February 17, 2020
This time of year, it’s not unusual for people to get sick. While hand washing is important to help prevent colds and flu, there are some natural approaches with research backing their use in reducing the incidence and/or severity of colds and flu.
Supplements for Prevention and Treatment of Colds and Flu
Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that stimulate our immune system in beneficial ways. While I’ve written on probiotics previously, it’s still worth noting their benefit as a preventative for getting sick.
A recent review showed that taking a probiotic could decrease your risk of getting sick by about half. If you do get sick while on a probiotic the duration of the cold or flu is almost cut in half as well (Hao 2015).
Garlic is well known to have antimicrobial and immune stimulating effects. While the evidence isn’t robust, a study in 2001 showed more than half as many colds in individuals taking allicin, (the garlic extract) in the form of a garlic supplement. Additionally, the duration of the cold was drastically reduced, from an average of five days to one and a half days (Josling 2001).
A more recent study using aged garlic extract decreased the average length of a cold by more than half. In addition, the severity of the colds were also significantly reduced (Nantz 2012).
Garlic comes in many forms. The first study utilized standard garlic which has a strong odor. The second study used aged garlic which generally reduces the smell. More research will help to understand the different forms of garlic and which is most effective for reducing colds and flu.
With this data in mind, it’s not too surprising that zinc appears to help fight off colds. A recent review of the research exploring zinc gluconate or zinc acetate lozenges for colds showed that cold duration could be reduced by one third in people that started taking lozenges at the beginning of symptoms (Hemila 2017). Zinc dosage should be about 75 mg daily to achieve the benefits.
Elderberry is an herb with a long history of use for helping colds and flu. While the raw berries are toxic, once cooked the toxin is removed. A recent meta-analysis explored the use of elderberries for treating colds and flu. Their conclusion was that elderberry substantially reduces the duration of illness. They even recommended the use of elderberry over antibiotics as a potentially safer, effective option (Hawkins 2019).
In the winter, upper respiratory infections are common. Having additional, safe tools to help prevent and treat colds and flu is welcome. The current research appears that there are a number of options emerging that may help with reducing the incidence and symptoms of these common infections.
This article was written by contributing author Dr. Scott Buesing, a naturopathic doctor at The Refinery Integrated Wellness Clinic in Palm Desert. Dr. Scott's clinical experience includes working with patients with mental health conditions, along with more recent work in pain medicine. Dr. Buesing has positively impacted the lives of many through integrated medicine. For more information about his practice, see buesingnaturopathic.com.
At Zebra Organics, we carry numerous supplements mentioned by Dr. Scott:
Probiotic All Flora by New Chapter is packed with probiotics and postbiotics to replenish good bacteria in the gut and to support overall gut health.
Consisting of live probiotics, New Chapter's Zinc Food Complex supplement is made with complementary herbal blends like Elderberry and organic Astragalus. If you prefer liquid Zinc that is highly absorbable, see Mother Earth Minerals and Liquid Zinc Assay by Premiere Research Labs.
Allicidin by Premiere Research Labs offers high quality immune support. The capsules contain a wild European garlic that has been used for thousands of years to help boost immunity.
If you would like to know more about any of our products, or need assistance placing an order please email us or call us at 760-459-5177.