29 Nov Naturopathic Cold and Flu Prevention Tips
With cold and flu season here, get a handle on preventing nagging coughs and head colds that can spread quickly from person to person! Here’s a review of some safe, naturopathic doctor-recommended measures for cold prevention and treatment for children and adults.
Prevention is the best medicine
If you’re searching for safe ways to keep your kids and yourself healthy during the cold season, you’ll be happy to know that several simple steps may help:
- Wash hands often with soap and water, or an alcohol based sanitizer, especially after a cough or sneeze. Avoid air driers as they can spread microbes, instead opt for paper towels: the friction helps dislodge pathogens.
- Take vitamin C: Bolstering their immune systems with 100 to 250 mg per day (for kids) and 1 – 3 grams (or to bowel tolerance, for adults) is valuable.
- Stay away from sugar: Sugar inhibits the immune system, leaving us more vulnerable to infections.
- Try gargling: Gargling with plain or saline water removes mucous and keeps bacteria and viruses from sticking around. A three-times-a-day habit has been found to reduce the occurrence of respiratory infections.
- Drink up: Make sure your child and you get plenty of fluids in order to maintain water balance and to thin secretions. Avoid sugary drinks in favor of water or a comforting chicken/vegetable broth. Add onions, garlic, astragalus for an added immune boost!
- Eat healthy: Avoid sugar and excessively fatty foods, as they are known to dip immune function. Focus on vegetables and health fats such as avocado, nuts & seeds, and olive oil.
- Don’t dry out: A warm, humid environment created by a humidifier may provide some comfort while riding out a cold. For kids, use a cool mist humidifier to moisten the room air.
- Sleep it off: Make sure to get plenty of rest, especially if you have symptoms.
- Sweeten the deal: One exception to the no-sugar rule—honey may improve for cough and cold symptoms as well as sleep if it’s disrupted by coughing. One half a teaspoon before bed can help. Honey has antimicrobial, antioxidant and other properties that can soothe irritated mucous membranes. (Honey should be avoided in children under 12 months old.
- Vitamin D: Can help lessen the severity of flu symptoms if taken throughout the cold flu season.
- Use non-petroleum jelly: This vaseline alternative can be rubbed onto your nasal opening and ears to help protect your mucosal membranes from drying out (and cracking thereby becoming vulnerable to microbes).
- Move your lymph: When you get swollen lymph nodes, it is a sign that your immune system is working hard. Lympthatic drainage tinctures and creams such as Lymphydrial, as well as dry skin brushing and gentle exercise will help activate the lymph.
- Try herbal medicine: Plenty of botanical herbs are well researched to have anti-viral activity. Some noteable herbs worth stacking into a tincture or tea blend include: Echinacea purpura and angustafolia, Hydrastis, Lomatium, Sambucus (elderberry). Spray them onto the back of your throat for extra support! A physician can help customize strengths and botanical based on your symptom pattern.
- Probiotics and Lactoferrin: The research on populating ourselves with these valuable gut bugs is endless! Many of you already use the ProFlora Blend to protect the gut lining (where most of your immune cells reside), but if you’re using another brand, just make sure it’s human sourced and free of FOS. Lactoferrin supports the immune system by boosting Natural Killer cells and may have a protective effect against the influenza A virus. Lactoferrin is present in therapeutic amounts in the GI Renew.
Nutritional and herbal interventions are most effective when combined with a healthy lifestyle to support innate and adaptive immune responses through the cold and flu season.
Please remember, any child or adult who suffers from a persistent cough should be seen by a physician, and parents should also discuss the appropriate treatments for their child’s symptoms with Dr. Adatya or their child’s physician.
For more articles on cold and flu information, see my cold and flu blog posts.
If you or someone you know suffers from cold symptoms, feel free to drop me a line on the “contact us” page on this site. I treat patients locally at my Naturopathic practice in Vancouver, B.C. and worldwide via phone or Skype.
To honoring your health potential!
Licensed Naturopathic Physician, Menopause Clinician, Acupuncturist, Author, and Health Educator