The Cold & Flu season is coming upon us…learn how to protect yourself naturally & effectively below!
Often times, patients will wait until their symptoms become unbearable & then attempt to use over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to alleviate their symptoms. But did you know that there are supplements you can take that will actually reduce the overall duration & severity of your cold as well?
There are three different approaches to combatting the common cold:
- Treating the symptoms (runny nose, sore throat, congestion, cough, fever, etc.)
- Killing the viral/bacterial pathogen
- Boosting the immune system’s ability to overcome the illness itself
I would like to focus on natural products that been shown to boost immunity & some that have antimicrobial properties as well!
These are the most commonly used herbs for stimulating the immune system. These herbs work by proliferating & activating the white blood cells that ultimately destroy invading pathogens. Some, like elderberry, have direct antimicrobial effects in addition. Clinical studies have shown these herbs to reduce both the severity & duration of the common cold.
Oregano Oil – The “Natural Antibiotic”:
A surprisingly potent & effective remedy with broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. This means it kills bacteria, viruses, fungi & parasites alike! This is my favorite remedy of the season, especially for sore throat. Take just 2-3 drops in a mouthful of water; swish & gargle for a couple of minutes & swallow it down. Daily dosing is fine for prevention, but if acutely ill, repeat every few hours.
Vitamin C & Zinc:
Both of these nutrients help maintain a healthy immune system & may reduce cold duration. Additionally, zinc has intrinsic antiviral properties that prevent viral replication & attachment to cells in the nasal passages. And by reducing histamine & other mediators of inflammation, zinc can also diminish many upper respiratory tract symptoms. The key to using these nutrients is to dose them in sufficient quantity & frequency every couple of hours throughout the day. Lozenges are great for this purpose.
Did you know that vitamin D influences the expression of over 200 genes & is essential to a healthy immune system?! Most people today do not get nearly the amount of daily sunlight necessary for optimal vitamin D levels. This is why supplementation in the months leading up to winter is so important. Depending on the level of deficiency, individuals should take 5-10,000 IUs of vitamin D per day starting at least 2-3 months before the winter season begins. Clinical data shows that higher vitamin D levels are associated with a decreased risk of contracting a seasonal viral infection. There is also some evidence that taking a mega-dose upwards of 50,000 IUs can be used to boost immunity during an active infection.
Probiotics are defined as living microorganisms that confer health benefit to the host when administered in adequate amounts. By ingesting lots of “good” microorganisms, this prevents “bad” ones from taking over. This delicate balance in our gut is essential to maintaining a healthy immune response & preventing infections in the first place. Take on an empty stomach, otherwise potency will be reduced due to acid destruction.
Probiotics During/After Antibiotic Therapy:
Antibiotics don’t just kill the bad bacteria…but the good ones, too! The resulting microflora imbalance weakens the immune system & puts patients at increased risk for reinfection in the future. That’s why it is so important to supplement with probiotics for a couple weeks after any course of antibiotics. And here’s a tip, supplementing with probiotics during antibiotic therapy can reduce many of the gastrointestinal side effects (nausea/diarrhea) as well! To do this most effectively, one should take their daily probiotics 2 hours before or 3-4 hours after their antibiotic dose. Because of this, I often recommend taking probiotics at night before bed.
With all the natural remedies listed above, it is important to take aggressive action promptly when the viral count is still relatively low & symptoms are mild. That means taking frequent & high doses immediately upon experiencing the beginning stages & symptoms of a cold. This is why I always recommend to have a few of these supplements ready at home for use…especially during the winter months!
*For more information on dosing, which specific combination of products are right for your condition or if you’d like to order some of the above mentioned supplements at a discount, please contact me here.