It is time for me to stock my personal flu season arsenal – I was reminded of that by a child who came home early Sunday morning with a sore throat and a very stuffy nose. I like to have certain things at home (even though the store is 3 minutes from my house) because they come in handy in the middle of the night.Every cold and flu season is a little bit different – something that worked really well last year may be just so-so this year. My first line of defense is something called Defense Plus – it is grapefruit seed extract combined with echinacea, astragalus, goldenseal, vitamin C, zinc and several immune building mushrooms. I take 2 of these every 3-4 hours. I usually know on the first dose if it is working.If that isn’t quite taking care of my symptoms so that I can go to work and help all of you, I add oregano oil. Oregano oil kills lots of viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungus. It is really strong stuff – especially the kind that is at least 70 percent carvacrol. I like this in liquid veggie caps because the oil is just awful tasting– with the capsules, you get to swallow it without the nasty taste.Occasionally, this doesn’t work as well as I would like it to. Then I usually resort to olive leaf. Olive leaf is one of my favorite immune builders – I know several people who take it daily and stay well year after year. Good olive leaf does some great things in addition to building immunity – studies show it lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. Quality is key on olive – it has to be at least 18 percent oleuropin, or it will not work well enough to justify spending your money on it.These 3 things are in my first aid cabinet during the fall/winter for colds and flus. I then like to add something to help break up coughs and congestion. I have 2 favorites – fenugreek and thyme (in combination so it counts as 1 thing) and a herbal blend with osha in a liquid gel cap that really seems to work well on the pesky middle of the night coughs.Everything I mentioned above is tablet or capsule form now that my son is old enough to swallow pills. I still recommend liquid forms for those who need them. For the younger set, I have 2 favorites – colloidal silver and elderberry chewables. Both of these interfere with a virus or bacteria’s ability to reproduce and overrun your system. I particularly like silver for stomach viruses because it is very gentle, but usually very effective.A couple of years ago, we added a really strong tasting liquid called Cold and Sinus Blaster – it does just that. I like it for breaking up congestion and speeding up recovery. There are many other supplements that work. Everyone is a little bit different – one customer uses astragalus and zinc. Another uses echinacea and vitamin C. Others swear by oscillo.Natural supplements work best when taken at the first symptoms of cold or flu – I go with the early and often theory because it is bad for my business if I get sick. I also need to mention my favorite immune builders – olive leaf as I described above and Elderberry Defense. I find that taking one of these on a regular basis keeps me from getting sick in the first place. It is when I run out that I get in trouble.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas. www.naturalcowgirl.wordpress.com