely manner.

  • Raw Honey, Lemon, Ginger

    How easy can boiling water and adding honey, lemon and ginger be? VERY Easy!! You can drink a daily tea of these three to help get a boost of naturally occurring Vitamin C and antimicrobial nutrients. Also, you can drink this when you feel sick to soothe and dry up the swollen, sore and drippy mucus membranes of the nose and throat.

    • There is no magic recipe for this one.

    • Ginger: Simmer a few slices of raw ginger on low heat for about 10-15 minutes. Put as much or as little ginger as you like. The more you add, the spicier, but that is a good thing to help fight off germs.

    • Lemon juice: Then add a splash of fresh lemon juice to taste. The more the better, since lemon juice provides naturally occurring vitamin C and is astringent… which helps reduce a swollen throat, tonsils and sinuses.

    • Honey: Add a teaspoon of raw honey to make it all taste great and to help coat a sore throat.

    • Drink as often and as much as you like.

  • Daily Vitamin C

    Vitamin C can be found anywhere. Try and buy a good brand over a generic or big box store option. My favourites are Sisu and Natural Factor. They make good quality vitamin C at a reasonable price point.

    Vitamin C helps to support white blood cells in the body. Adults can take 1000mg once a day for prevention. If you get sick you can take this amount 2-3 times per day or more.

  • Daily Probiotic

    There has been a landslide of research in the last few years about the tremendous benefit of supplemented probiotics. Yay, it’s about time!!!

    Probiotics are helpful in supporting healthy, good bacterial populations. Think of them as guards, or a fence, to keep infectious organisms out.

    Taking a daily probiotic is easy, well tolerated by most, and an effective option for immune support.

    Again, choose a good quality probiotic rather than a generic or big box store option. This is really important because the better the probiotic, the more effective it will be. My favourite professional line brand is the HMF line from Genestra. Other good retail options are Renew Life or Garden of Life. The best ones are REFRIDGERATED!

    For general immune support you can take 10-20 billion cfu/capsule daily.

  • Keep A Thermometer Handy

    I love my thermometer! I picked up an ear thermometer at the local pharmacy 10 years ago when I had my first son, and it’s been a quick and helpful way to figure out if a fever has developed and if it is persisting.

    Fevers are helpful at fighting off infection. They turn the heat up in your body to burn off bacteria and viruses. It is important to know when you have a fever and when your fever has broken; a sure sign that the infection has been resolved. This is why a thermometer that is reliable and easy to use is an essential for all households.

  • Saline or Herbal Nose Spray

    If you have a stuffy nose or sinus infection, a great way to clear things out and minimize swelling is to use a saline nose spray. You can find these at the local pharmacies and health food stores. Saline nose sprays are just water and salt. They carry no long term adverse effects or side effects if used as directed.

    At the health food stores you may also find herbal or homeopathic nose sprays for sinusitis. In our WIN dispensary we carry an herbal nose spray from Nestman Botanicals that contains antimicrobial ingredients to help to fight off a sinus infection. I’ve had patients who struggle with chronic sinusitis use this at the first sign of infection to prevent it from developing or during an infection to decrease the intensity or duration of the infection.

  • Make Soup Broth & Freeze In Small Batches

    There’s nothing better than a warm nourishing bowl of soup when you are feeling ill. It’s a great way to replenish when you’re depleted. You can make any kind of broth, veggie, chicken, etc., and in a pot, or a crockpot to save time. I’m talking broth made from scratch, not from a can or a box!

    Once it’s cooled, save 2 cups in small containers and freeze. Freezing in small batches like this makes it quicker to use when in need. It also provides you with some flexibility when it comes to how much you want to thaw and use.

  • Lymphatic Drainer In Your Home Remedy Kit

    This one should be at the top, but since we’re going clockwise on my little diagram, it landed in this list at #7…but it’s by far MY NUBMER ONE!

    Your lymphatic system is incredible. It houses your immune cells and if it’s working well and supported you’re less likely to get sick. The lymph nodes and vessels in the head and neck drain congested fluid. If you support your lymphatic system when you are sick the intensity and duration of your infection will be reduced.

    There are natural formulas that help to support the health of the lymphatic system. For the safest and most versatile option, I always recommend you speak to a Naturopathic Doctor to find the right fit and use a homeopathic lymphatic formula (rather than a herbal formula…two very different preparations) if it’s your first time using natural remedies.

    My favourite homeopathic formula is called Lymphdiaral from Pascoe. It can be used by adults and children.

    During cold and flu season Lymphdiaral can be taken daily for prevention and similar to vitamin C, if you get sick you can take it more frequently to help fight off infection.

  • Herbal Cough Drops

    Think Ricola, Herbion or any health food store option. They are usually honey based. You can also make your own if you’re feeling adventurous. Having lozenges on hand at home, or keeping them with you when you’re at work or out and about, can be a huge lifesaver during a hack attack.

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is, it’s easier to get stocked and use some of these ideas to prevent a cold from happening than trying to resolve it when you get sick, especially if you don’t have the resources to do so. You can find all of these at health food stores, grocery stores and/or pharmacies. If you feel like your immune system could be stronger, or if you would like more options to naturally and effectively treat a cold or flu, feel free to visit with me anytime and I would be happy to help.