winterimmunityIt’s finally cooling off here in central Texas. Days are getting shorter, evenings are getting cooler, and it’s a great time for bike rides and long walks. Pumpkin, squash, kale and brussels sprouts are overflowing the produce section. Pecans are ripening and it is getting a bit too chilly to happily jump into Barton Springs. While the fall weather in central Texas is glorious, it comes with the unfortunate pairing of cedar pollen and flu season.   

Because of the spring (and summer) rains this year we have experienced record-setting levels of mold since April, and ragweed since August. Ragweed plants that had been mostly dormant during the 10 years of drought drank up the abundance of water this year and made up for lost time. Ragweed plants that generally reach 6-8 feet tall were over 16 feet tall this year, producing record amounts of pollen. The extra moisture also kept the outdoor mold levels much higher than usual, and many buildings have developed indoor mold problems as well.

The result is that central Texan immune systems have essentially run a marathon, which means our immune systems need extra support this year! It is likely that the cedar (actually juniper) trees will follow the ragweed trend this year, so we are expecting cedar fever to be a real issue.  

Using homeopathic or herbal preparations to support immune response for both cedar fever and flu seasons could be one of the wisest decisions you make this fall! Supplements for prevention of cedar fever and flu are typically most effective if they are begun a few weeks before the season begins. Many of these remedies can help with prevention as well as help relieve symptoms once they occur.

There are several excellent products can support you through this season. Starting these remedies in mid-to-late November can provide the maximum support, giving your immune system time to prepare and get into balance.

Influenzinum by Washington Homeopathic Products can help with flu prevention. Often best when beginning in November.

Multi-Strain Flu Relief by King Bio – may be taken at first sign of cold/flu.

Oscillococcinum by Boironcan help with flu prevention.

Cedar Fever Drops by Peoples Rxcan aid with both allergy prevention and symptom relief, especially if started in mid-to-late November.

Easy Breather by Herbalogic – Chinese herbal formula to keep sinus and lungs open and reduce general allergic reactions. This formula is designed to help reduce symptoms once they have begun.  

Jade Screen by Plum Flower – Chinese herbal formula is designed to help prevent colds and flu, as well as reduce severity of allergies. Best started a few weeks before cedar/flu season.  

Cedar Free by Wish Garden – a combination of Western (American) herbs to aid in reducing allergic reaction and the release of histamine, as well as keeping the airways open.  

Yin Qiao by Dragon Herbs – Chinese herbal formula for the first sign of a cold/flu, especially with fever and severe sore throat.

Gan Mao Ling by Plum Flower – Chinese herbal formula for common cold and general antiviral formula, most useful during the first 48 hours of a viral infection.

MycoImmunity by Health Force – mushroom formula that helps both to boost and balance the immune system. This can be both a great prevention supplement as well as a great supplement to support your immune system if you do get sick.

Cedar Serum by Biostar: a potentized herbal extract made from local trees. May lessen or help prevent most cases of cedar fever. Often best to begin the week after Thanksgiving.

Cedar X – essential oil blend that can help calm symptoms once they occur.

Immuno PRP Spray by NuMedica – delivers actual immunoglobulins into the system, helping to boost and modulate the immune system. Often best when starting 2-4 weeks before allergy/flu season begins.

There are so many supplements that you can choose to support your health, but don’t forget that a healthy diet and lifestyle give your body the foundation it needs for optimal functioning! Here are some tips for staying healthy during the allergy & flu season:

  • Get plenty of rest (get in bed by 10 pm!)
  • Get plenty of gentle exercise and sunshine (walk or bike 15 min a day)
  • Eat squash & pumpkin, which are great sources of vitamin A
  • Eat pomegranate, citrus, and guava, which are great sources of Vitamin C
  • Include mushrooms in your diet or take them as a supplement, they have special carbohydrates that optimize immune function


  • 2 lbs roasted chicken or turkey
  • 16-32 oz chicken stock (homemade bone broth is best, but any will do)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • ½ bulb garlic chopped (as much as you can stand)
  • 1 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms (saute w/ onions)
  • 1-2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, chopped
  • 1-2 handfuls kale, chopped  (or if you are brave, ½ cup stinging nettles!)
  • Celtic or Himalayan salt & pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley as garnish

You can super-charge this soup with herbs. The easiest is to put these herbs in a cheesecloth and steep them in the soup for 15-20 min, then remove. If you leave them too long the soup can become very bitter.

Herbs you can add:

  • Astragalus (2 root slices – looks like a tongue depressor)
  • Ganoderma mushroom ¼ cup
  • Goji berries ¼ cup
  • Lotus seed ¼ cup

You can also add cinnamon and ginger if you feel like you are on the verge of getting sick – follow the soup with a hot bath – get sweating, then put cold, frozen socks on your feet! Squash (cubed fresh butternut or acorn) would be a great addition if you are adding ginger & cinnamon.

becky-andrewsBecky Andrews, ND* received her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine and Masters in Acupuncture at Bastyr University. She specializes in complex, chronic and “difficult” cases, especially relating to digestive health, fatigue, mood and detoxification. She works extensively with MTHFr and genetic challenges. In addition to seeing patients in Austin, she is faculty at AOMA School of Integrative Medicine.