Natural Remedies for Colds and Flu

Integrative Clinical Pharmacist Scott Berliner, RPh

Many of the new herbal products that are coming to the market are based on centuries of anecdotal information that has been handed down from generation to generation.

We have documentation on the use of Sambucus nigra (the Latin name for black elderberry) dating back to the 5th century BCE and the writings of Hippocrates. Elderberry has gained popularity for its possible effect in limiting certain viruses including the flu.

New Chapter, the maker of “Immunity Take Care” has developed technology to insure that the extract in these blueberry-flavored lozenges is exactly the same from one dose to the next. In addition to standardizing the dose, they have also developed processing techniques to maximize all the constituents of the original herb. This process maintains more than 1000 constituents of the elderberry where as other products only maintain about 150 constituents. This process insures that you get maximum strength in minimal doses so for prevention we use one lozenge a day and for more protection or an active infection, we increase this to one lozenge twice a day.

Studies done at the Immunology Laboratory for Tumour Diagnosis, Department of Oncology, Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel showed that the extracts from the black elderberry can reduce the duration of at least 10 different strains of the influenza virus to three or four days. They concluded that this extract not only has antiviral properties but can also improve the innate immune system by increasing the expression of inflammatory messengers that help the immune system respond to different onslaught. The investigators reported that this extract might have a protective effect in HIV and cancers. Immunity Take Care was not the studied product, but the concentration of this product should exceed the research. For those at higher risk it is reasonable to take Immunity Take Care throughout the cold and flu season as a preventative. New Chapter’s research indicates that one a day is adequate.

Another herbal extract that has been used for many centuries is Andrographis paniculata. This extract from a medicinal plant commonly used in Southeast Asia has been studied for many different uses including cancer, malaria, and a whole host of bacterial and viral infections. The active components of the herb are called andrographolides. At the Center for Integrative Medicine we carefully select the products that we use based on science. The science for this plant indicates that the higher concentrations of these andrographolides produce the best benefit. For this reason we have chosen Kold Kare that contains 300mg of the Andrographis paniculata leaf extract standardized to 4% andrographolides.

One study indicated that by inhibiting NF-Kappa Beta this herb may reduce the symptoms of allergic asthma. Another study indicated a positive effect on the virus that causes Epstein Barre illness. Studies in India indicated broad activity on both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.

Another study, done at the Continuum Center for Health and Healing in New York and published in “Explore” showed promise for the use of this herbal extract for upper respiratory infections. It is truly a wonderful example of what nature has to offer in terms of natural healing. If we can reduce the impact of these common sinus and respiratory infections without resorting to antibiotics, steroids or other toxic alternatives, the risks of antibiotic resistance and other drug reactions can be greatly reduced. The incidence of adverse reactions to Andrographis is infrequent and not severe.

In people over the age of 12, Kold Kare has been found to reduce the symptoms of cold, flu and some cases of sinusitis. At the first sign of these issues the dose is one tablet, 4 times a day for a short duration; for sinus relief take two tablets a day. All doses should be taken with a full glass of water and may be taken with food.

As with any vitamin, herb or supplement, consult your physician before taking anything if you are pregnant, breast feeding or taking prescription medications.