Skip to main content

Cold and flu herbs banner  509904520

The Power of Herbs

The weather is freezing and your snuggling up to keep warm and take comfort. Unfortunately, along with the cold weather comes coughing and sneezing and the risk of getting the cold or flu! The good news: there’s lots you can do to reduce the risk of getting sick, including eating a colorful diet packed with fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices to boost the immune system.

The viruses that cause cold and flu symptoms, technically respiratory infections, reliably spring to life between November and March in the Northern Hemisphere – with most adults averaging between 2-4 colds per year.

Cold and flu viruses thrive when temperatures plunge. Research suggests that these viruses are most virulent at temperatures near 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder and do not transmit at all at temperatures around 85 degrees. 1 Viruses contain an outer lipid membrane, which is fortified by cold weather, forming a rubbery gel-like consistency that enables the virus to survive longer outside a host. Once the virus enters the respiratory tract, the outer membrane melts, and the virus is able to infect host cells and replicate. In warmer temperatures, the membrane is more likely to have a liquidy consistency, effectively weakening the virus so that it loses the ability to spread readily between hosts.2

Luckily, there are a number of ways to reduce the risk for the common cold and flu, not to mention strategies to shorten the duration and lessen the severity of any cold or flu that does set in. Lifestyle strategies that can help keep the immune system robust and resilient include:

  • Eating a healthy diet that includes a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices to help boost the immune system
  • Getting adequate sleep – make sure its uninterrupted sleep so you can hit those REM cycles
  • Manage stress
  • Maintain healthy levels of vitamin D
  • Wash your hands often
  • Supplement with appropriate vitamins, herbs and other medicinal plants

Aside from maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle (and following practical advice) to stay healthy during the winter months, herbs, vitamins and other medicinal plants offer an enormous opportunity to fortify one’s health and bounce back quickly if exposed to nasty cold and flu viruses.

There are endless botanical possibilities, but the following is a “Master List” of natural remedies to be familiar with and keep handy during winter months. As always, you should consult a physician before adding any new supplements to your daily routine.

Andrographis

Andrographis paniculata (or the “King of bitters”) is considered among the most popular medicinal plant and is central to traditional medicine throughout Asia. It is most commonly used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine for cough, cold, flu, respiratory infections and other types of infections. 3,4 Andgrographis is consider having “cooling” activity, often used to rid the body of “excess heat”, including fevers. It also has anti-bacterial properties, and its many bioactive phytonutrients have been shown to have significant anti-viral activity against influenza A and other viruses. Using Andrographis may shorten the duration of cough, sore throat and sick time when compared to usual care. 6,7,9

Echinacea

Echinacea is a native plant to North America and is among the mosechinacea 205994686t commonly used herbs in the prevention and acute treatment of colds. The immune supportive effects of both Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea are well documented, and many clinical studies have found that echinacea extract shortens the duration and severity of both viral and bacterial colds and upper respiratory infections. Its extracts have also been found to reduce symptoms of sore throat, cough, pharyngitis and running nose. 10 Echinacea may also be useful against chronic fatigue syndrome, candida albicans, herpes, urinary and pelvic infections. 17

Elderberry

Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) extract is well known to be supportive against the common cold and symptoms of the flu. In fact, before the advent of antibiotics, herbalist, physicians and pharmacists often used elderberry in many medicinal preparations. Elderberry extract has been found to be helpful in addressing symptoms of the common cold and flu viruses, as well as in herpes virus infections. Elderberry extract has been found to be effective against bacteria that typically cause upper respiratory infections, as well as inhibits the propagation of human influenza virus.18

Fermentation Metabolites (Whole Food Fermentate)
Whole food fermentate derived from yeast is among the newest compounds being investigated for benefits against cold and flu symptoms, with promising results. This novel compound is a powder composed of heat-inactivated Saccharomyces cerevisae along with its fermentation broth. It contains a high concentration of metabolites and free radical-scavenging compounds that support healthy immune function. FM’s have been found to modulate the immune response and has demonstrated clinical benefits in reducing the incidence and duration of cold and flu symptoms, while also reducing seasonal allergies related to pollen.


