Herbs for Immune Seasonal Support
Cold versus flu. In general, the flu has an abrupt onset of weakness, muscle aches, headache, high fever and a dry cough that often persists. A simple cold comes with feelings of malaise, sneezing, runny nose, scratchy throat, and only a slight fever. Generally speaking, the common cold has symptoms from the neck up whereas the flu involves symptoms below the neck. Antibiotics are of no use for these viral related afflictions although you should be aware of signs of secondary bacterial infections (see below).
Do it yourself. Most of us can easily treat our common colds and the flu at home. The key to success is to start treating within the first 12-24 hours of symptoms (ex. scratchy throat or feeling run down), take remedies consistently and get plenty of rest. Consult a doctor if tonsils are beefy-red, discharges are thick and yellow or green, cough is severe, you experience chest pain or difficulty breathing, have a fever of 103 degrees F or greater for over 4 days, are elderly, immune-compromised, diabetic or a child.
Seasonal Herbal Support. Echinacea root (Purple Coneflower) is one of the most undervalued and misused immune-modulating herbs (with antiviral and antibacterial actions) that is best used well before getting sick. It can help relieve the symptoms and shorten the duration of upper respiratory tract infections. If you suspect a secondary bacterial infection then combine it with Goldenseal and seek out a professional. Echinacea is also one of the few remedies that can be taken during pregnancy and lactation. Astragalus is another great traditional remedy used to tonify the immune system and with demonstrative abilities to boost white blood cells. Gentle enough for children, it is often taking for a period of months during cold and flu season.
Other useful herbs. Andrographis contains andrographolides to help reduce symptoms of the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections (throat, sinuses, and lungs). It is a key herb for strong and immediate short term immune support. Liquorice, traditionally used to soothe dry coughs and other lung disorders, sore throats, and laryngitis, contains glycyrrhizin, a constituent with powerful antiviral activity. Combining 3-5 herbs is not unusual traditionally so don’t be afraid to try. Garlic naturally contains a sulfur compound called allicin that is responsible for many of the prised antimicrobial properties. NOW® Garlic 5000 allows for the release of allicin which is otherwise mostly lost when garlic is crushed, chewed or cooked.
A great combo for a cold or flu. NOW® Allibiotic CF™ contains five ingredients which in combination provide support for a healthy immune response. It contains garlic known to help relieve symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections and catarrhal conditions,Black Elderberries which exert free-radical scavenging, anti-viral and immunomodulating properties (attributed to their anthocyanidin flavonoid constituents), Olive Leaf extract which contains phenolic compounds (in particular the phytochemical oleuropein) with demonstrated antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities, Oil of Oregano which contains carvacrol and thymol suggested to be responsible for its antimicrobial activities and Arabinogalactan from the Larch tree bark (ImmunEnhancer AG™) shown to promote immunomodulation in response to microbial insults. Use 1 daily for prevention and 2 daily at the onset of any symptoms.
Thalia Charney, MA
Nutrition and Health Education Manager, Puresource
Bio for Thalia
Thalia Charney is an author, educator, and speaker. She is also the Nutrition and Health Education Manager for the NOW® Brand in Canada. Thalia brings a wealth of experience from her many years as a health care provider as well as her insights gained from having authored Canada's most comprehensive book on navigating food products: The Confident Food Shopper: The Guide to Food Labels and Fables. She uses these as a springboard to bring a balanced, broad and insightful perspective to any health topic. Asked about her opinion on any topic and the answer is more often than not... “it depends”. With wisdom comes nuance and she enjoys sparking debate and thought as much as imparting educational tidbits.