Standing Up to Allergies and Colds: Dr. Paul Stallone provides helpful tips to avoid getting sick by supporting one's immune system during high-risk seasons
Dec 04, 2012 08:52AM
By Paul Stallone, NMD
With the right tools and prevention, allergies and colds don’t have to slow us down. Instead of suffering through these times with Kleenex or over-the-counter medication, try proactively predicting and preventing them. We already have a whole army within our bodies to battle viruses, bacteria and fungi, and it’s called our immune system. By supporting it a little more during high-risk seasons, we can actually avoid getting sick in the first place.
The same works for allergies. It is entirely possible to prevent seasonal allergies and eliminate their related symptoms. Common allergy symptoms are just the result of our immune system overreacting to some invader that’s made its way into our body. This perhaps harmless pathogen may trigger an all-out attack by the immune system that causes us to live in misery. There are a number of natural programs designed to desensitize our immune system so these attacks do not occur in the first place. Another option is self-treatment with inexpensive, natural remedies at home.
We all are familiar with vitamin C, which might just be the most popular way to prevent and treat a cold, but new studies and research show there are many other great contenders to help battle allergies and colds. Because we can’t support our immune system too much, trying them all can only help.
Seventy to 80 percent of our immune system is in our gut. With an intestinal flora imbalance, we may be more susceptible to viral and bacterial infection, so taking a probiotic may be the easiest way to maintain optimal balance. We can also try eating fermented foods or live-cultured yogurt. Look for brands made from goat milk that has been infused with extra forms of probiotics like lactobacillus or acidophilus. Goat milk and cheese are naturally high in probiotics like thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus. A popular drink called kombucha is also full of good probiotics and comes in a variety of flavors. Some people even make this drink at home.
Vitamin D is a powerful immune regulator. The best source is the sun, but because this time of year brings shorter days, synthesizing enough vitamin D may not be possible. Choose the same form that your body converts sunlight into—cholecalciferol. Take this important vitamin daily and increase dosage during times of sickness.
The mineral zinc may work by preventing the formation of proteins needed by a cold virus to reproduce. This essential mineral boosts the immune system and has been linked to a decrease in viral activity. Research with zinc shows it may inhibit viral cell reproduction in the mucus membranes of the upper respiratory system. Look for zinc-rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, wheat germ and oysters to get a daily dose.
Echinacea is a powerful cold fighter. According to a 2007 University of Connecticut study, Echinacea cut the risk of catching a cold by 58 percent and reduced the cold’s stay by almost one-and-a-half days. To get full prevention benefits, take Echinacea daily during cold and allergy season.
One of the tastier prevention options is honey, which is full of antioxidants with antiviral and antibacterial properties, all of which make it a top cold fighter. Added to some teas, such as ginger tea, honey gives a great boost to cold and allergy prevention. The root of the ginger plant contains compounds called gingerols that attack pain, inflammation, germs and viruses. Ginger tea can treat congestion, sinus pain, sore throats and nausea.
There are some super viruses out there that can really sweep us off our feet. During these times, visiting a naturopathic physician can help tremendously. He or she can evaluate any symptoms and make suggestions to help reduce nasal inflammation and other symptoms naturally, without resorting to antibiotics. Some intravenous nutritional regimens can cut recovery time in half.
If allergies are plaguing our days, we may want to speak about a natural desensitizing program with a knowledgeable physician. These programs are completely safe and can prevent seasonal allergies and even help with asthma. As a bonus, they don’t include shots or adverse reactions.
Paul Stallone, NMD, founded the Arizona Integrative Medical Center, located at 8144 E. Cactus Rd., Ste. 820, in Scottsdale. He combines natural/alternative/conventional treatments to best fit and benefit each individual patient’s needs. For more information call 480-214-3922 or visit DrStallone.com.