There’s no denying it: cold and flu season is in full swing. Both colds and the flu are caused by viruses that are spread through casual contact, yet despite significant exposure, some people rarely get sick. Read on to discover the most natural ways to reduce your chances of catching whatever is going around and to treat the sniffles if they do strike.
REGULAR HANDWASHING: Greatly reduces the transmission of viruses. No special antimicrobial cleansers are needed, just plenty of plain old soap and warm water.
REFINED SUGAR CONSUMPTION: Depresses the number and activity of the body’s white blood cells. Eliminate refined sugar from the diet to bolster immunity and improve your resistance to circulating viruses.
GETTING ADEQUATE SLEEP: Is critical to general health and immunity, in particular. Studies show that subjects deprived of sleep are more susceptible to developing upper respiratory illnesses like the common cold.
In addition to avoiding sugar, maintaining a healthy diet is essential to boost immunity. Increase vegetable consumption with warming soups and stews and be sure to eat adequate amounts of protein. Vitamin C increases many aspects of immune system function, such as improving the integrity of the ground substance that holds our cells together. The reason why most respiratory viral illnesses begin with a sore throat is that the invading virus secretes a chemical to erode the ground substance in the throat and gain access to the bloodstream. Taking 1000 mg of vitamin C daily during the winter season will improve your resistance to viruses that attack the throat.
NEVER IGNORE A SORE THROAT.
By the time you can feel the first tickle, the offending pathogen – usually a virus – has already been attacking you for 24 hours. Take action by using a standardized Echinacea Supplement. Echinacea, probably the most well-known immune boosting herb, has fallen out of favour recently due to some bad press. Using non-standardized echinacea extracts or preparations of dried herb seriously flawed most of the widely publicized, negative studies. However, there is still a body of good scientific and clinical evidence to support the use of the purple coneflower as a natural means to prevent and treat both colds and the flu. One study showed that participants who took standardized extract of Echinacea purpurea had fewer, shorter, and less severe colds than those who took a placebo. Choose a product that uses the fresh herb extract in liquid or gelatin capsule form, as drying echinacea destroys up to 80% of active ingredients.
A medical miracle from the beehive, propolis, or “bee glue”, is the sticky substance that bees place at the hive entrance to sterilize swarm members as the come and go. Its ability to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi earned the title “Russian penicillin” as the substance was widely used in WWII by the Russian army to prevent and treat infected wounds.
The Olive Leaf has been used medicinally by the Greeks and Romans since antiquity. Olive leaf extract was introduced to North America in the early 1990s for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. In vitro studies suggest that extracts of Olea europaea possess antiviral activity against influenza A, one of the most common types of winter flu. Look for a product that is standardized to at least 15% oleuropein content and try one to four capsules daily at the first sign of cold or flu symptoms.
The root of the Chinese plant Astragalus has been used as a tonic and immune system strengthener for nearly 4,000 years. Traditionally the dried root was made into a decoction or tea and sipped daily throughout winter. If you can’t find it in this form, look for it in tablets, liquid, or as a combination in the anti-viral tincture. A few drops of concentrated Propolis tincture (look for labels that indicate 65% potency) can be mixed with water and used as a gargle for sore throats. High-quality propolis is quite thick and sticky, so beware of watery substitutes. Warning: do not take propolis or other bee products of you are allergic to bee stings.
Cold & Flu Quashers – Women’s Voice (CA)
Author and naturopathic doctor, Kate Rhéaume, is a graduate and former faculty member of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Dr. Kate lectures internationally on many topics related to health and wellness, and is a frequent guest on radio and television across North America. She is the author of the best-selling book Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life.