Knock on wood I have yet to get sick this winter. Rewind to a few years ago & back into my younger years, I was sick at least a couple times a year. I would be on antibiotics often.
If there was a cold/flu spreading around me I always got it. My immune system was not functioning optimally. I am not going to get into the reasons why I think I had such a susceptible immune system growing up, but I was born via emergency C-section, on multiple rounds of antibiotics as a young child, & not breastfed for very long as an infant. With that being said, there is more & more research emerging that illustrates the correlation between children born via C-section & decreased immune function later in life1, 2, 3.
Regardless if you have a great immune system or one that could use a tune-up, these tips can help you! I am going to break it down into categories & what I believe is best for each circumstance. I will link the research articles to back up my suggestions below as well. However, as with anything you read on the internet, please speak to your health care provider for appropriate dosing, & to make sure that these suggestions are right for you!
- Prevent sickness by boosting your innate immunity.
- Vitamin D3: I highly recommend talking to your health care provider about getting your vitamin D levels checked through a blood test. Especially if you live in colder climates, your D3 levels likely significantly decrease in the winter months & this can not only be associated with autoimmune disease but has also been linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Macrophages are one of your immune cells responsible for engulfing & destroying pathogens in the body. Adequate vitamin D3 levels ensure that these cells can effectively & efficiently fight & destroy these pathogens before they take over, causing cold/flu symptoms 4,5,6.
- Astragalus: is a herb that has been used traditionally to boost immune health for over 2000 years, and now modern medicine is catching up as more & more research is validating the amazing power this herb has for longevity & immune function. Pharmacological studies looking at Astragalus are showing the immunostimulant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-oxidant, anti-viral, & cardioprotective properties this herb possesses 7. One study, in particular, looked at the immunomodulatory properties of Astragalus polysaccharide liposome (APSL) on macrophages & dendritic cells (another important immune cell). APSL was shown to improve the phagocytosis ability of macrophages, which basically means it made these cells more capable of destroying pathogens floating around in the body, thus preventing sickness from developing. It also increased the ability of dendritic cells to stimulate T-cell proliferation & antigen presentation8.
- American Ginseng: may help inhibit inflammatory cytokines, thus regulating inflammatory pathways in the body9. It has also been shown to have immunomodulatory effects on innate & adaptive immunity in mice, as well as antioxidant properties, leading to an overall reduction in oxidative stress within the body10.
- Fighting the Common Cold & Flu Naturally.
purpurea: evidence has shown that ethanolic extracts of Echinacea can reduce the risk & complications associated with recurrent respiratory tract infections, as it has anti-viral & anti-inflammatory properties 11.
- Elderberry Syrup: a randomized control trial was done on the effects of elderberry syrup in regards to treating influenza. Those that took the elderberry extract had experienced an improvement in their influenza symptoms 4 days earlier than the placebo group12. It is important to look for brands of elderberry syrup that are low in sugar, as excess sugar can feed pathogenic bacteria & reduce the efficacy of the elderberry extract on fighting influenza symptoms.
- Colloidal Silver: may help prevent/treat common cold & flu symptoms, sinusitis, pink eye, & ear infections. This can be a powerful addition to your natural remedy tool kit & I highly recommend checking out this article & this article for more information & linked studies supporting these benefits.
- Skip the cough medicine & try some honey instead.
- Honey Before Bed: one double-blind randomized control trial that looked at nighttime coughs in children with upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) compared the effects of honey to a placebo treatment. The honey group reported significantly greater improvements in nighttime coughing compared to the placebo group 13. This research suggests honey may be a potentially safer & yet effective treatment alternative when treating coughs associated with URTIs. Research has also shown that the most common OTC cough medications don’t actually improve sleep quality, which is crucial for proper immune system function, & are not even superior to placebo treatments when studied 14. Honey appears to be a safe & effective treatment in children over 1-year-old at doses of 2.5ml 15. There are many different types of honey out there, however, Manuka honey is backed by sufficient research & has many benefits, extending far past those related to cough suppression 16. Local, raw & unpasteurized honey will provide significantly more health benefits compared to the conventional pasteurized variations. Keep an eye out at your local Farmer’s Market to get some of the highest quality honey you can find. It is important to note that if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a child under 1 year old you should avoid honey due to the potential risk of contamination with endospores from the bacteria, Clostridium botulinum.
What are your
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