Life in Balance: Your Cold and Flu Kit

. Your Cold and Flu Kit

by Elena Greco

LIFE IN BALANCE is a multi-part series exploring health
what it is, how to get it and how to maintain it, easily and naturally.

Read other parts of the series here: Life in Balance.

Typical reading time: 5 minutes

In first segment of the LIFE IN BALANCE series, we learned that health is balance, and that to be healthy, we need to learn ways of keeping our balance, physically and mentally, in the midst of life’s many challenges. We took a look at healthcare paradigms and learned the value of using a holistic healthcare system, one which takes all aspects of you and your health into account, and which views health as much more than being free from symptoms of illness. We also learned that true health is reflected in vitality and resilience. We did an assessment of your traits and lifestyle which will form the basis of your healthcare plan.

And now that you’ve completed your personal health assessment and noted the areas that need improving, what’s next?

Now you plan ahead. In addition to attending to the items in your healthcare assessment that need attention and following the rest of the plan in this series, you need a plan for taking care of illness and injury when they arise. I prepare my own Remedy Kits for specific ailments and situations so that when I’m under par, I don’t have to figure things out or make decisions. I just go to my relevant Kit, and health support—and misery alleviation—awaits!

To understand and utilize the Kits well, it’s essential that you read the first part of the Life in Balance series. If you’re new to Life in Balance, I recommend you start at the beginning, with Part 1 – What Is Health. Links to the entire first part of the series are below this article.

While I’m not usually a fan of solely treating symptoms rather than getting to the source of a health problem, there are times when brief symptomatic treatment to alleviate temporary misery is fine. One of those times is when you have a cold or respiratory virus. Getting a virus might mean that your immune system is temporarily under par, perhaps due to lack of sleep, or because something is indeed out of balance, but occasionally we all get something that’s going around.

I find it really useful to have a “Cold and Flu Kit” at the ready so that if I do succumb to the year’s virus, I don’t have to figure out what to do or take at a time when I’m feeling under the weather. I recommend that everyone have their own personalized Cold and Flu Kit—go crazy and make it your own with all your favorite things! I keep mine as a digital checklist, and if I need to use the Kit, as soon as I’m feeling chipper again, I replenish the Kit.

Just remember: It’s important when treating symptoms that you take care to use remedies that don’t cause additional problems and that, preferably, boost your health in other ways.

Prevention. Ideally, we maintain and support a healthy immune system and don’t get sick often. But hardly anyone is impervious to all infectious viruses all the time, and there are things you can do to avoid increasing your susceptibility to them. The most important of these is sleep: getting fewer than eight hours of sleep a night during the winter season is a sure way of increasing susceptibility to viruses. Other ways to avoid viral illness are dressing appropriately in cold weather, reducing stress levels, increasing the ventilation and humidity indoors, eating healthful foods, and taking appropriate supplements and adaptogens.

The nose knows. A note about two of the remedies in my Cold and Flu Kit, Xlear nasal spray and grapefruit seed extract (GSE) nasal spray: these are wonderful virus preventatives, soothers of nose and throat, and expectorants and decongestants. Because I’m a singer, I use Xlear nasal spray every morning and whenever I have to sing. Xlear contains glycerin, saline and xylitol, all of which help prevent infection, as well as soothing the tissues and clearing phlegm. And any time I think I’ve been exposed to a contagious virus, I add GSE nasal spray (which contains glycerin, saline and grapefruit seed extract) to my regime. That’s because respiratory viruses enter us through the nose when we breathe then in, then reproduce in our nasopharynx. If you use GSE right after being exposed, it kills much of the virus so that you have a lower chance of experiencing an illness and a greater chance of having less severe symptoms if you do.

The Cold and Flu Kit. My Kit has a little something for all of the miserable symptoms of a respiratory virus. If you’re suffering from a cold or flu, you’ll likely want something for sniffles, congestion, cough, bronchial inflammation, sore throat, achiness and/or fever.

Fever. A word about fever: it is nature’s cure. Our temperature rises because the higher temperature kills foreign viruses or bacteria, so fever is our friend. For that reason, I always ride out a fever for at least twenty-four hours without suppressing it, more if I can stand it. (Of course, if the temperature goes above 103F, that’s a different matter; in that case, you should call your healthcare provider or go to an emergency room.) But once you’ve had the fever for a day or so, there’s no harm in taking aspirin to reduce it so that you don’t feel so miserable.

Type of remedy. Do be aware that the type of remedy you choose matters very much, both in immediate action and in the response or reaction after the remedy wears off. For example, if you take an allopathic remedy for congestion, as soon as the drug wears off, you will suffer a rebound effect, which means that the congestion will become even worse than it was originally. You can avoid that rebound by choosing a homeopathic remedy, which has no rebound at all. You might also choose an herb, which has much less rebound than an allopathic drug.

