Elderberry Reduces Duration and Severity of Colds, Flus, and Other Viruses
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra), also known as Sambucus, is an incredibly effective antiviral and antibacterial medicine supported by real-world use and clinical research. Elderberries are dark purple due to their high levels of anthocyanins, beneficial compounds that bind to viral proteins and prevent them from entering host cells. Elderberry compounds also activate phagocytes (specialized white blood cells) to move into action and stop viruses.
Previous cold and flu research has shown that elderberry reduces symptoms including headache, muscle aches, cough, and runny nose by 50 percent and cuts recovery time in half, too.
If you travel, elderberry is a must. One well-publicized study in Australia found taking elderberry while traveling has a great impact on staying healthy. In this case, 312 passengers flying from Australia to overseas destinations were studied. Half of those passengers received the elderberry extract I prefer while half received placebo.
All passengers were surveyed for cold and flu symptoms before, during, and after their flights. Those in the elderberry group fell prey to 50 percent fewer illnesses, and for those in the elderberry group who did get sick, their symptoms were less intense, and their illness was shorter.
Scientific research has found elderberry has strong antibacterial actions against Branhamella catarrhalis, a cause of bronchitis, and Streptococcus pyogenes (group A Streptococcus), a cause of scarlet fever and pneumonia. It also inhibits influenza A and B strains. Elderberry’s ability to strengthen immune responses also makes it a contender for reducing COVID-19 symptoms and speeding recovery.
Vitamin A for Antibodies and More
Vitamin A, especially in the retinol form, moderates the activity of key immune system cells—macrophage and natural killer cells— when we are especially vulnerable to bacterial or viral attack.
You need vitamin A for strong antibody actions, B and T-helper cells, and the regeneration of mucosal epithelial cells as a barrier against infection. Chronic vitamin A deficiencies early in life can affect lung structure and predispose you to respiratory illnesses. But overall deficiencies at any point in your life mean your immune responses may not be strong and your reactions to new viruses could be severe.
Vitamin A is also involved with the way cells communicate with one another. Some researchers have stated a breakdown in that process due to vitamin A depletion is one factor behind COVID-19 severity, including the intensive inflammation that makes the disease so dangerous.
Vitamin C Strengthens Your Immune Response
Vitamin C is probably one of the best-known immune boosters, and for good reason. Taken as a preventative nutrient, Vitamin C may reduce the occurrence of colds by as much as 50 percent. Vitamin C also appears to have a natural antihistamine effect and alleviates allergy and other respiratory symptoms. Vitamin C fuels phagocytes and neutrophils that protect you against microbes and damaging stress to your cells when your resistance is compromised. In fact, vitamin C even supports you before bacteria and viruses enter your body by enhancing the epithelial layer of your skin. Understandably, vitamin C has been on the radar as a nutrient to battle COVID-19, as well. It is key to take vitamin C regularly because the body uses it up fast when you have a cold or flu.
Vitamin D3 – A Perfect Fit for Immune and Autoimmune Conditions
Vitamin D3 has a well-deserved reputation as an immune strengthening nutrient. It makes you less susceptible to allergies, respiratory ailments, and viral infections. One review found each significant increase in vitamin D dosage was associated with a seven percent lower risk of infection. And, if you are infected with a virus, vitamin D3 can keep your symptoms from becoming too serious.
In one case, a placebo-controlled study found high dose vitamin D helped clear COVID-19 in those who were mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic. Other clinical work early in the pandemic found deficiencies of vitamin D put individuals at a 6-fold higher risk of ventilation and almost 15-fold increase in mortality.
If you work indoors or live in a northern climate, it is very likely that your levels of vitamin D are low. Genetic predispositions and absorption issues may also leave you low in this vital nutrient.
Another challenge in keeping vitamin D levels strong is the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs. Cholesterol has many beneficial roles in the body, and one of them is making vitamin D. So, even if you’re getting a lot of sun, taking a drug that greatly inhibits cholesterol can also set you up for vitamin D deficiency. And that can have serious consequences; one review found that about 41 percent of deaths from respiratory diseases were due, in part, to low vitamin D levels.
Fortunately, you can boost levels of vitamin D quickly to respond to colds and flus by supplementing with vitamin D3 in the cholecalciferol form, the same form your body uses after converting sunlight into vitamin D.
Zinc – Required for White Blood Cells and More
Zinc is a requirement for your T-lymphocytes (white blood cells) that fight immune threats, and helps your immune system learn to stop bacterial infections or novel viruses it has never encountered before.
Additionally, zinc disrupts the activity of proteases, enzymes that break down proteins into amino acids that a virus uses to build more versions of itself. Because we generally have more proteases working in the upper respiratory system (and elsewhere) than we have natural suppressors that guard against viruses, getting zinc in the early stages of illness can stop it from taking hold and lingering.
In fact, researchers pooling the results of three clinical studies found that zinc reduced the duration of cold symptoms by 42 percent compared to a placebo. The timing of zinc intake is critical. These same researchers noted you need to supplement with zinc at the first sign of symptoms for strong results within the first 24 hours.
Selenium - The Smart Mineral for Your Immune Response
Selenium is an exceptionally potent immune building nutrient, signaling the body’s own defenses against bacterial or viral invaders. Clinical research has found deficiencies create a number of problems: higher C-reactive protein levels, lymphocyte imbalances, lower antioxidant enzyme activity, and reduced respiratory responsiveness. As an add-on therapy for treating viral and bacterial infections, selenium can also be used to fight influenza A and appears to stop, or at least slow down, more contagious viruses as well. Selenium status may also determine susceptibility to COVID-19; studies show the lower the levels of selenium, the higher the risk of infection.
Selenium and zinc have synergistic actions in the immune system. A lack of either mineral can lead to increased oxidative stress, more inflammation, and out of balance CD4/CD8 lymphocyte ratios— contributing factors to the cytokine storms so prevalent in serious COVID-19 cases and other serious respiratory conditions.
Strengthen Your Defenses and Stop Viruses Fast
I think we’re all aware of how important it is to keep your immune system strong. If you start to notice symptoms of a cold or flu, the sooner you can get these nutrients on board, the better. The ingredients I’ve discussed here boost your defenses and can make the difference between suffering from bacterial or viral infections or stopping them in their tracks—fast.
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