Looking to dodge the flu without the shot? Be sure to bookmark this comprehensive flu season survival guide from our top contributing herbalist, Adriana Ayales of Anima Mundi.
Learn how attuning to our body’s natural needs, rhythms and defenses can strengthen our immunity naturally. And gett ahead of the game with a stock of potent herbal supplements to thrive through the season in glowing health…
The total elimination of bacteria and viruses is virtually impossible. In the ’50s and ’60s when very strong antibiotics and miracle drugs were developed, doctors swore that it was perhaps the beginning of the end for major illnesses that were bacterial and viral based. Yet, did doctors miss that all life on Earth is hyper-intelligent and highly adaptable?
Bacteria is a highly intelligent living being, and the oldest form of life on the planet. It has existed, adapted, evolved and survived through 3+ billion years by responding to threats and thus protecting its survival. A crucial understanding that early researchers perhaps ignored—though tremendously obvious today—is that the world is filled with anti-bacterial substances, most produced by other bacteria, as well as fungi and plants.
What’s fascinating is that human-made antibiotics, flu shots and other pharmaceutical antibacterials and antivirals all originate from fungi. Given these circumstances, we have a bit of a problem on our hands. Dr. Stephen Harrod Buhner has said: “Perhaps, perhaps, if our antibiotic use had been restrained, the problem would have been minor. But it hasn’t been; the amount of pure antibiotics being dumped into the environment is unprecedented in evolutionary history. And that has had tremendous impacts on bacterial communities of Earth, and the bacteria have set about solving the problem they face very methodically. Just like us, they want to survive, and just like us, they are very adaptable. In fact, they are much more adaptable than we will ever be.”
The Importance Of Nature’s Antibiotics
Each year the flu seasons seems to get stronger and stronger due to the natural evolution and endurance of bacteria and virus increase. So, when it comes to flu season survival, we have to stop thinking of prevention and protection differently—the band aid method of vaccinations and antibiotics isn’t always the best solution to elevating immunity. Many of the methods employed by our ancestors were traditional tea formulations and extractions from botanical medicines. Many time-tested techniques using natural antibiotics have proven very successful for longevity upkeep and preventing illness.
And believe or not, catching a cold isn’t always bad. Oftentimes feeling under the weather is a way to strengthen your immune system and re-program it to a higher level of protection. Children exposed to colds and viruses earlier in life will develop a stronger immune system, becoming less likely to be sick in his or her later years. But every year there are millions of new microbes and bacteria growing, adapting and evolving, so every cold will be a different form of infection and inflammation and require a different strategy for protection. The trick is to work against it and stay ahead of it by intaking an assortment of herbs and foods that will provide sufficient protection from the ever-evolving bacterial community.
The Bacterial + Emotional Wellness Connection
Our immune system isn’t just our body’s defense mechanism against infectious organisms and other invaders—our immune system is also directly linked to our mental and emotional wellbeing. Emerging research now shows that being happy may keep your immune system strong. Clinical research has also shown that happiness and leading a meaningful life may greatly reduce developing chest colds, chest infection and prevent overall inflammation.
One study in over 300 healthy people looked at the risk of developing a cold after individuals were given a common cold virus via nasal drops. The least happy people were almost three times as likely to develop the common cold compared to their happier counterparts. In another study, researchers gave 81 university students a vaccine against hepatitis B, a virus that attacks the liver. Happier students were nearly twice as likely to have a high antibody response, a sign of a strong immune system.
The effects of happiness on the immune system is not completely understood, nor are the emotional-mental counterparts spoken about much by the medical community. Thankfully the continual research on neural-plasticity has uncovered major understandings on how our mental and emotional well-being dictates our health.
The activity of our stress-response system, the HPA axis (hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands), is infamous for its ability to manage stress responses within the body. There is so much more that happens within this axis, but, very simply, it also controls many of our most vital processes such as hormonal output, the nervous system, mood, digestion and more.
How To Develop A Holistic Resistance To Bacteria
Try not to STRESS | Stress is not worth your time. Keep any stressors to a minimum and see how drastically your life will change. Stress is one of the primary reasons the immune system collapses (and just about everything else). Stress isn’t just mental and emotional, it can be also be triggered by biological, agricultural and atmospheric factors as well. Be sure to understand what the classic stress triggers are in your life and solve them. Untangle and convert them, especially for flu season survival.
