It seems like every year, there’s always a few week-span where everyone and their mother is sick. Have you been hit yet??? If so, I hope you were able to combat it quickly. If not, I put together a list of my absolute favorite products to have on hand for if and when that time comes this season. I try my hardest to steer clear of getting sick, but it generally happens at the beginning of Fall each year.
For me, the worst part about being sick is that I’m usually left with a congested, nasty cough for quite some time following the cold. I had whooping cough and bronchitis as a kid, which now causes the symptoms to come back very easily. I’ll typically use my inhaler when it gets to this point, but the cold usually goes straight to my chest and I immediately become congested.
I’ve always tried my hardest to stay as natural as I can when I develop symptoms of any sort and resort to taking herbs and other natural remedies.
Keeping your immune system healthy is so important all year round so that it’s ready to fight off any incoming sicknesses or harmful bacteria. While nearly 80% of your immune system lies within your gut, it’s crucial to supply it with everything it needs to stay strong. There are tons of good bacteria that live inside and on our bodies that help us function properly, one of these being live microorganisms called probiotics. Probiotics have a wide variety of health benefits, including aiding in digestion and boosting immune health.
I try to consume as many probiotic-rich foods as I can each day (think fermented foods) before resorting to probiotic supplements. This is because the whole food version is always preferred over supplements for providing the best source of vitamins, minerals and health benefits.
So, we know to constantly take care of our bodies, including feeding our gut healthy bacteria (i.e. probiotics), but what happens when our immune system does take a hit and we get sick? Check below to peep my list of favorite items to always have on hand!
1. Steam Tent
As soon as I get a runny nose and the congestion starts forming in my chest, I immediately make a steam tent. It’s a great way to relieve pressure in the nasal canal and also allows you to sweat out toxins in your own makeshift sauna. It leaves you feeling detoxified, exfoliated and relaxed.
How to: Boil a large pot of water, add 2 tbsp Franklin & Whitman’s Botanical Steam mixture (and/or essential oils– I like adding peppermint, lavender or eucalyptus) to a glass bowl and pour the boiling water over herbs/oils. Hold a towel open over your head, close your eyes and lean over the bowl of steaming water. Continue to breathe in deeply through your nose and inhale the steam for about 10-15 minutes. *P.S. this works as a great steamy facial, too!
(Franklin & Whitman products are all-natural, plant-based, cruelty-free and 5% of EVERY purchase is donated to Dog Rescue organizations! You can use my code, ‘GOODEATS’ for 20% off your orders)
2. Gaia Herbs
I can go on for hours about how much I love the Gaia herbs products I use while I’m sick, in addition to the ones use on a daily basis. They offer a variety of different herbal supplements. Bronchial Wellness Tea is my favorite to drink when I develop any congestion or cough.
Black Elderberry Syrup is another product I constantly take while I’m sick. The flowers and berries of elderberry plants (blue and black) contain flavonoids, which have been found pre-clinically to possess a variety of biochemical and pharmacological actions, including antioxidant and immunologic properties that have shown benefit in treating influenza, bacterial sinusitis, and bronchitis (source). I make sure to take Black Elderberry several times per day to reduce my symptoms.
Local elderberry is also super beneficial. My favorite brand is Seattle Elderberry— the one with honey.
Other go-to’s for healthy immune support:
Gaia Herbs Quick Defense: made with organic Echinacea, Black Elderberry, and Ginger extracts
Holy Basil Leaf: has been shown to reduce anxiety and emotional stress
Oil of Oregano: contains antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral and antimicrobial properties found to fight off infections
I love this pack of echinacea, zinc and vitamin C. This herbal remedy has shown to treat and shorten the duration of colds. This is also great to take during travel, stressful times, or lack of sleep when our immune system function is at its weakest.
4. Ginger and Lemon Tea
Buy ginger root at the store, cut it up into small chunks and either refrigerate or freeze for future use (I always have some stashed in the freezer just in case). Anytime you make a cup of hot tea, throw a small piece of ginger in it with a lemon slice and it’ll help soothe your sore throat / congestion.
5. Wedderspoon Manuka Honey Drops
These are my GO-TO immune-boosting drops. Great for cold, flu and allergy season. My favorite is the eucalyptus or ginger. They’re super good and taste absolutely nothing like the generic “cough drops” on the market. I try going all natural with these instead! Wedderspoon’s Manuka honey is also one of my most used “supplements” during fall and winter.
6. Turmeric Spice
Lately, I’ve been putting turmeric in and on everything. Eggs, cauliflower, chicken, in smoothies, elixirs, mixed with coconut oil for a natural teeth whitener, and more. Turmeric is a root member of the ginger family. It’s a powerful antioxidant and contains anti-inflammatory properties, even proving to relieve digestive discomfort. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is also the ingredient that gives turmeric its bright, orangey color and largely responsible for all its amazing health benefits. Black pepper has been found to increase the body’s absorption of turmeric significantly, so pairing the two is recommended.
7. Zoe Organics Breathe Balm
Obsessed with this stick and put it on my chest, neck and soles of my feet at night to help breathe a bit easier / soothe my cough. It’s made with organic essential oils of eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender and cedar
8. Essential Oil Diffuser
I just got my oil diffuser a few years ago and love it. Not only does it help me relax and unwind at night, I make sure to take advantage of it whenever I’m feeling under the weather. Essential oils are great for clearing sinus issues and have even been known to treat allergies & sinus infections.
You should be aiming for the gold standard of 8 hours of sleep per night. And with lack of sleep, it hinders your immune system– so you should be bumping that number UP anytime you’re not fully well. When your body is feeling run down it’s telling you that you need a break & to rest.
– Ulbricht, C., Basch, E., Cheung, L., Goldberg, H., Hammerness, P., Isaac, R., … Wortley, J. (2014). An Evidence-Based Systematic Review of Elderberry and Elderflower ( Sambucus nigra) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 11(1), 80–120. https://doi.org/10.3109/19390211.2013.859852