One of the very first employees of Thrive Market, Brian Tortora does pretty much everything around the office—from stocking the kitchen with the freshest produce to planning meditation classes. But the unofficial role he’s best known for? Resident medicine man. That's because Brian always has an herbal concoction to help heal common ailments.
So we asked him to share his top go-to supplements and herbs for cold and flu season. If you feel a scratchy throat, sniffles, or body aches coming on, follow Brian’s suggestions for a speedy recovery. (And remember, it’s always best to check with your primary health care provider before starting any supplement routine.)
“The moment you feel cold symptoms or a scratchy throat, try taking two droppers full every 15 minutes for the first hour. Then continue with one dropper full every two hours for several days until you feel better.”
Oregano oil, which is extracted from wild oregano leaves through steam distillation, is a powerful antimicrobial that can help fight off infections and boost respiratory and immune health.
“This blend is great because it’s cut with olive oil, which helps reduce the intense flavor of oregano oil. Take 3–4 drops, two to three times daily: Drop on the tongue and swish around your mouth for one minute before swallowing. Continue taking until you feel better; I’ve found that cold symptoms are typically gone by the next day.”
These probiotic capsules are formulated using ancient Japanese fermentation; it’s believed that fermenting helps the immune system and intestines ultimately soak up the beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of lactic acid bacteria.
“If you take probiotics on a daily basis like I do, you may need a little extra when a cold comes your way. Try increasing the dose to two capsules, three times a day for an extra boost of immunity. You may not be able to prevent the cold, but I find it softens the blow.”
No secret here: Vitamin C is the common cold’s enemy number one. Rather than chugging sugar-packed O.J., though, sprinkle this powder version into water, juice, or a smoothie for a whopping 300 milligrams of acerola cherry. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, acerola cherries (also known as Barbados berries) provide more vitamin C than any other fruit or veggie—and they’re packed with bioflavonoids, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
“When you feel your defenses are down, whisk two tablespoons of vitamin C in water or juice, and sip over a period of one hour. You want to spread out your intake with three to four doses over the course of a day. Take the first as soon as you wake up and the last before you go to bed, so your body continues to assimilate and boost immunity.”
Add this guy to the mix as soon as body aches, headaches, fever, chills, or fatigue creep in. We know, we know: The name is next-to-impossible to remember, but many swear by these non-drowsy, dissolvable pellets, which may reduce your flu-like symptoms thanks to the active ingredient Anas Barbariae Hepatis et Cordis Extractum—an extract of Muscovy duck liver and heart.
“Take it the moment you feel body aches, fever, and pains, which could mean a flu is coming on. Dissolve the entire contents of one tube in mouth every six hours, up to three times per day. I find you have to catch symptoms before they set in for oscillococcinum to really work.”
Photo credit: Alicia Cho