It’s that time of year again! It seems like everyone I know is or has been sick over the past couple of weeks. Once the weather changes, it’s like our immune systems just give up! With all the nastiness going around, I’ve found myself sending out text after text about my “Bug Buster Protocol” — or the natural remedies for cold & flu I use when they attack our house — to boost our immune systems and support our bodies, so they can do the healing work and get us back on our feet quickly.
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As always, I am not a health professional, and I do not play one on the internet. I am simply a mom sharing her best tips and tricks for supporting her family’s health and wellness. Always talk with your doctor before beginning a new wellness routine — bonus points if you can find a holistic practitioner or Functional Medicine doctor near you! View my complete terms & conditions here.
Since I feel quite sure I’m not the only mama out there who can’t seem to remember what I’m supposed to do and when I’m supposed to do it when my body just isn’t 100%, I decided to finally give our poor mama brains the support they need: the Bug Buster Protocol Checklist! You can grab yours for FREE by clicking the image below. 😊
While I’ve written a LOT about how we use our essential oils for daily immune support as well as in our Home Health Arsenal, I haven’t really spelled out the protocol anywhere except in my Scattered Woman’s Guide to Essential Oils eBook, which I send out for free to anyone who joins my doTERRA team. Many of my readers, however, are either just getting into essential oils or are already invested in other brands, and I wanted to make sure EVERYONE has this tool when the nasties strike!
Plus, having a handy, printable checklist makes it SUPER simple to stay on top of all the natural remedies for cold & flu without expending unnecessary brain power. 😜
Just to make sure everything on the checklist is crystal clear, let’s run through it all quickly. I’ve broken it down into 3 main categories: topical applications, diffusing, and dietary support. Let’s dive in!
Bug Buster Protocol: Topical Applications
The part that always seems the hardest when I’m sick is trying to remember which oils to use when and how often. Essentially, I break it down like this:
- For the first few hours, apply every 20 minutes. (You should start feeling the effects by the end of this time frame.)
- For the next 24-48 hours, apply every 1-2 hours.
- Over the next several days, apply 3-4 times per day, until you feel like your symptoms are gone.
- Once you’re feeling back to your normal self, continue applications 1-2 times per day for 24 hours.
On the checklist, I list out exactly where I apply each EO blend to support my body through my main symptoms. It seems like I always get the same type of bug, so sinus and respiratory support are huge for me. If your symptoms are different, be sure to use EOs or blends that best support the systems YOU need to support.
There are three main locations I try to always apply my EOs:
- All over the bottoms of my feet (where pores are exceptionally large and able to absorb oils efficiently for the entire body) and/or down my spine.
- Right on top of wherever I need support. (On my chest for respiratory, across my sinuses for sinus support, etc.)
- On the associated reflexology or acupressure point.
Reflexology Points for Topical Essential Oil Applications
There are a ton of reflexology charts out there, but I use one from AromaTools.com and keep it in a sheet protector with all my EO reference materials. Once you know which points are most important for YOU, you’ll remember them pretty quickly, but it’s nice to have a cheat sheet for when Mom Brain kicks in!
Here are a few basic reflexology points to get you started:
- Center of pad of each big toe = sinuses
- Center of ball of each foot = lungs
- Inside the arch of each foot = digestive system/intestines
The checklist shows exactly where I put each blend and how often I apply them. Feel free to make adjustments of blends and timing to best suit YOUR needs!
Bug Buster Protocol: Diffusing
When I know the nasties have struck, we immediately start running our diffuser with my 3 must-have EO blends: OnGuard (protective blend), Breathe (respiratory blend), and DigestZen (digestive blend).
DigestZen (digestive blend) may seem like an odd choice to diffuse, but it has been SO helpful in supporting easy breathing through my nose when I get sick that it has become an absolute MUST in our house. Try it and see if you feel the difference!
Essentially, I have those three blends running non-stop until we are 24 hours symptom-free. When we get sick, it tends to start in our sinuses, then quickly drop to our chests, so supporting our immune systems AND our respiratory systems from the get-go makes all the difference in how long we end up dealing with junk. A properly supported body is one that can do its job & heal quickly!
Bug Buster Protocol: Dietary Support
When our bodies are under attack, the WORST thing we can do is continue consuming the (SAD) Standard American Diet. Most of the foods American typically eat are the ones that promote inflammation in the body and perpetuate the sickness cycle.
