We wanted to learn new ways to beat the common cold and stave off the flu, so we asked Dave Asprey, the founder and CEO of Bulletproof, how to hack the human immune system.
Winter’s here, and if you’ve made it this far without getting sick, you’re one of the lucky (or smart). Depending on where you live, there are still, at least, a few months left of cold, dreary weather and for too many people that means a few more months of cold and flu season.
I often used to get sick every month and get completely knocked out by colds and flu. Thankfully, over the years, I’ve learned many tricks, especially while running the Silicon Valley Health Institute. These are the tricks you probably won’t hear about at your doctor’s office (unless you have a great functional medicine doctor!).
Check out these hacks to help keep your immune system working strong, and if you do get a cold or flu, to help you knock it out as quickly and comfortably as possible.
- Throughout the Winter months, taking 1,000 IU of D3 for every 25 pounds of body weight can significantly increase your body’s ability to fight infections.
- I’d choose vitamin D3 over a flu shot any day. It’s important to balance your D3 intake with K2 and Vitamin A, as explained here.
- Contrary to popular belief, this won’t necessarily keep you from getting sick. However, it can help you get rid of your cold more quickly.
- One issue with vitamin C though is that it has an L-shaped response curve, meaning you have to take enough to almost cause “disaster pants” and continue taking that amount for it to be effective.
- When you start to get sick, your body demands way more vitamin C than usual. For example, if you normally take less than 5 grams per day, you lneed to take five or 10 times that amount per day when you’re getting sick. In other words, taking just a little more vitamin C won’t do the trick.
- This is a powerful antioxidant (arguably the most important antioxidant) that is key to liver detox. It’s produced naturally in your body but, during times of illness or extra need, supplementing with glutathione or NAC (n-acetyl cysteine, a precursor to glutathione) can give your immune system the extra boost it needs while also providing important support to your body’s liver detoxification process.
- It recharges antioxidants after your body uses them, so if you take glutathione with vitamin C, it gives you an extra antioxidant boost. When you start to get sick, you have more free radicals to quench.
- Helps you get rid of a cold faster and decreases your symptoms. But this only works if you take it within 24 hours of the cold’s onset.
- The old classic really does kill pathogens that cause upper respiratory infections.
- Make sure you get or make your chicken soup from the bones of pasture-raised chickens.
- This spice fights rhinovirus — that’s the virus responsible for many colds. To benefit from ginger, try making ginger tea, eating raw ginger, or adding ginger to your chicken soup.
- I put a couple spoonfuls of fresh, grated ginger in my bone broth soup. When I finish crying, I feel great!
- Garlic is a strong antiviral, antibacterial, anti-parasitic, and anti-fungal that boosts your immune system.
- If you’re sick, garlic is a great way to boost your immune system. If you’re hardcore, suck on a raw garlic clove for 15-20 minutes to get its benefits (yum). You can also just cook with it — bonus points if you add it to your chicken bone broth ginger soup.
- This spice is full of antioxidants and curcuminoids, including curcumin. Curcumin regulates your immune system and is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
- Curcumin makes up about three percent of turmeric, so try curcumin extract if you want the full-on immune-boosting effects.
- Curcumin’s bioavailability is low alone, so a supplement that comes with black pepper extract is best. It boosts bioavailability considerably.
3. Essential Oils
- This oil relieves congestion, decreases coughing/bronchitis, and kills infectious bacteria in your respiratory tract.
- If you’re an adult, it’s generally safe to put on your skin. Rub it under each nostril to help you breathe more easily.
- Benefits: kills bacteria and fungi that are resistant to antibiotics.
- You can take this in pill form, but make sure you get Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon cinnamon) oil and not a Cassia product. (Cassia is high in coumarin, which can thin your blood and stress your liver and kidneys).
- Don’t take cinnamon oil for more than a week as it’s really powerful and can be toxic in high doses.
- If you’re taking the cinnamon oil in pill form, make sure you test it by applying a small amount of the oil on your skin before using it to make sure you’re not sensitive to it.
- Essential oil from oregano is antiviral, anti-fungal, and is an antioxidant.
- It contains carvacrol and thymol, both of which inhibit bacterial reproduction.
- The benefits of oregano oil’s benefits have only been tested in vitro (on bacteria in a glass dish). However, clinicians I work with have had serious success with it, especially for fungal and parasitic infections. Oregano oil can impact your gut bacteria also, so I recommend increasing your probiotics when you’re on oregano oil.
- If you want to give it a try, take 4-6 drops of oregano oil diluted with coconut oil or Brain Octane. Don’t take this for more than a week, though.
Tea Tree Oil:
- Benefits: kills resistant bacteria.
- This is great for disinfecting your house if you have a cold or flu.
- Try breathing in tea tree oil vapor to relieve congestion. Just don’t swallow this oil.