Cold And Flu Remedies For The Autoimmune Sufferer

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Cold And Flu Remedies For The Autoimmune Sufferer |

Dealing with a cold or flu isn’t a fun time for anyone, but it can be particularly tricky for those of us with autoimmune disease! In this article, I hope to explain to you why flu season affects those with autoimmunity a little bit differently, as well as give you some tips for getting on the path to recovery if you find yourself sick.

First, a story. When I was a teenager, I would suffer from recurring head colds that lasted all winter. At the sound of my first sniffle, mom would make me what she called a “cocktail”—a few ounces of orange juice with some extra vitamin C and powdered echinacea. For some reason, this drink always made me feel a million times worse than I did before I drank it… I would be hit by incredible brain fog, body aches and absolute lethargy. I never knew why, until recently, when I learned about the effects of immune stimulating herbs. I have an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s, that likely started in my teen years), and echinacea is an immune stimulant. Back then, mom and I used to fight because I didn’t want to take my “cocktail” when I was sick. Now I know better, realizing that some herbal remedies can cause autoimmunity to flare (sorry mom—I know you were trying to do your best!). And yes, these stimulants can affect you whether or not you are sick… see this article for more information about immune stimulants and autoimmune disease.

Another aspect that affects those of us with autoimmunity during cold and flu season is that sometimes recovery from an illness can take far longer. Think about it—our immune systems are already in overdrive. Fighting a virus can aggravate the immune system, sometimes resulting in a flare, or just a prolonged recovery period. Shortly after beginning the Autoimmune Protocol, I got the flu, and I was amazed how much progress I had lost in the month after I had recovered. I have heard this time and time again in the autoimmune community—recovering from a cold or flu can be a major setback.

So, what can you do? The good news, is that by transitioning your diet to the Autoimmune Protocol, you are increasing the nutrients that help strengthen and modulate the immune system. This would be the fat soluble vitamins A and D, as well as minerals such as zinc and selenium. The first year I did AIP I still got sick a couple of times, but in the last two years I have not been sick once. I still have days where I feel like I am “coming down with something”—maybe a scratchy throat in the morning, or feeling a little more tired than usual, but I always use some of these methods, get some rest, and I’m better by the next day. Considering how chronically sick I used to be, this is a true testament to the healing power of nourishing one’s body with these immune-strengthening nutrients over the long-term!

Here are some autoimmune-safe foods and supplements you can consider if you start to notice you are a little under the weather:

  • Bone Broth (drink a warm mug with some sea salt, or use in soups and stews)
  • Fat Soluble Vitamins A and D (found in FCLO and organ meats like liver)
  • Probiotics
  • Fermented Foods
  • Vitamin D (either in supplement form or from responsible sun exposure, if possible during where you live)
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Garlic (especially raw)
  • Ginger (especially raw)

Here are some remedies and products I like to use in addition to the above, depending on the circumstance:

  • Xlear (xylitol nasal spray that helps break up biofilm in the nasal passages)
  • Ginger steam (heat a pot of water with some sliced ginger in it; transfer to table and breathe in steam, covering your head with a towel)
  • Ginger juice/tea (juice a bunch of ginger and add a teaspoon to your tea or soup; alternately you can infuse some ginger slices in water)
  • Salt (you can use a salt water gargle for a sore throat, or use some salt water in a neti-pot for nasal irrigation)
  • Non-Immune Stimulating Herbal Teas (chammomile, mint)

In addition to the above, some lifestyle factors that are very important for recovery:

  • Rest! Above all else, your body needs you to slow down when you are sick. The immune system does not function when we are in fight-or flight mode.
  • Sleep. Make sure to get the maximum amount of sleep you can until you start to feel well again. In the week or two following an illness, continue to prioritize sleep in order to reduce chances of going into a flare.
  • Lymphatic Massage. This is great for drainage in the ears and sinuses. I like this self-massage on YouTube.
  • Movement. Don’t over-exercise or force yourself to work out when you are sick. Exercise is an added stress to the body, and doing too much too soon will hinder your recovery. That being said, it is important to move gently as soon as you are able, getting outside for some fresh air, maybe a short walk every day is ideal.

Ingredients to avoid or suspect (unless you have experimented and know you tolerate well):

  • Echinacea
  • Astralagus
  • Medicinal Mushrooms (shiitake, matikake, reishi)
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract
  • Caffeine
  • Green Tea
  • Turmeric

Last but not least, the best remedy for colds and flus is preventing them in the first place! Eat a balanced, nutrient-dense diet that includes fish, shellfish, organ meats, and fruits and vegetables of every color to ensure you are getting ample vitamins and minerals. Don’t overdo things; give your body rest when it asks for it and make sure you are getting quality sleep.

