Nobody wants to get a cold, let alone the flu. Depending on how your body reacts to the microorganisms which cause these conditions, symptoms can range from the sniffles to fever and nausea. Studies have shown that certain natural supplements can help battle cold and flu symptoms.
Zinc: Studies involving lozenges containing Zinc gluconate or acetate showed that on average, cold symptoms were reduced in duration by 1.6 days. Another study showed symptoms resolve 3.2 days sooner with fewer days of cough, headache, hoarseness, nasal congestion, nasal drainage and sore throat. While there are several other studies which showed little to no benefit of using Zinc, most of these were thought to have used inadequate dosing, or an ineffective form of Zinc.
Vitamin C: Despite the controversy regarding the effectiveness of Vitamin C, it continues to be one of the first vitamins used in the prevention and treatment of colds and flu. The majority of evidence shows that taking Vitamin C can decrease the duration of cold symptoms by up to 1.5 days. The effectiveness of Vitamin C may also be dose dependent, and this vitamin may be more effective in children than adults. While Vitamin C may be used as a possible preventive nutrient, it’s also important to address the other factors that contribute to why a person gets a cold, such as stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and contact with other sick people.
Elderberry: Elderberry extract has been growing in popularity recently. The extract of the Elderberry contains immune supportive compounds and nutrients, which some studies suggest may help to reduce the duration and symptoms of the flu if initiated before onset. One study measured a reduction in duration of symptoms by about 56 percent. Similarly, another study showed improvement of flu-like symptoms when taken as an Elderberry extract lozenge. Since dosing of Elderberry extract varies, it’s important to take according to the directions on the bottle or as instructed by your healthcare provider.
Vitamin D: An interesting study compared Vitamin D supplementation for school-aged children to the incidence of developing seasonal flu. Children who took Vitamin D during the winter months had a reduction in incidence of flu by 42 percent compared to children who took the placebo. Vitamin D was also shown to decrease asthma exacerbations triggered by acute respiratory infection for children.
These are just some naturopathic strategies which may help to limit the impact of the cold or flu on you and your family. As always, eating a healthy diet of whole foods with lots of fruits and vegetables, sleeping eight to nine hours per night, exercising five to six days per week, and managing your stress is the foundation of health.
Whether you’re thinking of using supplements for general health or to support your system before, during and after cancer care, you should always discuss the use of supplements with your healthcare providers.