flu season is upon us..

I have a had a bit of a delay weighing in on this subject, because like everyone else I know we are all a bit confused about what to do and how to take precaution. And, as I heard on NPR yesterday you can never really predict what is going to happen with the flu, what you can be sure of is that whatever you DO predict it will be wrong... so let's start there!

In our community a crazy flu virus has ran through the school system and in one case wiped out an entire class. It varied from case to case from mild to severe but consisted of only a fever, no vomiting, no diarrhea, and very little sneezing. In adults it showed up as a fatigue that was really hard to shake and in the end needed about two days of good honest rest. So you can imagine that everyone is talkeing about whether or not to take the H1N1 vaccine -- this is a personal decision and you have to make that choice together with your pediatrician.

In talking to a few holistic doctors we have heard of some very good ideas that we are going to practice in our home and I wanted to pass them onto you. Because of the virus that is going around in our community you can be sure that we will be practicing all of the below helpful ideas.

1. Salt baths - just put a handful of salt in your kids bathtub at night, just use enough to make it just about as salty as the ocean. Let them take a nice long soak and try to get them to dunk their heads (so that their nose, ears and eyes get clean with the salt water). Just make sure their hair is dry when they get into bed.

2. Netti pot (best) or saline spray (at least) - it was suggest that these viruses nestle in the nasal passages and need to be flushed out twice a day. I can't picture my kids using a netti pot but maybe if they watch us do it they will give it a try... never hurts to try. In macrobiotics it is suggested to take a bowl of saltwater and one nasal at a time suck up the water into your sinuses and then blow it out -- it's freaky but when it's done it feels great and you can do this instead of the netti pot.

3. Gargle with warm salt water - this is easy and the kids get a kick out of making the sound! So make it fun and do it twice a day with brushing.

4. Work a vitamin C drink into the morning meal - some kids love energy-C

5. And this tip came from a reader and I thought that it made a lot of sense so I wanted to pass it onto you. Use essential oils. Most essential oils are both antiviral and antibacterial. Before going out into any crowded area, dilute an essential oil such as peppermint, tea tree oil, or lavender with a little bit of olive oil and massage the mixture all around the outside of your ears and down the sides of your throat. Also dab a little under your nose. If you use peppermint, be careful to dilute it or it will sting. I believe we contract most colds and flu through the ears when airborne bacteria land on them. The essential oils will provide a temporary barrier that I feel reduces that risk.

6. Cut out refined sugar - I know this is impossible for halloween but do your best to cut out sugar in your families diet. It will drain your energy and drain your immune system.

7. We use Astragalus for the kids instead of Echinecha because it's easier on the digestive system and we have had great results with it. But either is great for immune support especially if you catch it in the beginning so have it on-hand so that when you need it you can be ready.

8. My sister swears by homemade chicken soup! - you can't go wrong and make up your own recipe depending on what your family likes. At the very least it adds much needed liquids and a hearty dose of vegetables.

Good Luck with your cold and flu season and remember lots of exercise and good healthy eating is your best tool against illness. Meals should be full of lots of colors: beets, carrots, greens and turnips! Please don't be afraid to share your tips and information with us - send in your comment.