Nature’s Pharmacy

“Season” in Florida is a time filled with a busy social calendar, more sporting events, and, for most, a revolving door of visitors who would like a break from winter temperatures. Increased activity combined with a sudden rise in population to our area also increases our likelihood of getting sick. Knowing this time of year comes with higher likelihood of illness, its prudent to think ahead and preventatively take action. We have access to many natural foods, herbs, and supplements that can be valuable allies in warding off sickness. Below are just a few:

Elderberry

This berry is purple and comes from the European elder tree. It’s usually consumed in pill or syrup form. It contains anthocyanins, a class of flavonoids, that bind to and prevent Human Influenza A (H1N1) . This little nugget was first reported back in 2009 in the Journal of Phytochemistry . The study compared the flavonoids found in elderberry to be just as effective as Tamiflu in combating H1N1 strain of flu.

Zinc

People are frequently deficient in this trace mineral, but it is crucial to maintain a strong immune system. Signs you may be low in zinc is a weakened immune system, decreased smell or taste, or leukonychia (white spots on your fingernails), Of note, some medications and genetics may also lower your zinc levels. This mineral is important to take with a meal and limit to less than 40-50 mg per day, unless directed otherwise by your physician. 

Vitamin C

This is one of my all-time favorites for boosting the immune system. Most health-conscious people take 1-2 grams of vitamin C daily as a preventive. During times of increased susceptibility, you may consider doubling your dose. For acute symptoms of runny nose or wet cough, I often suggest a vitamin C push. This regimen begins with 500 mg of vitamin C per hour until a laxative effect is reached, noting the amount taken to achieve tolerance, then taking 500 mg every two hours until symptoms improve. Incidentally this is also a good test of the quality of the vitamin C purchased. Most individuals will experience a laxative effect with 4-8grams in a day. 

Echinacea/Astragalus

I combined these two herbs as they are commonly in formulas together for immune support. Astragalus, in particular, may not be as well known but it has been written about in Phytotherapy Research journal. It has more than 100 compounds that can be useful in diabetes, as a liver protectant, diuretic management, as well as an expectorant. 

Ginger and Garlic

Other helpful natural remedies that we probably already have in stock in the pantry or refrigerator are ginger and garlic. This power packed duo has been used for years but somehow we overlook the fact that food can be used as medicine. Ginger root can be chopped and brewed in tea. It’s a great addition to a homemade green drink to add flavor without sugar.  The use of ginger for alleviating symptoms of nausea and vomiting have long been established. Research groups are focusing on the cancer-preventive and therapeutic applications of ginger’s components.

Garlic contains a compound that was found to be 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics used to treat intestinal infections. This research was published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.  

The key to getting the full benefit of these natural remedies is to think ahead and be proactive and not reactive. Many of these can be started a week or two prior to exposure to help assist the body in mounting it’s best defense. 

 

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