Don’t get caught in the cold this season!
Cold and flu season is here! Every year just before and after the holidays, many people will be getting a cold. Adults get about 2 to 4 colds a year, while children can have as many as 10 each year. Again, these colds predominantly occur during the winter season and we think this is due to the following:
Exposure to sunlight decreases, hence your vitamin D levels drop.
Turns out that vitamin D is a major immune supporter, so you need to take Vitamin D throughout the winter. Also, if you are over the age of 70, then you have only 25% ability of converting your cholesterol to vitamin D due to decreased enzyme activity. Recently in Canada and some countries in Europe, now recommend everyone taking Vitamin D supplements, because research is showing that at least 75-80% of people are severely vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D should be taken at doses of 2,000-4,000 IU on a regular basis and if you have symptoms of a cold, then bump it up to about 10,000 IU for a few days.
Stress levels increases!
The hustle and the bustle of the holidays with shopping and traveling are stressful for all of us. Stress is a major cause of lower immune function and it makes us more susceptible for colds. There are a few things you can do to reduce stress:
Make sure to get enough sleep! New research is suggesting that you need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night to support your immune system. So, turn off the TV and go to bed earlier! If you have trouble sleeping, you should see your doctor to determine the cause. Sleep deprivation has been linked to multiple health issues such as vision disorders, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
When we are stressed, we lose vitamins and minerals much more rapidly than normal. The most important ones in my opinion are the B vitamins (B6 in particular), Magnesium and Zinc. During stress, you should increase your vitamin B intake to about twice the dose of what they are normally doing. You should also take vitamin B in multiple doses and not just in the morning. Take the second dose around noon or early afternoon. You also lose your Magnesium and Zinc during stress. Make sure to take enough of both! For magnesium you can take to bowel tolerance (if you get diarrhea, then decrease the dose with about 300-500 mg). For zinc, the dose can vary so make sure to have your zinc levels tested every 3 months (Zinc Tally Taste test). The doses of either of these depend on how deficient you are to begin with. Usually Magnesium doses are around 600-1000 mg, while Zinc doses can be anywhere from 15 mg to 50 mg once or twice a day.
Reduce the intake of sugar!
This may be the hardest one to do, but 1 tsp of sugar can suppress your immune system for 8 hours. You may want to reconsider eating the cookie that the flight attendant is offering you on your flight, while your fellow traveler is coughing in the seat next to you. Switch to using Stevia as a sweetener as much as possible. I also have some people using Glycine, an amino acid, as their sweetener at times because it also helps calms down the feeling of stress. Both of these can be found in a health food store.
I do have a couple of other things that I recommend to my patients to avoid getting colds and the flu.
I think everyone should be on some sort of immune support on a regular basis. It can be as simple as vitamin D as mentioned above or vitamin C, which is a great immune supporter. In addition, vitamin C supports your adrenal gland (stress gland), blood sugar regulation, liver detoxification and skin health. And it is fairly cheap! You should take vitamin C at about 1-3 grams a day.
Let’s say you are taking all of these things and you are getting 8 hours of sleep, not overindulging on the sugar and yet you start having symptoms of a cold. Now what? The first thing you do is to increase your vitamin D dose and the vitamin C. The vitamin C you can take 500 mg every 2-3 hours until your bowel gets lose, then take Vitamin C every 5-6 hours.
I also think everyone should have some herbal remedies at home that they can take as soon as you have symptoms of a cold. I have a few herbs that I like for cold symptoms.
Echinacea. The problem with Echinacea is that it got so popular that the quality of this herb is now compromised. Many over the counter products are made up of either the wrong form of Echinacea or using the wrong part of the plant to make supplements. If you are taking, or have tried, an Echinacea formula and it didn’t work – it is most likely due to poor quality of what you took. Be aware of this when you buy an Echinacea product. I personally use liquid tinctures of Echinacea, but this herb does not taste good and it actually numbs your tongue when you use it. It’s an acquired taste. Instead, you may want to consider
Esberitox which is a supercharged Echinacea product. Elderberry. I find this herb to be very effective if taken on first symptom of cold. This is a very taste herb and I recommend you do buy it as a tincture and drink 1 tsp every hour either as is or as a hot tea. Works very well.
Andrographis is one of the few herbs that have been shown to reduce a cold with 3-4 days. Again, you have to have good quality and you have to take it as soon as you have symptoms. I like a product called Herb Immune Max, and you take 2 tabs every 1-2 hours for 2-3 days and that should be it for the cold.
ViraClear EP’s 7630. This is a new product just recently imported from Europe. It’s made by a plant called Pelargonium sidoides and it is showing very impressive results for colds. It is a liquid herbal formula and should be taken 3-4 times a day. There are 2 flavors; original and cherry flavored for kids. They are both ok in taste and kids don’t seem to mind taking this product at all.
If you follow these guidelines you should be in good shape for this winter and avoid that yearly cold that lasts for weeks. I hope you have a healthy holiday season!