As the seasons change and the temperature drops - sickness seems to creep up on most of us! I get asked all the time (mainly this time of year) by patients what to take if they are coming down with something. Here are my go-to herbs and vitamins for flu season to help boost your system and keep you avoiding antibiotics which can set your system back even farther.
Astragalus - this herb is in most immune booster formulas but use it with caution! It should be taken when you feel like you are GETTING sick, not when you are sick! It is an adaptogen so it will boost your immune system if it is under-functioning (when the tickle in your throat starts) but not when you are sick (full on cold symptoms).
Echinacea - this herb is great to boost your immune system. It comes in liquid and capsules and will bring your immune system up to fighting capacity. Good to use in conjunction with other vitamins for optimal sickness fighting.
Oil of Oregano - similar to Echinacea with antimicrobial properties (antibacterial and antiviral) to boost immune system. Good to use when you are starting to feel sick. Be warned that it has a very strong potent taste so not the best choice for kids!
Berberine - this very strong antimicrobial is best for bacterial infections. It acts as a natural antibiotic and can be used at the onset of symptoms and in the middle of sickness symptoms. Not ideal for the flu!
Vitamin C - this vitamin helps your immune system bounce back! It is good to take from now through the winter at a dose of 2000mg-3000mg/day. If you are sick, it is safe to go up to 5000mg/day, but watch how your bowels are affected - it can cause loose stools.
Zinc - this mineral is a very powerful immune modifier! The best form to use is Zinc Picolinate. Other forms are less absorb-able so not worth the money. To modify immunity 45mg is the best dose.
Obviously be careful using herbs with certain medications. These are general guidelines, but come in and see me so we can tailor a Immune Fighting Plan - specifically for you!!
Have a healthy fall season!
Dr. Kate Hunter, ND