Colds and flus are the most common reason for people to miss work at the change of seasons where our immunity may be low. Many people take pharmaceutical products to soldier on – ignoring the body’s call to rest and recuperate. Many are unaware that there are other, more effective natural remedies that will reduce the severity of these disorders in a non-pharmaceutical way.

As cold and flu season approaches, it’s helpful to understand some of the botanical tools available to ward off colds and flu. Many shoppers are familiar with Echinacea, but might not be aware of how to use it correctly. In addition, they may not be aware of other tools for activating or building the immune system, such as Astragalus, or Chinese Herbal combinations.

Echinacea
Echinacea’s ability to stimulate the immune system has been well documented scientifically. Historically, Echinacea was taken by Native Americans at the onset of infectious ailments and modern research confirms this use for infections. It has now been found that good results can be had for those who constantly have immune problems by taking Echinacea on a daily basis as a preventative measure.
Astragalus
Unlike Echinacea, Astragalus has tremendous value as a preventative agent. It is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to build the immune system and ward off infectious illness. Modern research has confirmed the antiviral, antioxidant and adapto genic properties of Astragalus.
In one open study, astragalus demonstrated prophylactic effect for the common cold. And in another clinical trial, astragalus significantly increased white blood cell counts of the participants. Astragalus should not be used in the acute stage of an illness ie when you just get a cold or flu but for post viral rehabilitation or preventatively.
Modern Formulas
Modern formulas have evolved to contain both Chinese and European Herbs.
Fusion Health are leaders in developing such formulas. Their Cold and Flu formula (health food stores only) and their Oriental Botanicals brand: Bactevir formula (Pharmacy only –same formula as fusion health as made by same company) contain herbs such as Lonicera and Forsythia.

Recent studies have demonstrated strong antibacterial activity of these herbs. One of the other principle herbs in Cold and flu is, Isatis, which has demonstrated strong antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects in laboratory studies.
Congestion
Once the common cold has set in and congestion prevails, there are several herbs and combinations that can help provide relief. Andrographis has been long known in traditional Ayuvedic and Asian medicine as an immune booster. Several double-blind clinical trials have found andrographis to reduce symptom severity in people with the common cold. Olive Leaf Extract can also be useful here as it has antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal properties and is ideally suited where an antibiotic is required. If the congestion results in excess phlegm (mucus), then olive leaf extract with garlic capsules would be a better combination. Garlic is best taken in a capsule or tablet to get the most out of effective ingredients. Raw garlic is often ineffective in supplying enough therapeutic actives
If the cold develops into bronchitis then garlic, olive leaf and a herbal cough mixture as found in the Fusion Health range is specific therapy. These preparations synergistically have powerful Anti-viral and Antibiotic effect that will not adversely affect friendly bowel flora.
For those who like using essential oils then inhaling steam inhalations of the combinations of thyme and Eucalyptus oils for example will help for Bronchitis or Sinus infections.

Zinc spray
Zinc has been known to help abort the common cold if taken in large doses at the first onset of symptoms. Zinc needs to be taken in larger doses over two days or so for this effect to work. Zinc oral spray is the best way to ingest and absorb this mineral that in controlled amounts stimulates the immune system.
Oral spray therapy is not intended for long term use however as over doing zinc can lead to immune suppression.

In summary,
At the first onset of a cold or flu, Fusion health or Oriental Botanical formulas and or / Echinacea in massive doses for adults would be appropriate to use. Once congestion sets in, then Andrographis with Olive leaf extract can be effective. Don’t forget the garlic capsules for their antibiotic principles if there is a lot of mucous.

Dosage:
All the preceding information will amount to naught if not enough therapeutic doses are used in the acute stage of treatment or onset of a cold or flu.

For example if one is taking Echinacea capsules ( 1000mg ) then 8 per day or more may be the go for acute onset . Of course this dose would only be taken for 48 hours then reduced in half as symptoms improve. Similar story for the other remedies,

As a general rule doses on the bottle or mixes can be doubled for most adults for a few days until symptoms improve. Another example is olive leaf extract which can be taken like a tablespoon every couple of hours if required for a couple of days if one has a mucous or cold that has settled in and an antibiotic effect is desired.
The preparations Oriental Botanicals – Bactevir or Fusion Health Cold and Flu are very effective if taken in large doses at the first sign of cold or flu. Dosage for first two days needs to be double or triple what is on the bottle for adults ingested in divided doses. This dose is ok for 2-3 days and will knock the disorder on the head!!

New information:

Elderberry flower (Sambucus Nigra) has been used to treat the symptoms of cold and flu and has the following benefits.
Sambucus Nigra benefits:
• herpes simplex (fever blisters)
• reduce fever
• boosts immune system
• inflammation
• soothes respiratory tract
• ear infections
• stimulate circulation
• rheumatic problems
• constipation

Take in high doses for best effect. Preparations are available at Health Food stores.
This information is intended for educational purposes only. It is not provided in order to diagnose, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease, illness or injury. Those individuals suffering from any disease, illness or injury should consult with their healthcare provider. Asthmatics should be extremely careful with taking any new herb or formula that they have not used before. All doses expressed are based on adult doses/ for children please adhere to directions on the bottle or preparation.

Peter Farnsworth N.D