Get Adequate Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for white blood cell and immune health.

·         It is very common in San Francisco and other climates where people aren’t exposed to the sun on a regular basis to have low vitamin D which is linked to seasonal mood disorders, poor immune health, poor bone health, joint pain and chronic pain.

·         I like to see blood vitamin D levels in the 60-80 unit range. I recommend at least 2,000IU daily for maintenance and 5-10,000IU daily if you have low vitamin D. Get tested.

 Other Vitamins & Minerals

·         Vitamin C 3,000-5,000mg daily for immune support. Consult a healthcare practitioner if pregnant.

·         Vitamin A 10,000IU-50,000IU mixed carotenoids daily for immune support. No more than 10,000 if pregnant.

·         Zinc 75mg daily for immune support.


·         Studies show people who sleep less than 7 hours nightly are 3 times as likely to catch a cold as those who get 8 or more.

·         There is too much of a good thing. Studies show people that sleep more than 9 hours nightly also have increased levels of inflammation.

·         If you are having trouble sleeping, it might be due to high nighttime cortisol levels. You can take a bath, read a calming book, turn off your email, drink chamomile or lavender tea, do some gentle yoga poses, do a body scan. I also use Cortisol Manager 1 capsule nightly to help with lowering cortisol at night. Not safe in pregnancy.

 Take Probiotics

·         The majority of the immune system exists in our gut. Humans are hollow tubes with the digestive tract as the center. We put foreign objects into our deepest center on a daily basis. We need a defense system. 

·         Probiotics support immune health. Take 25-50billion daily as a maintenance and immune support in cold and flu season. You can also eat naturally cultured foods like sauerkraut and other vegetables, tempeh, miso, kombucha…


·         The immune system depends on a fluid matrix to get our white blood cells where they need to go. The lymphatic system is the highway for immune cells and is composed primarily of water, not to mention all the body secretions that keep invaders flushed away – urine, tears, saliva.

·         Filtered water, warm water, water with lemon, coconut water, herbal teas, soups, bone broth and vegetables are great ways to stay hydrated.

Do Hydrotherapy

·         Room temperature baths reduces stress and induce a feeling of calm.

·         Warming Socks Treatment: Email for a handout. Best for the onset of a cold or flu. Creates fever-like condition in the body to stimulate immune cells. Draws blood to the feet to relieve congestion and support blood circulation. Pregnant women can do this!

·       Immune Boost Blast: 1 minute of cold at the end of the shower. Reduces length and duration of colds in people that practice regularly in cold and flu season.

Relax and Be Mindful

·         Spending time with family, friends, community. People with more social networks get sick less than loners.

·          Moderate exercise such as walking, yoga, gentle cycling, tai chi, qi gong reduced symptoms by 30-40% in a group of older adults compared to the control group.

·         Various studies have shown reductions in cortisol and increase in immune activity in groups of people after singing.

·          Practice mindfulness. You can do this anywhere, anytime. All you have to do is become aware of sensations. Where in your body do you feel tension? Where do you feel ease? How does your keyboard feel under your fingers? How do your feet feel in your shoes? What is happening with your breath?

If You Do Get Sick....

·         No sugar, alcohol, dairy, peanuts or citrus. Sugar and alcohol depress the immune system. The others are particularly mucus-forming foods.

·         Eat soups with ginger, garlic, onion, bone broth and lots of herbs and spices.  Thyme, oregano, rosemary  and lemongrass all have volatile oils that are anti-microbial. Turmeric and ginger are anti-inflammatory and promote circulation.

·         Steam inhalation: Sit at a table with your face over a bowls of steaming hot water and put a towel over your head to create a tent. Add 5-7 drops of thyme or eucalyptus essential oil. You may want to close your eyes because it can be intense. Inhale deeply through the nose. This will kill bacteria and relieve congestion. Do 2 times daily or as needed.

·         Ask your acupuncturist. There are some great decongestant Chinese herbal nasal sprays out there, not to mention the beneficial effects of acupuncture on the immune system.

Dr. Claire Graser practices integrative medicine at Sen Spa in San Francisco, CA specializing in women’s health, digestive disorders and cardiovascular disease. Call for more info: 415.441.1777