Avoiding Colds and the Flu

While there's no sure-fire way of protecting yourself against colds or the flu, or of cutting them short, there are a number of herbs and supplements that could be of some use, according to Amanda Ursell, a nutritionist with The Times of London. Washing your hands often, especially when near people with colds, and maintaining a strong immune system through good diet and exercise, may be the best ways of staving off infection, she says. Nonetheless, even the healthiest of people can be struck down.

Still, taking large doses of vitamin C could help shorten and reduce the severity of a sick spell, some experts say - although it probably won't prevent infection. Taking 500 mg three times a day might do the trick. Foods rich in vitamin C include peppers (240 mg for a small pepper), papaya (120 mg per two slices); citrus fruit (54 mg per orange), frozen berries (around 60 mg per large serving) and green leafy vegetables (60 mg per serving of spinach).

Garlic may be a good natural antibiotic. The allicin in garlic seems to help obstruct enzymes that viruses, bacteria and fungi use to enter and damage tissues. Cooking, however, restrains the action of allicin, so garlic must be eaten raw to help protect against colds. Echinacea is another herb that many naturopathic doctors swear by.

Some medical studies have shown a benefit in terms of mitigating colds, while others have not. But if you choose echinacea, the product should contain at least 3.5 percent of echinacosides, which are the herb's active biochemicals, and you should take 200 mg five times a day. You should, however, avoid taking echinacea for more than three weeks straight.

Ursell's personal cold-fighting favorite is Immune Tincture, which contains echinacea, goldenseal, olive leaf and cat's claw, and is made by the Organic Pharmacy. For more information click on www.theorganicpharmacy.com. At the first sign of a cold, she takes 15 drops in water three times a day.


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