What is your best cold and flu remedy? Have you had a similar experience as I have with either immune-stimulating herbs or in taking a long time to recover?

About Mickey Trescott

Mickey Trescott is a co-founder here at Autoimmune Wellness and a co-teacher of AIP Certified Coach. After recovering from her own struggle with both Celiac and Hashimoto’s disease, adrenal fatigue, and multiple vitamin deficiencies, Mickey started to write about her experience to share with others and help them realize they are not alone in their struggles. She has a Master's degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Nutrition, and is the author of three best-selling books--The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, and The Nutrient-Dense Kitchen. You can watch her AIP cooking demos by following her on Instagram.


  • Erin says

    Great list! I love elderberry syrup, too – especially when/if I come down with something. But there’s something so fantastic and soothing about good old Jewish penicillin {chicken soup} 🙂 I also love Thieve’s oil. I feel like with those along with good sleep I can take on almost anything Almost. 😉

    • julie says

      I thought elderberry was an immune stimulant like echinacea…I’m hesitant to use it for my family due to the AI issues on both sides.

      • Mickey says

        I do believe it does affect the immune system, but it doesn’t come up on the Th1/Th2 articles I have researched. My general rule of thumb with new herbs and supplements is to treat them like a reintroduction, and try when you are feeling well and not sick as to gauge a reaction.

        If anyone has personal experience with it, I’d be happy to update my list!


        • Lis says

          I was diagnosed with Hasimoto’s earlier this year, but have been symptomatic for over 7 years. I use Elderberry Syrup everyday during cold and flu season, and have never noticed a flare up, or a change in how I felt. But I do know that in some people Elderberry can cause the immune system to become more active, so err on the side of caution and try it when you are feeling well to gauge how you respond to it.

        • Cindy says

          How can a person found out if they have autoimmune disease? Is there a test? And, do you know if it’s expensive? I stay sick and I’m tired of being sick! Thanks and God Bless Much! ! ! ! ! ! !

          • Mickey Trescott says

            Hi Cindy! Unfortunately there isn’t a standalone test for autoimmune disease in general. First you need to see a doctor to talk about your symptoms and narrow down the possibilities. Some conditions (like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) only take an inexpensive blood test for a diagnosis, but others can be more complex. I hope you find some answers soon!

        • Kim Carleson says

          I have AI and elderberry has made me have a rash/fungus all over my body. I’m assuming because it is an immune booster it has messed with my autoimmune. Web MD says it can counteract with autoimmune because it is an immune stimulant.

          • jessica says

            I am doing a lot of research and found this comment helpful… recently I have had this horrible rash all over my face it looks like a fungi/allergic reaction ive been trying to cut out dairy gluten sugar etc and it isn’t helping.. I finally just realized maybe its elderberry.. did you have this small red bumps all around your mouth and cheeks?? thanks so much looking for any help I could get

        • Jane says

          I find that sambucus definitely flares me. I have Grave’s disease which initially affected my eyes, though that subsided, and if I take sambucus my eyes get blurry, which tells me that it is kicking up the grave’s. I give it to the rest of my family but don’t take it myself anymore.

          • Sharon Shaw says

            Thanks for your comment which herbs do you take for graves disease? I was diagnosed recently

        • Donna says

          I have hashimoto’s and experienced bad reaction to elderberry syrup…shingles..

        • mk says

          Elderberry comes up all over the web, including some traditional medicine sites, as an immune stimulant to avoid. It helps me, though, as do the other immune stimulators. I take them once and don’t get the cold.

          On the other hand, I was very surprised to see you not recommending the very mushrooms that are recommended (and supported to some degree by studies) for autoimmune support (not stimulation). Is it possible that you have a mushroom sensitivity?

          • Mickey Trescott says

            Hi MK! This article isn’t about my personal sensitivities, it is about compounds that can cause issues for some autoimmune folks. Others may feel just fine (or even do well!) on them. I can tell you from working with many clients that medicinal mushrooms (maitake, shiitake, etc.) in supplement form can be triggering for many autoimmune flares. The smartest approach is to leave them out while folks are in elimination, so that hard work doesn’t go to waste. They can always be reintroduced later, along with foods removed on AIP. Hope it helps!

