By: Bryce Wylde, BSc, Hons, DHMHS
With cold and flu season here, I’m often asked how I’m able to ward off so many colds throughout the season. After all, I’m seeing sick patients on a daily basis during the winter months. You’d think that I get sick more often, but I only get one or two brief colds during the entire winter. Let me explain why.
Optimal health doesn’t preclude one from getting a cold or a flu. If one’s immune system has never encountered a particular bacteria, virus, or any other microbe for that matter, then it’ll succumb to specific symptoms such as temperature elevation, increased mucus production, cough, headache, among other symptoms. The epitome of health, however, is how well one manages with an infection. A rapid onset of symptoms including and not limited to a high but brief fever, fatigue, mild cough, lasting only days with no complications, is optimal health. If symptoms linger for weeks accompanied by additional complications, then this is what’s unhealthy. Think of a bug on top of a bug: Infections often start off as viral and then becomes bacterial, when bacteria invade the lungs that have succumbed to a depressed and overwhelmed immune system.
Flu & Cold Prevention
First and foremost, hand washing after each contact is of utmost importance. This means washing your hands after you have holding on during a bus ride where others have likely spread germs. Proper hand washing involves at least 20 seconds of scrubbing with soap and hot water. Using a hand sanitizer isn’t a bad idea, but overusing hand sanitizer dries your hands out, so use wisely and only when needed.
Avoid touching your face since germs often enter the body through the nose, eyes, and mouth. Use a tissue or sleeve for sneezing and coughing—avoid using your hands to cover your mouth or nose.
At my office, if someone has the flu—which is spread by respiratory droplets—I will disinfect the room used to see the patient before seeing the next patient. This protects me and my staff, and my next patient. And, yes, natural products that kill 99.9% of surface bugs exist and are widely available.
If you live with a loved one that’s sick, it’s always best to sleep in a separate room, especially if they’re coughing all night. Of course, many times it’s hard to avoid people that are sick. An atomizer with essential oil of eucalyptus can help sterilize the air of viruses traveling in droplets.
Mucous membranes (such as the lining of your nose) must be moist to act as an effective barrier to bacteria and viruses. Using a humidifier in your home or office, or taking hot showers, helps to keep membranes moist. A small amount of coconut oil on a Q-Tip applied inside each nostril also works wonders. If you’re congested, try a Breathe Right Nasal Strip for instant relief. Staying hydrated is also extremely important—make sure you’re drinking a minimum of two litres of water per day!
Natural Remedies for Cold & Flu
Besides personal hygiene, the most important preventive strategies are the natural remedies I have come to depend on to stay as healthy as possible during the winter. Many of them also improve the efficacy of the flu vaccine by helping your immune system develop antibodies more efficiently. One caveat: If you decide on the vaccine, make sure you’re getting the mercury-free version by asking for the single unit dose (avoid the multi dose).
What are my favourite natural remedies?
Your first line of defence should be Echinacea by A.Vogel—known as “Echinaforce”. Taken at the first sign of cold or flu-like symptoms, this botanical immune booster can help temper some of the worst symptoms, including fever and body aches, and even works to prevent getting sick in the first place.
Elderberry, a high-antioxidant fruit extract, has anti-infective properties against the flu virus. In studies that looked at its efficacy against influenza strains A & B, Elderberry was found to shorten the duration of the flu from the typical seven days to four days—three less days of flu-like symptoms!
Combine both of these with Vitamin D3, and you’ve got a power combo that will get you well faster than any prescription remedy. Jamieson makes a high-quality chocolate flavour chewable vitamin D – widely available at your local pharmacy – which you should keep desk side. While you can ask your GP to test you for your Vit-D status, given that we live north of 40° latitude, I assure you most of us are low to deficient and would benefit from daily supplementation.
For day-to-day sore throats that may start after exposure to the common cold, I recommend gargling with warm salt water every hour, as well as oral oregano oil. North American Herb and Spice oregano oil has anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties—an all-around great anti-infective.
Zinc Lozenges are another great tool for your cold prevention kit as they can help reduce the duration of illness as well, but be sure to start them within 24 hours of first symptom onset!
When I travel, I also take AHCC to prime my immune system. With reishi, maitake, and shiitake extracts, AHCC activates natural killer cells to destroy foreign bodies before they take root.
Astragalus—used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years—is another tried-and-true staple for winter travel. With its antiviral properties, astragalus stimulates the immune system, which helps to ward off the onset of colds.
Down for the Count?
My number-one go-to supplement for treating colds is Allimax, a garlic extract formulated in the UK. Allicin is the major biologically active component of garlic and is the key ingredient responsible for the broad-spectrum of anti-bacterial activity in garlic, but allicin is not found in fresh garlic. Studies have found that allicin-containing garlic supplements can not only reduce the risk of catching a cold by more than half, but are effective in treating infections caused by the hospital superbug, MRSA.
Of course, if you are considering any of these treatments, it’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure they’re ideal for you.
Please join me on Twitter and help make this viral (the flu-free kind of viral!) using #NoFlu4U and sharing your favourite natural cold and flu remedies.
Best of health to you this season!
ABOUT BRYCE WYLDE: Known as one of Canada’s leading alternative health experts, Bryce Wylde is a highly knowledgeable and respected natural healthcare practitioner whose specialty is homeopathy, clinical nutrition, supplementation, and botanical medicine and whose focus is routed within functional medicine. In a clinical setting, he blends the latest in human biological and genomic screening, science and technology, and uses new, traditional, and ancient remedies. Along with a team of allied health professionals he works closely with his patients, informed by the genetic make-up of that patient in order to customize care, lifestyle and functional therapeutic interventions for health promotion, disease prevention and longevity.Leave a reply →