Covid-19 is a global issue and has gotten many of us concerned about our health especially because it is highly contagious, spreading easily from an infected person. There is no treatment for it other other than to manage the symptoms. Antibiotics do not work for viruses. Vaccines are now available and it will take some time for it to be distributed.

The possibility of become infected can be quite scary especially for those with health conditions that put them at high risk. Please practice good self-care and do everything you can to remain grounded and calm.

The best defense against any virus or infection is to strengthen your immune system, and to nourish yourself in all ways. You can protect your body against viruses and bacteria. And if you are afflicted you can safely ease the symptoms and shorten the duration with healing foods and herbal treatments.

All problems are a catalyst for positive change. Each of us must determine what we need to change to be healthy and strong. Ask yourself important questions about your choices. Are yours aligned with a healthy, fit body and mind?

The modern diet is not healthy. Lots of people are jumping from one extreme fad diet to the next causing a multitude of health issues. Extremes do not create balance. Many are overworked and stressed and often lack adequate sleep and exercise. All of this weakens your health. Please establish good self-care routines and be consistent with them.

This article provides tips for strengthening immunity with foods and herbs. I’ve provided some uses for anti-viral essential oils. This is general information and not a substitute for medical consultation. Please seek medical attention when needed.

These are general suggestions. Your health issues may require more specifics. I am available for Holistic Health and Nutrition Counseling by phone, Zoom, Skype, or at my Pittsburgh office. For more than three decades I’ve been successfully helping clients heal from chronic and degenerative disease, including flu and other viruses.


Foods That Strengthen Immunity

The food you eat is either regenerating or degenerating your health. When you know how to use foods therapeutically for your personal health, constitution, and condition, you’ll experience far better health.

Food is far more than the sum of its nutrients. Many common foods have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Here are a few of them:

Dried Donko Shiitake Mushrooms have antiviral compounds, enhance immune function, and reduce inflammation. They have significant antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and protect against yeast, molds, and other organisms. The fresh variety will not be as effective as the dried variety. Use them in soups, vegetable and whole grain dishes. Order Shiitake Here

Maitake Mushrooms stimulate the immune system and are considered a medicinal mushroom. They help your body fight against any physical or mental difficulty. Useful in treating cold and flu viruses; immune function, high or low blood pressure; and more. Maitake is the Japanese name. You may know this mushroom as Hen of the Woods. Add to soups, stews, vegetable dishes. Best if they are cooked.

Ginger possesses impressive anti-viral, anti-influenza, anti-yeast, and anti-fungal activity against colds and flu. Helpful for circulation, asthma, allergies, digestive system, and metabolism. Make ginger tea from fresh ginger using one teaspoon ginger in 1 1/2 cup water. Simmer 5-6 minutes. Strain and drink 2-3 cups daily. Ginger teabags will not be nearly as effective. You can also chop or grate fresh ginger and add to soups and other cooked foods. Use cautiously if you have GERD.

Dark Leafy Greens such as kale, mustard greens, collard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, and watercress have antibiotic properties and are helpful for infections, inflammation, mucus (especially in the lungs). Eat them every day steamed. They are too tough and fibrous to digest raw. Recipe Here

Pungent foods disperse and clear phlegm and mucus; dry congestion; keep lungs clear; improve digestion and sluggish liver; and stimulate circulation. Eat some of these pungent foods every day cooked: cabbage, broccoli, celery, daikon, turnips, kohlrabi, radishes, fennel, ginger, garlic, parsley, scallions, onions, leeks, kale, watercress, and mustard greens.

Miso boosts the immune system, contains enzymes and has probiotic activity, and has many other health benefits. South River brand is made the traditional way; is very high quality; and is my choice. Immune Boosting Miso Soup Recipe

Fermented foods contain probiotics and beneficial bacteria increase antibodies and boost immunity system. They create a protective lining in the digestive tract shielding it against pathogens, and support health of all vital organs. Generally, those that are salt fermented are best. Buy from a reputable health food store. Supermarkets often sell quickly processed pickled vegetables that bypass the fermentation process.

Sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, tempeh are a few. Natto has powerful probiotic activity but some don’t like the taste. The only place I’ve been able to purchase it is at a Japanese grocer. You can make fermented vegetables yourself. Directions Here

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (not distilled) supports a healthy immune system; promotes alkalinity and contains prebiotics to support a healthy gut. Take one teaspoon diluted in warm water 1-2x daily. Do not drink it undiluted. Doing so may harm your esophagus. Bragg’s is a very good brand.

Garlic inhibits colds, viruses and other microorganisms and can reduce their severity. It eliminates unhealthy bacteria and yeasts. Much of its potency is lost with cooking. Best to eat it raw. You can combine a minced clove with a tablespoon of olive oil and eat it this way, adding oregano if you like. Or take it as a supplement. Garlic should be avoided by those with GERD and those with excessive heat conditions.

Antiviral Culinary Herbs include basil, sage, oregano, rosemary, peppermint, lemon balm, garlic, and fennel. Use a variety of these freely every day especially during cold and flu season.


Immune Weakening Foods

Sugar, including cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave and maple syrup, contributes to immune deficiency, herpes, yeast infections, and worse. It causes an acidic condition and quickly consumes your body’s minerals. It weakens your digestive system prohibiting foods from being digested and assimilated in healthy ways.