    • Donna A Decesare says

      Elderberry syrup caused a horrible flare for me

    • Abigail says

      I came across this article because last month I started to get a cold and started taking elderberry syrup. Suddenly I couldn’t walk or talk and was in excruciating pain. For weeks. I took more elderberry thinking I was fighting the flue. It got so bad my mother in law had to take me to the hospital. Well I thought it was just exhaustion so I stopped the elderberry syrup and just tried to rest. I just barely started feeling better this week and this morning I took a teaspoon of syrup and within an hour the symptoms were violently attacking me. I told my husband I feel like I’m having a autoimmune attack. Then I just had a thought that maybe it was the syrup. I can’t walk right now at all . I’m weak and exhausted. I don’t know what autoimmune diseases I have but I’ve had horrible eczema and psoriasis etc my entire life.

  • Great info! Especially the echinacea – very interesting.

  • It’s such a juggling act with the immune system in cold season when one has an autoimmune disorder! I haven’t seen any issues reported with elderberries, they have so many nutrients and antioxidants like other dark colored berries that perhaps their benefits balance the immune stimulant qualities. Great information!

  • Niko says

    Hi! Thank you for this, just in time! Could you explain why to suspect turmeric, mushrooms, green tea and grape seed extract? I know their benefits but do not understand the caution behind them…

    Thank you, stay well!

    • Mickey says

      Hi Nico, I recommend clicking through and reading the article linked at the end of the second paragraph. 🙂


  • Samantha says

    Hi Mickey,
    What are your feelings on the flu shot and the effects on those with an autoimmune disorder? Thanks in advance!

  • Holly says

    One thing I have gotten in the habit of using is a product by Enzymedica called Vira-Stop. It is a proteolytic enzyme that works at ‘eating’ the exterior protective coating on viruses, thereby allowing them to be destroyed easier.

    I discovered this because on top of my various auto immune illnesses, I am positive for both EBV and HHV-6.
    Vira Stop must be taken on an empty stomach or the enzymes will be wasted on food in your stomach.
    It is, now, one of the ONLY THING that will help me keep a cold down to only 1 week of suffering instead of a month and then bronchitis.

    I hope this helps someone…

    • Mickey says

      Thanks for sharing! I have heard of proteolytic enzymes for chronic viruses but I did not know they were effective on the common cold.


    • We love ViraStop in our family. And my mother swears by it as a remedy for herself, too.


      – Stacey

      • Mickey says

        Thanks for popping over to share!


      • Lucia says

        Hi Stacey and everybody, I’m trying to find more information about ViraStop & autoimmune conditions… anybody has any other experience to share? I feel like I don’t want to experiment too much on my body unless you all tell me it is safe! Anybody taking probiotics for this? Thanks to all of you!

    • Julie says

      Hi Holly, Ihave hashimoto and struggle with long colds every other month. Doctors think its allergies, maybe both, have been on antibiotics many many times….I was wondering if These enzimes wouls help me. Any side effects? Are we suppose to take them only when we are sick or in regular basis. Thank you for your help. Julie

    • Kim says

      Where can you but this? I have been sick for 3 weeks now and been through 3 rounds of antibiotics.

    • Nicole says

      Hi Holly! I’ve been suffering on & off for a year now, still trying to figure out what’s wrong with me. I believe all signs are pointing to an auto immune disease & I’m waiting almost 2 months to see a Rheumatologist. My Dr did find that I had 2 viruses, HHV-5 & 6. I thought this was the cause of my
      inflamation & joint pain and all did subside for a few months but now returned. She has me on an anti viral medication called Acyclovir. I wonder if Vira-stop is similar to this? Also, where do you purchase it?

    • Tati says

      Holly, thanks for sharing. I’m going to try it …the last week it’s been so hard for me with a common flu. I’ve tried the usual ginger, garlic, teas… but it seems that this flu is a very hard one.

  • Sally says

    Great article- thanks!

    I’m wondering about using essential oils to help as well. I’m just learning more about them but wondering if there is a need to stay away from all immune stimulent oils, even in diffusing them in the air, or just directly on the skin?

    • Mickey says

      I haven’t heard about the negative effects of using essential oils for those of us with autoimmunity. I’d exercise caution if you are going to take anything internally and treat it like a reintroduction. I know a lot of people use thieves oil during cold season with good results.


  • Sally says

    Another quick question- reading about camu camu berry powder lately and how high it is in vitamin c. Wondering if aip friendly?

    • Mickey says

      As long as it is pure camu camu berry and itsn’t processed in a facility with non-AIP foods, it should be fine!


  • Heather says

    I have Epstein Barr Virus which reactivates when my body is stressed. I have discovered that taking antiviral botanicals like reishi mushroom, cats claw and monoluarin knocks out viruses if I start taking them at the first sign of symptoms. Has anyone else had experiences with any of these herbal remedies?