Goldenseal
Hydrastis canadensis, or goldenseal, is an herb native to North America. Historically, Native Americans used goldenseal for skin disorders, ulcers, and fevers, and its use as a medicinal plant was later adopted by European settlers. Often combined with Echinacea, goldenseal is most often used as a remedy for viral and bacterial infections, symptoms of cold and flu, respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, and hay fever.21 Goldenseal extracts, high in the alkaloid berberine, has been found to inhibit the growth of viruses such as H1N1 influenza A strains in vitro.22,23

Garlic
garlic  282081980Garlic has long been a home remedy for many maladies, including minor viral infections. Garlic contains many compounds that may help enhance immune cell function and has been found to influence innate immune cell activity, including NK cell, which may account for its potential to reduce the severity of colds and flu.

Medicinal Mushrooms
Medicinal mushrooms offer important immune-modulating benefits that have been attributed to beta-glucans and polysaccharide-protein complexes. These compounds act as “biological response modifiers” that can stimulate both the innate and adaptive immune systems.27,28 Mushroom beta-glucans may also increase immune defenses through the activation of T-cells, NK cells, macrophages, and antibody production.29,30 Two important mushrooms that may help the body better deal with cold and flu season include maitake and turkey tail mushrooms:

Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) have been found to have anti-viral activity, and support lymphocyte and NK cell activity.31

Turkey tail mushrooms (Coriolus versicolor), contain potent 1296x728 Maitake Mushroomantioxidants that support immune function. Two types of polysaccharide-protein complexes found in turkey tail mushrooms – krestin and polysaccharide peptide – promote healthy immune response by both activating some and inhibiting other types of immune cells, thereby balancing inflammation.32

Oregano
The popular herb oregano, Origanum vulgare, has traditionally been used as medicine for oreganosymptoms as varied as cold, and cough, and digestive disorders. Typically used in integrative and functional medicine for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties, oregano is also known for its powerful antioxidant and antiviral activities. High in volatile oils that contribute to the aroma and flavor of oregano, this herb may offer many activities that make it a potent herb for immune support during cold and flu season.33



Thuja
Thuja occidentalis, commonly known as white cedar, is indigenous to North American and was originally used by Native Americans as a remedy for scurvy related weakness. In folk medicine, thuja has been used to treat a wide variety of maladies, from inflammation of the throat and nasal passages to psoriasis. Thuja has demonstrated antiviral action and often combined with echinacea and other immune supportive herbs for addressing acute and chronic upper respiratory tract infections. It can also be combined with antibiotics for more severe infections including bronchitis, pharyngitis and sinusitis. It’s recommended that thuja be taken at the first sign of a cold to be most effective. 34

Thyme
Thymus vulgaris, commonly known as thyme, is a culinary and medicinal plant native to thyme 231623527Mediterranean regions. It’s known for its antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory actions, and has a long history of use in respiratory conditions as an antispasmodic, expectorant, mucolytic, and antitussive.35,36 Thyme essential oils have strong antibacterial effects, which are attributed to high levels of the phenol thymol, and significant anti-inflammatory properties.37,38 It has also been found to reduce mucin secretion in normal human bronchial and tracheal epithelial tissue. As a result, thyme extract may be an effective treatment against chronic pulmonary inflammatory processes that involve the hypersecretion of mucus.39

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a nutrient that has been shown to effectively support the immune system in a number of ways. Its role as a free radical scavenger also helps to balance the inflammatory effects of immune system activation and protects against oxidative stress. Studies show that regular supplementation of 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day may reduce the duration and severity of colds in adults and children. Athletes may receive an added benefit from vitamin C supplementation when it comes to preventing colds. Study subjects who participated in rigorous exercise, such as marathon running and skiing, cut their risk for the common cold in half with 600 to 1000 mg of vitamin C per day. Some studies suggest that combining vitamin C with zinc may offer additional benefit.40

