If You Refuse the ‘Flu Shot – Top 5 Alternatives for Cold and Flu Prevention

Supplementing with 5,000 – 10,000 IU of vitamin D daily, from October to May, is safe and effective for prevention of ’flus, colds, cancer, and about 200 other diseases in most adults

Ask any conventional doctor about the cold and ’flu season, and they will tell you that the best prevention for influenza is the annual ’flu vaccine. No doubt, you have heard the ads on radio and TV urging one and all to get the shot. Since it is now available at just about every drug store in town for free, it has become very easy for you to receive this vaccine. But, should you?

Elderly and immune-compromised individuals are the ones urged most strongly to get their ’flu shots, yet a recent study shows that the ’flu shot is ineffective in leukemia patients (a very immune-compromised group).[1] And some doctors, like internist Dr. David Brownstein, MD, have publicly expressed concern about research they’ve seen showing that the ’flu shot is 98% ineffective.[2] At the same time, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) states that the ’flu shot doesn’t prevent the ’flu in at least 50% of cases.

All this makes the ’flu shot seem even less effective than a placebo, given that the placebo effect can be as high as 72% according to a recent Psychology Today report.[4] Furthermore, the ’flu vaccine is hardly ‘evidence-based.’ Some journalists have dubbed the ’flu vaccine the greatest medical fraud in the history of the world.[6] So, what can you do if you choose not to get the ’flu shot, yet still want to prevent infection?

Diet and Lifestyle

AVOID TOXIC SOAPS AND DISINFECTANTS – Healthcare practitioners will often tell you to wash your hands frequently to reduce the spread of microbes. You see antibacterial soaps in hospitals, doctor’s offices, banks, tennis clubs, gyms, grocery stores, and elsewhere. I advise you to avoid using these at all cost. Such products are not only toxic to your skin but can make matters worse for your immune system. These soaps contain triclosan and triclocarban, two ingredients found by the US FDA to be neither safe nor effective infection fighters.[5] Instead, keep your hands clean with natural soaps, tea tree oil cleansers, or those containing neem, aloe, or oregano oil.

CHOOSE A HIGH-PROTEIN, SUGAR-FREE DIET – Sugar, highly allergenic foods, and stress feed microbes and spread disease. Follow a high-protein, sugar-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free organic diet with copious amounts of raw vegetables. It’s also worthwhile to exercise regularly and get enough sleep. As well, get yourself tested for food intolerances if you are unsure of the right kinds of foods to eat.[7] This can be done through a physician, naturopath, or even online on your own from a selection of labs offering testing to the public. Stress weakens your immunity and is often difficult to keep under control. This is why most people require natural health products and at least five basic remedies to prevent the ’flu, colds and other infections.

My Top Five Recommended Remedies

1. VITAMIN D – Widespread deficiency of this vitamin among citizens of the northern hemisphere is likely responsible for high incidences of colds and ’flus. By nature, vitamin D is anti-inflammatory. Deficiency causes immune system weakness and chronic inflammation.

Supplementing with 5,000 – 10,000 IU daily, from October to May of each year, is safe and effective for prevention of ’flus, colds, cancer, and approximately 200 different diseases in most adults.The body makes its own version of a natural antibiotic in the presence of vitamin D. Specifically, vitamin D promotes the production of cathelicidin, a protein with natural antibiotic properties. Cathelicidin kills viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. So the more we are able to boost our blood levels of vitamin D (with food, supplements, and sunshine), the more we can strengthen the body’s capacity to manufacture its own antibiotics.If you are unfortunate enough to catch the influenza bug, Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council recommends taking 50,000 IU daily of vitamin D at the first sign of the ’flu for five days, then dropping the level down to 5,000 to 10,000 IU daily for the winter season.

This strategy can also be employed if you get the ’flu or a cold right after receiving the ’flu shot. Most conventional doctors do not believe that you can get the ’flu after receiving a ’flu shot. Then again, most conventional doctors continue to ignore the overwhelming evidence that vitamin D prevents infection. Many of the patients who have seen me as well as their family doctors over the years, however, have reported that they developed a bad cold or the ’flu right after receiving the ’flu vaccine.