    • Mickey says

      I’ve had experience with monolaurin (a product called Lauricidin) and I don’t believe it to be an immune stimulant. Cat’s claw I don’t know much about, and reishi I definitely know is a stimulant and can cause some people to flare. Supplements affect us all differently though, so what may work/cause a reaction in one person may not in another.

      Hope it helps!


      • Nancy says

        Do mushrooms eaten as food have the same negative effect as mushrooms as supplements?

        • Mickey Trescott says

          It depends on the mushroom, and it depends on the quantity. If you react to medicinal mushrooms in supplement form, I would also be cautious eating them (like shiitake or maitake mushrooms).

  • apelila says

    I’m taking LDN to support my immune system. Last year I didn’t get sick at all, even with a bunch of inconsiderate co-workers bringing their gems to the office.
    I have a question, you listed turmeric as something NOT to take….is that all forms or just that spice?
    I heard Chris Kresser suggested theracurmin specifically for Hashi’s patients on the Hashimotos Institute and I’ve been thinking about trying it. Your thoughts?

    • Mickey says

      Turmeric can be problematic if it happens to stimulate the side of your immune system that is already stimulated. In contrast, if it stimulates the weak part of your immune system, it can be helpful.

      For most people with Hashimoto’s, turmeric stimulates the weak side and can be therapeutic. The catch is though, that some people can have the reverse. This is why I suggest staying away from all of these stimulants, until you can properly introduce and assess how they make you feel.

      Hope it helps!


  • Juliette Jose says

    Hi, I don’t know where to start! I need to make changes but what first! I eat a healthy diet with fish, lean meat, plenty of fruit and vegetables. I have had AI most of my life and at present I have Graves, Pulmonary Fibrosis, and PSC (primary sclorosing cholangitis) along with dry eye syndrome. My diet requirements differ greatly to a normal diet as I have an iliosomy due to previous ulcerative colitis. I have been reading your blogs with interest.

    • Mickey says

      Hi Juliette! I recommend picking up a copy of The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne. It has tons of information about the autoimmune protocol as well as how to customize it to your situation. Wishing you luck!


  • Kathy says

    Great article!! Thanks for the advice. I started getting a sore throat the other day and I was so amazed that the next day I woke up, it had completely gone! Seems AIP is good for the immune system!

    • Mickey says

      Yep, I agree! I think it is because AIP is high in the nutrients that are required for a strong immune system 🙂


  • Karen says

    Hi Mickey, would Cordyceps be included in the possibly-immune-stimulating category with Medicinal Mushrooms? It was recommended as part of a Lyme protocol. But since I have Hashi, I don’t want to flare-up the autoimmune trying to kill out the borrelia! BTW, give your mom a hug from me. I’ve done the exact same thing to my kids (re: cocktail)!

  • Linda Morales says

    Hello! Great article. I think my daughter’s virus caught me and stimulated my immune system too much, so it caused a flare of. I have relapsing polychondritis which is rare but intense! It’s remained mild thankfully, but this flare has passed the point of natural treatment so i had to start a burst of prednisone (only when my trachea is involved). I can;t do the steam etc because it will cause my throat and nose inflammation in my case.

    Since a virus started this, I feel like I need to treat the flare and the virus and that can contradict. Hmmm…. Prednisone suppressed the immune system so the virus can go crazy, but I can’t overstimulate my system. Argh. 😉 Do the above items pertain to some with a cold and a flare up at the same time? Thank you so much!

    • Mickey says

      Hi Linda,

      I’m sorry to hear of your virus and flare! I do think this is a great place to start with someone who is working on both issues, barring anything you know you can’t tolerate (like the steam). Give yourself lots of rest and time to recover. I hope you feel better soon!


  • Cati says

    I have a very aggressive from of psoriatic arthritis – which presents similar to RA. I follow a strict form of the AIP protocol including a nightshade sensitivity. I am now following a “natural ketosis” protocol with my internist (certified Functional MD) which severely limits my intake of fruits and starchy vegetables, similar to Wahls Paleo Plus. I used to be a fruit bat so this last piece has been quite an adjustment. I must say that my inflammation and pain has dropped significantly!! so much that I’m somewhat flabbergasted – yay mobility!
    As for the Elderberry post, not realizing the extent to which my glycemic load was causing flairs – elderberry could be
    a trigger if a small serving wasn’t suspended in a lot of fat to enable the body to absorb the sugar slower, like coconut milk.

    • Mickey says

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Cati!

    • Diane says


      I have Hashimoto Thyroiditis.
      I’ve had a virus three times this season, needing some natural remedies, as well as OTC medication. I was going to take TheraFlu, but states on box, ask DR, b/4 taking.
      Can anyone recommend something for me?

