If you have passed a pharmacy or drug store recently, I’m sure you have seen posters and signs urging you to “Get your flu shot here!” Well, no thanks. It’s ridiculous. Nature provides us with everything we need to fight the flu, and I’d rather get a “shot” of vitamin D or an herbal extract any day than bother with a useless flu shot. In some of my past articles, I have discussed different nutrients to help arm your immune system as well as address cold and flu symptoms. Today I would like to provide an overview of powerful herbs and nutrients to keep you healthy all winter long. And if you do become sick, these supplements will relieve symptoms so you will feel better – fast. In this week’s Terry Talks Nutrition, I will share with you my protocol for preventing colds and flu, along with links to articles for even more information on this topic!
What the immune system does and how to support it
To describe in depth the miraculous range of everything the immune system does would fill volumes of text. But, in essence, the immune system acts like an army or police force to protect us from the viruses, bacteria, fungi, microbes, toxins and parasites that can invade our body. Major components of the immune system include the thymus gland, spleen, lymph system, bone marrow, white blood cells, antibodies, and hormones. This is a complicated system, but what you need to remember is that your immune system is like a muscle. Every time it is exercised against a cold or flu virus, it gets stronger and better able to handle the next bacteria or virus it encounters. There are several ingredients that I highly recommend that can help your immune system functioning at its peak and better able to respond when you need it. For everyday use during cold and flu season, I recommend two powerful botanicals: elderberry and black currant. They have been used to destroy viruses and bacteria and strengthen the immune system. I like them in combination with zinc, selenium, the probiotic Bacillus coagulans, and lactoferrin. Find out why in my article, How the Immune System Keeps You Healthy.
Arm Yourself for Cold and Flu Season:
The common cold is very common – some estimates put the number at about 1 billion people who suffer from colds each year. And every year, up to 1 in 5 people get the seasonal flu. But most people who try to fight back find that cold and flu relief isn’t very effective. Over-the-counter drug solutions generally don’t solve anything. In fact, they seem to provide more side effects than symptom relief. And that’s because they are typically working against your immune system, rather than trying to support it. There is a difference. Natural ingredients are extremely effective against colds, upper respiratory infections, coughs, and even gastrointestinal complaints, and can make a huge difference in how quickly you recover, or even whether you get sick at all. And while a cold itself might not be dangerous, it can lead to something much worse and potentially life threatening: bacterial infections like pneumonia and bronchitis. I highly recommend Pelargonium sidoides – also known as Umckaloabo – at the first sign of a cold or the flu. This herb traditionally was used by the Zulu in South Africa for hundreds of years to treat coughs, colds, upper respiratory tract irritations, and even tuberculosis. It is still a natural medicine prescribed today. In fact, it’s been clinically tested and works great for children as young as six years old – especially those who have a tough time dealing with antibiotics. My second herbal recommendation is a clinically proven, standardized extract derived from the plant Andrographis paniculata, commonly known as the “King of the bitters,” and widely used in Ayurvedic medicine. Two systematic reviews have shown that Andrographis help stimulate immune system activity – to get it in fighting form – and works as an anti-inflammatory. I encourage you to find a quality blend of Pelargonium and Andrographis. Read more about this “one-two punch” for immune support in my article, Natural Treatments for Cold and Flu.
The Natural Treatment for Sinus Congestion and Sinusitis
For many people, it’s a stuffy nose or a runny nose, or the irritating combination of both that signal the onset of an infection. The sinus cavities – literally “holes in our heads” – contain four major pairs of hollow, air-filled sacs called sinuses. If you’ve experienced sinus pain, you know how serious a case of sinusitis can be, and how it can completely sideline you. The causes of sinusitis vary. It can be an overgrowth of normal bacteria, or a viral infection in the upper respiratory tract. It can even start as seasonal allergies. Whatever the cause, 37 million Americans are affected by sinusitis each year. For many people, the choices for conventional sinus relief are not attractive. Not only are the typical over-the-counter medicines non-natural, many of them leave people feeling jittery or fatigued. There are better solutions – encapsulated, chemotyped plant oils. Two encapsulated chemotyped oils I’d recommend to anyone dealing with congestion and sinusitis are eucalyptus oil and myrtle essential oil. Eucalyptus oil helps decongest the sinuses, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and has been traditionally used to treat the other hallmarks of the cold and flu season, including runny nose, cough, and sore throat. Myrtle essential oil has been well-studied and sold in Europe for more than 75 years. In fact, patients treated on the average of six days did significantly better during placebo-controlled trials. These are two oils that I strongly value for natural treatment of sinusitis and sinus infection. Consider it a first choice instead of antibiotics. To find out the full story of these two amazing essential oils, see my article, Sinus Congestion and Sinusitis. For more about encapsulated chemotyped plant oils in general, read Medicine of the Future: 100% Pure Chemotyped Plant Oils.
