‘Tis the season of getting sick for many families (and teachers!) this time of year. As a naturopathic doctor I work with my patients to come up with strategies to survive cold/flu season with minimal days home from work or school. While getting sick occasionally is actually beneficial to our immune system and overall health, the following tips can minimize the bug that seems to persist or recycle through the household or classroom all winter long.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is one of our most potent anti-viral herbs. It can help reduce frequency and shorten duration of illness. It has excellent research showing that it inhibits viruses – particularly the influenza virus – in addition to increasing white blood cell activity. For prevention I recommend 1 teaspoon daily for adults, ½ teaspoon daily for kids > 2 yoa. During acute illness you can increase dosing up to 3 times/day. Look for a product that has at least 1,000 mg of elderberry extract per dose.
Taking a probiotic supplement daily can improve immune and digestive function, reduce frequency and duration of acute illnesses like colds and ear infections. Look for a “broad spectrum” probiotic that has a few different species in both the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families. Adults can take minimum 10-15 billion organisms daily (1 capsule) daily and children can take 5-10 billion/day for prevention
Stay Hydrated with Herbal Teas
Brew your own with loose leaf herbs found in the bulk section or buy some immune-support blends (some brands I like: Traditional Medicinals, Yogi, Organic India). Add local or Manuka honey for additional immune support. Use any combo of the following herbs: Ginger root, Elderflower, Linden leaf, Echinacea root, Licorice root, Lemon Balm, Hyssop. One idea for kiddos is to make herbal tea/honey popsicles for sore throats!