It’s Cold and Flu Season! What Might Help?

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by Nils Osmar. Updates May 26, 2022

Want to have an easier time of it during cold and flu season? What you eat, drink, and do have all been shown to have an impact on your immune system and its ability to fight off viral respiratory infections.

Note: Listing items below is not meant to suggest an endorsement. Some interventions (like taking hot baths and showers) have both medical and epidemiological studies suggesting they may have benefits.

Others (like putting a few drops of diluted hydrogen peroxide in the ears) have only anecdotal evidence to support them – a much lower standard of proof. Nothing on this page is intended as or should be taken as medical advice.

Most Doctors Recommend:

  • For some people: getting vaccinated. There are no vaccines for the common cold, but most medical doctors recommend getting vaccinated against the flu. According to this article from the CDC website, “CDC conducts studies each year to determine how well influenza (flu) vaccines protect against flu. 
  • While vaccine effectiveness (VE) can vary, recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to those used to make flu vaccines.”
  • With that said, it’s clear that vaccines, like any other medical interventions, have pros and cons, As with any medical procedure, we should approach them with knowledge of both the possible benefits and side effects.
  • Wearing masks to prevent droplet spray infection
  • Washing our hands after touching surfaces that may be infected

What Else Might Help?

No intervention is guaranteed to help everyone. And of course this is not intended as medical advice. But hhere are studies suggesting that there may be benefits to:

  • Getting some exercise.
  • Getting some sun exposure.
  • Taking hot baths or saunas.
  • Doing prolonged fasting or fasting mimicking diets (when we’re not sick) to reboot our immune systems.
  • Good ventilation.
  • Optimizing your sleep.
  • Nasal irrigation.
  • Using Xylitol nasal spray
  • Some doctors advocate for letting a fever burn (though not all agree with this recommendation.) Fever is the body’s way of fighting infections. Speaking anecdotally, I usually let fevers burn rather than taking aspirin or other medications to lower them.
  • Rinsing or gargling with hydrogen peroxide – or even putting a few drops in your ears. (I’ve actually done this, and had a bad cold completely vanish within a few hours. My doctor thought it was a placebo effect. Could be – but (1) it was harmless, and (2) it worked for me and (3) I haven’t had a cold that lasted more than a few hours since learning about it) (I start with 2 percent hydrogen peroxide and dilute it down to 1 percent, and use a whole dropper full in each ear.)
  • Rinsing or gargling with mouthwashes such as Listerine.

Supplements that may help

Food and Drink

Videos of interest

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