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Here are some vitamin and herb support you can try to help you get through during this time. Please be sure to consult with your physician before starting any of these.
Zinc-Studies show zinc reduced the total duration and severity of the common cold especially when compared to placebo(2,3). I will take my chances and start taking zinc at the onset of a cold. Be careful as it can make you nauseous and experience GI issues if you take it on an empty stomach. You can safely take 4.5-24 mg every 3-4 hours as needed.
Vitamin C-Everyone know about vitamin C, then why isn’t anyone taking enough of it ? OJ doesn’t have enough and neither does otc emergency Vitamin C supplements. Increase your vitamin C to 4 grams a day at the onset of a cold. Again, there are limited studies but if it gives it 1-2 extra days of not having a cold, I’ll take it! During the cold season you can take 2 grams a day to boost your immune system.
Vitamin D-Vitamin D boosts your immune system so this is one supplement I make sure I’m taking throughout the cold season. I encourage everyone to have their vitamin D level checked to make sure it’s in the 60-70 range. This is even more important, especially during the winter months, to take at least 2000 IU of the active Vitamin D3 a day.
Probiotics-You need good gut bacteria to promote good health and a healthy immune system. If you’re prone to “colds” amp it up during flu season up to 3 times a day. Again, I always stress a good quality probiotic that’s live and has >5 strands of bacteria and more than 20 Billion colony forming units.
Echinacea-There are mixed reviews on Echinacea reducing cold symptoms. Personally, I’m a firm believer of taking in when I feel like I’m about to get a cold. It doesn’t help prevent the cold; however, it does shorten the overall duration and symptoms of it. I get the alcohol-free tincture and use about 5 drops 3-4 times a day.
Astragalus– Astragulus root is a traditional Chinese herb which has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties and actually helps prevent you from having a cold. You can take a shot of this or 15 drops 3x/day of the tincture when you feel like you’re about to get sick or when you’re traveling and when exposed to a lot of germs. It’s also used to boost your immune system that’s why it’s great for chronic infections and incorporated in cancer management. This is also safe to use in kids. Be sure to get the alcohol-free tincture and use 2-3 drop 2-3 times a day for children.
Pelargonium-This South African species of geranium is highly effective in reducing cold symptoms. In a randomized controlled trial it shortened the duration of the common cold as well as reduces the severity of symptoms when compared with placebo(4). A good dosage is 30ml 3x/day.
Elderberry-The Elder flower has been used in Europe for years to help treat upper respiratory infections. This is great tonic to use throughout cold and flu season. It has been shown to be effective in both bacterial and viral infection that causes the common cold (5). Use 1 tablespoon every 3-4 hours. A concentrated elderberry juice is also great because it’s high in antioxidants and you can trick your children into drinking it.
1. Miceli Sopo S, Greco M, Monaco S, Varrasi G, Di Lorenzo G, Simeone G; for the Milk Honey Study (M&HS) Group.Effect of multiple honey doses on non-specific acute cough in children. An open randomised study and literature review. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2014 Sep 5. pii: S0301-0546(14)00129-3. doi: 10.1016/j.aller.2014.06.002.
2: Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev(2):CD001364 2011
3: Science M, Johnstone J, Roth DE, Guyatt G, Loeb M. Zinc for the treatment of the common cold: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. CMAJ 184(10):E551-6110 Jul, 2012
4.Lizogub VG1, Riley DS, Heger M.Efficacy of a pelargonium sidoides preparation in patients with the common cold: a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.Explore (NY). 2007 Nov-Dec;3(6):573-84.
5. Krawitz C, Mraheil MA, Stein M, Imirzalioglu C, Domann E, Pleschka S, Hain T.Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Feb 25;11:16. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-16.