It’s that time of year again – there’s a chill in the air, grey clouds in the sky and everywhere you turn there are people sneezing and coughing. It’s not a pretty picture – no one likes trying to sleep through a stuffy nose or working with a fever. We all want to avoid the winter nasties but the common cold virus can spread faster than wildfire, making it difficult to avoid.

The Problem with Penicillin
Because a cold or flu wears you down and takes a toll on everyday life, more people are taking antibiotics for minor illnesses to try and nip them in the bud quick. However, this growing reliance on antibiotics is harmful to both individual and human health as a whole. Taking antibiotics when they aren’t absolutely necessary causes your immune system to build up a tolerance and also leads to the mutation of bacteria which become highly resistant to the medication – creating superbugs. Antibiotics don’t just kill infectious bacteria, they kill good bacteria too and can cause more harm than good when taken for minor ailments.

There are many effective complementary health remedies you may have never heard about and some that you would be very familiar with. Here are a few to get you started.

Immune Boosting Herbs
Echinacea and Andrographis are two herbs that find their way into many complementary health formulas specific to the immune system, whether it is a herbal preparation designed by a Naturopath or in a tablet form obtained in a health food store.
These herbs have been used by ancient civilisations to protect a person’s immune system from attack. This is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.

Vitamin C
One of the first things people take when they start to feel a tickle in their throat is Vitamin C. Sadly, it doesn’t have the preventative powers people hope for, but it can reduce the duration and the severity of a viral infection. Because vitamin C is water soluble, it is taken from the body via the kidneys within hours. If you do feel that you are starting to catch a cold, you can take a recommended dose every 3-4 hours for a couple of days to help your body cope with the symptoms better. A word of caution however, too much vitamin C can cause diarrhoea.

Zinc
Not the first supplement to come to mind during the flu season, however an analysis of current research regarding Zinc and colds, showed Zinc lozenges reduced the length of the common cold and was most effective when taken at the first signs of infection. Other studies have shown that taking a regular dose of Zinc can be preventative against catching colds. Zinc also encourages strong immunity – increasing the production of white blood cells and their effectiveness in fighting infection.

Remember the best offence is a good defence, so make sure you’re getting adequate rest and maintaining a balanced diet, full of vitamins and minerals to giving you the best chance of staying flu-free this winter.