Nature has provided us with the original pharmacopeia of healing agents. Most of them are plants, many are minerals and vitamins. They are always my first choice when battling an oncoming cold or flu.

I thought I’d share with you the contents of my medicine cabinet, as well as some key self-care practices to keep you healthy. You might like to make up a “Natural Medicine Chest” gift basket for a friend or loved one this holiday.

Peppermint oil: Great for clearing the sinuses, settling an upset tummy, and waking up a tired brain.

Thieves: This Young Living product is a combination of 5 essential oils used by the grave robbers during the bubonic plague, these kill 99.7% airborne bacteria. When compressed over the sinuses or the chest, it penetrates and kills pathogens. I carry this one when I travel, especially by air, and dab a drop under my nose to kill the bacteria I may be breathing in from stuffy air ducts or other travelers.

Bio Immunozyme Forte: My all-time favorite immune booster. It contains echinacea, which strengthens white blood cells and prevents bacteria from replicating, activated B vitamins and glandulars that strengthen the organs that bolster immunity. It is my go-to for knocking out any kind of flu/ infection.

Oil of Oregano: Kills bacteria and yeast. In high doses it has an antibiotic effect. One drop in the Neti pot kills bacteria and yeast that like to nestle in the mucous membranes of the sinus passages.

Zinc: The body’s number one wound healing agent. Crush a tablet and gargle with it to calm a sore throat by healing those inflamed tissues.

Silvercillin Spray: Tastes much better than straight zinc and you can reach those sore tissues at the back of your throat with a quick spray. It is a colloidal silver product which kills bacteria on the spot.

Vitamin C: Probably the best researched of any nutrient, has profound effects on the immune system. It’s important for collagen repair and regulating white blood cells, the defense army of our bodies. If you prefer taking it as a drink I suggest the 1000 mg packets of EmergenC, found in most stores and pharmacies. My favorite for soothing a stuffy nose or achy throat is the Warm Apple Cider version. You add hot water and it’s truly tasty.

Sinupret: My first choice of a decongestant. I find that often when people cough it’s because of post-nasal drip tickling their throat. The solution is to dry up those sinuses and the coughing will often stop. This product is made of five botanicals (elder flower, primrose flower, common sorrel, European vervain, gentian root ) and is safe for children as well. In fact, it comes as a liquid for kids.

NAC: This is something I take all the time for liver health, but it has the secondary effect of thinning mucus. It’s an excellent way to keep the sinuses draining and to prevent congestion and the sinus infection which can often follow a cold.

Now here are a few things I don’t recommend because they all increase conges