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Tips for Cold & Flu Season

Tips for Cold & Flu Season

It's that time of year where everyone seems to get sick. We've already had scores of people coming in to the store to get some help so we thought we would pull together some ideas for you to help both prevent getting sick and to help you get over it faster when you do come down with something. Many of the suggestions below come from one of our herbal heros Dr. Aviva Romm, with links to some of the products that we make that fall into her suggestions, as well as some other suggestions of our own.


I recommend the following supplements to my patients to prevent colds and flu – during travel, or when there’s a lot of illness going around.


  For kids: A Multi-vitamin/mineral is a good way to cover the basics and ensure optimal nutrient intake and immune health, especially in picky eaters. For everyone: 
  • Vitamin D3: Adequate vitamin D status is critical for optimal immune function and is hard to get enough of from food alone, especially in the winter. It’s also been shown that adequate vitamin D levels reduces your likelihood of getting the cold and flu substantially. The dose for adults is 2000-5000 units daily; for kids its 400-2000 units/day depending on age.
  • Buffered Vitamin C: Daily use of Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the likelihood of colds and flu, reduce antibiotic use, and school absences in children. The dose is Take 500-1,000mg/day for kids, and 1000-2000 mg/day for adults.
  • Zinc citrate: Daily supplementation with zinc reduces colds and flu. The dose depends on age. For adults it’s 30-60 mg/day total, For kids over 6 months the daily dose is: 6–12 months 2-3 mg, 1–3 years 3 mg, 4–8 years 5 mg; 9–13 years 8 mg
  • Probiotics: A healthy gut flora supports a healthy gut, a immune major barrier and taken daily, has also been shown to prevent colds and flu. Use a product that contains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains.
  • Cod Liver Oil: High in vitamin A, which is strongly supportive of the immune system and particularly the respiratory passages, is another daily support you can use for your family’s or personal flu prevention plan.
The above doses can be modified for children 2 and over. Pregnant women should omit the vitamin A and take only 2000 mg each of Vitamin C and Vitamin D daily. 


Herbal medicines are powerful allies for boosting immunity and preventing the flu.They are my primary go-to for health and healing along with diet, rest, and a good outlook on life. Many herbs have powerful anti-viral and immune-boosting effects, yet safe and gentle effects on your body. Herbs to consider for flu prevention include Echinacea, elderberry, astragalus, and medicinal mushrooms such as reishi and shitake.


  • Echinacea Liquid Extract (we carry this in the Golden Poppy store): 1 tsp. twice daily (yes, that much – but modify for children down to ¼ of the dose ages 2-7 years old, and ½ the dose 8-12 years old, safe for pregnant/nursing women).
  • Elderberry Syrup (Come by the store and ask for our Immune Tonic): 1 Tbsp. 3 times daily for adults (modify as for Echinacea for children, safe for pregnant /nursing women).
  • Medicinal Mushrooms: I recommend a good Reishi mushroom product - the Golden Poppy Immune Tonic has ReishiTurkey Tail, and Astragalus in it as well as the elder berry.
  • Also, make sure to cook with onions, garlic, turmeric, and gingerall of which have been used historically to prevent and treat infection, and which modern science validates for antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects.


A lot of what folks thing is the flu, actually is a bad upper respiratory infection. In a NYS public health review of cases ,for example, in the current flu season, of over 1200 individuals that went in for care for the flu, on 9% actually had the flu on testing. Whether you have a bad cold or the flu, here’s what you can do:
  • Hydration is essential; Drink plenty of hot tea, water with lemon, and broth
  • Stay comfortable and give yourself permission to rest; sleep is healing.
  • Start taking the above nutritional supplements for extra immune support
  • Immune Tonic: 1 Tbsp. 3 times daily for adults (modify as for Echinacea for children, safe for pregnant /nursing women).
  • There are specific herbs that can also help you to tolerate the aches and pains, and common viral symptoms that accompany the flu.


