Monday, December 15, 2014

COLD AND FLU - Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.)

It’s time to talk cold and flu - those nasty bugs that seem to run rampant during the winter months (and change of seasons!). To a certain extent, colds and flus are a part of a healthy life, necessary for an optimal immune system.

They are usually caused by a virus, although if left untreated, bacteria can move in, causing co-infection. There are a number of natural options we can use to ensure that cold and flu don’t linger longer than they should. Lingering or recurrent infection is a signal of an immune system that is overwhelmed. Natural therapies are also helpful in these cases to restore disease resistance.

Cold symptoms include: congestion, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, swollen glands and often low grade fever. As the cold progresses discharge may increase and become green or yellow in colour. The duration of a cold is usually 7 –10 days. Flus usually have the same symptoms as a cold but are more severe. High fever, chills and body aches also occur. Flus can also attack the gastrointestinal system and cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. The duration of a flu is usually one week, but full recovery can take longer.

Conventional Treatment:
Conventional treatment involves the use of antibiotics, if the cold has become bacterial. Antibiotics do not work on viruses!!! The overuse of antibiotics has also lead to antibiotic resistant strains of various organisms. Individuals can help to minimize resistance by using antibiotics sparingly and always taking prescriptions until they are finished.


Supplemental herbs, and vital nutrients to fight cold and flu:

Oregano Oil – Oregano is a VERY effective anti-bacterial. Use it at the first sign of a sore throat, and if it’s bacterial in nature, it’ll be GONE! Chronic use of oregano oil is powerful enough that it will eventually affect healthy gut flora. Its best to use oregano oil for 5-7 days at the first sign of cold, not as a long-term immune support. 

Vitamin D – Its no coincidence that cold and flu outbreaks increase during the winter months, when North Americans are no longer able to get the sunshine vitamin from SUN. We now know the crucial role that vitamin D plays in balancing and optimizing immune system function. Up your intake temporarily if you feel a cold or flu coming on. As a fat-soluble vitamin, D3 should always be taken with food.

Vitamin C – Vitamin C has been shown particularly effective at preventing cold and flu in those under heavy physical stress, and arguably stress in general. Regular supplementation with vitamin C has also been shown to reduce the average duration of cold. 

Echinacea – Echinacea has a number of immune specific actions in the body, including anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-protozoal, and anti-parasitic. It’s also a decongestant, lymphatic, anti-inflammatory, and immunostimulant. How’s that for cold and flu treatment? Echinacea is most effective when used at the first sign of cold and/or flu. 

Elderberry – It’s ANTIVIRAL!!! To all of those “let-it -run-its-course’’ proponents, who say there’s nothing you can do for cold and flu… think again. Elderberry is a very effective anti-viral, and as such can help to decrease duration and severity of cold and flu.

There are many natural supplements that can help you feel like yourself again!

Probiotics – The gut is the HEART of the immune system, with more immune cells than any other area on the body. As such, we need to ensure that our healthy gut bacteria outweigh the pathogenic bacteria (also normally present) in the gut. 

Astragalus – Astragalus is one of the most widely used herbs in Asian Medicine. It has the potential to increase activity of immune cells, enhancing the immune response. Astragalus also has anti-viral properties. 

Andrographis – Native to India, Andrographis may not be as well known as some of these cold and flu busters, but it soon will be! Studies show that it can significantly shorten duration of cold and flu, as well as being effective for prevention.

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