5 Tips for a Healthy Immune System (plus, a list of my favorite immune supplements)

Eating wholesome foods is THE best way to get your vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other health-promoting nutrients.  However, we don’t always eat right and are typically under stress, so supplementing according to your individual needs is often necessary.

Tip #1: Start with a Good Multivitamin

My favorite is Mitochondrial PQQ from Life Extension.  It provides the body with B vitamins for chronic stress and contains all the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K.  This formula also gives you antioxidants, including 1000 milligrams of vitamin C, zinc and selenium, plus a little CoQ10.  This formula is the first I’ve found with excellent forms of the nutrients and a high enough potency in just two capsules.  Usually, you must take four to six capsules of other multivitamins for the same potency.

Tip #2: Take an EFA Supplement Daily

I recommend a good essential fatty acid (EFA) formula, which could be from flaxseed oil, fish oil, borage seed oil or evening primrose oil.  These oils provide anti-inflammatory properties to keep cells healthy.

Tip #3: Immune Supportive Vitamins and Herbs

I alternate different supplements, always taking two to four capsules every day of one and alternating them to give my immune system support.  You might not want to take them every day. You can take something every other day, or when you start to feel bad or stressed.

A) Favorite Immune Boosting Supplements

Immunitone Plus from Designs for Health is my favorite immune support supplement.  Why?  It has 600 milligrams of echinacea in four capsules.  It also contains other herbs known for immune support: astragalus, elderberry, andrographis, green tea, arabinogalactan and lauric acid. Additionally, it contains immune-modulating nutrients from cordyceps, maitake and reishi mushrooms and beta 1,3 glucan.  Click here to download an information sheet that contains further description of each ingredient and references to clinical studies.

Bio-Vegetarian from Priority One is a great product that comes in tablets and capsules. The tablets are really spicy because they contain cayenne, ginger and garlic, which are anti-inflammatory herbs.  It’s also high in vitamin A, echinacea, goldenseal and other herbs.  I have some patients that can’t take the tablets at all because of the spiciness.  In that case, you can get the capsules; you just need to take a few more for the same dosage.

I also love Viracid from Ortho Molecular Products.  It’s got a high dose of vitamin A, vitamin C, B12, pantothenic acid and zinc.  It also has a combination of astragalus, elderberry, andrographis, echinacea and L-lysine.  Another reason I like it is that it comes in blister packs, which you can keep handy in your purse or desk drawer.  They’re also great for travel.

I recommend using Viracid when you feel sickness coming on…if you’re feeling extra tired or have a scratchy throat.  For example, the instructions say to take one to two capsules per hour until you get relief from symptoms.  When you’re taking herbs and supplements, you need to hit a therapeutic level of the herbs to achieve an effect.  Take the low dose as a preventative, but then if you feel something creeping in, go to the higher dose. That’s going to help your immune system overall.

B) Extra Vitamin C for Immune Health

I love vitamin C. Your body uses up this antioxidant fast.  It’s water-soluble, so your body takes what it needs; it doesn’t remain in your system all day.  Therefore, you want to supplement throughout the day, especially if you’re feeling sick.  You know you’ve had enough vitamin C if you get diarrhea. Some people take vitamin C “to bowel tolerance,” which is increasing your dose until you get loose stools. And then you know your body has absorbed enough vitamin C.  (You can do the same thing with magnesium.)

C) Extra Vitamin D for Immune Health

If you are starting to become symptomatic, take a high dose of vitamin D based on your body weight: a thousand IUs per pound. So, if you’re a hundred pounds, that’s a 100,000 IUs.  There are high-dose 50,000 IU capsules on the market (which I’ve included in my protocol), so you don’t have to swallow many capsules.  Take a body-weight-based dose for only three to five days while you’re having symptoms and then stop; you do not want to take such a high dose of Vitamin D for too long.

D) Zinc for Immune Health

I have two favorite zinc supplements.  Zinc Plus from Klaire Labs and Reacted Zinc from Ortho Molecular Products. They both contain a couple of different forms of zinc and other co-factors.  You can choose whichever one works for you.  Increase your zinc while you’re sick because your body will use its stores quickly. So, for a couple of days increase zinc to 50 or 60 milligrams during the onset of symptoms.

