If you suffer from cold or flu most winters, you know how much it sucks! Time off work, time off school, time off fun. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Our herb nerd, naturopath, and kinesiologist—Georgia Kilpatrick—gives us 5 actionable steps you can take this winter to boost your immunity and stop those miserable viruses from taking hold.
Does the flu vaccine stop you from getting sick?
Let’s clear up some misconceptions about the flu vaccine first.
There’s always a lot of media attention on the flu vaccine. I’m not here to debate the pros and cons of having the flu vaccine.
What I can tell you is this. The flu vaccine will stop you from getting the strains of influenza contained in the vaccine.
The flu vaccine will not give you immunity to all the other viruses floating around that can still make you sick and miserable.
So flu vaccine or not, you still need to take steps to boost your immunity, especially if you’re run down and exhausted, because that’s when germs can take hold.
I’m here to support your immunity with some practical steps you can take NOW!
Colds (Rhinoviruses) that make you feel sick and miserable
Over the last couple of years, my patients have been reporting more flu-like symptoms from rhinoviruses (i.e. the common-cold virus).
Instead of starting with a sore throat and runny nose, their symptoms default straight to cough status, which they can’t shake for weeks.
This can mean that there’s a nasal infection right at the back of the sinuses. It’s running down the back of the throat and hitting the lungs, where it can fester into a persistent cough.
#1 & #2 Vitamin C and Zinc
Just like I mentioned for kids in my blog post here, my nutritional go-tos for grown ups are: Vitamin C and Zinc.
These two super nutrients are also good to dose up on before vaccinations, so your immune system can respond efficiently to the vaccine and minimise any side effects, reactions, or secondary infections.
The benefits of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is such a simple nutrient and so good for so many reasons!
It’s a great antioxidant around the body and plays important roles in: detoxification, skin repair, adrenal support, cellular energy support, as well as lots of enzymatic reactions around the body and the immune system.
So Vitamin C is a really good place to start if you’re boosting your immunity.
Choose sugar-free Vitamin C
Pick a sugar-free vitamin C. Many of them also have fructose added which may not be listed as an active ingredient.
That’s important if you’re sensitive to candida, so make sure you check for sugar and fructose.
Recommended dosage for Vitamin C
A lot of studies for Vitamin C are based on a 1,000 mg dose. That’s why the dose on the bottles will only recommend that.
In reality, adults need at least 3,000 mg per day of Vitamin C.
The challenge can be absorbing the Vitamin C across the digestive lining. If it’s not all absorbed efficiently, it will stay in the lumen of the intestines and attract water. That can have you running to the loo with loose bowels.
How often to take Vitamin C
The trick for many is to have smaller doses more frequently. Don’t take 3,000 mg all at once. Instead try 1,000 mg three times daily (e.g. breakfast, lunch, dinner).
If micro dosing like that still gives you the trots, then cut it back to a lower dose until your bowels are stable, then slowly increase to build up your resilience.
If Vitamin C doesn’t agree
If you’ve tried all that, and Vitamin C still doesn’t sit well with your digestion, contact me at the clinic for a good quality Vitamin C and some alternatives for your immune support.
A little hint for taking Zinc
Zinc is another nutrient that is easy to dose up on, and it’s used around the body in so many ways where it’s often depleted.
To avoid the nausea some people experience when they take zinc on an empty stomach, take it just before or after food.
If you have any questions, or you need a good-quality supplement, feel free to come see me at the clinic.
#3 Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another powerhouse nutrient to consider for immunity, especially during winter.
Our body makes vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, so in winter when there’s less sun—and our bodies are covered up more—we just don’t make as much vitamin D.
Effects of Vitamin D on immunity
This can have big implications for sleep and stress, but also immunity.
There is a lot of research to support the connection between good vitamin D levels and robust immunity (especially with auto-immunity).
Many doctors do test for Vitamin D. From our naturopathic perspective, although the results may be within the reference range, we like to see vitamin D in the high range.
Recommended dose of Vitamin D
Again, a lot of the older research is based on 1,000 iu daily doses, so that is what is recommended on the packaging.
However, again and again I see doses of 3,000 – 4,000 iu per day is more appropriate for adults in winter months.
Vitamin D side effects
The only side effects I’ve seen in clinic are digestive issues for people with weaker digestion (all were elderly patients), and I suspect it has more to do with the gelatin capsule, rather than the actual vitamin D.
If you have sensitive digestion, or do not wish to take gelatin capsules, feel free to contact me. I can recommend a good quality, liquid Vitamin D, (as not all liquid vitamin Ds are stable).
#4 Herbs for immunity
You’ve dosed up on C, D, and zinc, and you still feel a cold coming on, or you can’t shake an infection or cough?
Herbs are the best thing to target symptoms and support your immune and respiratory function.
Georgia’s herbal cough and cold remedy
They don’t call me the #herbnerd for nothing!
I have a great cough & cold herbal mix that does taste good (because if you’ve ever had herbs, you know how bitter they can be)!
My herbal mixture is suitable for flu viruses as well.
You can pick up a bottle in clinic. Just ask. (P.S. I make one for kids too!)
What can herbs do for my immunity?
There is research to indicate that particular herbs are effective for a number of things, including:
- fighting off the influenza virus
- decreasing the production of mucous and sinus congestion
- supporting lung function
- antibacterial to the respiratory system (and gut); and
- soothing for a sore throat
Ingredients in my herbal mix
Check out my blog post listing all the ingredients and their extraordinary benefits here.
Herbs for people on BP meds or Prednisolone
If you’re on blood-pressure medication or Prednisolone—and can’t take extra potassium—let me know, and I can make up a Licorice-free herbal mix for you.
Custom herbal mixes for lung support
Like wise, if you have a cough you can’t shake, let me know, and I can alter the mix to support your lungs more.
How to take my herbal mix
The herbal mix can be taken prophylactically (i.e. as a preventative), or you can up the dose if you’re coming down with a virus or flu.
You can take it long term over the winter or just acutely when you feel you need it.
Everyone is different and some people need more immune support than others.
#5 Kinesiology for people who come down with colds all the time
If you’re someone who’s coming down with colds and viruses constantly, there are other ways to support your body through this season to target exactly what you need.
Kinesiology is one of those ways.
Kinesiology is a process of asking your body where the major points of stress are around the body, and then rebalancing the body via the traditional Chinese Meridian systems.
It’s a bit like acupuncture without the needles.
Types of kinesiology balances your body might need
I have specific immune-support kinesiology balances that are very effective.
But sometimes, your body indicates that it needs another type of kinesiology balance as a priority.
Those other priorities might be your nervous system and energy-system support or your liver and detoxification systems. These are two of the most common kinesi balances that come up, along with reducing inflammation and supporting immune response.
Supporting kinesi balances with supplements
As there is a big connection between immunity and gut function, there may be some more specific nutrients, herbs, probiotics, and/or gut support that suits your needs.
I can recommend these during a consult in clinic.
Act now and stay well with Georgia
Drop in to Brisbane Naturopaths & Wellness Centre at 27 Cunningham St, Newstead for a 200 ml bottle of my herbal cough and cold remedy.
You can book online here for a consultation.
If you have any queries, you’re always welcome to contact me directly via Facebook messenger at Georgia Naturopath or phone me on 0473 392 360.