The best remedy is one which leaves you better off than before you took it. Both homeopathic remedies and herbs tend to have health-supporting properties in addition to curbing whatever symptom you’re hoping to alleviate. The items in my Cold and Flu Kit below not only alleviate your symptoms, they support health and balance, and they help your body recover, leaving it healthier than before. And of course having a virus ultimately leaves your immune system stronger than before to confront the next virus that comes alone. That’s because, like a muscle, the immune system benefits from being used. If you were never confronted with a germ at all, your immune system would weaken and leave you more susceptible to illness. So getting a cold isn’t the worst that could happen. Just remember while you’re sniffling that you’re boosting your immune system!

You’ll find your own favorite health-promoting remedies over time. Please do research your choices carefully. I’ve studied nutrition and health for decades and came to my knowledge and understanding through careful study of material from authentic sources. It’s also important that you buy remedies by established, reputable brands and from reliable vendors. Many of the cheapest remedies contain unhealthy fillers and chemicals, so it’s worth a few pennies more to put good-quality remedies into your body. All of the remedies I suggest below can be found in drug stores, health food stores (both online and physical), and online homeopathic and herbal stores, so they’re easy to obtain and mostly quote inexpensive. I’ll be offering some good sources in future segments of Life in Balance.

Obviously, I don’t take all of these remedies each time I suffer from viral symptoms, but instead choose carefully those which are suited to what ails me. Make sure you take the minimum number of remedies possible. Just make sure you always include plenty of Vitamins C and D. Also, note that nothing I list below conflicts with the other remedies or has any negative interactions with them.


Remedies by type (descriptions and dosages in “Remedies by symptom” below)

Homeopathics: Umcka® (pelargonium), ColdCalm®, Oscillococcinum® (anas barbariae), gelsemium, spongia, bryonia, belladonna, influenzinum

Nutrients: quercetin, bromelain, NAC, Vit D, Vit C, zinc, bee propolis, grapefruit seed extract, melatonin

Herbs/spices: andrographis, vasaka, illicium verum, turmeric, ginger, oregano oil, thyme oil, neem

Allopathic remedies: aspirin (not acetaminophen or Ibuprofen, which can be harmful to kidneys and liver)

Other/preventativs: Xlear nasal spray; GSE nasal spray

Foods in which to indulge freely: pineapple, citrus, yogurt, kefir, asparagus, cilantro (thins blood, removes toxins, anti-inflammatory), Indian food (rich in anti-viral spices), green tea, warm soup

Comfort: favorite tissues; comfort food; Throat Coat® tea, Thayers® lozenges or slippery elm to keep throat moist

Tech: digital thermometer, oxygen saturation app (on most smartphones or buy separately; ox sat below 94% is a warning that you should seek medical attention)

Remedies by Symptom

Nasal/sinus congestion

homeopathics: Umcka (pelargonium), ColdCalm (combination) (these two are must-haves!)

nutrients: quercetin and bromelain (often combined for allergic and congestion symptoms)

andrographis (Kold Kare®) – relieves congestion, prevents/alleviates respiratory viruses; antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating; reduces duration and severity of upper respiratory infections; don’t use if you must take anticoagulants or have very low blood pressure

vasaka (Malabar nut) – relieves congestion and breathing issues; expectorant, antitussive, bronchodilator, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic

Bronchial congestion or irritation

homeopathics: spongia 6X or 6C, bryonia 6C

nutrients: quercetin, bromelain, NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine)

herbs: vasaka (Malabar nut; relieves congestion and breathing issues; also see “Nasal/sinus congestion” above)

other: bee propolis


In addition to the remedies above for bronchial issues, sip warm water (never cold) and use Xlear nasal spray to lubricate the nasopharynx and clear phlegm. Cough is caused by the tickle of dripping phlegm down a dry throat, so the goal is to get rid of phlegm and soothe and moisturize the tissues so that they’re less sensitive.


homeopathics: gelsemium 6C, belladonna 6C
other: aspirin (Tylenol is not a good idea; it damages the liver and taken during pregnancy can cause autism in the child; NAC is used for Tylenol overdose)

Anti-viral (to reduce severity and longevity of illness)

homeopathics: Oscillococcinum (anas barbariae), gelsemium 6C and 30C, influenzinum 9C

Vit D – at least 2,000 IUs/day up to 10,000 IUs; no known toxicity even at high levels
Vit C – 1-2 grams/day (1,000-2,000 mg), more when sick, up to 10 grams/day (10,000 mg); no known toxicity even at high levels, possible diarrhea when you’ve reached your tolerance threshold
zinc – 10-15 mg/day, up to 50 mg/day for 3-4 days when sick
melatonin – 1-3 mg/night only; also aids sleep
5-HTP – 50-200 mg/day; also aids mood and sleep quality

andrographis (essential wellness herb; prevents/alleviates respiratory viruses)
illicium verum (star anise; potent antiviral; take care you get illicium verum)
also beneficial-oregano oil; thyme oil; turmeric; ginger

other: bee propolis; grapefruit seed extract


Xlear nasal spray; GSE nasal spray

Here’s to creating  your own great Cold and Flu Kit! And if you have questions, you can always contact me through this website.

Life in Balance

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