immune system boosters

“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.”

This line of poetry often sums up my life. My perfectly laid-out plans often go very much awry.

Like publishing this post, which was supposed to have been done ages ago. Better late than never, I guess. Read knowing all the information is a couple of weeks old.

I have been drinking smoothies and eating fish. But I’ve also been sick, so my experiments on improving my health have taken a slightly different turn.

I started feeling a bit “off” on Tuesday. It got worse on Wednesday–tired, achy, and terribly cold. Wednesday night through Thursday evening were the worst.

But today I’m feeling better–still tired, but no aches or chills or general yuckiness.

Here’s what I did.

Elderberry syrup

Elderberry was one of the first natural remedies I remember taking seriously. I first read about it not on an alternative health website or in a book. Rather it was a mainstream women’s magazine (either Good Housekeeping or Woman’s Day, I think). It had showed such impressive results in clinical studies that even the mainstream medical community was taking notice and recommending it.

This link gives a good summary of the many clinical studies that have been conducted on elderberry.

So I’ve been keeping it on hand since then. We try to do daily doses throughout cold and flu season (sometimes we’re better about this than others). But for the last three days, I’ve been doing multiple rounds of elderberry. I take a teaspoon several times per day.


Zinc doesn’t seem to register much on the radar of the natural health world, which has always surprised me. Many alternative health experts seem to tout Vitamin C, which hasn’t held up well in clinical studies, but ignore zinc, which has been shown effective at reducing both the severity and duration of colds. I stock it in pill form for my husband and me and orange-flavored chewables for the girls. We accidentally experimented with this a couple of years ago, when my husband and older daughter took zinc faithfully throughout an illness. My younger child and I did not. And we did get sicker and stay sick longer than they did.

I take one zinc a day when I feel something coming on. I usually do it with breakfast, because that’s when I remember. It is imperative that you take zinc with food! Trust me on this; we’ve proven that one too. And the stomach upset caused by ignoring this tip is not worth it.

Two studies regarding zinc can be found here or here. You can find others if you poke around, but I don’t want to clog this up with a bunch of links. .

Essential oils

I’m still new to the world of essential oils. I’m excited about an online class I signed up for, and I’m hoping to come away with a lot of good information. I don’t know of a lot of research on their effectiveness; most essential oil information tends to come from people or companies selling them–something of a tainted well. But a friend gave me a bottle of Thieves for my birthday, so we’ve been using it. The last three days I’ve been slathering it on (diluted in fractionated coconut oil) at regular intervals throughout the day. If I were the one making the essential oil purchase, I’d probably opt for Plant Therapy’s Germ Fighter Synergy Blend and/or the Immune Boost. A similar blend of oils for much less money.

Sleep and rest

Sleep really needs to be one of my goals–and soon. I’m bad about staying up too late, and I have to get up on time the next morning regardless of how tired I am. But feeling poorly has had the positive effect of forcing me to go to bed on time. I also cut an activity Wednesday night and just stayed home to rest.

The end result of all this? As mentioned above, I’m doing much better today. Of course, I have no way of knowing if I would have been feeling better today no matter what. Still, I’m pleased to feel improvement so quickly.

P.S. Vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids are also supposed to help the immune system. These are already a part of my daily regimen, so I didn’t need to add them. Also, chicken soup is another natural remedy that has caught the attention of the mainstream medical community. It would definitely have been worth adding to my “treatments.” But I didn’t really feel like making it and to be perfectly honest, I don’t actually really like it all that much. I like soup, just not chicken soup. But I do heartily recommend it.

Here’s to staying healthy the rest of the winter!