So, the BEST thing we can do as we support our bodies well is to make sure our nutrition is TOP NOTCH as we work on letting our bodies heal. Here are my big tips:
Cut Sugar & Grains
White, refined sugar and refined, modern grains are hugely inflammatory for the body. These foods feed the bad bacteria present in our bodies, further reducing the good bacteria that SHOULD be keeping our bodies healthy, and keeping us sick longer. (To learn more, be sure to check out my 3 Baby Steps to a Healthier Family!)
So, do yourself and your family a HUGE favor and nix the sugar & grains entirely while you’re recovering. (Yes, that means dropping the noodles from your chicken noodle soup tradition — but homemade bone broth is a FABULOUS, tasty swap!) While we’re talking about bone broth…
Drink 1-3 Cups of Bone Broth Per Day
There’s a reason grandma’s the world over push chicken soup when we get sick. It’s the same reason I talk about pumping up bone broth consumption in my post on How to Nourish the Body for Chemo!
There are TONS of gut-healing, body-nourishing nutrients in homemade bone broth including glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, collagen, & a whole slew of minerals and electrolytes. (Check out this post by Dr. Axe for more info on the benefits of bone broth for whole body health.)
Take 1 Tbs. of Elderberry Syrup 3-4 Times Per Day
Elderberry Syrup is a simple, easy-to-make, and great-tasting whole food supplement for your immune system. Rich in Vitamin C and multiple spices to support a proper inflammatory response in the body, this syrup is one of the best things I’ve found for both proactive and reactive immune support. (Plus, it tastes AWESOME, so my preschooler asks ME if it’s time to take her medicine yet! Win!)
I use Wellness Mama’s Elderberry Syrup recipe, so you can check out the complete post for all the details of how to make it. It’s SUPER easy, so no worries! Plus, it keeps in the fridge for a good while. I make it several times a year when I know the nasties are coming and have it on hand for when we need it.
Adults can take up to 1 Tbs. every 2-3 hours, according to Wellness Mama. I try to take 1/2 – 1 Tbs. after every trip to the bathroom. (Vitamin C is water soluble, so it’s important to stay topped off. 😜) I give Mini-Me about 1/2 – 1 tsp. of the syrup on the same schedule.
Drink LOTS of Water
I didn’t mention this one on the checklist — since it’s one we should be doing EVERY day, regardless of how healthy or not we feel — but it’s worth mentioning here. Stay well hydrated!!
Whether you do 8 glass of water per day, or half your body weight in fluid ounces of water, or 64 fl. oz. per day, it doesn’t matter. Just make SURE you’re getting enough water & excreting very light colored pee to flush all the junk out of your body.
Eat LOTS of Probiotic-Rich Foods
We eat next to ZERO traditionally fermented foods in the SAD diet, but they are SO important for gut health and total body healing! You can choose homemade, traditionally fermented yogurt or kefir (just be sure your body can handle it while you’re under the weather!), naturally fermented pickles or sauerkraut, or even dilly carrots.
We buy most of our fermented foods right now, and we LOVE Bubbies Traditionally Fermented Saurkraut and Dill Pickles. All the health benefits of traditionally fermented vegetables, plus all the convenience of not having to make it myself. Win-win!
Take a High-Quality Probiotic Supplement
I know switching from the SAD diet to a more nourishing variety can be quite a challenge, so I’m including probiotic supplements in this list, as well. Even if you can’t quite choke down fermented veggies yet — or you can’t get your kids to eat them yet — you can always take a supplement to help boost the good bacteria in your gut and give your body a fighting chance.
We love Bio-Kult probiotics, and they make a kids’ version, too. Best case scenario would be to take these supplements every day — sick or not — and to keep working on getting your family to eat more traditionally fermented foods one small bite at a time. As our guts heal, our taste buds change and start to crave foods that are GOOD for our bodies instead of junk, so don’t give up!
That Covers The Bug Buster Protocol!
If your immune system is under attack from the nasties floating around, I’m praying this protocol will help you support your family’s health AND save your brain from unneeded stress as you heal.
Be sure to grab your FREE Bug Buster Protocol Checklist and keep it somewhere handy. Hopefully, it will be a good, long time before you need it, but it’s always better to be prepared and not need it than to need it and not be prepared! 🙂
Also, be sure to buy your essential oils, dried elderberries, probiotic foods, and supplements, and get your homemade bone broth made up. (Broth freezes really well, so it’s easy to stay stocked up!) Again, it’s better to be prepared ahead of time than to try and put it all together while you’re sick! 😊
What other natural remedies for cold & flu do YOU use to help your family heal quickly?