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Give Seasonal Viruses the Cold Shoulder

With about 200 variations of the common cold and a novel strain of flu marketed as the next epidemic every fall, all with no cure in sight, it’s no mystery that a pot of chicken soup and binge-watching your favourite television series are as good a “cure” as many. However, there are plenty of natural options to strengthen and accelerate your immune response.

 Andrographis paniculata, also known as common andrographis, is among the most effective. Native to Asia, this plant boasts antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory action among its résumé of benefits. Double-blind clinical trials featuring an extract of A. paniculata, conducted by the Swedish Herbal Institute in Gothenburg, displayed a reduction of both severity and duration of typical upper respiratory symptoms of the common cold. The marker compound to look for is andrographilides, in a validated potency of at least 30%. The fact that pharmaceutical chemists have synthesized derivatives of this compound attests to its therapeutic potential.

Astragalus is among the most-revered adaptogens in traditional Chinese medicine. Studies demonstrate it to display antiviral properties and to strengthen immune performance. Astragalosides are recognized as the key compounds responsible for cold and flu resistance and in fast-tracking recovery from infection.

Echinacea is deep-rooted in Native North American culture for infection-fighting, with a particular focus on colds, flu, and upper respiratory infections. It had official status, with a listing in the U.S. National Formulary between 1916 and 1950 prior to the widespread use of antibiotics. Echinacea contains a diverse source of compounds responsible for its therapeutic effects which include polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkamides, volatile oils, and flavonoids.

Mushrooms in the form of polysaccharide-rich extracts have emerged from the realm of folklore and traditional Chinese medicine to being available in convenient capsule form. Polysaccharides help the body adapt to a wide variety of stressors and stimulate immune function. The immune-enhancing benefits of maitake, reishi, and shiitake rank them among the preferred species for improving resilience to colds and flu, especially during winter.

By the way, Mom was at least part right when she yelled: “You’ll catch a cold” when you left the house with no hat or gloves and an unzipped jacket. Shivering depresses the immune system and drains energy better invested in keeping well. So dress appropriately, and explore how you can cope with colds and flu this winter—naturally!


 Gordon Raza, BSc

 As the technical writer for Flourish, Gord shares his
 unique perspective on natural health products, nutrition,
 and active living.