Natural Cold and Flu Prevention

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Every winter brings a new variety of influenza viruses. The body isn’t able to build up the natural defenses to fight against the onslaught of these viruses. Researchers have found that the conventional flu vaccine is only mildly effective in treating the elderly population, who are most urged to get a vaccination. It has been concluded that the influenza vaccination may have little or no effect on shortening hospital stays, time off work, or complications from influenza.

The alternative to getting the flu vaccine is prevention. It is never too late to help strengthen the immune system and provide long-term protection against colds and the flu this winter season. Some people may be unable to get the flu vaccine due to allergies or other conditions. The flu vaccine is prepared with chicken embryos and therefore not safe for those who have egg or chicken allergies. It is important to know that there are alternative choices that are equally effective without the side effects associated with conventional flu vaccines.

Supplements that help to support the immune system:

Green tea is a potent immune system enhancer. In a study conducted jointly by Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston, and the University of New Hampshire, Durham, Green Tea’s immune stimulating properties were investigated.

Green tea contains antigens that help fight infection. In this study, gamma-delta T-cells (our first line of defense against infection) were exposed to these antigens before being exposed to bacteria that would cause an infection. Control gamma-delta T-cells were not exposed to the antigens before being exposed to the bacteria. The result was that the antigen-exposed gamma-delta T-cells fought back against the bacteria, by multiplying up to 10 times and secreting disease-fighting chemicals. Cells not exposed to the antigen showed no significant response.

Echinacea has a long, rich history as a powerful healing agent in Native American medicine. The Native Americans used it to heal wounds to the skin and to treat snake bites. They also used it to treat coughing resulting from colds. In modern medicine, Echinacea has proven itself as a powerful ally against colds and flu. This powerful immune system stimulant has antiviral powers as well. According to Gale Maleskey, a renowned nutritional consultant and registered dietician who has done a great deal of research on Echinacea immune-enhancing properties, it increases levels of a chemical in the body called properdin, which activates the part of the immune system responsible for destroying bacteria and viruses.

Studies reviewed and conducted at the Linus Pauling Institute demonstrate that Vitamin C helps the immune system fight infection on several different levels. For example, it has been shown to stimulate the production and activity of leukocytes (white blood cells) which are key in warding off colds and flu. One type of leukocyte, neutrophils, seem to be the primary cell type affected by Vitamin C. Neutrophils work by attacking bacteria and viruses, though other types of white cells (lymphocytes and phagocytes) are also stimulated by Vitamin C. Several other studies have also shown that Vitamin C helps the immune system in another way, by increasing antibody levels. This would help the body fight infection and shorten the duration of viruses.

Vitamin D has recently made headlines for its likely role in regulating blood sugar levels in diabetics. But long before this information came to light, Vitamin D was explored and is now believed to be a key agent in fighting tuberculosis. In a 2006 study published in the journal Science involving 22 different researchers from all over the world, the role of Vitamin D in the “innate immune system” was studied. The researchers found that Vitamin D plays a key role in inhibiting tuberculosis. The results of this research have broad implications for Vitamin D as an anti-viral compound.

Garlic is a powerful antimicrobial. Several studies, including one published in the October 1997 issue of American Society for Microbiology’s Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy explore the precise mechanism by which garlic fights infection. This particular study revealed that allicin, one of the active ingredients in garlic, disables dysentery-causing amebas by blocking two groups of enzymes, cysteine proteinases and alcohol dehydrogenases.

Cysteine proteinase enzymes are among the main culprits in infection, providing infectious organisms with the means to damage and invade tissues. Alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes play a major role in these harmful organisms' metabolism and survival. Because these enzymes are found in a wide variety of infectious organisms, this research provides important scientific basis for allicin’s broad-spectrum anti-microbial properties.

 

*This information is meant to be used to educate the reader and is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Before you take any supplement, please consult your physician or other licensed healthcare professional to determine if it's appropriate for you.