Colds & Flu

Colds & Flu

With cold weather knocking on the door, many people are concerned about falling victim to colds and flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the flu. There is, however, still contoversy among some concerning the effectiveness and possible side effects of vaccines. Learn more about vaccines from the CDC, and consider ways to naturally boost your immunity this season.
Wash Your Hands 
Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs and disposable wipes. The CDC reminds you to use the following five steps when handwashing to ensure you’ve removed the maximum amount of germs; they are Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse and Dry. Avoid turning off the faucet with your clean hands, but rather use a paper towel to turn it off and to also open the door on the way out.
Tea
Green and black teas have been studied for their effects on the cardiovascular system and cancer. A recent Harvard study looked at tea’s role in boosting the immunity system. Participants who drank five cups of black tea a day for 2 to 4 weeks increased their levels of interferon, an important immune defense hormone—up to 4 times normal levels. Drinking the same amount of coffee for 12 weeks produced no such effects. The researchers suggest that the key was in Ltheanine, a substance in tea that increases immune response in fighting bacteria, infection, viruses and fungi. Excessive doses may cause insomnia, headache, dizziness, and diarrhea.
Vitamin C
The role of vitamin C in the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections has been widely researched. Some studies suggest that vitamin C can affect the duration or severity of symptoms. Others have shown no effect on the symptoms, but suggested that vitamin C can reduce susceptibility to colds. A recent study compared 29 clinical trials in which participants received 200 mg or more of vitamin C daily. The researchers found that vitamin C prevented flu or colds in people who were exposed to “brief periods of severe physical exercise and/or cold environments.” In those who regularly take vitamin C, they concluded that vitamin C plays some role in their defense mechanisms, helping them to recover from their colds faster and reducing the severity of symptoms. People with kidney disease should not use vitamin C.
Echinacea
Some clinicians recommend echinacea. Research on the plant, however, has produced conflicting results. A recent study that focused on 3 preparations from echinacea root found no clinically significant effects on the common cold. The critics of the study believe, however, that the dose of 900 mg per day was too low. Echinacea treatment may lead to minor and uncommon abdominal upset, nausea and dizziness. It may be contraindicated in people with autoimmune conditions or HIV.
Zinc Lozenges
Zinc lozenges are another home remedy for fighting winter viruses. Although research on this remedy is conflicting, a recent study on zinc gluconate glycine lozenges in school-aged children showed shorter cold duration and fewer colds with the therapy. Zinc lozenges, however, come in different formulations, and more research is needed to assess their effectiveness. In addition, long-term use of zinc lozenges may lead to problems, including impairing the body’s immune responses. Excessive zinc in the diet can lead to copper deficiency and may also decrease the levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the blood.
Additional Remedies
Research indicates that chronic stress may substantially increase the risk of catching cold and stress management reduces the duration of flu and colds.In a 2011 study, exposure to a recent major stressful life event was associated with an increased risk for developing a cold following exposure to rhinovirus. Acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments may assist in relieving stress. Exercise is very effective in promoting a positive attitude and in turn, reducing stress.
source; ACAToday Healthy Living Fact Sheets

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