There are many ways to reduce the risk for common infections as well as strategies to shorten the duration and lessen the severity of any infection that does take hold. Time honored lifestyle strategies that help keep the immune system robust and resilient are very important to maintaining health. We only have one infection on our minds right now, COVID-19, but the same strategies apply.
Did you know that between November and March most American adults get an average of between two and four colds per year? This is partly because cold and flu viruses thrive when temperatures plunge. Research suggests that these viruses are most virulent at temperatures near 40 degrees F or colder and they do not transmit at all at temperatures above 85 degrees F. A virus has an outer lipid (fat) membrane that is fortified by the cold weather allowing it to survive outside a host. Once the virus enters the respiratory system, the outer membrane melts and the virus is able to infect host cells and replicate.
To minimize your chance of severe cold and flu symptoms, here are some lifestyle strategies to improve your immunity and resilience.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, veggies, herbs and spices
- Get adequate sleep – generally 7-8 hours
- Exercise daily
- Manage stress – practice mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing
- Maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D
- Wash hands often
- Supplement with medicinal herbs, plants and vitamins
Some things to AVOID during an immune challenge are consumption of sugar, alcohol and processed food.
And most importantly: reduce your stress level! Stress compromises your immune response, so breathe and let it go!
As I mentioned above, we can use medicinal herbs and supplements to support our body’s natural ability to fight off infection. Here is a list of some natural remedies for immune support.
ANDROGRAPHIS PANICULATA: A bitter herb, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, works for both children and adults for reducing the severity and duration of colds, flu, cough, sore throat, respiratory tract infections, headaches, fever and fatigue.
ECHINACEA ANGUSTIFOLIA AND PURPUREA: Both are immune supportive in the prevention and treatment of colds. Clinical studies have shown echinacea extract to shorten the duration and severity of both viral and bacterial colds and upper respiratory infections. It enhances the maturation of dendritic cells which initiate both built in and adaptive immune responses. It increases white blood cell activity which attacks the infection and increases NK (natural killer) cells activity. It also inhibits cytokine storms. It has also been found to be effective against the development of upper respiratory tract symptoms during long flights when taken long term.
ELDERBERRY: Sambucus nigra has been used historically against the common cold and flu viruses. Also inhibits the propagation of human influenza virus.
GOLDEN SEAL: Hydrastis canadensis is native to North America and is high in content of the alkaloid berberine. Berberine has been found to inhibit the growth of viruses such as H1N1 influenza A strains in vitro.
GARLIC: Has immune modulating action and increases macrophage activity (gets the bad guys) and the production of T and B lymphocytes (good guys).
MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS: Modulate cytokines (inflammatory substances) and increase immune defenses through activation of T cells, NK cells, macrophages and antibody production. Some examples are Maitake and Turkey Tail Mushrooms.
OREGANO: Also a traditional herb, origanum vulgare is used as an anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-viral.
THUJA: Also known as white cedar is used for inflammation of the throat and nasal passages, upper respiratory infections and should be taken at the first sign of a cold.
THYME: has been found to reduce mucous secretion in the bronchial and tracheal epithelial tissues. This makes if very effective against chronic pulmonary inflammatory processes that involve hyper-secretion of mucus.
VITAMINS HELPFUL IN IMMUNE HEALTH:
- Vitamin C 600-1,000 mg per day
- Vitamin D 2-4,000 IU per day
- Vitamin A
GLANDULARS: such as thymus and spleen, can also be helpful, they assist in the production of white blood cells to fight infection.
These are difficult times, and it can be scary not knowing what to do or who to turn to. First and foremost, I want you to know that I am here for you! If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to call or email me! If you are self-quarantined, we can do a phone consult and mail you products (such as the ones mentioned above) to support your immune system. Most importantly, stay safe!
Dr. Virginia S. Irby D.C., DABCO, ACN
Cascade Chiropractic & Nutrition
2371 Iron Point Rd. Ste. 130
Folsom, CA 95630