team.h1 Kerry Bone, Herbalist, Co-author of Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine; Director of Research & Development – MediHerb The 3 main things that I recommend to my patients and do myself are:
  • Plenty of Echinacea root. The dose is crucial. I use my product Echinacea Supreme. My baseline dose is 2.5 g/day in tablet form, or 5 mL of liquid. But in a situation where there is a highly virulent strain around, I double that baseline dose throughout the duration of threat for prevention. Then the trick is to temporarily double or triple this if you feel an infection coming on to ward it off. This works for me the majority of times.
  • Probiotics help improve immunity and prevent infection.
  • Wash your hands before anything goes into your mouth.
  LowDog-Cactus Tieraona Low Dog, MD, Herbalist, Fellowship Director, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, University ofArizona After having H1N1 in August of 2009, I have an appreciation for just how sick influenza makes you. The fever and chills were so intense. Fever Tea To prepare: Mix equal parts of the dried herbs. Pour 2 cups of near boiling water over 2 Tbsp herbs. Steep 10 minutes. Strain. Add some honey or maple syrup – this stuff doesn’t taste good but it lowers the fever, makes you sweat, eases headache and joint pain and I truly believe helps you fight off infection faster. Drink 1/4 cup every hour, while awake. You can also try our Cold & Flu Tea Tinctures (assuming these are all 1:5 strengths) for 3-5 days all of these are available in the Golden Poppy Store
  • Pleurisy root – 10 drops every 2 hours while awake (up to 8 doses)
  • Licorice root – 20 drops every 2 hours while awake (up to 8 doses)
  • Boneset leaf/flowering tops – 10 drops every 2 hours while awake (up to 8 doses)
Use these in combination for 3-5 days
  • Elderberry Syrup (or Golden Poppy Immune Tonic) – take the maximum recommended dose
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  Rosen1 Larry Rosen, MD, Co-author, Treatment Alternatives for Children, The Whole Child Center, Oradell, NJ For prevention I use:
  • Vitamin D3 to keep blood test levels above 40ng/dl.
  • Probiotics.
  • Hand washing with soap and water and a natural, essential oil based hand sanitizer (we have one in the store or you can make one based on Thieves’ Blend contains cinnamon, clove, rosemary, eucalyptus, lemon oils with pure aloe vera gel and water).
  • Nourish, exercise, breathe and rest.
  davidoffice David Winston, Herbalist, President of Herbalist & Alchemist, Inc., founder/director of David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies Favorite flu prevention:
  • The Traditional Chinese Medicine formula Jade Wind Screen
  • Andrographis (3-4 ml 4-6 x per day) as both a preventative and treatment
  • N-Acetycysteine – 600 mg twice daily for influenza prevention
  • The Chinese patent medicine Gan Mao Ling is useful for early stage influenza, I think it works better than Yin Qiao San which is often used.
  • Hot Boneset / Yarrow / Ginger / Elder Flower / Chrysanthemum flower tea also is effective for early stage flu. For kids I use Peppermint, Ginger, Elder and Chrysanthemum flowers tea with Elderberry syrup.
  • Finally when someone comes down with the first flu symptoms – headache, scratchy throat, malaise, have them put on flannel PJ’s, drink the hot tea mentioned earlier (8-12 oz), get under the covers and sweat your brains out.  In most cases the next morning you feel like a wrong out dishrag, your bed clothes, sheets, and blankets are soaked, but you do not have the flu and by the afternoon, you are back on your feet.
  RoyUpton-zoomed Roy Upton, Herbalist, Director of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia As soon as you feels symptoms coming on:
  • Take hot ginger baths daily – The water needs to be hotter than a regular hot bath to kick sweating in, but not burning. While in the bath, drink a hot cup of ginger tea, then go to bed.  To prepare the bath, use a handful of grated fresh ginger steeped in 1 gallon of water for 15 minutes. Keep the pot or jar covered while steeping.
  • Take Yin qiao, a Chinese herbal cold remedy, with Andrographis – equivalent of about 3 g Yin Qiao per dose 4 times daily; andrographis approximately 1 g equivalent daily.
  • Elderberry Syrup – 1 Tbs every waking hour for first 2 days of symptoms