Vitamin D
In the last decade, vitamin D has been established as a critical nutrient related to immune health. Taking vitamin D supplements and maintaining adequate levels may reduce the risk for contracting seasonal colds, flu and upper respiratory infections. While dosing for prevention appears to range between 400 IU to 2,000 IU daily, some epidemiological studies have suggested 4,000 IU per day of vitamin D significantly increases the likelihood of staying infection-free. Vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter months has been found to reduce the risk of influenza A and may enhance innate immunity, especially in children, at daily doses of 1,200 IU.


Zinc
Adequate zinc supports the physical barriers that make up the body’s first line of defense against viruses that cause colds and flu, including mucus secretions and mucosal membrane integrity. Unbound zinc ions interfere with rhinovirus replication, offering another line of defense. Zinc supplementation increases aspects of the innate immune system, increasing the cellular activity of macrophages, neutrophils, and NK cells. Zinc supplementation has been found to reduce the risk for pneumonia, common cold and respiratory tract infections, especially among children and the elderly, at doses of 20 mg per day. Zinc has also been found to shorten cold duration by about 33%. It is recommended to begin supplementation with zinc within 24 hours of the earliest cold symptoms to be most effective.42

There are clearly many opportunities to for everyone to take control of their own health, especially during the months where cold and flu are prevalent. Find out what works best for you and make healthy habits part of your regular routine!

original article found at: https://www.wholisticmatters.com/Articles/2019/Articles/Don%E2%80%99t-Succumb-to-the-Common-Cold-Harness-the-Powe

References

Kolata G. Study shows why the flu likes winter. The New York Times. December 7, 2007. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/05/health/research/05flu.html. Accessed: December 10, 2018

National Institutes of Health. NIH Scientists Offer Explanation for Winter Flu Season. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-scientists-offer-explanation-winter-flu-season. Accessed December 10, 2018.

Hu XY, Wu RH, Logue M, et al. Andrographis paniculata (Chuān Xīn Lián) for symptomatic relief of acute respiratory tract infections in adults and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017;12(8):e0181780.

Richard EJ, Murugan S, Bethapudi B, Illuri R, Mundkinajeddu D, Chinampudur Velusami C. Is Andrographis paniculata extract and andrographolide anaphylactic?. Toxicol Rep. 2017;4:431-437.

Hossain MS, Urbi Z, Sule A, Hafizur Rahman KM. Andrographis paniculata (Burm. f.) Wall. ex Nees: a review of ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and pharmacology. ScientificWorldJournal. 2014;2014:274905.

Coon JT, Ernst E. Andrographis paniculata in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review of safety and efficacy. Planta Med. 2004 Apr;70(4):293-8.

Hu XY, Wu RH, Logue M, et al. Andrographis paniculata (Chuān Xīn Lián) for symptomatic relief of acute respiratory tract infections in adults and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017;12(8):e0181780. Published 2017 Aug 4. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0181780

Thamlikitkul V1, Dechatiwongse T, Theerapong S, et al. Efficacy of Andrographis paniculata, Nees for pharyngotonsillitis in adults. J Med Assoc Thai. 1991 Oct;74(10):437-42.

Spasov AA1, Ostrovskij OV, Chernikov MV, Wikman G. Comparative controlled study of Andrographis paniculata fixed combination, Kan Jang and an Echinacea preparation as adjuvant, in the treatment of uncomplicated respiratory disease in children. Phytother Res. 2004 Jan;18(1):47-53

Block KI, Mead MN. Immune system effects of echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus: a review. Integr Cancer Ther. 2003 Sep;2(3):247-67.

