WINTER: Colds, flu, coughs and sniffles! There’s help at New Leaf 3348 6098

Focus On: Issue 3 2016

Winter is typically the season of colds, flu, coughs and sniffles, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article, we shall discuss how to avoid and ameliorate the acute respiratory infections characteristic of this time of year.

Build Your Defences

If there is such a thing as an “immunity nutrient”, then it has to be zinc. Zinc levels are tightly regulated and when this mechanism is disturbed, zinc availability is reduced, leading to immune impairment.4 Zinc deficiency affects the survival, proliferation and maturation of all cells involved in both innate and adaptive immunity (monocytes, neutrophils, natural killer-, T-, and B-cells).T cell functions, and the balance between the different T helper cell subsets, are particularly susceptible to changes in zinc status. Even slight deficiency causes polarization of immunity to pro-atopic Th2 dominance, with loss of antiviral defence.6 Zinc with Vitamin C Powder provides therapeutic levels of zinc with additional nutrients such as vitamin C and betacarotene, for the ultimate nutritional combination for prophylactic and acute immune support.

Feverish Counterattack

Fever is the first part of the body’s counterattack. As soon as an infection is detected, cytokines are generated which trigger the liver to commence the acute phase response (APR), part of which involves the production of acute phase proteins (APPs) that prepare the body for defence. Although nonspecific, the APR is central to the innate immune response, helping to prevent infection, clear potential pathogens, initiate inflammatory processes, and contribute to resolution and the healing process.

One of the defences activated by the APR is the generation of heat to raise body temperature, i.e., fever. The increased body temperature impairs invader metabolism, such as viral replication, and up-regulates host metabolism.7

Blocking fever and the APR with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) interferes with antigen processing and may impair development of full immunity to that invader.8 You can, however, encourage the body to process the invader quicker. Herbs that do this are called febrifuges or antipyretics, and one of the most useful is elder (Sambucus nigra). The ability to resolve fever suggests a capacity to resolve the cause of the fever, i.e., the viral invader itself; and indeed, elderberry has been found to be potently antiviral.9

From a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) point of view, bitters such as Andrographis paniculata and Picrorrhiza kurroa, as featured in NK Cell Regulation, are ‘cooling’, and in fact they have been shown to be antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and have been traditionally used to reduce fevers.10, 11, 12 These herbs are intensely bitter and are commonly used for liver and digestive complaints, but are also very effective for virally-driven upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). 13, 14 There may be a connection here, in that the liver is the organ that orchestrates the APR. Elder, andrographis, picrorrhiza and zinc may all be found in NK Cell Regulation to enhance patients’ immunity and reduce the severity and duration of upper respiratory infections.

Regain Your Strength

The APR and associated immune mechanisms use a lot of energy – with the white blood cells busily patrolling, each requiring the energy to do so. Research has shown co-enzyme Q10 may potentially be useful in fuelling immune responses. 15

Further bolstering of the immune system may be garnered from the use of Cordyceps, Coriolus and Reishi for Immune Stimulation, which features oriental medicinal mushrooms such as Cordyceps sinensis, used in TCM for strengthening the immune system and to manage respiratory disorders. Ganoderma lucidum (reishi) has been used to enhance immune activity in people who suffer from frequent or chronic infections. 16 Lentinula edodes (shiitake) can boost resistance and protection against respiratory viral infections such as influenza, probably via induction of interferon. 17

Don’t let your patients succumb to the misery of coughs and colds this winter. Following the simple steps detailed here will support your patients’ immune defences against infection, promote their immune response, and rebuild their immunity after infection. Bring on the winds of winter – we’re ready for them!

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