Cold and Flu
: 5 Natural Supplements To Help You Avoid Catching A Summer Cold
By Michael T. Murray, ND
Toss your sweaters to the side, because summer is officially here! However, you may be tempted to keep those Kleenex around. After all, a lot of folks get upper respiratory ailments this time of year, perhaps due to the change of weather or complications related to seasonal allergies. This is when you need your immune system to kick in to high gear.
The whole topic of dietary supplements is confusing to many consumers. Which ones should we take, and which ones really work?
Have no fear: you can beat that summer cold. Here is a short list of natural supplements that are effective for preventing and treating colds and related upper respiratory ailments. Start with the first supplement and add others, based on your symptoms.
1. Antioxidant Mixture
Antioxidant mixtures are great for keeping a cold at bay. The nutrients found in an antioxidant mixture help prevent oxidative damage to the thymus gland, the major organ of the immune system.
Try a good antioxidant mixture to keep your thymus going strong. Find a high-potency multiple vitamin and mineral supplement that combines all essential nutrients including approximately: 20 to 30 mg zinc, 200 mcg selenium, 25,000 IU beta-carotene (or other carotenes), 100 to 250 mg vitamins C, and 100 to 200 IU vitamin E.
Long used in traditional Chinese medicine, this herb is getting more respect lately because scientists have found that it contains substances that stimulate different parts of the immune system.
Need more proof? In one open, randomized clinical trial in China, 115 patients who took the herb for eight weeks showed significant improvement in their counts of infection-fighting white blood cells.
A typical daily dose is 100 to 150 mg of powdered extract combined with any liquid, three times daily, whenever you have a cold or flu. Caution: If you have rheumatoid arthritis or another autoimmune disease, use astragalus only under a doctor's supervision.
3. South African geranium
Also known as umckaloabo, this herbal remedy has been shown to be effective for treating bronchitis, an upper respiratory infection that often follows colds.
Although doctors of herbal medicine typically recommend this natural supplement for patients who have been diagnosed with bronchitis, I advise taking it if you have a cold, because it reduces symptoms. Dosage is 20 mg three times a day until symptoms subside.
This is a class of compounds found in baker's yeast, medicinal mushrooms, and a variety of grains. These compounds have been shown to stimulate the activity of immune cells and immune signaling proteins, which help the body fight infections.
Like a key in a lock, the binding of the beta-glucan to cellular receptors flips white blood cells on and triggers a chain reaction, leading to increased immune activity. Dosage is 250 to 500 mg daily. This dose is effective for treating viral infections as well as prevention, for when you feel a cold coming on.
Modern research has shown Echinacea purpurea -- otherwise known as the purple coneflower -- exerts significant effects on immune function.
That being said, be aware that not all of the clinical studies in humans have been positive. There have been mixed results from clinical studies with echinacea. What determines the effectiveness of any herbal product, however, is its ability to deliver an effective dosage of active compounds.
For example, a study that used Echinacea purpurea plants concluded that early intervention reduced symptom severity in subjects with upper respiratory tract infection. Some people, in fact, cleared their cold symptoms up to three times faster than the placebo group.
Many of the studies that have discounted the effectiveness of echinacea in recent years were found to have used low-quality forms of the herb. Buy fresh product and follow dosage instructions printed on the label.
Dr. Michael T. Murray is one of the world's leading authorities on natural medicine and the author of more than 30 bestselling books, including The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.
He is a graduate and former faculty member, and serves on the Board of Regents, of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.
© 2015 doctormurray.com