Rondanelli M, Miccono A, Lamburghini S, et al. Self-Care for Common Colds: The Pivotal Role of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea in Three Main Immune Interactive Clusters (Physical Barriers, Innate and Adaptive Immunity) Involved during an Episode of Common Colds-Practical Advice on Dosages and on the Time to Take These Nutrients/Botanicals in order to Prevent or Treat Common Colds. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:5813095. Published 2018 Apr 29. doi:10.1155/2018/5813095

Block KI, Mead MN. Immune system effects of echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus: a review. Integr Cancer Ther. 2003 Sep;2(3):247-67.

Rondanelli M, Miccono A, Lamburghini S, et al. Self-Care for Common Colds: The Pivotal Role of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea in Three Main Immune Interactive Clusters (Physical Barriers, Innate and Adaptive Immunity) Involved during an Episode of Common Colds-Practical Advice on Dosages and on the Time to Take These Nutrients/Botanicals in order to Prevent or Treat Common Colds. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:5813095. Published 2018 Apr 29. doi:10.1155/2018/5813095

M. Jawad, R. Schoop, A. Suter, P. Klein, and R. Eccles, “Safety and e cacy pro le of Echinacea purpurea to prevent common cold episodes: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 841315, 7 pages, 2012.

Rondanelli M, Miccono A, Lamburghini S, et al. Self-Care for Common Colds: The Pivotal Role of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea in Three Main Immune Interactive Clusters (Physical Barriers, Innate and Adaptive Immunity) Involved during an Episode of Common Colds-Practical Advice on Dosages and on the Time to Take These Nutrients/Botanicals in order to Prevent or Treat Common Colds. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:5813095. Published 2018 Apr 29. doi:10.1155/2018/5813095

Tiralongo E., Lea R.A., Wee S.S., Hanna M.M., Griffiths L.R. Randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial of echinacea supplementation in air travellers. Evid. Based Complement. Alternat. Med. 2012;2012:182

Block KI, Mead MN. Immune system effects of echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus: a review. Integr Cancer Ther. 2003 Sep;2(3):247-67.

Krawitz C, Mraheil MA, Stein M, et al. Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:16.

Evans M, Reeves S, Robinson LE. A dried yeast fermentate prevents and reduces inflammation in two separate experimental immune models. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:973041.

Rondanelli M, Miccono A, Lamburghini S, et al. Self-Care for Common Colds: The Pivotal Role of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea in Three Main Immune Interactive Clusters (Physical Barriers, Innate and Adaptive Immunity) Involved during an Episode of Common Colds-Practical Advice on Dosages and on the Time to Take These Nutrients/Botanicals in order to Prevent or Treat Common Colds. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:5813095. Published 2018 Apr 29. doi:10.1155/2018/5813095

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Goldenseal. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/goldenseal Accessed: January 10, 2019.

Cecil CE, Davis JM, Cech NB, Laster SM. Inhibition of H1N1 influenza A virus growth and induction of inflammatory mediators by the isoquinoline alkaloid berberine and extracts of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). Int Immunopharmacol. 2011 Nov;11(11):1706-14.

Junio HA, Sy-Cordero AA, Ettefagh KA, et al. Synergy-directed fractionation of botanical medicines: a case study with goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). J Nat Prod. 2011;74(7):1621-9.

Nantz MP, Rowe CA, Muller CE, et al. Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and γδ-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention. Clin Nutr. 2012 Jun;31(3):337-44.

Percival SS. Aged Garlic Extract Modifies Human Immunity. J Nutr. 2016 Feb;146(2):433S-436S.

Ried K. Garlic Lowers Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Individuals, Regulates Serum Cholesterol, and Stimulates Immunity: An Updated Meta-analysis and Review. J Nutr. 2016 Feb;146(2):389S-396S.

Ooi VE, Liu F. Immunomodulation and anti-cancer activity of polysaccharide-protein complexes. Curr Med Chem. 2000 Jul;7(7):715-29.

