Support and Preparation for the Flu and other Viral and Respiratory Infections

We’re currently in the midst of sickness season: colds, the flu, and, unless you’ve been living in a news/internet free bubble, viruses. In other words, viruses have gone viral. While we never intend to incite fear, we do advocate taking deep breaths and smart preventative measures. Whether you suspect Coronavirus (COVID-19) or the much more common flu (also a viral infection), stay calm and consult your doctor if you’re able. We can all take measures to prevent illness, but they’re never guaranteed. Below, we’ve compiled a few preventative tips, as well as supplements and herbal support for treating the symptoms of viral infections, including respiratory issues. 

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Preventative measures and herbal support

Firstly, it’s important to take precautionary measures that you ought to be taking regardless of whether there is a global panic or new disease circulating the planet. First things first, wash your hands! Why is this so important? Well, new studies point to how washing your hands and having good personal hygiene is a highly effective way of slowing the spread of viruses. Unfortunately, many antibacterial hand gels and sprays are just that: antibacterial. While useful, they won’t kill the nasty stuff we want gone in order to stop the spread of flu and other viral infections. These exciting studies were conducted around airports, and found that “if 60% rather than 20% of air travelers maintained clean hands, it could slow down the spread of infections by almost 70%” Those aren’t numbers to scoff at, so wash your hands

Washing your hands well is the secret to this practice. Use soap, NOT just water and spend at least 20 seconds scrubbing before rinsing and drying your hands. It’s tempting to want to quickly rinse your hands and get on with your day, we get it. Use this as an opportunity to practice some mindfulness and slow down. 

In terms of effective sanitizers, we carry several. In addition to following basic hygienic measures, try a Thymol based sanitizer, such as Seventh Generation Wipes and disinfecting sprays, which are excellent portable ways to clean surfaces, including doorknobs, shopping carts, and other places ripe for spreading infection. Thymol based sanitizers are one of the few shown to be effective against H1N1, a virus in the same family as the Coronavirus. If you work in an office or any shared space, these are great to have on hand. We also currently (but it changes minute to minute) have hand sanitizers with a minimum of 60% alcohol as recommended by the CDC along with essential oils like tea tree, which are powerful on their own.

Herbal viral support

Many take a laissez-faire approach to viral illnesses, assuming that because antibiotics don’t help and there’s nothing you can do. It’s also easy to forget that many of our greatest, most effective remedies are found in nature. 

There are many ways to strengthen your immune system and also promote the body’s ability to fight viral infections. One of these is Agarikon, a rare mushroom that is excellent as an anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral option that has been in use for millennia. In fact, the famed ancient Greek physician Dioscorides who wrote the Materia Medica (a preeminent herbal medical manual for thousands of years) referred to it as “the elixir of long life.” in 65 A.D. in Materia Medica. Since ancient times, Agarikon has been used to treat “respiratory illnesses, night sweats, and consumption — later termed tuberculosis.” We carry Agarikon capsules, as well as Mycommunity capsules and Mycoshield spray which include Agarikon. 

Respiratory support

Another option we carry for viral and respiratory support is Umcka (Umckaloabo), which comes from the root of the South African Geranium. Studies and NHS Evidence show that the Umckaloabo herbal remedy effectively treats acute respiratory infections. The studies found “that Umckaloabo was effective in relieving all symptoms in adults with acute bronchitis and in particular with cough and sputum production. A third study showed that it was only effective for treating sputum production. The final word with these studies is that the Umcka herbal preparation may be effective in relieving symptoms in acute bronchitis in adults and children, and sinusitis in adults.”

Elderberry has also been shown to ease viral and respiratory symptoms. Elderberry is also an all-around great option for supporting the body through illness as it contains flavonoids and many vitamins that support the body and promote antiviral activity.  Another great option for fighting any upper respiratory infection is Andrographis, commonly known as kalmegh (meaning ‘king of bitters’). Andrographis’ powers have been attributed to its andrographolide, flavonoids, and other powerful phytochemical constituents that give it antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and other powers. Finally, behold our good friends Probiotics, which never cease to amaze us in their ability to support the human body. Did you know that probiotics have also been shown to support the respiratory system? Yet another reason to try one of the many brands we carry

In the 1918 flu pandemic, it was found that lomatium was helpful for treating pneumonia. We carry it in tincture form.

Flu and immune support

Other ways to strengthen the immune system include Vitamin D3, which has been proven to boost the immune system and effectively reduce your chances of getting the flu. This major global study shows how those with low Vitamin D are far more susceptible to respiratory infections. Get your vitamin D, folks!

Oregano oil is another great ally for the season. It contains carvacrol, which has shown anti-disease potential in preclinical trials. Oregano oil’s antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anticancer properties have been documented by researchers.

Another excellent all-around immune booster for both this harrowing season and your day to day is Vitamin C. We carry it in many forms and supplements. Vitamin C has been shown over and over to help boost immunity, click here to read about a compelling study.

And of course, zinc lozenges are the supplement of the hour. For the common cold, zinc lozenges — 4 mg to 23 mg daily — are supposed to be started within 48 hours of the onset. Always take zinc on a full stomach or you will most likely experience stomach distress.  If you take more than 30mg a day of zinc make sure your multi has copper in it so that it does not get thrown out of balance. We currently have zinc lozenges (changing by the minute), but have just been told by several of our distributors that they will be out of stock through April 2020.

NAC, an amino acid that is often taken for support during colds or allergy season for its help with mucus has some great research for helping with the cytokine storm in influenza. Here’s a quote that’s fascinating: “As reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a central role in inflammatory responses and viral replication, antioxidants that exert antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects may also be effective for the treatment of cytokine storm induced by severe influenza.38 N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a modified form of the amino acid cysteine, was shown to inhibit both H5N1 replication and H5N1-induced production of pro-inflammatory molecules (e.g., IL6, CCL5, CXCL8, and CXCL10) in lung epithelial cells.”  

We hope this has been helpful and that you readers and your families all stay healthy! As always, we’re here to discuss whatever you concerns you may have. Come see us at Rebecca’s for your natural viral support needs!