Is it possible to stop a cold before it starts? Yes! Here are my DIY home remedies and supplement recommendations for preventing a cold before it takes hold.
- Glutathione is the master antioxidant supporting every cell in our body and can help protect and minimize the oxidative stress of flying. Supplementing with glutathione can be especially helpful when exposed to new people, places, or traveling. When you fly at 35,000 feet your body is subjected to 50-100x the amount of cosmic radiation as on land.
- Vitamin C along with glutathione, vitamin E can reduce the effects of ionizing radiation on DNA. Cumulative damage to DNA can lead to dysfunction and eventual disease in the human body. It is crucial to support these antioxidants and antioxidant enzymes when putting ourselves in a compromised position for extended periods of times, such as flying in an airplane. 1
- Vitamin D. Multiple studies have demonstrated that taking vitamin D preventively as well as during an acute infection can decrease one’s risk of hospitalization and death.
- Water supports mucous membrane hydration and blood volume and is a huge component of lymphatic movement, considering that 95% of lymphatic fluid is water. It follow that a dehydrated body will have a sluggish lymphatic system and slowed immune and pathogen clearance.
- Garlic is fantastic in its capacity to modulate the immune response and enhance the functioning of lymphocytes, natural killer cells and dendritic cells. Garlic also helps balance the flora in our gut and can even kill pathogenic bacteria and yeast. 2
- Sleep is vital for creating robust immune memory. Without adequate sleep people can get sick over and over again by the same viruses as their body can not create adequate memory T cells to recognize the pathogen. Sleep also has a strong anti-inflammatory effect that permits resetting of the immunological memory. 3
- Activate autophagy through fasting or cold exposure (end showers with 30 seconds of cold water) just be sure to control your breathing when taking the cold shower or ice plunge so you don’t induce sickness into your tissues in the process of trying to activate your immune system with a controlled stressor. Fasting is excellent as it permits the body to remove defected and underperforming cells, while stimulating the generation of new stem cells to refurbish all aspects of the body but especially immunity. 4
- Keep neck and feet warm. If you get cold symptoms often, make a special point of keeping your feet warm and your neck and ears covered when outside on cool days. When your feet get chilled, this causes vasoconstriction in the nose. This reduces the number of immune cells available in the nasal epithelium and slows down mucociliary clearance, allowing infectious agents more time to do their dirty work. 5
- Zinc is a cornerstone mineral for defending against invaders. Even a mild deficiency in zinc can slow down the activity of our army of white blood cells like lymphocytes, neutrophils and macrophages. Zinc deficiency is especially common in the elderly and puts them at increased risk of immune dysregulation and infections such as pneumonia.
At the first signs of sickness
- Wet sock treatment. I’ve used this simple at-home remedy for years with great success.
1 pair of cotton socks
1 pair of thick wool socks
2 sets of sweats or pajamas
1. Soak a pair of cotton socks in water, wring out and place in freezer.
2. Drink a concentrated ginger tea. Take a hot bath for 5-10 minutes.
3. Dry off.
4. Place ice-cold socks on feet. Then cover with thick wool socks. Put on the first set of pajamas. Go directly to bed. Place the second set of pajamas next to the bed. Avoid getting chilled.
5. Wear the socks overnight.
During the night, you may wake up drenched in sweat. 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.
- First Defense at the first signs of a cold, take this antioxidant formula to boost your body’s immune response.
- Extra vitamin C
- Vitamin D or the lack of it is the key to so much sickness and the intensity of symptoms or residual side effects. People spend a lot of time indoors and avoid or protect themselves from the sun which leads to inadequate vitamin D and an immune system that responds in a spastic manner.
- Vitamin A is depleted along with most B vitamins during sickness. To decrease the length of time symptoms are present and to keep an infection from turning chronic, it is advisable to replenish these nutrients immediately.
- Immunity elixir. This acute immunity elixir is another go-to DIY home remedy.
1 teaspoon shredded raw ginger
1 lemon (preferably organic)
1-2 cloves of garlic (depends on the size of cloves)
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of honey (preferably Manuka but at least raw)
Blend mixture. Drink 2-3x per day! If the concoction is too intense, you can add water.
Garlic, lemon, ginger, cayenne all have anti-bacterial and viral properties as well as immune-building properties. They also support circulation which is paramount for immune health.
- Marshmallow root tea. To get the benefits of marshmallow root tea, you will need to cool the tea to bring out the mucilaginous properties to coat your throat.
- Manuka honey has strong antimicrobial properties along with soothing mucous membranes and helping to heal inflamed tissues. Manuka honey is also loaded with antioxidants that can help refurbish a body that has been in a strong battle.
- Propolis, similar to manuka honey has strong anti-inflammatory effects as well as antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. These same properties of propolis that keep bee hives from predators can perform likewise to our benefit.
Nasal congestion/Chest congestion
- Nebulizer – use 1/4 tsp of 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide + 71/4 tsp of Saline 2-3x per day.
- Steam inhalations with eucalyptus, thyme, mint for 3-3 min 2x per day.
- NAC (lung support) is a strong mucolytic, meaning it helps the respiratory tract thin and clear mucous secretions. It also is key to the production of glutathione in our lung tissue. NAC has been shown via its actions as an antioxidant and immune modulator to have effects in the treatment of influenza. Studies also suggest that it can decrease the number of influenza like episodes when taken preventively. Click here to read about the benefits of NAC and how to use it to support respiratory health.
- Ginger tea
- Mullein tea or tincture
- Hawthorn berry extract
- Steam inhalations with thyme, mint, eucalyptus
- Nebulize saline or have steam misting near by.
- Focus on nasal breathing and humming to relax respiratory tract and promote a parasympathetic state in your diaphragm. This also promotes increased circulation. Focus on silencing your breathing. If you breathe through your nose, your nose will do much of this for you.
- Lee C Yong, Martin R Petersen, Alice J Sigurdson, Laura A Sampson, Elizabeth M Ward, High dietary antioxidant intakes are associated with decreased chromosome translocation frequency in airline pilots, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 90, Issue 5, November 2009, Pages 1402–1410, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2009.28207
- Rodrigo Arreola, Saray Quintero-Fabián, Rocío Ivette López-Roa, Enrique Octavio Flores-Gutiérrez, Juan Pablo Reyes-Grajeda, Lucrecia Carrera-Quintanar, Daniel Ortuño-Sahagún, “Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds”, Journal of Immunology Research, vol. 2015, Article ID 401630, 13 pages, 2015. doi: 10.1155/2015/401630.
- Sleep and immune function. Besedovsky, L., Lange, T. & Born, J. Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Arch – Eur J Physiol 463, 121–137 (2012). doi: 10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0.
- Michael Smith. Cold Feet? Aah-Choo! MedPage. November 14, 2005.