Friday, October 29, 2010

Long-term Prevention Through Immune Support

Whether we're talking about a cold or the flu, here are my recommendations for preventing and treating them. If you start early on prevention, you'll likely be among the lucky (I say, healthy) people who sail through the winter without catching either. By far the best defense is prevention. A strong immune system will prevent a cold or the flu and speed up recovery time if you do in fact get sick. With the potential threat of a new flu virus, keeping a robust immune system is more important than ever.

My leading recommendation here is medicinal mushrooms. Medicinal mushrooms are well documented for their ability to enhance immune function and help combat infection, especially on a long-term basis. Medicinal mushrooms are literally immune system coaches. It goes without saying that it is more efficient to train our immune system when we are not under distress, i.e., already sick. The beauty of medicinal mushrooms is that they are also of great benefit in times of distress, and when your immune system is under an increased risk, as can happen with an aggressive flu pandemic.

The best way to use medicinal mushrooms is to take them regularly at a maintenance dose (the recommended dosage on the label), and up the dosage when you are at greater risk or when you have a cold. I typically use herb-enhanced medicinal mushrooms on my patients in my practice. I start them with what is called a loading dosage for the first 2-4 weeks. A loading dose is double the long-term regular maintenance dose that follows. At times of distress or if there is an increased risk for colds and flu, doubling the dosage of medicinal mushrooms is extremely beneficial.

When I get a cold, I use the my blend of six mushrooms as frequently as every hour, at the recommended dose. Within a short period of time, the cold is usually gone. A similar strategy can be used with other supplements. Be sure that your multinutrient contains vitamin C and zinc, important allies of your immune system.

Mushrooms naturally contain Beta glucans, simple polysaccharides (sugar/carbohydrate molecules) that enhance immune function by boosting macrophage activity - your first line of defense. Beta glucans can be cultivated in yeast cells and extracted and added to mushroom products for a booster effect. Thus, when you select a mushroom product be sure to select a product that contains additional Beta glucans for the best benefit. Herbs that I do think are appropriate, if you wish to add them, include Echinacea and Goldenseal. Various Chinese herbal formulas such as Yin Qiao San, Gui Zi Tang, Ge Gen Tang can also be effective, depending on the specific characteristics of the flu or cold. But don't take these without consulting an herbalist knowledgeable in TCM herbology. Finally, when you have a cold or the flu, high dosages of vitamin C, as well as zinc are quite helpful. Other herbs for prevention include tonifying and adaptogenic herbs, such as Astragalus, Ginseng, and Eleutherococcus (Siberian ginseng).

Daily doses of Vitamin C can boost the immune system, offering potential protection from viruses and colds. Vitamin C is a nutrient that has been demonstrated to have a substantial impact on human health. Taking a dose of up to 1,000 mg of Vitamin C can strengthen your immune system and that, in turn, can help you avoid colds and nasty viruses.

Zinc helps to eliminate already existing free radicals and helps to prevent new ones from forming. Zinc is the most important mineral to the thymus gland, which orchestrates the immune function in the human body. Zinc deficiency is known to cause a reduction in T cells, NK cells and thymic hormone. Supplementation with zinc increases the ability of the immune system to fight viral infections, and enhances the ability of the immune system to do its job.

Last but not least, add a Vitamin D supplement to your daily regime. New research continues to show how important this Vitamin is for your immune system, and since most of us are deficient in the winter, a daily supplement can boost your immune system even more.

You can download my complimentary cold and flu report here.

1 comment:

  1. Immune system is really important against foreign body that will cause disease. We must take good care of ourselves :)