Feeney MJ, Miller AM, Roupas P. Mushrooms—Biologically Distinct and Nutritionally Unique: Exploring a “Third Food Kingdom.” Nutrition Today. 2014;49(6):301-307.

Akramiene D, Kondrotas A, Didziapetriene J, Kevelaitis E. Effects of beta-glucans on the immune system. Medicina (Kaunas). 2007;43(8):597-606.

Zhang J.J., Li Y., Zhou T., Xu D.P., Zhang P., Li S., Li H.B. Bioactivities and health benefits of mushrooms mainly from China. Molecules. 2016;21:938

He Y, Li X, Hao C, et. al Grifola frondosa polysaccharide: a review of antitumor and other biological activity studies in China. Discov Med. 2018 Apr;25(138):159-176.

Sekhon BK, Sze DM, Chan WK, et. al. PSP activates monocytes in resting human peripheral blood mononuclear cells: immunomodulatory implications for cancer treatment. Food Chem. 2013 Jun 15;138(4):2201-9.

Zhang XL, Guo YS1, Wang CH Phenolic compounds from Origanum vulgare and their antioxidant and antiviral activities. Food Chem. 2014;152:300-6.

Naser B, Bodinet C, Tegtmeier M, Lindequist U. Thuja occidentalis (Arbor vitae): A Review of its Pharmaceutical, Pharmacological and Clinical Properties. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2005;2(1):69-78.

Salehi B, Mishra AP, Shukla I, et. al. Thymol, thyme, and other plant sources: Health and potential uses. Phytother Res. 2018 Sep;32(9):1688-1706.

Oliviero M, Romilde I, Beatrice MM, et. al. Evaluations of thyme extract effects in human normal bronchial and tracheal epithelial cell lines and in human lung cancer cell line. Chem Biol Interact. 2016 Aug 25;256:125-33.

Sakkas H, Papadopoulou C. Antimicrobial Activity of Basil, Oregano, and Thyme Essential Oils. J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2017 Mar 28;27(3):429-438. doi: 10.4014/jmb.1608.08024.

Oliviero M, Romilde I, Beatrice MM, et. al. Evaluations of thyme extract effects in human normal bronchial and tracheal epithelial cell lines and in human lung cancer cell line. Chem Biol Interact. 2016 Aug 25;256:125-33.

Oliviero M, Romilde I, Beatrice MM, et. al. Evaluations of thyme extract effects in human normal bronchial and tracheal epithelial cell lines and in human lung cancer cell line. Chem Biol Interact. 2016 Aug 25;256:125-33.

Rondanelli M, Miccono A, Lamburghini S, et al. Self-Care for Common Colds: The Pivotal Role of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea in Three Main Immune Interactive Clusters (Physical Barriers, Innate and Adaptive Immunity) Involved during an Episode of Common Colds-Practical Advice on Dosages and on the Time to Take These Nutrients/Botanicals in order to Prevent or Treat Common Colds. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:5813095. Published 2018 Apr 29. doi:10.1155/2018/5813095

Rondanelli M, Miccono A, Lamburghini S, et al. Self-Care for Common Colds: The Pivotal Role of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea in Three Main Immune Interactive Clusters (Physical Barriers, Innate and Adaptive Immunity) Involved during an Episode of Common Colds-Practical Advice on Dosages and on the Time to Take These Nutrients/Botanicals in order to Prevent or Treat Common Colds. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:5813095. Published 2018 Apr 29. doi:10.1155/2018/5813095

Rondanelli M, Miccono A, Lamburghini S, et al. Self-Care for Common Colds: The Pivotal Role of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea in Three Main Immune Interactive Clusters (Physical Barriers, Innate and Adaptive Immunity) Involved during an Episode of Common Colds-Practical Advice on Dosages and on the Time to Take These Nutrients/Botanicals in order to Prevent or Treat Common Colds. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:5813095. Published 2018 Apr 29. doi:10.1155/2018/5813095