In any event, vitamin D is both great prevention and effective treatment for colds and influenza.Vitamin D works even better if taken together with vitamin K2. Both vitamins are anti-inflammatory and can prevent as well as treat colds and influenza successfully. Believe it or not, a conventional doctor recently put in a complaint to the College of Naturopaths of Ontario about a naturopath who prescribed 10,000 IU daily for a mutual patient. The claim was that this dose was toxic and caused kidney failure. This is nonsense since our bodies can make over 20,000 IU of vitamin D in our skins at high noon in the summer without any sign of toxicity. What that doctor failed to disclose was that the patient was already taking several prescription drugs that listed kidney failure as one of the numerous side effects.

World authorities on vitamin D verify that up to 30,000 IU daily for a healthy adult is quite safe and periodic higher doses (50,000 IU daily for five days) are also of little to no concern.

2. PROBIOTICS (lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and numerous others) are friendly bacteria that usually inhabit the gut, the oral cavity, and the skin. They are well-documented optimizers of the immune system. Probiotics function as natural antibiotics against unfriendly bacteria as well as viruses like the influenza and cold bugs, along with yeast like Candida albicans. Cultured dairy products like raw non-pasteurized cheese, yogurt, acidophilus milk, buttermilk, sour cream, cottage cheese, and kefir are the best-known food sources of friendly bacteria.

More concentrated probiotic sources include cultured/fermented vegetables (cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers (pickles), onions, squash, olives, and carrots), soy products like organic tempeh and miso, as well as kombucha, natto, and apple cider vinegar. Other food sources of probiotics are sauerkraut and sourdough breads. Ideally, a person could get a good supply of probiotics from eating one or more of these diverse foodstuffs. If dietary sources are not easily available, supplemental probiotic powders and capsules are good alternatives. Choose a brand that has at least 10 different strains of friendly bacteria, and between 10 – 15 billion live organisms.

3. COLOSTRUM – is the first mammary secretion nourishment that any mammal, including humans, provides for its newborn for the first 24 to 48 hours of life. Organic bovine colostrum is available at most health food stores as a natural health product. Those wanting to prevent infections can take between three and six capsules daily throughout the ’flu season. Polio vaccine developer, Dr. Albert Sabin, discovered that colostrum contained antibodies against polio and recommended it for children susceptible to catching the disease.

Well-known colostrum components include interferon, gamma globulin, growth hormone (GH), IgF-1, and protease inhibitors used by medical specialists in the treatment of cancer, chronic viral infections including HIV, and autoimmune diseases. Dr. Jeffrey Dach, MD, is one doctor who provided evidence in one of his recent publications that colostrum is three times more effective at preventing influenza than the ’flu shot.[10]

4. VITAMIN C (ascorbic acid) – 1,000 mg or more daily has anti-viral and immune enhancing effects. The daily requirement of vitamin C is still in debate but most would agree that the RDA of 60 mg is too low an estimate of actual human need. Vitamin C is used up quickly during conditions of stress, allergies, diseases like diabetes, and by tobacco smoke, numerous drugs, antibiotics, alcohol, mercury, and other toxic heavy metals like lead and cadmium.

Some vitamin C is stored in the adrenal glands, pituitary, brain, eyes, ovaries, and testes and is in greater demand whenever the immune system or any connective tissue is stressed. (Most animals, except guinea pigs, humans, and apes produce ascorbic acid in the liver from glucose and do not need to get vitamin C from food.) The best food sources of vitamin C are the citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines, and grapefruits). Other fruits with high amounts of vitamin C include camu camu berries, rosehips, acerola cherries, papayas, cantaloupes, and strawberries. The best vegetable sources are red and green peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, asparagus, parsley, dark leafy greens, cabbage, and sauerkraut.

