Here are my top picks to keep you and your family well this cold & flu season:

  1. Probiotics
  2. Vitamin D3
  3. Homeopathic remedies for prevention and acute illness
  4. Managing fevers
  5. Restful sleep
  6. Nutrition
  7. Immune support TLC

1.  Probiotics (healthy good bacteria):

Intestinal flora plays a significant role in our overall health and immunity. Probiotics are naturally occurring bacteria in the large and small intestines. Our flora changes from infancy to toddlerhood to adulthood and we require different strains of “flora” from a supplement and our foods.

Probiotics re-estabish friendly intestinal flora and that is important for many things, the absorption of B12 folic acid and iron and they directly support the immune system. Imagine that three to six pounds of YOUR adult body weight is bacteria in the intestines! Ideally speaking we want 95% of bacteria to be “good” colonizing; keeping viruses and not so good bacteria at bay.

The very conservative journal Pediatrics published how probiotics (can reduce the duration and severity of Upper respiratory tract infections in 3-5 yr olds. Some of the highlights include:

  • 63% reduction of fever
  • 54% reduction of cough
  • 44% reduction in runny nose -also associated with ear infections
  • 80% reduction in antibiotic use. WOW
  • sick days reduced  from 6.5 to 3.4. That’s a 3 day reduction!! What’s a day off work worth?!

 

Probioitics for Adults:

  • Genestra HMF Capsules, Powder or Forte by Genestra
  • Anything by Metagenics

Probiotics for Infants:

  • Metagenics Synergy powder by Metagenics
  • BioGia (liquid) for infants

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2.  Vitamin D3

We all know vitamin D is important. During 2011’s Annual Breastfeeding Conference in Toronto we had the chance to find out how important it is to the pregnant woman and lactating mother based on some exciting new research! Vitamin D increases the flow of calcium into the bloodstream by promoting absorption of calcium from food in the intestines and the reabsorption of calcium from the kidneys. This allows for normal bone growth and remodelling. In a large study in the US throughout 2004-2008 81% of women were Vitamin D deficient. (PAS 2008, abstract/poster #5140.11)Vitamin D deficiency can result in rickets (a painful disease when the bones and growth plates are softened) Canadian Pediatric Society states that vitamin D deficiency rickets has not been eradicated in Canada. In a follow up to that study women were enrolled and given Vitamin D in various amounts (up to 4000IU daily). The study concluded in July 2009 and is so promising. The results are still being analyzed and new guidelines will likely be affected soon to reflect the following:

  • Likely need at least 2,000 IU/day
  • Up to 4,ooo IU/day is safe
  • Great concern that vitamin D status plays role in
    • Preventing preterm labor/birth
    • Preventing preeclampsia
    • Fetal dentition
  • Possible role for vitamin D status during pregnancy
      • Infant long-term immune health
      • Autoimmune diseases
      • Infection
      • AllergySarah N. Taylor, M.D./Medical University of South CarolinaThrasher Research Fund/NIH R01 HD047511 & 5R01HD043921
      • NIH K23RR021891/Clinical & Translational Research Center
      • Charleston, South Carolina/Research: Funded in part by the following:

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3.  Homeopathic Remedies, Top Three Remedies from Material Medica:

Aconite:

Aconite is helpful in the first stages of infection when symptoms appear with suddenness and intensity. Being chilled by a cold wind often causes the symptoms.

Besides acute conditions like fevers and severe pain, Aconite is very useful for fears or panic attacks following a shock or fright.

Belladonna:

Belladonna is useful for sudden, high fevers. People who are sensitive to light or feel very hot with flushed cheeks but cold hands and feet will be helped by Belladonna. Although the mouth is dry, there is usually no thirst. Belladonna is most useful in the beginning stages of a flu, earache, sunstroke, or any inflammation.

Pulsatilla:

Pulsatilla is indicated for all kinds of infection, when the person’s disposition is mild, affectionate and craving sympathy. Children become clingy, teary and indecisive when ill. It is useful in the later stages of head colds with the development of yellow-green mucus or for coughs that are loose in the morning, but dry in the evening.