  • Eat a diet of hot broths (miso and seaweed); no dairy; nothing cold or raw; light fare; plenty of hot
  • Ginger or peppermint tea. If you have a fever; peppermint, elder flower, and yarrow tea is a favorite standby. If aching bone symptoms with fever are predominant, add boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) and take 1 cup every few hours. It’s very bitter but effective.
  yance Donnie Yance, Herbalist author of Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer, Founder of the Mederi Foundation and Natura Health Products I recommend the following protocol for enhancing immunity and recovery from the flu:
  • Adaptogens are essential for prevention and for recovery and should be taken daily, except during the acute phase of an illness (indicated by fever). When traveling, during times of increased stress, or when you have been exposed to a virus, I recommend doubling the dosage of Vital Adapt or Power Adapt and taking ImmuCare I or II. I also recommend a double dose of adaptogens during the recovery phase, which is usually 3-4 days after exposure, for up to 2 weeks. Adaptogens improve ability of the immune system to 1) Recognize, 2) Respond, and 3) Recover.
  • Take Flew Away at the first sign of symptoms and continue until symptoms have abated. The herbs in Flew Away combat the virus, ease symptoms such as fever and muscle pain, and help to hasten recovery. The formula includes elderberry, which inhibits viral replication; propolis, a powerful antiviral; and boneset, forsythia, and yarrow, which are traditionally used to stimulate diaphoresis and expel toxins.
  • Spray Throat and Gland Spray, S-Clear and Silvercillin (Designs for Health) directly into your mouth and throat several times a day; these products contain potent anti-virals that attack the virus where it lives and multiplies – in the mucous membranes.
  •  Additional nutrients and botanicals for prevention and recovery include Botanabol, Night Gain, Innate Response zinc, N-acetyl-Cysteine and a good probiotic (Jarro-dophilus or BioImmersion).
  • I recommend a diaphoretic tea of the following herbs: peppermint, elder flowers, yarrow, honeysuckle, boneset, linden, and ginger. Drink several cups a day; in the evening soak in a hot Epsom salt bath, go to bed, get under the covers and sweat. This old-fashioned remedy helps to stimulate immune function and alleviates flu-related aches and pains.
  • Eat light and nourishing foods such as this delicious Hot and Sour Soup.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 6 ounces frozen snow peas
  • 1 (8 ounce) package firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add red bell pepper and green onions and sauté for 5 minutes.
  • Add 2 cups water, broth and soy sauce, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • In a separate medium bowl, combine vinegar, red pepper flakes, ground black pepper, cornstarch, 3 tablespoons water and sesame oil. Add to soup and simmer for 5 additional minutes, or until soup becomes thick and bubbly.
  • Add tofu, snow peas and water chestnuts and continue cooking 10 minutes, or until heated through.
  DSC_0296 - Version 2 Aviva Romm, MD, Herbalist Equal parts black cohosh and Jamaican dogwood tinctures:
  • Combine the tinctures and take 3 mL (about 60 drops).
  • Repeat in 15 minutes, then again in 15 minutes the first time you take it.
  • Thereafter take about 60 drops every 2 hours.
  • This can be given to kids 7 and over, only.
  • Divide your child’s weight over 150, ie for a 30 pound child: 30/150 = 1/5 and give that fraction of the above dose. So for a 30 pound child 1/5 of 60 drops. Make sense?
  • Do NOT exceed this dosing. If you experience headache or shortness of breath, discontinue, though these would be rare side effects. This remedy will help you to sleep (that is, don’t drive while you’re taking it!)
And for a quick cough remedy that’s safe for kids and adults:
  • Combine equal parts of echinacea glycerite, elderberry syrup, anise seed tincture, and catnip tincture.
  • Mix and give 1 dropper 4-6 times/day.
  • Continue for up to a week and if there’s a tendency for recurrent coughs stay on it for several weeks.
  • The echinacea prevents recurrence, the elder is a respiratory immune tonic, the catnip relaxing and the anise mucolytic and a respiratory antispasmodic.
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