Nature’s Answers for Coughs and Bronchitis
Aside from sinus congestion or sinusitis, two signs of the cold and flu season are coughs and bronchitis. Inflammation, one of the causes of almost every problem in the body, is at work here, too. When the bronchial tract is inflamed, it causes the bronchi – the fine system of tubes in the lungs – to boost the secretion of mucus in an effort to protect the tissue and move the “invader” out of our bodies. Excessive mucus secretion makes it tough to breathe and causes us to cough. It also creates the perfect environment for harmful bacteria to breed in the mucus accumulating in the lungs. But standard cough and cold remedies aren’t usually a good idea, due to problem ingredients, such as alcohol, or side effects. Also, suppressing the cough keeps the infective agent in your lungs longer. What you want is a good strong cough, so you cough less overall. Here again, nature has an answer. Climbing ivy (Hedra helix) is a clinically proven lung medicine that is effective for all patients including those with bronchitis and/or asthma. Ivy has a unique mode of action: it is an expectorant, helping bring up mucus from the lungs; a mucolytic, helping dissolve mucus; and a bronchial dilator, helping open up passageways to help you breathe easier. It’s also an ingredient that children can use. In many European formulations, ivy extract is combined with thyme (Thymus vulgaris) for its ability to ease coughs and thin mucus. It also stimulates the activity of cilia in the lungs, tiny brush-like projections that sweep mucous upwards for it to be eliminated from the body. If you or anyone in your family has concerns about your lungs, please read my article Nature’s Answer for Colds and Bronchitis for even more details.
More on the mechanics of immune health: the Thymus Gland and Spleen Most of us probably don’t think about the thymus gland or spleen at all. But maybe we should. Since the early 1960s, research shows that the thymus has a central role in the immune system. The thymus gland itself consists of two fused lobes. The size of the gland can diminish significantly in a very short period of time due to stress, disease, and poor nutrition. Furthermore, the thymus gland is subject to an age-dependent tissue alteration. The endocrine function of the thymus gland is impaired, and the gland is reduced in size for no apparent logical reason. For some reason, the thymus gland begins to shrink after puberty until it gets down to about 1/6th of its original size by the time the individual reaches 70 to 80 years of age. But you can give the thymus gland the boost it needs with a combination of specialized ingredients: thymic fractions produced from the thymus gland and hydrolyzed peptide fractions from the spleen combined with the herb Andrographis can provide a highly effective nutritious formula to support the immune system. To find out more about these ingredients, and the major roles that the thymus gland and spleen have for our immune system, see my article, Immunity: Thymus Gland and Spleen.
Stay well this season… Naturally!
Coming into cold and flu season, it’s important to remember the natural ingredients that can help you and your family stay healthy or recover quickly this cold and flu season–without the side effects associated with conventional over-the-counter drugs. You might want to keep this protocol so you can refer to the associated articles that seem to apply to your specific concerns. Preparing your natural treatment now, and making sure you have supplements on hand, can make this year’s colds and flu mucheasier to beat!
|Terry recommends products for cold and flu season with these ingredients. Look for them at your local health food store.|
|Proprietary Complex Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) Extract clinically studied and standardized to contain > 30% andrographolides, Pelargonium Root (Pelargonium sidoides radix) Extract standardized for > 30% umckalin||280 mg|
|Pelargonium sidoides 1X Tincture (Serving Size: 1 mL (approx. 20 drops)|
|Proprietary Complex (Chemotyped oils) Containing Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) containing 70-85% 1,8 cineole, Myrtle (Myrtus communis cineole) containing alpha pinene, 1,8 cineole, in a base of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)||320 mg|
|Proprietary Complex Containing Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) Extract standardized to contain 2% essential oil, Climbing Ivy (Hedra helix) Extract standardized to contain 10% hederacosides C by HPLC.||250 mg|
|Proprietary Complex Containing Climbing Ivy Leaf (Hedera helix) Extract standardized to contain 10% hederacoside C, Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) Extract standardized to contain 2% essential oil||100 mg|