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It's hard to imagine with the recent gorgeous fall days, but we are entering the cold/flu season. And it's time to get your immune system ready to fight off this year's culprits. Here are loads of natural ways to boost your immunity and energy:

  1. Load up on antioxidants: bold, colorful fruits and vegetables (organic, when possible). Eat the rainbow daily with tomatoes, raspberries, oranges, grapefruits, squashes (delicata, pumpkin, spaghetti, butternut, etc), parsnips, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, blackberries, eggplant, beets, blueberries.

  2. Stay away from the sugar, processed foods, and fried foods. Enough said.

  3. Eat garlic. Raw, if you can. Ward off those vampires this Halloween and boost your immune cells with loads of Allium family plants - garlic, onions, leeks, and shallots. They contain the compound Allicin, which is responsible for their immune boosting properties. Add flavor and medicine to your cooking by adding these herbs to soups, broths, sautéed vegetables, sauces - possibilities are endless. See below for a recipe to make your own “Hair Raising Cider” for a super immune punch.

  4. Add herbs and spices to your cooking. Most herbs and spices have many health benefits beyond boosting the immune system including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. From sweet to savory, herbs and spices can enhance any meal. Sprinkle your oatmeal with cinnamon and fresh ginger. Spice up your sautéed veggies, grains, sauces, soups with turmeric, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, basil, fennel, etc.

  5. Sore throat? Try a honey-turmeric paste. It’s just like it sounds - add a very generous amount (1-3 tablespoons) of turmeric powder (or fresh for even more medicine) to a tablespoon of honey. Add a pinch of black pepper. You can even add fresh garlic and/or ginger for an intense, but powerful remedy. Eat! Follow with ginger or elderberry tea.

  6. Salt water gargles are also very effective for sore throats, if you start them early and often. You can even add in a few drops of your favorite essential oil for an added anti-microbial effect.

  7. Elderberry and Echinacea tea. Most effective when started at first symptoms. Use 2-3 teabags/cup and drink several cups through the day. I love the brand Pukka for awesome tea blends.

  8. A good quality probiotic can help boost your immune system, as 90% of the immune system is in the gut. Note: not all probiotics are created equal, but stay tuned - I'll write more about this in a later post.

  9. Try a neti pot for a stuffy nose or sinus issues. Make sure to use boiled, then cooled water or distilled water to avoid any nosy creepy-crawlies. And try adding a few drops of eucalyptus or thyme essential oil for an even stronger anti-microbial effect.

  10. Steam inhalation, speaking of essential oils! This is an effective, inexpensive, old fashioned way to clear your sinuses and respiratory tract. Add a few drops of an essential oil to a steaming hot water in a basin. Cover your head with a towel and place your head above the basin. Being careful not to burn yourself with the steam, breathe through your nose from a comfortable distance, exhaling through your mouth. Keep your eyes closed. Do this for 10-15 minutes, or until the water cools1-2x/day. Thyme and eucalyptus are my favorite for respiratory tract support, but all essential oils have some antimicrobial properties, so you can’t really go wrong.

  11. Sleep. Fall and winter are months that our bodies naturally need more rest and sleep to regenerate and restore. Listen to your body and don’t overdo it with social activities, staying up late, and adding too many tasks to your to-do lists. Your brain and immune system will thank you!

  12. Get some fresh air daily and open up the windows at home and in your work space, despite the weather. The reason we get sick in the winter is because we are indoors with everyone else and their germs and stuff doesn’t get aired out. This may seem counterintuitive, but if you or someone around you is sick, open up the windows in every room of your house for 20 minutes daily.

Hair Raising Cider

Finally, my absolute favorite for immune support - Rosemary Gladstar’s Hair Raising Cider recipe:

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1/4 of a white or yellow onion

  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped

  • 1 tsp grated fresh horseradish

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • pinch of cayenne

  • honey to taste (1-3 tablespoons)


  1. Chop vegetables finely.

  2. Combine vinegar, horseradish, onion, garlic, turmeric, and cayenne. Vinegar should cover the herbs by an inch at the top.

  3. Cover with wax paper (so the vinegar doesn't erode the lid) and a tight lid and let sit in a warm place for 2 weeks. Shake / swish daily. Add more vinegar