7 Natural Products for the Cold and Flu season.

Winter is coming!!

With winter nearly here, I can already feel the tickle in my throat of the cooler evenings. Since getting glandular fever a couple years ago winter is my nemesis. Check out my go to natural health care products for winter. They work as antibacterial and antiviral, whist also providing the body with the nutrition for a strong immune system. 

Coconut oil

Are you seeing this everywhere at the moment? Coconut oil has a lot of health benefits as a result of its phytonutrient content. The phytonutrient we are looking at for winter is lauric acid. Lauric acid is used by the body in such a way that it breaks down the lipid membrane of bacteria, viruses and fungi thereby killing the organism. In the case of viruses coconut oil can be a fantastic first line of defense against lipid coated viruses such as influenza, herpes, hep C, HIV and measles, breaking down the initial viral attack before it can get a strong hold. I use a teaspoon of coconut oil directly on the back of my throat to help prevent tonsillitis and throat infections. Look for an organic, cold pressed, virgin coconut oil.

Colloidal silver

Colloidal silver contains suspended particles of silver in sterilised water. Not only is colloidal silver a potent antibacterial but taking it with your course of antibiotics can make them more effective. Silver interferes with the integrity of bacterial cells, making the cell membrane weaker and interfering with the bacterial cells metabolism essentially making it sick. This makes the bacterial cell weaker so the body has more of a chance to get on top of the microbrial invasion and increases the efficiency of antibiotics when they are required. Colloidal silver is used acutely during the stages of infection, not as a prevention. You can have it by taking a teaspoon orally and gargle for throat infections.

Manuka Honey

When using honey in the treatment of colds and flus you want to source organic manuka honey. The honey produced by the bees has been collected from manuka trees and it is this that gives it its antibacterial properties. The manuka honey has been researched for its medicinal value and it is its UMF value that describes its medicinal potency. For it to be an effective antibacterial it requires a minimum of UMF 10+. Manuka honey is of particular benefit for a hoarse dry throat as it also has soothing properties. Add a teaspoon to warm water to sip on to soothe your throat. Manuka honey is a good one to have on hand for children as it is safe and they enjoy the taste.

Oil of Oregano

Another one of natures antibiotics, at the first sign of cold and flu take 3 - 4 drops 3 times daily until you feel better. Make sure you have something handy to drink as it has a strong taste. Oregano contains the 2 essential oils thymol and carvacrol, both of which are antibacterial. It also has many other phytonutrients to offer the immune system nutrition and fight germs. You can vaporise for nasal congestion and dilute to take internally. The oil of oregano acts to dry out mucous membranes helping in the recovery phase of colds that have gone to the lungs. Being an antibacterial, it can also reduce the risk of secondary bacterial infection after the viral infection. Oil of oregano is not effective against the influenza virus. 

Garlic

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Such a cheap and easy way to boost your immune system and support your body nutritionally whilst also aiding in killing the bacterial infection. Garlic is a good idea to include in your meals daily but can be especially beneficial during a cold. Add 2 cloves to your slow cooked winter warmers, spaghettis, soups and include roasted garlic in your roast dinners. The phytonutrients in garlic such as allicin and other sulphur compounds make it a broad range antibiotic. It interferes with structural integrity of bacteria, yeast, fungus, microbes and protozoa.  These active nutrients improve immune system function and help to fight the common cold.

Vitamins and Minerals

We all know that vitamins and minerals are needed for the body to function at its best, so here is a reminder of the ones that support the immune system. 

  • Vitamin C - potent antioxidant helping to clear up the metabolic waste products from fighting an infection 
  • Vitamin D - people with low vitamin D levels have a higher risk of influenza. It is associated with the immune system not reacting quickly to foreign invaders.
  • Vitamin E - enhances immune system function, improving cell mediated immunity and stress. 
  • Zinc - taken in the first few days may shorten colds and reduce the frequency. 
  • Copper - like silver is an antiviral and antibacterial
  • Selenium - a deficiency is associated with viruses being able to mutate into a more virulent form. As with vitamin C and E it is also a potent antioxidant cleaning up metabolic waste after infection. 

Pro and pre biotics

80% of the immune system is located in the gut. Therefore the health of the immune system is directly associated with the health of the gut and the bacteria colonising it. As antibiotics kill bacteria, they kill both the harmful bacteria and the good bacteria. So make sure you are colonising your gut with good bacteria and also feeding them with prebiotics. Prebiotics are non digestible fibre that feeds the good bacteria. Probiotics are capsules containing bacteria to help colonise the intestinal tract. Make sure you do a course of probiotics after your course of antibiotics.