One of the strategies recommended for those who have just come down with the ’flu or a cold is something called “vitamin C to bowel tolerance”

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) may well be the most controversial of all the supplements. Most of the medical establishment still objects to the use of megadoses of vitamin C for treatment of cancer, the ’flu, allergies, stress, adrenal fatigue, or just about anything else. All this negativity may be unwarranted, however, because there is a growing body of medical evidence supporting the use of vitamin C in very high doses.

Vitamin C, and its closely related bioflavonoids, can be found in all citrus fruits and numerous other fruits and vegetables. In fact, vitamin C was first isolated from lemons in 1932, but it was well known to be a factor in the prevention of scurvy back in the 18th century.

Vitamin C is used by the body in the formation of collagen, a protein required by all joints, ligaments, skin, cartilage, capillary walls, bones, teeth, and connective tissue. Vitamin C is needed to help heal wounds and maintain healthy blood vessels. It has been proven to help speed healing of burns, fractures, bedsores, ulcers, and post-surgical wounds. Vitamin C in larger than physiological doses has been successfully used to treat a wide range of viral, bacterial, fungal and inflammatory conditions including colds, flus, mononucleosis, herpes simplex infections, and shingles.

Vitamin C boosts the production of interferon, a potent anti-viral and immune enhancing substance. Chronic inflammatory conditions, not necessarily related to infectious disease, will also respond to vitamin C therapy. These include arthritis, bursitis, gout (vitamin C pushes uric acid out of the body), asthma, and chronic musculoskeletal pain.

One of the strategies that I have recommended for those who have just come down with the ’flu or a cold is something called “vitamin C to bowel tolerance.” When someone has a viral infection, their tolerance for high doses of vitamin C is greatly enhanced – it takes far higher doses of vitamin C to produce loose bowel movements. Loose bowels occur at the vitamin C tolerance dose. Pushing vitamin C to that high level will produce a strong anti-viral and anti-histaminic effect, reducing all the signs and symptoms of the common cold and the ’flu. For example, doses of 20,000 mg or more might be required to reach that bowel tolerance level when, ordinarily in times of good health, the bowel tolerance dose might just be 3,000 mg daily. In other words, the sicker you are, the higher the dose required.

Note: Megadoses above and beyond bowel tolerance (dose that produces diarrhea) can be given intravenously to fight serious infections like Lyme disease as well as cancer.

5. ECHINACEA – 1,000 mg or more of this popular herb daily is well documented as an immune system booster used to both prevent and treat a long list of infections. Echinacea is best taken at the first sign of a cold or ’flu. It is not only anti-viral but also anti-fungal.[11] The evidence for echinacea’s effectiveness as a cold and ’flu prevention herb is spotty at best. It all depends on the quality of the plant used, whether or not the treatment with it was started early enough, and whether or not a proper dose was used. Lower doses yield poorer results. If you use echinacea, be bold and use a minimum of 1,000 mgs of the concentrated tincture or capsule a day. Side effects are reported to be minimal at virtually any dose.


It is often said that echinacea shouldn’t be taken for long periods of time beyond a few weeks, but this has never been proven to be detrimental in any way. This false advice on limiting the length of time that one should be using this herb originates from a German study that actually concluded the opposite. Things are often lost in translation. The bottom line is that one can supplement echinacea continuously for long periods without concerns.

The other echinacea myth is that people who have autoimmune disease should not be taking it due to overstimulation of their autoimmune response. This too is nonsense since supplementing with echinacea increases the body’s production of hyaluronic acid, a well-known anti-inflammatory pain reliever. This is also one of the reasons why high dose echinacea can be helpful to treat arthritis pain. Once again, to be healthier with autoimmune disease, take echinacea in large doses. (Caveat: If you have a ragweed allergy you might react adversely to echinacea because it belongs to the same plant family.)


