The world is currently in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, although the New Zealand containment efforts are looking very promising. Despite this being the greatest health crisis many of us have every experienced, influenza and other viral colds are still able to cause significant illness. The common cold and influenza viruses typically occur more often during the colder months, and this winter will be no exception. Despite preventative efforts including the flu vaccination, viruses still cause significant infections every year due to their ability to evade the immune system.
Unfortunately, many people are hospitalised with upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) each year. It is not all bad news, you can proactively support your immune response which is very important to reduce the risk of viral infection and easing pressure on our healthcare system in the event if COVID-19 resurges. This includes ensuring that well members of the community stay well.
This can be assisted with crucial immune enhancing nutrients including zinc and vitamins C and D, and probiotics. In the face of viral infections, current clinical evidence supports the use andrographis and elderberry as effective antiviral and immune stimulant herbs, supporting their history of traditional use for infection.
Zinc, C and D: Impressive Immune Nutrients
Nature provides nutrients crucial to healthy immune function. The mineral zinc, essential to immune function, is involved in the generation of T cells. Zinc is crucial to the development and function of a variety of immune cells. Zinc has been shown to significantly decrease the number of URTI symptoms compared to placebo, as well as supporting patients’ recovery to wellness.
Another staple immune nutrient; vitamin C, found in high amounts in blackcurrants, capsicum and kale, enhances the motility and migration of white blood cells (WBCs) during infection. In a number of studies, zinc has been trialed together with vitamin C over both five and 10 days; both found greater symptom relief from rhinorrhea (runny noses). There is a large amount of information supporting the role of zinc and vitamin C in reducing the severity and duration of colds and viral infections.
Vitamin D, mainly comes from the sun and also from eggs, liver and fatty fish, supports immune system. A recent review and meta-analysis of 25 randomised, controlled trials totaling 11,321 participants, found that vitamin D supplementation did in fact reduce the risk of acute respiratory infections (ARI). There is also much population data which paints the sunshine vitamin in a very positive immune light.
Antiviral Herbs for Symptom Relief
When nutritional immune building blocks are adequate, some people still fall victim to acute viral infections, herbs such as Andrographis paniculata and Sambucus nigra (elderberry) can support their immune resilience and recovery. Andrographis, with its immune system–enhancing actions, has been shown to reduce the severity of the common cold and may prevent the onset of a cold in healthy people.
Another winter wellness hero ingredient is elderberry it has great antioxidant properities as well as supporting your immune system. In a study, participants who took elderberry experienced a shorter duration of infection by approximately two days with less severity of symptoms, compared to the placebo group.
Help to Get Through Winter Unscathed
Select natural medicines can have potent effects on immune system function. Nutrients including zinc, vitamins C and D, together with anti-viral and immune-enhancing herbs such as andrographis and elderberry, combine with targeted probiotics to help improve your immune resilience this winter.
Proactively supporting the immune response will help to reduce the risk of contracting upper respiratory and other viral infections, and also significantly reduce their severity and duration to allow patients to return to vibrant health all the sooner.
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