STICK TO YOUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM | Try not to go to sleep late and/or rise at irregular times each day. Stay consistent with a solid sleep and wake schedule. You’ll enjoy a stable supply of essential neurohormones (melatonin, serotonin, dopamine, tryptophan) that dictate how we sleep, age and feel. A stable and healthy supply of these hormones will keep you happy, and they are essential building blocks to immune health.
LIMIT EXPOSURE TO SCREENS | Prolonged exposure to phones, computers and any other blue-light device is known to weaken the immune system and cause a plethora of problems. Be sure to limit screen time and use protective methods like special computer glasses that protect your eyes.
EAT ORGANIC FOODS + INTAKE MEDICINAL HERBS | At least half, if not more, of all antibiotics used in the United States go to factory farm operations. This has generated tremendously potent and quick resistance in a large range of bacteria. Be sure to support local organic farmers to ensure you’re exposed to the least amount of antibiotics. There are plenty of immune-protective herbs and fungi—from garlic to reishi mushroom— that you can consume to strengthen the immune system and assist in its adaptation to the exposure of bacteria.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER + STIMULATE THE LYMPH | Our immune system is directly affected by each bout of exercise. When we exercise we experience 50 to 100% elevation of white blood cells to repair tissues post-workout. The lymphatic system is a major part of our body’s immune system, and when stimulated it increases circulation, removes toxins and produces white blood cells. Physical activity, hands-on stimulation and sweating are three key ways to activate the lymph and assist white blood cells to perform and protect.
DO What YOU LOVE | Follow your bliss isn’t just a cliche, it’s actually good for you. Scientific studies have shown that doing what you love improves your immune system, increases gut health, cardiovascular function and more. Carve out the time to do what you truly love, and see how powerfully your life shifts.
Herbs For Prevention, Protection + Resilience
These are just some of many herbs for flu season survival that are powerful before, during and after getting a cold:
ECHINACEA | A powerful antiviral and antibacterial herb that contains essential polysaccharides known to increase the body’s white blood cell production and helps fight infection. Tip: It is not recommended to take while in the thick of a flu, but is an excellent tonic for when you feel like you’re about to catch a cold or after the intensity passes as you recuperate. CHECK OUT
Tip to combat strep throat: Drink 1/2 teaspoon of echinacea tincture (or tinctures with a high percentage of echinacea, like Colds Cocktail undiluted, and hold in the mouth until the alive is well stimulated. Allow it to dribble slowly down the throat. Repeat every 1 to 2 hours.
REISHI | Reishi and medicinal mushrooms are excellent for the prevention of sickness. Mushrooms are antibacterial and antiviral—they assist the immune system to adapt to common stressors. Tip: Mushrooms are not advised to be taken during the flu, rather taken before (to prevent immune lows) and after it passes to rebuild and assist in white blood cell production. CHECK OUT
PAU D’ARCO | This is an incredibly versatile herb with antibiotic, anti-fungal, immuno-stimulant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Pau d’arco gained its reputation for curing cancer and fighting chronic infections. It is regarded as a heal-all and used as a cure for gastro-intestinal imbalances and skin diseases, among other uses, in indigenous rainforest cultures. CHECK OUT
CAT’S CLAW | Studies have been made on this revered rainforest plant for its powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effects and immune-protecting properties. Cat’s claw naturally boosts the immune system and strengthens against a multitude of pathogens. It has also proven to be anti-mutagenic, anti-cancer, analgesic, a blood cleanser and more. CHECK OUT
BERBERINE | Berberine is the intense yellow tint that several plants share in common—turmeric, golden seal and Oregon grape root—and it happens to be one of the active constituents for powerful immune protection. Tip: Source it directly from the plants themselves rather than synthesized supplements. CHECK OUT
QUASSIA |This is an intensely bitter tree from the rainforest revered for one of its infamous constituents, quinine. It is an incredibly powerful antibacterial, anti-microbial and antiviral that has been used for centuries in rainforest traditions to treat major illnesses such as malaria. It is highly effective for flu season survival. CHECK OUT
Cold + Flu Tonic
An easy remedy that will help beat the bug + make you feel good
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 garlic clove
1 tsp fresh aloe goo
1 tsp Colds Cocktail Tonic (optional, for extra strength)
1 tsp honey (optional)
1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
black pepper, sprinkle
8 oz hot water
Blend all ingredients together with just enough water for it to blend. Pour into cup of hot water and mix well. Enjoy immediately.
Tip: Drink as many times as needed while feeling sick.