My top five remedies have a long proven track record of success. There are, however, many other natural health products that have been advocated as ’flu and cold preventives over the years and they all have well-documented benefits. Many practitioners may also recommend zinc, oil of oregano, garlic, elderberry, astragalus, colloidal silver, berberine, curcumin, and a long list of homeopathic remedies for both prevention and treatment. It’s all good. Consult a natural health care practitioner for personalized advice.

Note: This article is not intended to replace the advice of your physician. For any changes to your healthcare regimen, please consult a qualified health professional.


[1] Flu vaccine found to be ineffective in leukemia patients; European Pharmaceutical Review: https://tinyurl.com/y7fjd5c8

[2] Flu Vaccine Fails 98% of Those Who receive It; Health Impact News: https://tinyurl.com/yd8gm7nm

[4] Placebo effect; Psychology Today: https://tinyurl.com/mrhvbg3

[5] Antibacterial soaps dangers; CBC News report: https://tinyurl.com/hud9h5g

[6] Proof: Flu shots are the greatest medical fraud in the history of the world; Natural News: https://tinyurl.com/y9n7y5r7

[7] Braly, J. Food Allergy Relief. Contemporary Books, Illinois. 2000.

[9] Vitamin D Deficiency Likely Responsible for Flu Epidemic. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/255604.php

[10] Colostrum Three Times More Effective than Flu Vaccine. https://tinyurl.com/yapr3bpa

  • Colostrum for Flu Prevention. https://tinyurl.com/yak8kzt6
  • Clark, Daniel G. and Wyatt, Kaye. Colostrum, Life’s First Food. Salt Lake City: CNR Publications. 1996.
  • Jensen, Bernard. Colostrum: Man’s First Food, The White Gold Discovery. Escondido: Bernard Jensen, 1993.
  • Rona, Zoltan, P. Bovine colostrum emerges as immune system modulator. American Journal of Natural Medicine; March, 1998, pp. 19-23
  • American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; Dec. 2001; 74(6): 833-9: Enhancement of immunity in the elderly by dietary supplementation with the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis HN019.
  • Levy, T. Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins: Curing the Incurable. Xlibris Corp. Philadelphia, PA, 2002.

[11] Echinacea evidence; Cochrane newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/y7uxvacl

[12] Echinacea evidence; Science Daily: https://tinyurl.com/y8gutnx5

[13] C is for children – and plenty of it too:  https://orthomolecular.activehosted.com/index.php?action=social&chash=9766527f2b5d3e95d4a733fcfb77bd7e.169&s=64c388049f95d68a0f92d970b5fd731d

On the Risks of Vaccination – Vaccine Choice Canada (VCC) is a non-profit educational society formed in response to growing concern about the safety of vaccination programs. Vaccines are biological drugs formulated with complex bioactive and chemical compounds that carry a risk of injury and death for some. VCC provides information about the risks, side effects, and long-term health effects of vaccination. VCC works to protect the right of all people to make fully informed and voluntary vaccine decisions for themselves and their children.Visit: https://vaccinechoicecanada.com/

Zoltan P. Rona, MD, MSc, offers consultations on nutrition and natural remedies in Thornhill. He has recently retired from medical practice as a Complementary and Alternative medical practitioner and now strictly offers nutritional consultations. He is the medical editor of The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing and has also published several Canadian bestselling books, including Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin. To see more of Dr. Rona’s articles, visit: www.highlevelwellness.ca and for appointments, please call (905) 764-8700; office located at: 390 Steeles Ave. W., Unit 19, Thornhill, Ontario

View Comments

  • I find it concerning that the CDC acknowledges the flu shot's limited effectiveness, with claims that it doesn't prevent the flu in at least 50% of cases. Additionally, the comparison made to the placebo effect further questions the true benefits of the vaccine. The mention of the flu vaccine being labeled as a medical fraud by some journalists is quite alarming and warrants further investigation.

  • Explore top alternatives for cold and flu prevention if you opt out of the flu shot. From boosting immunity with vitamin C and zinc supplements to practicing good hygiene and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are various effective strategies to stay protected during flu season. Prioritize your health with informed choices.

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