Written by Chantel – resident Naturopath at Choice pharmacy
Winter is on our doorstep and that means cold and flu season is here. Are you someone who is prone to getting sick and would like to build your immunity? Or perhaps you want something that will help to fight off infection? Either way, let’s talk about different options that can be beneficial.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that boosts immunity, as it is needed to produce our immune cells. When we are sick, our immunity kicks in, this process results in free radicals developing. Free radicals occur as a result of natural bodily processes, one of them being the immune system fighting infection. This can lead to inflammation and cell damage. So, antioxidants, such as vitamin C protect our cells from this damage.
Zinc is a mineral which boosts immunity as it is needed for the production of immune cells. It is also used for the production of collagen, which is the primary protein found within our skin. It is therefore beneficial for wound healing and tissue repair.
Andrographis, also known as the king of bitters is a powerful immune herb. It is excellent for boosting the immune system and reducing the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms such as; fever, runny nose, sore throat and cough. It also helps to combat inflammation. Andrographis however should only be used if cold and flu symptoms are present and in the short term (no more than 7 days) as it can be toxic if used in the long term.
Probiotics are one of the keys to good immunity. 70% of our immune system is found in our gut, so we need to ensure we have good gut health and the right strains of probiotics to ensure our immune systems are strong. If you are prone to getting sick, or you just want to boost your immunity, get on a probiotic. It’s also good for those of you with kiddies, who go to day care or school and get sick quite frequently.
Astragalus is a traditional Chinese herb used to boost immune function. It is an adaptogen herb, which helps to support healthy energy levels. Astragalus should only be used when there is no infection present. So, it can be taken throughout winter to boost immunity, then when a cold of flu develops it can be stopped and something like Andrographis can be taken instead.
Other tips that may be useful in boosting immunity include; drinking plenty of water and herbal teas, eating a healthy wholefood diet, minimizing sugar, alcohol, processed foods and caffeine. It is also worthwhile getting your vitamin D levels checked, as low levels can be associated with lowered immunity.
For more information on boosting immunity, book in for a free consultation with our naturopath.