      • Mickey Trescott says

        Hi Diane!
        Unfortunately we aren’t medical practitioners here and can’t comment on medication and medical conditions. The above article has some good ideas for natural, supportive therapies that those of us with autoimmune disease do well with. Hope it helps and that you make a quick recovery!

  • Jennifer says

    i’m trying to Pin this article and can’t find the button. Am I blind? And I didn’t see it on your Pinterest boards. Thanks.

    • Mickey says

      Jennifer–if you hover over the image up top, it will let you pin the article.

      Hope it helps!


  • EMILY OWEN says

    Hi There! long time lupus sufferer here that somehow has only recently stumbled upon this “new” information. I have yet to begin the AIP. I am more prone to follow a vegetarian/vegan diet so this is all a little foreign to me, but I am desperate for a solution other than more medication -which isnt working anyway. Thank you so much for putting this out there for someone like me!
    I am actually a little sick right now so this is perfect timing. I was wondering what you think about garlic and lupus? I was told once to avoid it since it is an immune booster. I haven’t given it up because I couldn’t bear the thought of life without it. Just wondering if you know if there is any actual truth to this?

    • Mickey says

      I know garlic is great for when you are sick and seems to be well-tolerated for those of us with AI, but I have not seen any studies showing that it can negatively impact those with autoimmune disease. I’d listen to your body and see how you feel, however–everything doesn’t work for everyone!


  • Lea says

    Sorry. Just saw your reply to an earlier post.

  • […] Cold and Flu Remedies for the Autoimmune Sufferer – Autoimmune Paleo […]

  • Chaille says

    I came down with a cold or sinus infection yesterday and went out and got Xlear after reading this article. I just noticed however that it has grapefruit seed extract as an ingredient. I’m only three weeks into my first AIP and concerned I might have just set back my healing process. Is there a reason why the extract in Xclear isn’t a concern given it’s on the list of things to avoid?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Chaille,
      While GSE does come from a seed, I doubt that using it therapeutically, when you are sick, in your sinuses is likely to be a setback on AIP, but I would talk to your practitioner more about it if you are worried.

  • Brandi Hudman says

    What about elderberry syrup?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      I’ve heard people say good things, but I haven’t tried personally.

  • Elsbeth says

    Why do we need to avoid turmeric when we have a cold? its the best for my arthritis. Everyone at work has a bad cold, however I am just keeping it at bay with eating my AIP. I did increase my turmeric, garlic and onions. I am on a small island and run out of a lot of things as my next food order is not due till next wednesday. Any other suggestions? I also got a bit of mouth ulcer and Throat is hurting.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Elsbeth,
      You don’t need to avoid turmeric – some people find that immune stimulants flare their condition, so it is a “be cautious” food. I personally feel good when I use turmeric when I am sick. I put it out there as a caution for folks. Have you tried ginger tea for your sore throat? That is usually the first thing I grab.

  • Corryne says

    Thanks Mickey, I’ve been following AIP. Recently felt I was getting sines situs, now mucous has moved to my chest. I read somewhere to drink 1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar w 1/2 cup water, a full lemon juiced & 1 tbsp honey. Unsuspecting I did it – now have very bad belly aches. Do you think I have burnt my stomach?
    Do you think to try & ward off a chest infection I should try your suggested garlic & ginger. Or do you think my stomach won’t be able to tolerate it? Thankyou – I wish I found your site earlier – so helpful

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Corryne!
      I’m sorry you are feeling sick, especially after trying the vinegar remedy – I think your stomach should be fine after getting some food in it, hopefully better by now? I’m not a medical practitioner and can’t give specific advice, but many people try the home remedies above before turning to conventional medicine (which I am not in any way suggesting to avoid, by the way!) if they need to. Personally, I try to deal at home until I have a fever or symptoms just don’t “sit right” with my intuition – then I go to get checked out by a doctor. Something that might help soothe your stomach is drinking bone broth, and a ginger steam might soothe your airways. Hope you get better soon!

  • Elena Shadle says

    I have a very unclear lupus diagnosis. Medication makes me sicker. But everything I have read in this website has changed my life. It explains every bizarre symptom I’ve ever had that a doctor couldn’t explain, including the sensitivity to turmeric which used to be so good for me. I have a cold and I feel like I know how to take care of myself with more caution. Thank you so much for sharing for those who are still hunting for answers.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Elena! We are so happy you find the information helpful!

  • Aya Abdelaziz says


    I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and it seems like you’re article is not acceptable to ALL autoimmune diseases; turmeric is extremely helpful for rheumatoid arthritis so I’m not sure why you advise to avoid it.. this gives me an indication that I shouldn’t be reading this page as it may not really help me

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Aya! While turmeric might work for you, it is an immune stimulant, and may irritate another person with RA. We don’t make blanket suggestions here, but instead give folks some ideas of dietary interventions that might be either helping or harming them. Hope that makes sense!

