Leaving all scares of the swine flu aside, each fall season in the Northern Hemisphere brings with it cold weather and its own slew of various infections. This is a time that many call the “cold & flu season” and it can last from as early as September, roughly to April.
A healthy lifestyle that includes lots of natural, wholesome, nutritious food, as well as an adequate amount of sleep and exercise, is always the best preventative strategy against getting any kind of illness.
However, not all people have the advantage of being on an optimally healthy diet long enough or consistently enough, to have an optimally working immune system. On top of that, some of us despite our best efforts to eat, sleep and exercise healthy, allow large amounts of stress into our lives that are counterproductive to these actions.
So what is one to do when you feel that tickle in your throat, weaker in the knees or that unpleasant warm feeling all throughout your body? Is there any way to prevent having a cold, flu or other similar infection when you feel one coming on? Well the good news is there just might be!
In this article, I will share with you 5 safe supplements that one can take to quickly boost the immune system and either stop infections like a cold or flu right in its tracks, or at least decrease their severity .
Cold-Fx is a ginseng based supplement that originated in Canada and has been on the market for about 5 years now. Each capsule of Cold-Fx is certified to contain 200 mg of CVT-E002TM, a proprietary ChemBioPrint® product containing greater than 80% poly-furanosyl-pyranosyl-saccharides extracted by an aqueous method from Panax quinquefolius (North American ginseng, root).
In clinical and scientific studies, Cold-Fx was proven to be effective based on various parameters, in things such as preventing and/or reducing symptoms or frequency of the cold and flu. To see full studies and numbers, see here.
Today, Cold-Fx is available throughout North America in drug stores, pharmacies and health food stores. It is generally well tolerated, with no known adverse effects. The product should be taken according to package instructions. This is normally at the initial onset of any symptoms, or in a preventative dose for a specified period of time. To learn more, see the Cold-Fx website.
Immunity-Fx is a new dietary supplement from the makers of Cold-Fx. Each capsule contains 200mg of CVT-E002, a proprietary ChemBioPrint product containing greater than 80% poly-furanosyl-pyranosyl-saccharides extracted from the root of Panax quinquefolius (North American ginseng), and 50mg of Reishi Mushroom (extract from the fruiting body of the Ganoderma lucidum) containing a minimum of 15% polysaccharides.
The reishi mushroom has a long standing healing history in Chinese medicine. It has many health benefits, but for the purpose of our discussion, the reishi mushroom contains a high amount of polysaccharides which are essential for proper functioning of the immune system.
This product thus claims to strengthen and support the immune system, improve your overall health and wellness and allow you to maintain health and wellness even during periods of stress. It should be taken according to package or health care professional instructions.
Airborne is a dietary supplement that contains a special blend of zinc, ginger, echinacea and 13 other vitamins, minerals and herbs. Some of these include: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B2, zinc, selenium, manganese, magnesium, and the amino acids glutamine and lysine. The herbs include: Lonicera, Forsythia, Schizonepeta, Ginger, Chinese Vitex, Isatis and Echinacea.
Although, Airborne itself does not have the backing of any clinical trials or studies that are rendered as scientifically approved, its ingredients have been shown to help support the immune system in many scientific studies and journals. The vitamin C levels that it uses are high per dose, and while mainstream doctors and scientists frown upon that, high levels of vitamin C are regularly used to boost the immune system in the natural health community and even help as a cancer cure (see the Gerson Institute for more details on that).
Airborne was developed in the early 1990′s and is widely available in most food, drug and health food stores across the US. See here for a store locator. In Canada, the product is not yet found easily in all stores. It can be purchased from Well.ca with free shipping.
Again, it shows most effective when taken right at the onset of any symptoms related to the cold or flu, and can be used in preventative doses as well. It is generally well tolerated by most people with no adverse effects, unless one has an allergy or other condition where they cannot tolerate any of the ingredients it uses. To learn more, see the Airborne website.
4. Colloidal Silver/Silver Hydrosol
The use of silver as an antimicrobial substance dates back thousands of years and this product was used in various forms openly over the ages until about the middle of the 20th century when antibiotics widely took over the market. Colloidal silver is a liquid suspension of microscopic particles of silver.You can read more about the history, uses and science backing up silver as an antimicrobial substance here in “A Brief History of the Health Support Uses of Silver” or here in “Historic Perspectives on Clinical Use and Efficacy of Silver.”
Silver’s antimicrobial properties give bacteria, viruses and fungi an unfavorable environment in which to live. Silver also has a history as a respected preservative, disinfectant, regenerative agent and immune support mineral. It was also known as a “natural antibiotic”. Most superior brands of colloidal silver on the market today claim that it kills pathogens, like bacteria within 2 – 8 minutes of contact with the silver.
Mainstream medicine and doctors have openly refuted silver and its use to boost the immune system, claiming anything from it not being effective to it being dangerous for much of the 20th century. However, today with antibiotic resistance on the rise, silver is getting a second chance even in mainstream medicine. In fact colloidal silver today has many studies backing up its effectiveness and is most commonly being used to treat the wounds of burn victims.
Alternative and natural health care providers on the other hand greatly endorse and promote the use of this product. For best results and proper information, one should consult their naturopath before using any kind of silver supplements. A brand I have had experience with and recommend is Sovereign Silver.
Echinacea is a plant whose parts have been used to stimulate the immune system by Native Americans for hundreds of years. Many people claim that they do not “believe” in it. That is that it actually works or does anything. Well, when it comes to echinacea let me clear something up. There is nothing to believe or not believe. Although some studies are mixed, echinacea has been scientifically proven to stimulate the immune system. If it doesn’t work for you, that may mean that the infection is already too far in, at which point the herb is not powerful enough to help.
Echinacea can be bought at any drug store, pharmacy or health food store. It should be taken as directed on the bottle, at the first feeling of any ill symptoms from things like the colds or flu. Some people choose to take a preventative dose during more stressful or “risky” times, and that is possible as well.
Echinacea is usually well tolerated by most people, with no adverse effects. As with all herbs, usage should not be abused and more is not always better. Also, be sure to pick a high quality echinacea supplement. Today, echanicea is widely available in all pharmacies, drug stores and health food stores. To learn more about echinacea, see what the University of Maryland Medical Center has to say about it.
While all of the above products can be purchased over the counter and without a prescription, it may be in one’s best interest to consult a health care professional before using any of them. Remember also that medical doctors are trained to know most about drugs, hence to get the best answers about any of the above products, it would probably be most beneficial to see a naturopathic doctor.
And as always, do not take any of the above products without consulting a doctor if pregnant, breast feeding, suffering from an auto-immune or other immune system disease, or if on other medications. Even though the products are natural, we cannot undermine the power of nature.
Finally, remember that even though these products can be used in preventative doses, I feel that they should be treated more as a last resort, rather than part of a daily routine.
The best prevention is a natural, wholesome, nutrient-rich diet, regular exercise, a sufficient amount of sleep, and a healthy way of dealing with stress.