Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
Mother Nature provides a vast array of herbs and plants that can help your body fight off cold and flu viruses faster. There are many studies showing the natural antibiotic effects of the following nutrients and herbs.
Echinacea is an herb that’s known to have a range of healing qualities. Although it doesn’t prevent colds, it has been shown in clinical studies to help shorten their duration. Echinacea seems to work by activating immune cells. For this reason, it’s best to avoid echinacea if you have an autoimmune disease.
Vitamin A (not beta-carotene supplements)—75,000 to 150,000 IU daily split into three doses for just a few days—can help to support immunity and mucous membrane healing. A lower dose of 20,000 IU is then taken twice daily for a few days, followed by 5,000 to 10,000 IU for 3 to 5 days. This protocol has worked for many practitioners and patients in fighting off infections in their early stages. If you are pregnant or nursing, do not take more than 10,000 IU daily of vitamin A.
Vitamin D3. Research indicates that vitamin D3 is most effective in preventing upper respiratory infections and influenza. The recommended dosage is 5,000 IU daily, especially if you’ve measured low in a blood test. According to some data, taking higher amounts of vitamin D3 (e.g., 10,000 IU) for three days helps heal certain infections, such as herpes viruses (simplex and zoster). Many practitioners believe that 10,000 IU daily during the cold season offers substantial protection.
Garlic (Allium sativa), particularly its allicin sulfur compound, has been considered a natural antibiotic for centuries. Research shows it inhibits the growth of some bacteria and yeast. It also appears to be helpful in treating parasites.
Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) contains flavonoids and is an antioxidant with natural antibacterial and antiviral properties. It has been shown to kill viruses on produce, and is an effective cleansing agent. GSE can inhibit bacteria and yeast growth on the skin and helps treat athlete’s foot.
Grapefruit seed extract is an antioxidant with natural antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Oregano oil, in liquid or capsule form, can treat certain strains of fungi and bacteria. It’s a popular and effective natural infection fighter, and a potent antiparasitic agent.
Oregano oil can treat certain strains of fungi and bacteria.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) has potent antibacterial properties and is often used to treat eye infections, sinus infections, and some types of diarrhea. It can be used during the acute stages of a cold or flu to bolster immunity and help you recover faster.
Reishi is a powerful medicinal mushroom for immune health. According to laboratory research, reishi mushroom works by increasing the number and function of all types of immune cells within the body, including natural killer cells and T cells.
NAC (N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine) helps clear chest congestion. NAC plays a role in the production and activity of white blood cells, boosting the body’s natural immune response. It is also used to treat emphysema and bronchitis.
Thymus Pat and Hum
The thymus gland is the orchestrator of the body’s immune network, and this simple step can help strengthen your immune system. Place your palm over your thymus (located just beneath your collarbone) and very tenderly circle in a clockwise direction. Then gently pat the area with the palm of your hand or a soft fist, and hum deep into your thymus. Another option is to tap the thymus area with your fingertips.
The ancient Greeks believed that the thymus controlled the body’s life energy. According to John Diamond, MD, author of Life Energy, the thymus is the link between mind and body because it’s one of the first organs affected by negative mental attitudes and stress.