    • Crosswind says

      Turmeric is an MAO inhibitor, so it’s not recommended for peeps with MAO gene mutations, even if you have RA. For those with MAO, Turmeric can exacerbate his symptoms. It triggers my symptoms and my irritable mood, anxiety, noise sensitivity and for some people panic attacks. I think Turmeric is also *High in Oxalate and * High in Methyl. For people like me who are genetically an “over-methylator”, we need to avoid spices/herbs/foods that increaseore Methyl in body. It makes me flushed & overheated.

      • Crosswind says

        Turmeric may also be high in * Histamine, which some people are very sensitive to, especially if you have gene mutations HNMT, MTHFR, DAO or others that inhibit the body’s ability to metabolize histamine, so it accumulates as excess toxicity in the body. High histamine can make RA worse too.

        • Kristine Phelps says

          It can also cause more kidney stones if you are prone to kidney stones. That is why I can’t take it.

  • […] helping rid myself of sore throats. This was good advice and no price tag. I had just come across the autoimmune protocol. Page after page I kept reading. Most of the advice made sense to me and the stuff that didn’t, […]

  • Nidia says

    Have autoimmune hepatitis. Getting sick. What can I do? Sore throat. Headache sweating. Cold etc. Swollen glands. Can’t take antibiotics cause of liver. Help

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Nidia,
      I am sorry to hear you aren’t feeling well – we aren’t medical practitioners here, and it is best to see your doctor for advice. Hope you start feeling better soon!

  • Andy Nowak says


  • Lyn says

    I have autoimmune thyroid disease (Graves). I am try to follow the Paleo AIP. I am looking to increase my vitamin C intake and was wondering if I could take Camu Camu. Please let me know your thoughts, as I find the molecular mimicry very confusing when it comes to the Lactobacillus and Bifidoacterium.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Lyn! Unfortunately I am not sure how C from Camu Camu will affect you, some folks react to potentially immune-stimulating supplements and others don’t. Wishing you luck!

  • ami ellenberg says

    thanks for this article, I’ve had to change my years of using herbs for cold and flu since Hashimotos diagnose 2 months ago.
    so ingrained in me that I was taking Echinacea for a few days til I realized oops!
    but I did read about Reishi being an immune modulator, like an adaptogen, so it’s useful to calm an overactive immune system. it muscle tests well for me but the mushroom blends like I’ve used in the past don’t.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Ami, thanks for your feedback – we’ve definitely found that everyone is different, but a lot of folks have trouble with the medicinal mushrooms.

  • Stacey says

    I work a retail job which keeps me busy and run down on a normal basis ( I have Hashimoto’s disease and celiac disease ) but occasionally they will switch me from dayshift to graveyard for a week and then back to dayshift. They never let me have a weekend to be able to recover. What that means as I get off work at 7 o’clock on Friday morning and I have to be back at work at 7 o’clock on Saturday morning. It takes me a week to adjust to the night shift but then it takes two weeks for me to adjust back to the dayshift. It leaves me exhausted and rundown and without fail after everyone of these graveyard weeks I get horribly ill. With a nasty cold that just wipes me out or bronchitis or the flu. And it takes me forever to get rid of it. 8 to 10 weeks before all the coughing and the drainage goes away. Does bouncing schedules like that and getting run down completely Annihilate ability to fight anything? What is the best way to keep this from happening every single time my schedule bounces like that because The schedule shift happens once a month for about six months in a year. That leaves me feeling like a zombie for the first and third quarter of every year.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Stacey! I’m so sorry to hear, and yes I imagine all that bouncing around never gives your body the opportunity to recover. Have you seen Michelle Tam’s posts on surviving the nightshift? I would also work on some of those nutrients that will help support immune health long-term – vitamins C, D, zinc, etc.

  • […] here.  If you do have an autoimmune disease and want to avoid trying Elderberry Syrup, this blog post is a great resource for finding […]

  • Cindy says

    How do you know if your immune system is stimulated? I have Hashi’s. If I eat something that stimulates my immune system, what does it do? How will I know?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Cindy! Generally, folks with autoimmune disease feel worse when they encounter immune-stimulants – personally, when I have echinacea I get a resurgence of my hypothyroid symptoms like extreme fatigue. It can be different for everyone and specific to the ingredient in question. Hope it helps!

