We all know about hand washing, covering your mouth when you cough, or the updated version, coughing into your elbow. Our mums told us to keep warm, but does that really stop the bugs? There’s lots of advice but what really works?
Research recently done by Consumer magazine found that there is little to no evidence a lot of over the counter cold and flu remedies such as decongestants and cough medicines actually work.
Natural medicine is not immune (excuse the pun!) to marketing hype itself. Selling natures cure to everything under the sun has become big business and where there’s money, there’s always creative if not misleading information. Over the years I’ve whittled down what I know to work into a few key nutrients and herbs. Remember, as always, that the best cure is prevention. If you do find yourself with a sore throat, cough or cold here are my top recommendations:
- Catch it early – the sooner you start to treat a virus the more chance you have of nipping it in the bud before it becomes anything more serious. Someone sneezing across the room from you? Hunt out that Vitamin C!
- Vitamin C – yup, its an oldie but a goodie. High doses (1,000mg 4xdaily) at the first sign of a cold is often all you need. It appears to be antiviral which is what causes colds. Its also antibacterial which is helpful for sinusitis or secondary bacterial infections.
- Zinc – New Zealanders and Australians have a wide spread deficiency of this important mineral. Again, if taken at at the first sign of a cold it can shorten the duration and severity of symptoms. That’s been my experience in the clinic and studies back it up. I find zinc particularly helpful as a preventative for adults and children alike. Dosage depends on age and weight. Be sure to eat food with it or you will feel rather nauseous.
- Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) – this herb is a stalwart in my clinic throughout winter. It’s a potent immune stimulating agent that always seems to slow symptoms and prevent recurrent infections. Taking it in tablet form is advisable as the liquid tincture is one of the worst tasting there is (and that’s saying something!).
- Cats claw (Uncaria tomentosa) – this herb is another favourite of mine for acute viral infections (and autoimmunity). It’s been shown to have antiviral properties and to raise lowered white blood cell counts helping us fight infections.
- Rest – I have to throw this one in as it really is the best medicine (for everything, not just immunity). With the days getting shorter its the perfect chance to start the wind down routine earlier and get to bed an hour before usual lights out. Sleep will restore an overworked system like nothing else. Give yourself the gift of rest.