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February 2008 posts

Prevention During the Cold and Flu Season- Part 2

If you get a cold then the best time to treat is early.

Contrary to popular belief, some of our most common natural cold remedies don't actually prevent colds, but lessen the length and severity of the common cold. 

Vitamin C:
Vitamin C taken in larger quantities lessens the length and severity of the common cold.

Most of the research indicates that Echinacea provides only minimal protections as a prophylactic against colds, BUT is effective as a treatment once a cold has been contracted.

But remember, prevention in the best medicine.

There are options that can help prevent the common cold by stimulating the immune system.  The following natural remedies can be taken throughout the cold and flu season to decrease your susceptibility to catch a cold. 

Astragalus is a herb that works to prevent the common cold.

Zinc has been shown to be effective in decreasing the occurrence of the common cold.

For example, Lactobacillus found in cultured dairy products or in probiotics where shown, in a Finnish study, to reduce respiratory infections in children attending day care by 10% to 20%.

Even with all of these effective tools, the best way to prevent the common cold and boost your immune system is through a healthy lifestyle.

Alison Finger, ND

Naturopathic Doctor

Prevention During the Cold and Flu Season- Part 1

As many of you can attest to, cold and flu season is here. Instead of being helpless victims of the many viruses that cause colds and flu, there is so much you can do to boost your immune system and successfully ward off and deal with the effects of these viruses.  The naturopathic approach offers a full range of strategies to stay healthy during cold and flu season.

Prevention is the best medicine.  We are more likely to pick up a virus through hand-to-hand contact than through air-borne droplets. Viruses can live for up to 4 hours on the hands, so frequent hand washing is a good defense from the common cold.

Studies show that people who eat well, get enough rest and exercise are less likely to get sick when exposed to viruses.

Eating simple sugars or white sugar decreases the functioning of our white blood cells, the cells that fight off infection, for up to 5 hours.

Moderate physical activity has been shown to increase white blood cells and their functioning.  As little as 20 minutes per day can be helpful. 

Stress Reduction:
Stress weakens the immune system thus increasing our chances of getting sick.  People who are under stress are about 4 times more likely to catch a cold than those under little stress. Stress can be managed by consciously making choices to slow down the pace of our lives as well as getting plenty of sleep, performing breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, prayer, spending time with family and friends, laughing, and getting out in nature.

Alison Finger, ND
Naturopathic Doctor

Six Principals of Naturopathic Medicine

In educating about Naturopathic Medicine, I think it is important to understand the philosophy in which a Naturopathic Doctor works.  The six principals are as follows:

  • Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)- Naturopathic medicine recognizes the body's inherent ability to heal itself.  Naturopathic Doctors work to identify and remove the obstacles to recovery and replace and replenish needed vitamins or minerals for healing.
  • Identify and Treat the Cause (Tolle Causam)- Naturopathic Doctors are committed to identifying and removing the underlying causes of illness rather than to eliminate or cover symptoms.
  • First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)- Naturopathic medicine utilizes methods and natural substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects. 
  • Doctor and Teacher (Docere)- Naturopathic doctors encourage their clients to take control of their health. 
  • Treat the Whole Person- Naturopathic doctors take into account physical, mental, emotional, environmental and genetic factors when assessing overall health.
  • Prevention-Naturopathic doctors believe that prevention is the best medicine. 

Alison Finger, ND