  • I have Graves disease and took chemo pill to kill my thyroid. Does the drug interactions affect me?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Melissa! Unfortunately we are not doctors here and can’t give medical advice. I’m not sure what medication you took and how it would interact with the supplements or remedies here, that is a question best handled by someone on your medical team!

  • Kris Surat says

    I take tumeric for my arthritis. Should I stop taking it while I am sick or quit taking it all together? In also have Hashimoto’s and Celiac disease. I was told to take Astralagus as it would help heal my thyroid and prevent a flare up.

    Right now I am fighting bronchitis. The doctor has put me on levaquin for 5 days. Unfortunately, I am not looking forward to this as I usually get very sick from antibiotics.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Kris! I don’t have a way of knowing if turmeric or astralagus wouldn’t be good for you. Both are immune stimulants, which some folks react to, but you never really know the impact until you try to remove them from your routine to test it out. Hope it helps!

  • […] Helpful Posts: Paleo/ AIP Cold & Flu Survival Guide Cold & Flu Remedies for the AutoImmune Sufferer Natural Approaches to Cold and Flu […]

  • Meg says

    I’m so grateful to have come across this article. I started with a cold today right after my last celiac flare from an unknown gluten exposure. I also have Hashimotos which feels like it’s flaring. This morning I took goldenseal with echinacea. After reading this I understand the echinacea may have triggered the Hashimotos symptoms. But I didn’t see any mention of goldenseal; where can I find out if that also be avoided? Thank you!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Meg! Reactions to various immune stimulating herbs can be really individual. Goldenseal is in the same category as echinacea. Did you check out the article linked in the above post?

  • Jose Rosa says

    I do not recommend Sambucus or elderberry syrups. I started usin it during flu or sickness periods. Sometimes I felt weird when I used it. Not long after (3 to 6 months) I sterted having rash and itching problems. After several doctor visits and blood analysis I was diagnosed with autoinmune disease Hashimoto. I do not know if the eldersberry caused it.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Jose! I’m not a doctor, but I’ve learned the development of autoimmune disease is a complex interplay of genetics, lifestyle, and environment. For some people, immune stimulants can cause flares of their symptoms which might have been how you were lead to the discovery of your Hashimoto’s.

  • Mary Liggett says

    My go-to for flu-like symptom or achiness is Oscillococcinum made by Boiron. It a naturopathic formula. It always helps me quickly, sometimes after only 1 dose. Is there any reason not to take it? Am I overlooking something?

    • Angie Alt says

      We aren’t homeopathic practitioners, so we’re unable to answer this question for you. I’d consider consulting a naturopath or homeopath for more details on whether or not this is a good match for you.

  • Jessica says

    Hi, I just wanted to say thank you so much for your article! I got sick about a week ago and my AI condition flared and it has been so surprisingly discouraging. I couldn’t connect it to anything I ate and so I couldn’t let it go. I needed to know what was happening. I’m so grateful to have found your article confirming it was the cold. And probably the Ricola coughs drops with echinacea :). Thank you for all your wonderful work and for allowing us to feel a little less alone!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Sorry to hear Jessica, hope you are on the mend!

  • Linda Eastman says

    Hi there, I’m so very grateful to have found your blog after 2 decades of dealing with Hashimoto’s. I noticed an “affiliate link” at the bottom of your page this morning for Bare Bones bone broth saying it is 100% AIP compliant. Yet on the product ingredient label it indicates tomato. I would love to find a source for bone broth as I can’t seem to keep up with making my own. Please clarify. Here is the link from your page: Thanks for your dedication to helping AI sufferers!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Linda! Thanks for the heads up, we just heard Bare Bones has introduced tomato in all their formulations. The good news is there are some mail-order companies who are making AIP broth and we are working on updating our resources. Have you tried Bare Bones Broth? Their online store is down now, but they have AIP-compliant broth that can be found in grocery stores. Good luck!

  • Dawn says

    Hi! Thanks so much for this article! I’m sorry if I missed it, but I don’t see any mention on ginseng here…. is that an immune stimulant as well?! I feel like I have more questions, but it’s very early and I can’t remember them haha!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Dawn! Yes, ginseng can be stimulating to the immune system. Hope it helps!

      • Pat says

        Is Boiron Ocillococcinum stimulating to the immune system?

        • Mickey Trescott says

          Hi Pat! I am not sure about that, but I know that many homeopathics are made in a lactose base making them not suitable for folks in the elimination phase.