Mucus causing foods, especially all cow’s milk products, including yogurt. Accumulated phlegm creates a breeding ground for many kinds of infections. Best to avoid all cow’s milk products. They are not necessary for good health. Consider a consultation to determine best foods for your condition and constitution.

Alcohol has toxic and depleting effects and degenerates your health.

Acidic foods including meats and acid vegetables. Chronic acidity weakens your blood quality and undermines your immune system. Best alkalinizing foods are miso, sea vegetables, unrefined sea salt, fermented vegetables, and kuzu. All are very high in easily absorbable minerals.

Processed foods and junk food often contain chemicals concocted in flavor factories to make them taste good and keep you addicted to them. Artificial flavors have an inedible source, which means you can be eating anything from petroleum to paper pulp processed to create the chemicals that flavor your food.

For good health it’s best to avoid chemicals in food. Eat real whole foods that come from the earth and buy organic as much as possible. It’s always best to prepare wholesome home cooked meals.


Herbal Remedies

It can be difficult choosing the right supplements for your health needs, constitution, and condition. For help making informed choices contact me for your free 15-minute consult. If your health issues are complex, a longer, more in-depth consultation may be necessary.

It’s best to have these on hand and start taking at the first sign of symptoms. Stock is low and manufacturer is out of stock on many of these. Order soon.



Elderberry treats viruses, including flu and reduces inflammation; a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. You can take it for prevention too. I like Gaia brand. You can take on a spoon or stir into hot water and drink as a tea. Or purchase dried elderberry and infuse as a tea.

Astragalus is useful to strengthen immunity and for prevention when used frequently. It can be eaten as a food or taken as an herbal supplement. You can cook it with soups and other foods. Or simmer with other herbs such as ginger, cinnamon, and cloves for 15-20 minutes, strain and drink as a tea. Use the sliced root for soups and finely cut astragalus for tea.

Astra C Jade Screen Powder Formula bolsters your body’s protective energy (called Wei Qi) to defend against pathogens. Also contains Astragalus, a very effective herb for strengthening immunity.

Cordyseng contains Reishi mushrooms, a supreme immune tonic that inhibits bacteria and viruses; protects body against stress; alleviates allergies, bronchitis, chronic pneumonia and more.

Cordyceps PS boosts immunity and strengthens lungs and resistance to disease.



Cold Away treats colds and flu; fever, sinus and chest congestion, coughing, throat pain

Isatis Gold contains echinacea and goldenseal and treats bacterial and viral infections, especially upper respiratory; fever, colds, flu, bronchitis. Please don’t use echinacea for prevention; it is meant for treatment. Astragalus is better for prevention and not for treatment when sick.

Clear Heat for chronic toxic heat and inflammation associated with viral, bacterial and fungal infections.

Oregano has antimicrobial, antiviral and anti fungal properties and can help symptoms related to flu, common cold, nasal congestion, and upper respiratory infections. You can purchase as a supplement. Herb Pharm is a good brand and there are others.

More Preventive and Remedies for Viral, Bacteria, and Other Infections Here


Anti-Viral Essential Oils

There are many different and effective ways to combat harmful microbes. Pure essential oils have many health benefits. I’ve listed a few that help you fight against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

I do not recommend ingesting essential oils or putting them directly on the skin. Diffusing them or adding to a vaporizer are best uses. You can mix a few drops with a carrier oil such as jojoba, coconut, almond, or argan, and massage into the skin.

Tea tree essential oil fights against viruses, bacteria and fungi.

Eucalyptus has antiviral and antibacterial activity. You can diffuse it or use it as a vapor. Dilute it with a carrier oil and rub on your chest.

Rosemary oil possesses antibacterial, anti fungal and antiviral properties.

Thyme helps boost immune system, ward off illness, and fight respiratory infections.

I like Plant Therapy’s Germ Fighter blend and diffuse it in my home regularly to help get rid of viruses, bacteria and any possible mold. It contains essential oils of lemon, clove, eucalyptus, cinnamon and rosemary. Mix with a carrier oil and massage into your feet.

You can experiment and combine different oils, and even use some of them to clean and disinfect your home, and to make your own hand sanitizer.

You have far more control over your health than you may realize. Do not underestimate the profoundly positive effect of a whole foods diet on your health.  Many common health conditions can be greatly improved with therapeutic foods. The information in this article is general advice.

Consider some professional guidance for the right nutrition and holistic health plan for you. You can greatly improve every aspect of your physical, mental and emotional health with a customized holistic approach.  Schedule a Holistic Health and Nutrition Session with Deborah Barr, 35-year Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor. You’ll be on your way to better health. Sessions can be done by phone, zoom, skype, or at Pittsburgh office.

Testimonial from a formerly sick client

“Before I met you I pretty much accepted that I would have respiratory infections 3 or more times a year along with many sinus infections. Then a friend suggested a counseling session with you. After a very short time following your recommendations for therapeutic foods and taking the herbs, my lungs and sinuses cleared. What’s interesting is that I never associated my low energy and negative mental state with these infections. But now, 20 months since I’ve seen you, not only have I not had sinus infections or bronchitis, but also have about 100% more energy, a more positive mind and healthier emotions.” B.W., Columbus, Ohio

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