Colds and Flu
Colds and influenza
are a major concern for health care professionals, especially when dealing with
the young, elderly, and immunocompromised individuals. The elderly in
particular can suffer serious consequences from the flu, a leading cause of
death in the elderly. Americans spend over one billion dollars annually on
nonprescription treatments for coughs and colds, including antipyretics,
antihistamines, cough preparations, and decongestants in various combinations.
Although these agents may help the symptoms of colds and flu to subside
gradually, they do not address the underlying condition, including immune and
nutrition status. Also, many of the agents used conventionally for colds and
flu may cause unwanted side effects such as insomnia, hyper-excitability, dry
mouth, constipation, drowsiness, or interact with prescription medications.
There are several reasons for the recommendation of natural therapeutic agents
as the first line of defense or as a complement to drug therapy.
These reasons include:
- Pre-existing conditions or medications may preclude
traditional OTC therapy;
- Occupation may eliminate the choice of
antihistamines or decongestants (pilot, truck driver);
- The patient may request a natural product due to
- Flu vaccination may not provide adequate immune
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The common cold, also
known as upper respiratory infection (URI), is an acute, self-limiting illness
caused by a virus. The enveloped viruses may survive for long periods of time
outside a host. With the rhinovirus, the home is the primary site for viral transmission.
Mechanisms of transmission of colds and influenza include aerosolization of
virus-laden respiratory secretions and direct mucous membrane contact with
viruses from contaminated hands, other skin surfaces, and even furniture. Touching
the eyes and nose with contaminated hands will increase transmission rates.
is an acute febrile respiratory illness that occurs in annual outbreaks of
varying severity. The causative virus infects the respiratory tract and is
highly contagious, producing systemic symptoms early in the illness. Influenza
viruses belong to the family Orthomyxoviridae and are divided
into three types (Types A, B, and C), which are distinguished by the
antigenicity of the internal and external proteins of the virus. Type C
infection usually causes either a very mild respiratory illness or no symptoms
at all; it does not cause epidemics and does not have the severe public health
impact that influenza types A and B do. Efforts to control the impact of
influenza are aimed at types A and B. Influenza viruses continually change over
time, usually by mutation. This constant changing enables the virus to evade
the immune system of its host, so that people are susceptible to influenza
virus infection throughout life. Influenza is very contagious and is spread by
contact with an infected person. A person is contagious from about two days
before symptoms occur until about the fifth day of the illness.
Novel H1N1 flu
(referred to as "swine flu") is a new influenza virus causing illness
in people. This new virus was first detected in the United States in April
No methods have been
developed to effectively prevent colds and influenza to date. Vaccines are not
likely to be effective in preventing the common cold, due to the large number
of immuno-types and the lack of solid immunity to re-infection with the other
viruses. Treatment of colds and influenza is largely symptomatic, with
antibiotics not recommended for use in the therapy of uncomplicated colds and
influenza due to the viral nature of the disease.
A recent resurgence in
the use of nutritional supplements including herbs, vitamins, minerals, and
homeopathic medicines has provided new options for the support of cold and flu
symptoms as well as for prevention. These agents may not prevent a cold, but
may result in less severe symptoms and a decreased need for nonprescription or
prescription medications. The purpose of herbs and nutritional agents are to
improve host defenses before and during viral invasion. By improving immune
functionality and host integrity, the individual stands a better chance of
fighting off the infection, or at the very least reducing the severity of
symptoms associated with a cold or the flu.
The top 7 vitamins and supplements have shown to
help Colds and Flu:
The Prescription for Natural
Cures by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.M.D.
Symptoms of colds may include rhinorrhea, sneezing, nasal stuffiness, throat clearing, postnasal drip, cough, and nasal obstruction. A sore throat and/or cough may also be present. Other symptoms may include coryza, pharyngitis, laryngitis, headache, malaise, and fever, usually in various combinations. Ear and sinus problems are often present as well, but these symptoms are usually caused by mucosal edema, which impairs drainage.
Postulated that the unwanted symptoms of colds (i.e. rhinitis) are produced by a viral cytopathic effect that destroys the nasal mucosa. In one study, rhinovirus and coronavirus were found not to be destructive of nasal epithelium in vitro.
Influenza virus can produce clinical syndromes, such as the common cold, pharyngitis, tracheobronchitis, and pneumonia. Symptoms of influenza include chills, fever, headache, muscular aches/pains, malaise and fatigue, and lack of appetite.
- Nasal stuffiness
- Throat clearing
- Postnasal drip
- Nasal obstruction
- Sore throat
- Ear and sinus problems
- Muscular aches/pains
- Lack of appetite
- Drink at least 6-8 glasses of
quality water daily.
- Take in clear broth and soups.
- Try to eat more nutrient rich
foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
Foods to Avoid
- Avoid refined sugars.
- Reduce sugar intake.
Vaccination - According to the CDC, the influenza vaccine has been
shown to reduce hospitalization by about 70 percent and death by about 85
percent in the non-institutionalized elderly. About 5-10 percent may experience
mild side effects, such as headache or low-grade fever for a short period of
time. For some elderly, the vaccine does not provide adequate protection, and
therefore, are still at risk and should consider taking additional steps to be
prepared for flu season.
Some of the following
laboratory testing can provide information necessary for diagnosis and treatment.
In addition, the tests listed may also give insight to functional metabolism
and functional nutrient status in the body.
can contribute to impaired resistance to infection. Stress activates the HPA
axis and has impact on the immune system, particularly through the adrenal
hormones. In assessing the HPA axis, adrenal functional abnormalities are
relatively simple to identify and address (e.g., when compared to hypothalamic
dysregulation or pituitary imbalance).
Low thyroid function
can result in poor resistance to infections. Assessment of thyroid hormone
production, peripheral hormone conversion, cellular sensitivity response,
thyroid hormone antibody activity, and hormone feedback response mechanisms can
provide critical information for intervention with a goal of optimal function.
Organic acids analysis
is a useful method for measurement of biochemical intermediates in urine. These
intermediates can offer information about key enzyme functions and nutrient
competence (amino acids, nutrient cofactors, minerals, and fatty acids). A
subset of organic acids, the dysbiosis markers, may provide useful information
regarding gastrointestinal pathogens that can contribute to immune compromise.
Plasma or salivary
cortisol measurements can be used as a marker in the evaluation of stress
syndromes that may relate to increased susceptibility to infections.
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statements have been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose,
treat, cure or prevent any disease. As always, consult your physician before
taking any and all supplements. LifeSource Vitamins. Individual results may
Disclaimer: All the
information contained throughout this website is based upon the opinion of the
founder of LifeSource Vitamins, Bruce Brightman, and the entire team at
LifeSource Vitamins whose relentless research and studies have been ongoing
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the authors, who retain the copyright as marked in the article. The information
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