Fighting winter illness naturally: Natural remedies for common cold management
By Joshua Sutherland, Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine)
Contracting the common cold is a certainty faced by many in our busy and hectic world. Come wintertime, with June imposing its icy chill upon us, life inevitably demands a heavy toll. What follows is a perfect storm… The suppression of our immune systems is met with the precise environmental conditions for viral and bacterial infection to thrive. The results is a microbiological cascade of horror that can bring down the mightiest of humans! Luckily, there are a number of strategic ways in which this assault on our body’s defences can be confronted. First, however, we must understand what is occurring.
For some time now researches have understood that the common cold is predominantly caused by viruses. However, this viral infection can often lead to bacterial sinus infections that frequently turn chronic. Essentially, the inflamed sinus tissue creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to flourish. Such a scenario can leave one even more susceptible to further viral infection. Furthermore, many do not understand that this issue needs to be targeted simultaneously at the bacterial, viral and sinus tissue level. The following constitutes three natural intervening methods that specifically target these problem areas.
Sinus irrigation with Xylitol
Sinus irrigation, with saline water, has been a tried and tested home remedy, dating back to ancient times. However, in the western world, it is often overlooked as a first line defence against infection. Although sinus irrigation may seem invasive, it is comparatively less invasive than oral-antibiotics, which – in their quest to destroy sinus bacteria – can disrupt the microbiological balance elsewhere in the body. It therefore stands to reason that sinus irrigation is a logical go-to remedy when infection strikes. Recently, however, researchers have revealed Xylitol – a naturally occurring sugar-alcohol sweetener – to be a novel and effective addition to traditional sinus irrigation methods. In essence, bacteria like to eat sugar, just like people do. Xylitol’s sweetness attracts certain oral and sinus bacteria, but when consumed destroys them from the inside out. Xylitol sinus products can now be found in many pharmacies and health-food stores.
Viral control with beta glucans
Recent times have seen beta glucans – a type of carbohydrate – rise in notoriety due to its ability to lower cholesterol levels. Such beta glucans are derived from oats, but interestingly, beta glucans are also derived from mushrooms and the cell walls of certain fungi. These relatively more exotic beta glucans are uniquely absorbed by our bodies’ gastrointestinal immune cells. Once absorbed, they are circulated throughout the body. Various studies have demonstrated the ability of these beta glucans to then stimulate the upregulation of key viral fighting immune cells. This is particularly advantageous in winter, as the immune system may already be supressing latent viral infections, whilst dealing with an onslaught of new offenders. It is in this sense that beta glucans – in the form of specialised mushroom and yeast derived products – constitute a novel way to support the immune system throughout its toughest time of the year.
Lactoferrin – an immune system all-rounder
Lactoferrin is an often overlooked powerful immune modulator and antiviral / microbial agent. Lactoferrin is found abundantly in colostrum (a mother’s first milk) and preforms many vital roles in the protection and stimulation of new life. In today’s day and age, lactoferrin is amply available via bovine milk extraction. One significant aspect of lactoferrin is its ability to bind iron, thus starving bacteria of a nutrient essential for its survival. Subsequently, lactoferrin also has the ability to block the cellular structures to which certain viruses attach. It is via these, and other complex mechanisms, that lactoferrin has been shown to be supportive to our overall immune health. Talk to your healthcare practitioner about the suitability of these products for you.
If you’re feeling rundown, then it might be time to visit a Student Clinical Nutritionist at Endeavour Wellness Clinics. Click here to book an appointment online.