If you’re preparing for the cold and flu season here are a few natural ways to boost your immune system and get some flu defense.
The influenza virus starts in November, but doesn’t peak in activity until February and usually winds down in March. We are all familiar with the standard flu symptoms of fever, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat, rhinitis (stuffy nose) and myalgia (muscle pain). Children can also experience nausea, vomiting, otitis media (ear infection) and diarrhoea. The illness lasts up to a week, with cough and malaise lasting up to two weeks. Younger children (6-20 percent) can experience febrile seizures concurrently.
The best way to protect yourself, enhance your flu defense and your loved ones is to boost your immune system and reduce your chances of complications if you do contract the flu or even a stubborn cold. Preventing and treating the flu is very effectively done using natural medicines, including vitamins, minerals, botanicals and homeopathic remedies. A combination of some or all will boost flu defense and your immune systems for the entire winter season.
A study of 715 people showed that flu symptoms were decreased by 85 percent when people took 6 grams of vitamin C as a one-time loading dose, then continuing with 1 gram three times a day, compared with people taking only the 3 grams daily. The message here is to take a lot of vitamin C the first day you feel symptoms or the first day people around you are getting sick, and then take 3 grams daily after that. Keep in mind that vitamin C can loosen stools, so be careful if you are predisposed to this.
An additional study showed that vitamin C is 10 times more effective in its antiviral properties when taken with iron. Ten to 20 mg of iron can be taken on a daily basis and is also a good mineral to balance the stool-loosening effects of vitamin C.
Vitamin D has exploded in research and popularity the past few years. Most of us are familiar with its bone-building properties, however new research suggests it improves the immune system as well. Have your doctor test your vitamin D levels before supplementing. Research suggests 2,000 IU daily is safe for most adults and children. Higher doses are safe and effective, but must be monitored by your doctor.
Elderberry (Sambucus)was researched in a group of 60 people and found to alleviate symptoms four days earlier compared with controls. Elderberry helps boosts the immune system and is great-tasting for kids. Start taking as soon as symptoms manifest.
Panax quinquefolium (ginseng) was studied in a large group of 323 patients as a preventive natural medicine. The group that took panax experienced 30 percent less colds compared with the placebo group (people who didn’t take ginseng) and the average number of sick days were 11 compared with 16 in the non-treatment group.
Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic flu treatment that is created new every year. Tough to pronounce, but effective; a Cochrane review of all oscillococcinum studies showed that it reduces the length of illness compared with placebo.
There’s a high likelihood that the flu and/or colds will affect your family every year. In most cases it’s nothing more than an inconvenience; in some cases it can be deadly serious. Prevention and immune boosting is essential for everyone to ensure that when they do get sick, it is only a short and mild inconvenience. Talk to your doctor for more information about these and other natural ways to boost your immune system and ward off colds and the flu.