Beyond flu shots and antibiotics, conventional medicine has very little to offer for treating and preventing colds and flu. There is much much more. Your immune system is a complex system working 24 hours a day to protect you. There are many lifestyle factors that have been shown to strengthen and weaken the immune system. Sugar, stress, and lack of sleep have been shown to have debilitating affects on the immune system. Vitamins such as vitamin A, E and C all have been proven to increase our bodies defenses and healing capabilities. You can find these important nutrients in many vegetables, fruits, and in supplement form. It is important when buying supplements that you have the guidance of a natural healthcare provider as not all supplement are made the same. For example, ascorbic acid is an inexpensive form of vitamin C that is niether well-tolerated by the gut nor bioavailable. In Buffered Vitamin C, the ascorbic acid is attached to a buffering agent like calcium to make it more tolerable and more absorbable.
Anti-viral herbs such as Elderberry, Astragalus, Reishi, and Lomatium are a great way to prevent and treat flu. Unfortunately, flu shots have a variable efficacy from year to year and contain heavy metals and questionable ingredients. The herbs listed above are tried and true for preventing viral infections and offer other positive effects, such as adrenal support. It is important to check with your natural health doctor or herbalist for the proper use and dosages of the above herbs.
Anti-bacterial herbs such as Goldenseal, Garlic, Usnea, and certain essential oils are directly anti-microbial and often mixed in combination with immune supportive herbs such as, Echinacea, Osha, and Tilia.
Other herbal medicines can be helpful as expectorants removing congestive mucous from the lungs or stimulating a fever to help fight infection. Fever is one of the most important methods that your body has to fight infections. In clinical practice, I notice that patients who tend to spike higher fevers tend to fight infections faster and have less complications. Of course, it is important to monitor fever continuously and be prepared to decrease the fever if it is too high or lasts too long, especially in young children. Always contact your healthcare professional if you have concerns.
Spring, fall, and winter are difficult for children and adults that tend to get sick year after year. This particular winter has been even harder on many of my patients then I have seen before. Make 2013 your healthiest year yet! Increase warm fluids and rest, eat a densly nutritious diet, and see a natural health doctor for individualized immune support for you and your family!
Dr. Emily Miller, ND - Specializing in Naturopathic Medicine and Holistic Family Healthcare at The Luna Center for Natural Health. www.TheLunaCenter.com