This is the time of year that everyone is looking for a way to avoid getting sick! Those of us with young children or that travel by air know all too well – how annoying the common cold can be.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) states that the typical adult gets 2-3 colds per year, which leads to lots of sick days, sleepless nights, and stuffy noses.
Most of the work battling a cold happens long before the first sniffle even occurs. I tell my patients to make sure they get enough sleep, stay hydrated, eat a wide variety of whole foods, and practice some form of stress reducing activity such as mediation.
However, sometimes catching a cold still happens
What are the best supplements to take? This is a question I get asked a lot during the winter months.
While I believe there is nothing better than good old fashioned rest and bone broth to soothe (if not cure and prevent) a winter cold, what about supplements that claim to prevent colds or reduce the severity of your symptoms?
Do they really work?
Some do – but only when taken correctly…
In this article I look at four of the most popular cold fighting supplements and give you my advice on which to take, which to skip, and how to increase your chances of staying clear and cold-free all winter long.
One of my favorite cold fighting supplements is zinc. It’s the most tested and promising of the common cold supplements.
Zinc have been shown to reduce the severity and frequency of colds if taken by lozenge (not pills) and in the correct dosage of about 13 to 20 mg every three to four hours for up to one week.
Note: Zinc should not be taken for more than a week, or ingested in greater than the recommended doses – too much zinc can cause stomach aches. Plus, taking excessive zinc can reduce the absorption of copper, which can actually cause a cold!
Avoid zinc nasal sprays since they have been shown to affect your sense of smell.
Taking a good SBO Probiotic can be one of your best protections against colds. A balanced and healthy gut microbiome will regulate your immune system and therefore give you real protection to fight off infections, viruses and bacteria.
Probiotics with Soil Based Organisms (SBO) also exhibited promising results in treating and preventing colds. In one study, SBO probiotics taken over three months reduced the risk of catching a cold by 55-67% in healthy adults when compared with a placebo. Probiotics also cut symptoms, such as acute upper respiratory tract infections.
The brand of probiotic I use in my practice and in my household is Megaspore Probiotic. This pharmaceutical strength probiotic is only available from doctors. You can order a bottle here. After clicking “shop”, be sure to enter the following code for access: metabolic!
Many of echinacea’s chemical constituents are powerful immune system stimulants that can provide significant therapeutic value. Research shows that one of the most significant echinacea benefits is its effects when used on recurring infections. A 2012 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that echinacea showed maximal effects on recurrent infections, and preventive effects increased when participants used echinacea to prevent the common cold
I recommend using it in combination with probiotic and zinc.
Some people swear by mega-doses of vitamin C at the first sign of sickness. But does all this Vitamin C consumption help?
The answer is… maybe. When it comes to Vitamin C, if you aren’t deficient in Vitamin C, there isn’t much evidence that it can prevent a cold. With that said, many people with digestive issues are deficient, so have your vitamin levels checked.
There are some studies that show taking vitamin C can help decrease symptom severity, so it can’t hurt. But skip those packets of fructose filled powders that boast 1000 mg of vitamin C, and go with a pharmaceutical grade bioavailable source.
My recommendation is to get your vitamin C from high quality fruits and vegetables daily, and supplement with a pharmaceutical grade multivitamin containing vitamin C.
Oregano essential oil is known for its healing and immune-boosting properties. It fights infections naturally due to its antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasite compounds. A 2016 study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that the main compounds in oregano that are responsible for its antimicrobial activity include carvacrol and thymol.
Several scientific studies found that oregano oil exhibited antibacterial activity against a number of bacterial isolates and species, including B. laterosporus and S. saprophyticus.
A few drops in a small amount of water 3 times a day will work wonders for chasing away the common cold.
The berries and flowers of the elder plant have been used as medicine for thousands of years. Even Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” understood that this plant was key for how to boost your immune system. He used elderberry because of its wide array of health benefits, including its ability to fight colds, the flu, allergies and inflammation. Several studies indicate that elderberry has the power to boost the immune system, especially because it has proven to help treat the symptoms of the common cold and flu. Elderberry syrup is a great choice for children as well.
The Best Defense: Be Proactive about your health
There you have it, my professional opinion on some of the most popular supplements for preventing and treating the common cold.
While taking supplements can offer some relief, the best way to prevent nearly all illness is to be sure that your digestion, detoxification, neuroendocrine and immune systems are running well all year long.
In addition, eating a whole food diet, getting plenty of good quality sleep, and regular exercise can do wonders in keeping you happy and healthy all year long.
Studies confirm that those in better overall health have shorter and fewer winter illnesses.
Protect yourself and your family from colds and sickness by living a healthy lifestyle and addressing any chronic conditions. Symptoms such as digestive discomfort, heartburn, constipation, bloating and diarrhea, skin rashes or breakouts, fatigue, mood disorders such as depression, anxiety or anger, and the inability to lose weight can all be signs of an underlying health condition.
Want to transform your health? Whether you are looking to balance your hormones, boost your metabolism, dial in your digestion, ramp up your immunity, or all of the above, click the button below for free access to my 4 part video series- Natural Healing Made Simple – where I will share with you my 5 simple steps to heal your body naturally – so that you and your family can enjoy a cold and symptom free life.