At this time of year, we all scurry to find the best cure for the common ailments — cold and flu. Sometimes it is inevitable, to succumb to the illness — regardless of the approach — curl up in bed, get some TLC and unplug from our responsibilities for a few days.
In a previous post, I gave you some helpful tips on staving off viral and bacterial infections. Link to it from here:
What I thought I would present here are a few research driven cures.
Flavonoids from berries have been common practice in Naturopathic clinics for some time to reduce inflammation & support the respiratory system. An inflamed throat can make one more susceptible to an infection. What caught my attention was in 2009 when H1N1 struck the country. This particular flu strain was incredibly viral and persistent. The NIH, a US government funded research institute, dove into the science behind Elderberry’s use for influenza. They found that it was effective against ten strains of the influenza virus. Particularly, Elderberry’s action was in reducing viral replication by protecting our cell walls from its entrance and thus replication. Aside from its direct antiviral effects, they found that Elderberry increased the immune system’s cytokine production. Cytokines are the communicators, telling the immune system that it’s time to activate the troops in response to an invader or a trauma.
In my practice, I have families take elderberry on a daily basis throughout the winter season, not just at the onset of a cold.
We all have heard of Echinacea. It is such a common herb for treating the common cold that it is a go to herb for seeking natural medicine cures to the common cold. What isn’t always thought of is its preventive use. A study looked at its use for preventing illness in travellers on long haul flights. Two groups of people were enlisted in the study. One group took a placebo and the other group was given Echinacea. The Echinacea group took 600mg twice daily for two weeks prior to travel and doubled the dose to 1200mg twice daily on the day of the flight. The Echinacea group had a lower incidence of respiratory illness than the placebo group.
Keep in mind though that Echinacea shouldn’t be taken for long periods of time, or its strength wanes.
What is it about the winter time that brings on the flu and the common cold? Is it the increased stress of the holidays, sugary treats or has it to do with the weather? The seasonality of the flu led a British doctor to hypothesize that the low sunlight had to be a factor in our susceptibility.
To back this, a Japanese study looked at school children and the use of Vitamin D to prevent the seasonal flu. 340 children were enlisted, half of the group took 1200 IU of vitamin D per day and the other half took a placebo. Results from this study showed that there was a 40% reduction in influenza A rates in the vitamin D group, yet no significant difference in influenza B rates.
For individuality, it is best to figure out your specific dose of vitamin D to take throughout the winter. Serum Vitamin D levels between 100-150 nmol/l are what to strive for.
Remember though that when it comes to your immune system & your susceptibility, isolated treatments aren’t always the cure that you hope for. Our body’s strength and resilience do depend on our daily habits. If you find that you get every cold that comes through the work place or your child is having more absent days then those in school, it is time to look at the underlying cause. Contact me to get down to the root of illness, and prevent the next cold from sweeping through your house.
Barak et al. The effect of Sambucolon the production of human cytokines. Eur CtokineNetw. 2001 12(2) 290-6
Tiralongo E. et al. Randomised, Double Blind Placebo Controlled Trial of Echinacea Supplementation in Air Travellers. EvidBased Complement Alternat Med. 2012: 417267
Cannell E et al. Epidemic influenza and Vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect. 2006 Dec 134(6) 1129-40