Kick the Cold and Flu this Season with These Kid-Friendly Health Tips & Tricks
In a good year, cold and flu season can be a stressful time for families. Kids are natural germ-magnets, and runny noses seem to be as consistent with the holidays as turkey dinner is with Thanksgiving.
This year is projected to be an extra prevalent year for seasonal illnesses . Spending 2020 safely avoiding COVID-19 had us masked, socially distanced, and dramatically reducing our contact with others—and consequently, other bacteria and viruses. This lack of contact leads to a drop in cold and flu cases, but also, a drop in the mini-exposures necessary for building and maintaining a healthy immune system .
So this year, pairing our out-of-practice immune systems with cabin-fever-induced, post-shutdown activities could make the 2021 cold and flu season a doozy. Luckily, there are steps we can take to support a healthier season for the whole family.
- Slow down on the sugar
- Get plenty of rest and sleep
- Try Children’s herbal formulas
- Mushrooms, mint, and mom’s hugs
- Use glutathione phototherapy patches
1. Slow Down on the Sugar
With the holidays right around the corner, it might seem like an unrealistic or unfavorable time to talk about limiting your family’s sugar intake. But, as consuming too much sugar can have taxing effects on the body’s immune system , it’s worth getting creative when it comes to cutting back on the sweet treats this winter. In my house, we welcome the “Switch Witch” to swap out excessive or unwanted Halloween candy pieces with presents or healthier snacks. And as for that trusty family gingerbread cookie recipe, well, I suggest turning to Pinterest to find a delicious non-sugar alternative to fill the holiday table this year (sorry Grandma).
2. Rest and Sleep
Wintertime means less sunlight, but it doesn’t always mean shorter days. It’s common to add holiday travel, gatherings, and obligations to already busy schedules, which can cause more stress on the whole family.
Instead, taking a note from Chinese medicine, for which winter is the season for slowing down and asking less of ourselves and our children (and thus, being better prepared for a new year), can be a key to staying healthy this cold and flu season. It’s common knowledge that stress and lack of sleep hinder our body's ability to heal themselves [3,4], but it is less common to actually apply that knowledge to how we build our family’s schedules.
Make rest a priority by trying to keep kids on a consistent sleep schedule relative to and appropriate for their age, and watch for signs of impending burnout in all family members. In my house, we think it is better to take a day off to get our ZZs, than have a family shutdown when the flu hits hard.
3. Children's Herbal Formula
As a pediatric herbalist, I’m always looking for safe, effective and good-tasting ways to help our kids get and stay healthy. For this, I often turn to herbal tinctures, with my go-to CQ Jr. or Cold Quell Jr. working wonders to stop a cold in its tracks. Mom's you can use this formula preventatively or as soon as you see the first signs of cold and cough.
Combining some of the best herbs in Chinese medicine, like various dried fruits, licorice and honeysuckle, these remedies are proven to help boost the immune system  . Best of all, they are made delicious by preparing in a kid-friendly tincture (my kid even asks for them when she is not sick!). Contact your local pediatric acupuncturist or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the ordering process.
4. Mushrooms, Mint, and Mom's Hugs
What do mushrooms, mint, and mom’s hugs all have in common, you ask? Well, they all contribute to a healthy immune system, making them an excellent defense against the cold and flu this season.
Reishi mushrooms and mint alike help support the body’s natural healing and soothing capabilities  , and are easily incorporated into cozy winter evenings through delicious reishi mushroom soup (here's my favorite recipe) and high-quality mint tea.
As for mom’s hugs, in addition to wrapping our kids in warmth and love, hugs help stimulate the Solar Plexus Chakra, activate the thymus gland, and balance the body’s white blood cells , all contributing to keeping our little ones healthy and disease-free.
5. Heal from the Inside-Out with Glutathione Phototherapy Patches
Glutathione is a major antioxidant and is considered one of the building blocks of the body’s immune system (think Vitamin C on steroids!) . Placing our chemical-free, kid-safe, and super-effective Glutathione Phototherapy Patches can help naturally boost the body’s glutathione levels up to 300%.
These patches reflect the heat of our body to stimulate the areas responsible for healing. For young children not likely to wear a patch directly on the skin, they can be placed with similar efficacy inside clothing. This means easy, simple-to-apply, and no-fuss healing for the whole family.
Long story short, our bodies have an innate capacity to heal themselves and ward off illnesses if we listen to them, care for them, and take the necessary steps to prevent getting sick—this season, and every cold and flu season to come.
- Yuchen Qi, Jeffrey Shaman, Sen Pei, Quantifying the impact of COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical interventions on influenza transmission in the United States, The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2021; https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiab485
- Albert Sanchez, J. L. Reeser, H. S. Lau, P. Y. Yahiku, R. E. Willard, P. J. McMillan, S. Y. Cho, A. R. Magie, U. D. Register, Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 26, Issue 11, November 1973, Pages 1180–1184, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/26.11.1180
- How to Boost Your Immune System, Harvard Medical School, February 20211, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
- Luciana Besedovsky, Tanja Lange, Jan Born, Sleep and immune function, Pflugers Arch. - European Journal of Physiology, Volume 463(1):, November 2011, Pages 121–137, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0
- P. Padmanabhan, ... G. Paliyath, Berries and Related Fruits - Honeysuckle, Encyclopedia of Food and Health, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/honeysuckle
- Kelli McGrane, MS, RD, Kathy W. Warwick, R.D., CDE, What are licorice root’s benefits and downsides? Healthline, June 2020, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/licorice-root#side-effects
- Cheng CH, Leung AY, Chen CF. The effects of two different ganoderma species (Lingzhi) on gene expression in human monocytic THP-1 cells. Nutr Cancer. 2010;62(5):648-58. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20574926/
- Eccles R, Jawad MS, Morris S. The effects of oral administration of (-)-menthol on nasal resistance to airflow and nasal sensation of airflow in subjects suffering from nasal congestion associated with the common cold. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1990 Sep;42(9):652-4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1981905/
- Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Turner RB, Doyle WJ. Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness. Psychological Science. 2015;26(2):135-147. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0956797614559284
- Dröge, Wulf & Breitkreutz, Raoul. Glutathione and immune function. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 59. 595-600. 2000.