Cold and flu season is quickly approaching. Of course, the viruses that cause cold and flu are with us year-round, but Fall and Winter are the seasons when people are typically more exposed to viruses and more susceptible to getting sick. Exposure is up because we’re indoors more, sharing spaces and germs with others. Susceptibility is up because Vitamin D levels are down due to reduced sunlight, and Vitamin D is essential to proper anti-viral immune function. Susceptibility is also up due to indulging in holiday sweets and treats that disrupt immune function.
Common symptoms of cold/flu-like fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, body aches, and fatigue are signs the immune system is fighting. Although it’s tempting to take over-the-counter medicines to suppress these symptoms, when we do, we reduce our immune function and prolong illness by several days. Our goal as naturopathic doctors is to encourage a good strong immune system fight instead of suppressing symptoms.
Prevention Is Key
Our primary focus at Living Wellness Medical Center is to prevent illness and disease. We support the body’s immunity by focusing on lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet, stress management, adequate sleep, and exercise.
I’m certain that in this time of COVID-19, you’re well aware that reducing exposure to inhaled virus particles through masking and physical distancing, washing hands, and avoiding touching your eyes/nose/mouth are essential prevention strategies. Here are some other prevention tools to keep in mind:
Limit Sugar, Alcohol, and Dairy Products
It is especially vital to avoid these foods when you start to feel ill. Sugar, alcohol, and dairy products disrupt immune function.
Focus on increasing nutrient-dense foods like leafy green vegetables, antioxidant-rich berries, or foods with antimicrobial properties like garlic, ginger, and onion. Here is a recipe for an Anti-Plague formula that uses all three.
Sleep at Least 7-8 Hours Nightly
Adequate quality sleep every night is needed to maintain healthy immunity. Sleep is vital to wellness because it is the time our body restores and rejuvenates itself. Without adequate sleep, our body cannot repair, rebuild, and make immune cells and signals to keep us healthy.
Reduce or Better Manage Stressors
Stress reduces the immune system’s ability to fight viruses. This is why we are often more likely to become sick during or after periods of high stress. For instance, getting a cold sore outbreak during stress results from the immune system being unable to keep the causative virus suppressed.
Unhealthy stress includes emotional and mental stress (constant worrying, obsessive thoughts, negative self-talk, depression, and anxiety) and physical stress (inadequate recovery from exercise, poor sleep). If you struggle with daily stressors, it may be time to talk to your doctor about ways to address and better manage your stress.
Regular exercise is protective against various chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and dementia. Exercise encourages healthy circulation of immune cells and lymph, improving our immunity.
Be mindful that adequate rest is just as important as exercise. Excessive, strenuous exercise or inadequate recovery can inhibit immunity by causing added stress to your body. Daily movement is important, but it’s more important that you move at your own pace.
In Case of Illness
If you do become ill, naturopathic medicine has many good treatments to offer. We have a downloadable handout on our website that provides a wide variety of at-home immune support options to choose from. You can find that here.
Immune Boosting Treatments Offered at Living Wellness Medical Center
Nutritional IV Therapy
When nutrients are delivered intravenously, the digestive tract is bypassed and 100% absorption of those nutrients is achieved. This can be especially helpful when illness includes diarrhea or GI upset. IV nutrients in the bloodstream immediately circulate to all parts of your body to flood cells with immune-supportive nutrients and antioxidants.
Read more about IV Therapy and its benefits here: IV Therapy and Injection Treatments
B Vitamin Injections
B vitamin injections are effective treatment tools to enhance energy, metabolism, focus, and immunity. Vitamins administered intramuscularly bypass the digestive tract, allowing them to be absorbed quickly into the blood and have an instant effect.
Engystol Immune Injection
Engystol is a homeopathic remedy that is given as an injection once a month as a preventative during flu season or as a treatment in the case of viral infection. It has scientifically proven anti-viral activity and effectively treats and prevents viruses such as influenza, herpes simplex 1, rhinovirus, and RSV (Human respiratory syncytial virus).
Read more about Engystol and its benefits here: Get Your Homeopathic Flu Shot.
Ozone makes this therapy a powerful therapeutic agent in the body due to its oxidizing property. Ozone treatments stimulate increased production of glutathione, our “master antioxidant.” We call glutathione this because it’s not only our most potent antioxidant; it also recycles and restores other antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, alpha-lipoic acid within our bodies. Ozone is administered either via IV or intramuscular injection.
Read more about ozone and its benefits here: Subcutaneous Ozone Injections
Immune Support Supplements Offered at Living Wellness Medical Center
Berry Well (for kids)
This unique combination of vitamins, minerals, and herbs specifically designed to promote good health by supporting the immune system. The ingredients synergistically support the body’s immune mechanisms to ward off infections or to treat current infections. **Not for use during pregnancy.
Read more about Biotic Extra here: Biotic Extra: Immune Support During Cold/Flu Season.
Herbal cough syrup
The immune system is largely mediated by the gut microbiome. Beneficial bacteria in the gut like Lactobacillus and Bifido help support the immune system by reducing harmful bacteria in the gut. We encourage our patients to increase their probiotic dosage if they are prescribed antibiotics. Talk to your doctor about which strains and how much of them your probiotic supplement should contain.
Ask your Living Wellness doctor to recommend the tincture that is right for you.
Thins out mucus
A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C is a staple for immune support. We recommend at least 3-5 grams or 3,000-5,000 mg per day. Higher doses of vitamin C will cause loose stool. If you experience looser stools with vitamin C, decrease your dose by 1 gram or until loose stools subside.
Studies show deficient vitamin D in the body is linked with autoimmunity and increased susceptibility to infections. Talk to your doctor about vitamin D testing and how much you should take. Vitamin D is vital for bone, breast, brain, and immune support. It is especially important to supplement with vitamin D during the colder months as we naturally have less sun exposure.
Zinc is important for healthy immunity because it decreases oxidative stress and supports the healthy function of white blood cells that ‘eat’ pathogens such as parasites, fungi, viruses, and bacteria. 15 to 30 mg a day is a standard dose for immune support.
When Should I Contact My Doctor?
• If your symptoms persist or continue to worsen
• If you have a fever, night sweats, body aches, or unexplained weight loss
• If you notice yellow or green phlegm from the nose or when you cough
• If you have difficulty breathing or chest pain
• If you experience pain with swallowing
• If your cough persists for 2-3 weeks
If you would like more tips and advice on how to stay healthy this cold and flu season, schedule a free brief meet and greet with one of our doctors by calling 480-588-6856.