Keep your best foot forward this holiday season with a few strategies for boosting long-term immunity, safeguarding against germs (airplanes, anyone?) and beating cold and flu symptoms quickly.
Step 1: Boost long-term immunity
Everyday supplements can serve as powerful immune boosters. "Vitamin D is used in so many ways by the body," says Shana Lipner, certified herbalist and health educator at our new Carlsbad store. "It's important for lung, liver and bone health, and immunity. And most people are deficient in vitamin D because we don't get enough sun exposure."
In addition, Shana says, vitamin C, zinc and antioxidants can all be powerful immune-boosting tools. An easy way to pack them all in? A whole-food multivitamin like New Chapter's Every Man and Every Woman formulas. (Read more about multivitamins from New Chapter.)
She also recommends medicinal mushrooms. "There are a lot of clinical studies behind the use of immunity mushrooms like reishi," says Shana. She adds that they are very nutritionally supportive of the lungs and liver, both major detox organs. Try blends like New Chapter's Lifeshield Immunity and Host Defense's Stamets 7.
Finally, make sure you're getting your probiotics. "If someone gets colds regularly, then probiotics on a daily basis are a must," says Shana. For adults she recommends Udo's Choice Adult's Blend.
Finally, don't forget about sleep, Shana says. "It's so important!"
Step 2: Get extra support for vulnerable times
If you know you'll be traveling, living in close quarters with lots of family or experiencing extra stress, start taking an immune-booster a week or so ahead of time. "That's when I would start hitting the echinacea," says Shana. There are several formulas that she recommends: WishGarden Herbs' Kick-Ass Immune, Gaia Herbs' Quick Defense, or Herb Pharm's Super Echinacea.
Other customer favorites include Source Naturals' Wellness Formula ("Take it at the first sign of feeling run down in any way") or Plantiva's Immune Dx.
Step 3: Nip symptoms in the bud
If you've done all the prep work and you still feel symptoms coming on, don't fret. There are a number of single herbs and formulas that can help fight sickness more quickly.
Shana recommends elderberry, an age-old immunity-boosting herb (she likes Gaia Herbs' Black Elderberry) that can be taken several times a day. Add in anti-microbials like WishGarden Herbs' Kick Ass Biotic, or Pharmaca brand Oregano Oil, which Shana says is great for lung infections and boosting the immune system. For sinus-specific symptoms, try Pharmaca's Cold & Sinus Blaster, which Shana says not only helps to fight the infection, but also really helps to break up congestion and open up the sinuses.
Of course, homeopathic remedies can also be helpful. "Boiron's Oscillococcinum and Cold Calm are fantastic and get great feedback," says Shana. "The key with Oscillococcinum is to take it at the very first sign of symptoms," which, she says, can really shorten the duration of aches, chills, fever and other flu symptoms.
Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner for more advice about everyday immunity boosting.