  • For years I could never understand why all the immune helpers never helped me! Echinacea, elderberry, astragalus, mushrooms all set me off. I have even taught a fire cider class to help people get ready for flu season, but as soon as mine was ready and I started using it I got sick! I’m not sure if there was a particular ingredient that set me off, because I have made it so many ways, so I’ve decided to just not do it anymore. Now that I know I have Hashimoto’s it makes sense. For me ANY kind of immune stimulant gets me sick. That’s one wonky immune system, but we have to learn to live with each other. I have found for me the best thing during flu season, besides eating right and avoiding stress and triggers, is to just try and avoid going places where people might be sick. And if I have to, I be sure and wash my hands and pay attention to what I touch. It’s kind of a pain, but so is being sick. It takes me quite awhile to recover, and I haven’t found the secret to that….so I just try real hard to avoid it. Thank you for all your support and information on these things. It is so wonderful to have somewhere to go to read up on things that I can’t really talk to others about!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Karin, I am sorry to hear your experience and I’m so happy this article was helpful for you!

  • Sarah Brown says


    Could you please tell me why we should avoid/suspect tumeric and grapefruitseed extract?

    Thank you

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Sarah! Click over to the link in the text to read more about why immune stimulants aren’t great for those of us with autoimmune disease.

      • Sarah says

        I just wanted to say thank you for the incredible contribution you are making to the API community. This article is fantastic, not to mention the Stories of Recovery which give me hope.

        • Mickey Trescott says

          Hey Sarah! Thanks for the sweet message, and for being here with us!

  • Nicole H says

    Just curious if anyone has used Umcka for colds and if you had an autoimmune response to it? Shortly after taking it, I had a low grade fever and was really feeling off. It’s been a few hours and I feel better now. Any advice?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Nicole, I don’t have personal experience with this product, but a quick look at the ingredients shows natural flavors and corn products. I’m sorry you didn’t feel well after taking it! For the reasons discussed in this article, I usually avoid those types of cold management and stick to the basics (rest, broth, nutrient support). Feel better soon!

  • Alexis says

    What about “Cold Fx”, my parents swear by it. Can I use it with SLE?

    Thank you

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Alexis! I’ve never heard of this and am not familiar with the ingredients, but I tend to stay away from products and just use the nutrient support mentioned above. There isn’t any way I can tell you what will work for your body 🙂

  • Carol B. says

    All my research on auto immunities indicates that medicinal mushrooms such as Rashi, etc. Are excellent choices because they do not stimulate the immune system, but modulate and strengthen it. I was surprised you included that on your list of what to avoid. I take and immune modulating mushroom formula twice a day. There is no hint of stimulating my auto immune disorders and I have stayed well for two years even with family members who got terribly sick. There are many clinically reliable articles to confirm this. Dr. Eliaz States that medicinal mushrooms have a modulating affect on an over active immune system, actually calming it down to make it specific and effective.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Carol! I understand medicinal mushrooms may work for you, but for many in the autoimmune community they cause symptoms and/or flares. This is why we recommend avoiding during the elimination phase and reintroducing to assess tolerance later.

  • Amanda Klennert says

    Hi Mickey,
    Thank you for teaming up with Angie and being such a great support for autoimmune sufferers. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s last fall, and am still working through managing the symptoms. AIP has been a big help! I’m still having fatigue as a chronic problem and back aches and pain, but I am seeing a new functional med doctor and hopes we can get to the bottom of it. I’d also like to learn more about AIP and see if sprucing up certain areas could improve things. I digress.
    My question is about pain management associated with colds / flu. I learned recently, after almost a year on AIP, that ibuprofen should be avoided. What do you recommend for pain management, like headaches from a cold / flu or body aches?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Amanda! This is a great question. NSAIDs are hard on the gut, which is what we are trying to heal with protocols like AIP. That being said, sometimes there is a need for these types of painkillers. Since I’m not a doctor, I can’t make a recommendation, but I do think this is a great question for your functional medicine doctor. They may have an idea for an alternative herbal support that might be effective for this use. Good luck!

  • Cheri says

    Would you please point me in the direction of more information about why you recommend we avoid turmeric? My Functional Med Doc has me on a daily dose to reduce homocysteine inflammation. I have Hashimoto’s. Thanks.

  • Anna H says

    I have Hashimoto’s and Sjograns. I get the concept of not boosting your immune response because you’re immune system is already in overdrive. But why would you recommend vitamin C and ginger and zinc if they also boost your immune response? And why would you say to stay away from Turmeric if Turmeric is on the top of the recommendation lists for autoimmune sufferers because of its anti inflammatory properties? This is confusing advice.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Anna! Simply, vitamin C, ginger, and zinc do not boost the parts of the immune system that are in overdrive with autoimmune disease. They are nutrient cofactors and antioxidants that may help when a person is sick but generally don’t ramp things up (vitamin C is an exception in folks who are sensitive or in high doses). Hope that helps clarify!

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