As the days get shorter and the air gets crisper, the sounds of sneezing and sniffling abound as the cold and flu season gets underway. While there is no cure, there are several simple ways to prevent catching these viruses, boost your immune system, and help you feel better faster so you don’t spend your days with your nose in the tissue box.
Most of us know that washing our hands and keeping our distance from those who are sick are two important ways to prevent exposure to the cold and flu, but other lifestyle factors that can minimize the risk of getting sick include getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, eating foods low in sugar, actively managing our stress levels, and very importantly- providing our bodies with natural anti-viral and immune boosting herbal and nutritional support.
Stop a Cold or Flu in its Tracks
From vitamins and minerals to herbs and spices, there are several simple ways to safely and effectively reduce our susceptibility to catching a cold or flu. Vitamin D can modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses and a deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. It becomes even more important to take in supplement form as our exposure to UV light from the sun diminishes come November.
An important mineral to help the development of white blood cells, which ensures that your immune system is functioning properly, is Zinc. It can be found in foods such as beef, oysters, poultry, pork, fortified cereals, and yogurt and can also be taken in lozenge form, which not only helps boost white blood cells, but also has a topical anti-viral effect.
In the culinary field, several foods and spices have been used for centuries to help ward off and treat cold and flu infections. With recent research into these potent plants, we now know which species and extracts have the greatest therapeutic effects in our bodies. Garlic has powerful anti-viral, antibiotic and anti-fungal properties and boosts the immune system in general. Studies have shown that those consuming garlic daily are two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. Oregano of the speciesOriganum vulgare is antimicrobial, antiseptic, and antibacterial due to it high content of carvacrol. The oil extract is too potent to be used full strength, so a blend of oregano oil with olive oil in a one-to-four ratio is ideal to allow for proper assimilation in the body.
Anti-Viral Herbal Support
Echinacea is one of the best-known herbs for its use as an immune booster, and research has validated this. Studies have concluded that Echinacea can cut the chances of catching a cold by more than half, and shorten the duration of a cold by an average of 1.4 days. When choosing an Echinacea product, look for the species Echinacea purpurea and one that guarantees high levels of all three active ingredients: alkylamides, polysaccharides and cichoric acid.
Goldenseal and licorice are fantastic adjuncts to take with Echinacea. Goldenseal contains berberine, which has been found to stimulate the activity of macrophages, which are white blood cells that are an important part of the immune system. Licorice is a potent antiviral herb that contains eight anti-viral compounds that all inhibit as well as block viruses from penetrating the body’s cells.
Deeper Immune Support
Studies in humans have shown that approximately 50% of people exposed to the influenza virus and as low as 30% of people exposed to the cold virus will actually contract the virus and feel sick, which explains why immune system function is a critical factor. For even deeper immune support, medicinal mushrooms are the way to go.
Reishi mushroom is an immune modulator; in other words it regulates and fine-tunes the immune system. Not only is it suggested that Reishi has anti-viral activity, it also increases T lymphocyte and antioxidant levels in the body. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, Reishi is useful in other more serious concerns than the common cold and flu including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Stop Being Sick of Being Sick
We all hate the constant tickle in our throats, the runny nose, the never-ending sneezing, and the miserable feeling that comes along with colds and flues. With appropriate vitamin and mineral support, a healthy lifestyle, and therapeutic anti-viral and immune-boosting herbs we can get ourselves back on our feet again, and prevent the cold and flu from interfering with our lives.
This article has been provided to you by Natural factors blog.