Dr. Kristin Woodward tells us some natural ways to prevent the cold and flu.
It has been a rough cold and flu season. We know the best way to prevent the flu is with the flu shot. However, there are some complimentary and alternative therapies that people use to decrease the risk of catching a cold and perhaps decreasing symptoms of the flu. It’s important to talk to your doctor before using a complimentary therapy as they can have side effects, may interact with medications, and can cause allergic reactions.
Zinc may reduce the duration of the common cold by about a day if started within the first 24 hours of symptoms. Zinc can cause nausea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Do not use for more than 1-2 weeks.
If you are deficient in Vitamin D it is important to take a supplement. We know Vitamin D deficiency can lead to an increased risk of infections. This is determined by a simple blood test. It has been suggested anywhere from 10-40 % of the population is deficient in Vitamin D.
Vitamin C can help prevent colds in endurance athletes, for example marathon runners. It is always best to try to get your vitamins through the diet. It is a water soluble vitamin and is generally thought to be safe. Toxicity can occur and symptoms are gastrointestinal upset.
Echinacea has been used for years. It is thought it may increase the number of white blood cells and possibly decrease the incidence of infections. Research has been mixed. Do your homework when buying echinacea. It has been shown there is varying amounts of echinacea in the products sold in the US.
Studies on elderberry are small however one study looking at 50 people showed taking elderberry decreased flu symptoms by 1-2 days. Elderberry has been shown to prevent the flu virus from binding onto human mucosa in the lab. More research is needed before overall recommendations can be made. If you think you have the flu it is important to talk to your doctor.
Oil of Oregano
Oregano has been shown to have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti inflammatory properties when studied in the lab.
Olive leaf has been shown to have antiviral properties when studied in the lab.