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Treating and preventing colds and flu


September 20, 2017 | View PDF

Now that the holidays are approaching, accompanied with the additional joy (& stress) of them, it isn't difficult to become a little overwhelmed. Overwhelming your immune system however often leads to a cold or flu, which takes away from the whole holiday experience. Why not support yourself during the holidays, and prevent getting a cold or flu? If you do happen to get sick, there are ways to treat it naturally. Enjoy this month's article on preventing & treating colds & flu.

On Treatment: We've all experienced a cold or flu, and doesn't it seem like it's usually at the most inopportune time? Cough, runny nose, sore throat, aches and pains, feeling cold, then hot, and just being plain miserable are common. Most people take a week or longer to recover, but with natural medicine, you can often do better.

"Boosting" your immunity helps fight off the infection, and prevent it from progressing. This can be accomplished by using plant medicines such as Glycyrrhiza (licorice), Allium (garlic), Thymus (thyme), Sambucus (elder), Echinacea or Mentha (mint). Less commonly known natural medicines, helpful in modulating a person's immune system, are Lomatium, Berberis, and Astragalus, as well as multiple mushroom extracts. Therapeutic nutrition can also support your immune system. For example, studies show that vitamin C can reduce the severity and duration of the common cold; while vitamin A and Zinc can either activate the immune system, or are critical for its healthy function. Personally, I rarely get a cold, but if I do, licorice and vitamin A, at therapeutic levels, solve it within 24 hours. If all else fails, a nice intravenous injection of vitamin C can do the trick. Please note that not all these ideas are appropriate for all persons; so you should always talk to your naturopathic doctor before taking any plant medicines, or using therapeutic nutrition.

On prevention: We've all heard of the value of hand-washing, immunization in certain populations, staying home when sick and making sure to sneeze/cough in our arms to avoid exposing others. However strengthening your immune system and improving your overall health is essential to help you avoid infection. By strengthening your immunity, you get sick less often, with less severity, and recover faster if you do get sick. This can be done by identifying what (in your life) is placing your body, (and mind,) under stress. After all, stress doesn't just cause heart attacks, ulcers, headaches, anxiety, insomnia or depression, but also increases your susceptibility to infection, by suppressing immune function. Before you say "Dr. P, I have little stress," keep in mind that stressors can include: nutritional deficiencies, food sensitivities, relationship problems at work, home or school, alcohol/ tobacco use, excess use of caffeine, high carbohydrate intake, heart, kidney, or liver disease, prescription or over-the-counter medication use, exposure to sick people, chemical toxins in food and air, or allergies - just to name a few. Chances are, you have some stressors you aren't consciously aware of. Discovering them and address them is how you can achieve optimal health instead of just average health

By maximizing your body systems, your overall health and avoiding or managing stress better, you achieve a level of vitality where it becomes difficult to get a cold or flu. Get started on your own, by keeping your body moving, getting some fresh air daily, remembering to drink adequate water, chewing your food thoroughly, avoiding junk foods, and selecting ones that are naturally colorful. Then, talk to your naturopathic doctor to learn about other steps right for you. On the right plan, you too can prevent or overcome a cold or flu faster. Have a great month.

Dr. Kasra Pournadeali is Director at the Northwest Center for Optimal Health in Marysville. He has been a health care provider for nearly 30 years. Find out more at or, or by calling 360-651-WELL.


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