E) Immune Health Favorites You May Not Have Heard About

I also use Immune Support Packets from Designs for Health. If you don’t want to buy different bottles of supplements, just take one packet a day, especially through the winter months. It’s also a great way to build up your immune system after you’ve been sick.

You can add Immune Tonic from Vitanica to your tea.  Just dilute the drops in a little bit of water and put it in your tea, especially at nighttime. It’s just one extra way to get some of these immune-strengthening herbs in.

S-Clear Spray by Natura Health Products is my favorite spray for a sore, scratchy throat.  It opens your sinuses, coats and is very soothing and healing to the tissue. It helps with post-nasal drip and any kind of irritation in your throat.  It’s an amazing blend. Some people (like my kids) note a bit of a tingle when using the spray.

Monolaurin by Ecological Formulas is by far my favorite antiviral and I’ve been using it for over ten years. There is a lot of research on it that suggests it lessens the viral load when you’re sick, which helps your body fight it off.  I typically recommend taking one or two capsules per day and up to three capsules three times a day if you feel something coming on.  If you want to read more, download this informative PDF.

Argentyn 23 Silver is a high-quality colloidal silver liquid that can be taken orally, or you can also pour one teaspoon in a nebulizer.  If you use a mask with the nebulizer, it will get into the sinuses as well as the lungs.  This will help clear bacteria or viruses out of the nasal passages and the mucus membranes.  Repeat a couple of times a day.

Tip #4: Diet When You’re Sick

When you’re sick, avoid eating a lot of food. You don’t want to waste your body’s energy trying to digest heavy meals. Eat light soups and just sleep. Do a hot sauna, drink lots of water and teas, and just try to rest. So, while you’re ramping up the vitamins, minerals and herbs, make sure you’re not overeating and overworking your digestive system.  Avoid sugar of course and try to keep your stress levels down as much as you can.  Pay attention that your elimination is regular, too.  Speaking of which, this brings me to another weird piece of advice I have for you.

Tip #5: Hydrotherapy – Enema and Wet Sock Therapy

I learned this gem the first week I was in naturopathic medical school, and I really thought our professor was crazy when he told us about it!  However, I have found that it works and recommend that my patients do it when they’re getting sick: take an enema.  Believe it or not, people tend to be a little bit constipated when they’re sick.  You can buy an enema from your local drug store.  Basically, you insert a tiny plastic tube in your anus and inject water into the colon.  Do some deep breathing to let the colon fill, and then sit on the toilet and let it expel. When you empty the colon, you flush toxins, which prevents your body from re-absorbing them. Some people get a colonic from a colon therapist, but if you can’t do that, just do an enema at home.  It’s easy and inexpensive—an old naturopathic medicine remedy.

I use wet sock therapy for my patients who are experiencing sore throat, neck pain, ear infections, headaches, nasal congestion, upper respiratory infections and sinus infections. Wet sock therapy acts to reflexively increase the circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head and throat.  It has a sedating action, and many patients report that they sleep much better during the therapy.  It is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections. All you need is one pair of white cotton socks, one pair of thick wool socks, a towel and a warm bath or warm foot bath. First, soak the cotton socks completely with ice cold water, then warm your feet.  This is very important as the therapy will not be as effective and could be harmful if your feet are not warmed first. Warming can be accomplished by soaking your feet in warm water for at least 10 minutes or taking a warm bath for 10 minutes. Dry off feet and body with a dry towel.

Place cold wet socks on feet. Be sure to wring the socks out thoroughly so they do not drip. Cover wet socks with thick wool socks.  Go directly to bed.  Avoid getting chilled. Keep the socks on overnight.  You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry in the morning.

Find My Favorite Supplements When You Create a Fullscript Account

To make it easy for you to find all the products I described above and decide what you want to have on hand, I developed a wellness protocol and put it in Fullscript.  Create an account and/or log into Fullscript here.  Once you’re logged in, you’ll see my protocol, along with specific instructions for each product.  Of course, you don’t need to order all of it.  Choose what you like.  There are also a few alternate choices for back-ordered products.

If you are ready to make an investment in your health and would like to avoid getting sick every winter or would just like a holistic overview of your health, go here to apply to become a patient and here to see my testimonials.

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