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4.  Managing Fever:

Holiopath Tracy Poizner suggests there is quite a bit you can do safely to help your child feel better with a fever.

First, observe the symptoms – if he is lethargic, sleepy, clingy – let him sleep and give lots of attention. It’s true that extra fluids are needed, so if you are breastfeeding, nurse on demand. If not, then water (or if necessary, diluted fruit juice) should be offered constantly.

Second – relax! Your child will thank you for your ability to maintain a calm presence in the face of his or her normal immune development. Try to remember that he is building his “immunity muscles” which need to be exercised like all his other muscles in order to grow strong. Nobody likes to feel helpless when our child is sick but you can’t do the exercise for him! If she is active and playing normally, just let common sense be your guide.

If the fever goes above 39.5F or 103C, that may be a little bit higher than necessary to do the job, and natural medicines can be both quick and effective in bringing it down. Belladonna 6C is a homeopathic remedy especially suited to high fevers, particularly if it has come on quickly or is accompanied by bright red cheeks. A couple of pellets can be dissolved in half a cup of water, and a sip or spoonful is given every 15 minutes until the fever is reduced.

IMPORTANT: If your child complains of headache or other severe aching pains, or is crying miserably, you should contact a health-care provider for advice. The same is true of any fever that lasts for 48 hours or more.

Why is it better to use natural remedies than Tylenol or other pharmaceutical medicines? Well, apart from the fact that those drugs are known to cause damage to the liver and other organs, it confuses the immune system when we abruptly pull the plug on a fever. It temporarily calls off the production of antibodies and creates a more welcoming temperature for the offending microbes to multiply. This tends to delay the whole complex immune dance going on deep inside where we can’t see it, and the illness just takes longer to go away. In addition, the use of fever-suppressing medications early in life has recently been linked to asthma and may be one of the reasons for the sharp rise in numbers of kids affected with that problem. By contrast, homeopathic remedies work with the body to help it do its job more efficiently, thereby speeding up a full recovery.

Your practitioner can suggest other remedies on an individual basis for fevers that don’t respond to the above suggestions. As always, seek medical attention for very high or long-lasting fevers, or any fever in new babies up to 3 months of age.

5.  Restful Sleep:

“sleep, be still” 

  • Warm mist vaporizer
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Keep it somewhere safe
  • Oil of oregano and olive oil on the heels

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6.  Nutrition:

Wholefoods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and of course refined as little as possible before being consumed.

Bone broth is a wonderful support before and during cold and flu season. It can rehydrate and provide extensive nutrition for everyone in the family. Bone broth can easily be incorporated to your fall and winter cooking or used on the side in a tea cup!

Benefits of Wholefoods:

Examples of wholefood / healthy snacks: 

  • Delicious and healing bone broth
  • Raw nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, almond, cashew, pecan, walnut)
  • Hummus and rice crackers
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Fresh fruit
  • Smoothie (coconut milk or almond milk or rice milk)
  • Reduce dairy products, oranges and wheat products during the beginning of a virus or infection (muscousy and acidic). 

 

7.  Immune System TLC: More Tips for a Strong Immune System:

  • Sugar depletes the immune system from functioning optimally. Reduce sugar in products and keep these foods as special treats and away from illness is beneficial in a child’s developing immune system and an adult’s system.
  • Reduce acid and mucous forming foods such as dairy products, wheat and even rice and chicken during illness. Choose lamb, fish, almond or seed milks to help the immune system stay strong.
  • Choose grains like millet and quinoa which are low acid and very high in b-vitamins. These are considered wholegrain as is brown rice, oats, barley, kamut etc.
  • Hydration. Drinking at least half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water daily is one of the simplest steps you can take to improve your overall vitality. (For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water per day.)
  • Washing your hands with hot water and simple bar soap frequently throughout the day is another simple and powerful tool.

Apple Cider Vinegar is an ancient remedy and can be used as a dietary supplement (1 oz, 1–3 times daily), and/or in a warm bath. Pour 1–3 cups of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into the bath once water has been drawn. This remedy, used when sick, gently draws out toxicity from the body. Although there have been no formal studies on the use of apple cider vinegar in pregnancy, it is a very old remedy that has been used over many generations of women and children.

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