Natural Cold and Flu Defense: Using Echinacea, Zinc, Vitamin C and Other Supplements
Herbal supplements and tonics can strengthen the immune system and aid in balancing your body's biochemical and physiological systems. The immune system functions by producing antibodies and stimulating specialized cells, which destroy foreign cells or organisms and neutralize their toxic products. The immune system also recognizes and eliminates damaged or dying cells. The immunity process involves the production of white blood cells and other chemical and physical barriers in the body. Herbs help maintain the immune system and make it responsive to changing circumstances, and strengthen the body when under attack. When your various systems are in balance, you are less likely to get colds, flu and other infections.
Not all colds and flu can be prevented. If you have a viral infection, anything you do to stimulate your immune system can help reduce the severity and duration of your illness. There are several herbs that may offer protection or relief for you this cold and flu season.
This herb activates the immune system to counter both bacterial and viral infections. It inhibits the ability of viruses and bacteria to take over cells thus exposing the body to infection. Echinacea is a mild natural antibiotic and has a stimulating effect on the body's immune defenses. It is best taken at the onset of symptoms and can protect against staph and strep infections and help relieve swollen lymph nodes.
Commonly found in combination formulas, goldenseal has antibacterial properties and is a potent remedy for disorders affecting mucous membranes. It is a valuable immune system enhancer and a cold and flu fighter. Goldenseal is valuable in fighting sinus and lung congestion, sore throats, swollen lymph nodes, and fever.
Garlic is an excellent remedy for all types of chest infections. It is good for colds, flu, ear infections and it helps to reduce mucous. It may be taken with conventional antibiotics to support their action and ward off side effects. Garlic discourages the growth of many bacteria and viruses. It is especially good for persistent coughs and bronchitis. Garlic also contains vitamins A, C, and E, which also support the immune system.
This valuable herb increases mental and physical efficiency and resistance to stress and disease. It is an adaptogen that can balance the body's systems, depending on the individual needs. For example, if the white blood cell count is low the herb will increase the white blood cell count. Furthermore, when the body requires sleep it can produce a sedative effect. Ginseng increases immune function and resistance to infection and can help improve energy and stamina.
Hyssop has healing effects in the treatment of respiratory infections, lung conditions and bronchitis. Used as a tea, it is a strong expectorant, which acts by loosening phlegm, thus relieving symptoms such as congestion, coughs, and hoarseness. As an antiviral it also helps rid the body of toxins that are produced by viruses. Hyssop can sooth the digestive tract and mucous membranes offering relief for sore throats. It also has natural sedative effects and can help to reduce fevers.
Licorice root works both by supporting the immune system and by directly inhibiting various viruses. It reduces throat irritations, lung congestion, and is used for coughs and bronchial problems. Licorice produces a protective lining for the stomach, making it a useful remedy in inflammatory stomach conditions. Licorice is one of the most prescribed herbs in Europe for the treatment of colds and flu.
Like echinacea, elderberry is a powerful immune system stimulant and can relieve several cold and flu symptoms. Elderberry tea is an old and effective remedy for relieving coughs, treating sinus congestion, and reducing the pain and swelling of a sore throat. It is also beneficial for respiratory conditions and promotes the removal of waste products from the body. The tea is relaxing and produces a mild perspiration that helps to reduce fever. Elderberries are rich in vitamins A and C.
In addition to taking herbs for colds and flu, it is important to have adequate nutritional support from vitamins. Beta-carotene (Vitamin A) aids in the proper function of the immune system. Vitamin C helps prevent many types of viral and bacterial infections and strengthens immune functions. Vitamin E protects the lungs, enhances the activity of Vitamin A, and helps alleviate fatigue. Zinc can help protect cells from infection and, especially in the form of a lozenge, can sooth sore throats.
The nutritional supplements and herbal treatments described in this article are available in the Herbs & Supplements aisle, Vitamins & Minerals aisle, and "Herbal Teas" aisle of the General Store. Our Ultimate Cold Formula in the "Vitamins & Minerals" aisle is a lozenge that combines Vitamin C, A, Zinc, Echinacea, Slippery Elm, Propolis, and Goldenseal in one effective, cherry flavored tablet.