December is here and it’s officially time to beat cold and flu season! With the drop in temperature outside, many patients are coming in to see me with a nasty cold or flu. It helps to know the difference between a cold and flu. Both are predominately caused by a virus. A cold is usually less severe and lasts about 5 days. Influenza (the flu) is usually more severe in symptoms, causes that dreaded body “ache” and lasts about 10 days.
The best way to beat cold and flu season & prevent either a cold or flu is to avoid catching the nasty virus in the first place. This means wash your hands throughout the day! Avoid touching surfaces where the nasty critters can live for up to 3 days (like doorknobs). I always wear cotton gloves when I’m outside to avoid touching surfaces. Also avoid touching your face, as your nose and mouth are the primary entry points for these viruses.
Natural supplements also work great to boost your immune system. My favourites are:
- Vitamin D – There is so much on-going research on the immune boosting benefits of Vitamin D. We mostly get this nutrient (technically a hormone) from the sun. Living in Vancouver in the winter months, we don’t get that much sunshine so we are at a higher risk for Vitamin D deficiency. So a good Vitamin D supplement can help boost your immune system and provide anti-cancer benefits. The list of the benefits of Vitamin D is long. I always suggest this nutrient to my patients both in summer and winter months. During the winter, 2000 IU (up to 4000 IU) per day is a good dosage.
- Vitamin C – 1000-2000 mg a day is great for prevention. Not the chewable orange candy flavored vitamin C which also contains sugar. I am talking about pure ascorbic acid vitamin C. If you are already sick, Vitamin C can shorten the time you are sick by 1-2 days. Trust me, 1 day means a lot when you are sick in bed! Vitamin C is also a great anti-histamine to dry up a runny nose.
- Oregano Oil – is a great antibacterial oil
- Astragalus – One of my favorite Chinese plants to boost your immune system daily.
- IV’s available at Vitalia Health Care – Lastly I get a Vitamin C IV every week at Vitalia Health Care to really kick start my immune system.
Keep healthy this cold and flu season!
Dr. Tasreen Alibhai, ND