November 18th, 2015 by Digestive Detective
Flu & Cold Prevention
First and foremost, washing of the hands after each contact is of utmost importance. This means washing your hands after you have held on during a subway ride or even using the cart in the grocery store where others most likely have touched and spread their germs. Using a hand sanitizer is also not a bad idea, but overusing a hand sanitizer will dry your hands out too much, so use wisely and when most needed. Of course, many times it's hard to avoid people that are sick around us. An atomizer with essential oil of eucalyptus can help sterilize the air of viruses traveling in droplets. Also incredibly important is the role of sleep and stress management. Lack of sleep and high levels of stress cause our bodies to release excess cortisol. Cortisol helps us maintain energy and blood sugar during stressful times and provides us with fuel for energy, but excess amounts released chronically impair the function of the immune system. Using an app like HeartMath or doing even 5 minutes of simple meditation each day have been shown to reduce cortisol and relieve stress. To ensure adequate sleep, aim for 7-8 hours uninterrupted, in a dark space (I use black out curtains). To prep your body for a good nights rest, be sure to avoid blue light (screens on TVs, phone, laptops, etc) as much as possible in the evening and slowly dim the lights in your home as night ensues. This will trigger greater release of melatonin (our hormone for sleep cycles) from your brain.
Natural Remedies That Help Block Colds & Flu
But, my most important preventive strategies are the natural remedies I have come to depend on to stay as healthy as possible during the winter months. I've linked my favorite products to this message for your benefit.
Arabinogalactan is an immunomodulatory fiber that activates specific immune system cells and maintains healthy microflora (good gut bacteria) levels, an additional factor in supporting optimal immune function. It is also the active constituent of echinacea - the potent herb that shortens cold duration and intensity. Research conducted at the University of Minnesota revealed that AG stimulated immune cells with a higher capacity than echinacea. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, may support arabinogalactan activity, and vitamin C itself is a powerful weapon to combat colds and flus.
I like C + BioFizz from Designs for Health for two main reasons: 1) it comes in a tasty effervescent formula (think of a more healthy version of Alka-Seltzer 🙂 ) and 2) it contains additional antioxidants that bolster the immune system, namely quercetin, hesperidin, and rutin. If I feel a cold coming on, I start swigging this stuff down each morning when I first wake up and its worked like a charm to stave off colds.
Another part of my toolkit to shorten duration or head a cold off at the path is Echinacea Immune Support tea. Traditionally used for centuries, Echinacea root is an herb that is believed by herbalists to support the immune system and has some clinical evidence supporting its effectiveness. This blend from Yogi Teas also includes Elder Berry Extract and soothing Organic Mullein Leaf, herbs traditionally used to help support respiratory function (they also offer a Green Tea Triple Echinacea combo if you prefer a more neutral-tasting tea that still packs an immune punch)
Here's the trick I use to BEAT THE FLU:
If you definitely have the flu (high fever, body aches, respiratory symptoms, cough, congestion, runny nose), then take 15-25,000 IU of Vitamin D3/K2 (the liquid form from Thorne Research contains 5,000 IU vitamin D3 and 1 mg vitamin K2 per 10 drops so take this 10 drop dose 3-5 x daily at sign of flu) at the first signs of fever or flu-like symptoms. Repeat this dose daily for 3 days. Having my own experience with it and that of my clients, I know these remedies are powerful when used appropriately and sourced from high-quality manufacturers (such as the ones featured here).
In studies that looked at its efficacy against influenza strains A & B, Elderberry was found to shorten the duration of the flu from the typical 7 days to 4 days. That's 3 days less of flu-like symptoms! In comparison, the medications on the market to treat the flu only shorten its duration by a mere 1 day. Combine it with Vitamin D3, and you've got a power combo that will get you well faster than any prescription remedy.
How about winter travel?
For travel (especially in airports and airplanes), I take Immune Response from Innate to prime my immune system. With astragalus root extract and mushroom (reishi & maitake) extracts, it activates your natural killer cells to get rid of any invaders before they have a chance to take root. Innate Immune Response also boasts 150 mg Beta Glucan - a potent immune-modulating compound. Current data suggests that beta-glucans are potent immunomodulators with effects on both innate and adaptive immunity. The ability of the innate immune system to quickly recognize and respond to an invading pathogen (bacteria, virus, fungus) is essential for controlling infection. Beta-glucans have been shown to trigger a group of immune cells including macrophages, neutrophils, monocytes, natural killer cells and dendritic cells that destroy and engulf foreign invaders in the body, preventing infection and illness.
Of course, all these remedies work as preventive strategies, or best upon first signs of a cold. If you wait too late, you miss the window of opportunity to fight the cold. To gain access to these professional-grade products at 10-20% discount, set-up your free profile on my online dispensary today!
Here's to getting through cold and flu season unscathed by a big one! May you ward off most colds that come your way, and get through any that you succumb to as fast as possible.