Russell Skinner, MD
A regional virus outbreak in China has morphed into a global scare that now threatens countries all across the world. Cases in America have skyrocketed, with 22 states now being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC is watching a total of 63 potential instances of the Wuhan virus across nearly two dozen states, CNBC reports.
In addition, for the week ending January 11th, The CDC’s Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report, found that:
Translation: this season’s flu is hitting at the high end of normal. According to reports in Scientific American, this year’s flu vaccine may be as ineffective as last year’s version.
People with a depressed immune system, nutrient deficiencies, lack of adequate sleep, and exposure to toxins are especially susceptible.
Antibiotics are medicine used to treat and prevent bacterial infections. When used properly, they can either kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause problems like ear infections, stomach problems and several skin issues.
However, antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses, such as colds, the flu, most coughs, and sore throats. They also do not work against fungal infections.
So, how do you prepare your body to ward off viruses naturally?
Natural remedies for strengthening your immune system include vitamins C and D, herbal supplements, essential oils and eating healthy. Try the following five natural immune boosters to help your body step up to the plate:
1. Vitamin C (500-1,000 mg)
Research shows that vitamin C has shortened the duration of colds and can decrease the number of colds in physically active people.
For maintenance, take 500-1,000 mg buffered vitamin C daily. During acute conditions, take up to 4,000 mg a day until symptoms resolve.
2. Vitamin D3 (2,000 IU daily)
Vitamin D is produced in the body by sunlight and regulates the expression of over 2,000 genes, including those of the immune system. Recent research shows that low vitamin D levels are linked to higher rates of cold, flu and respiratory infections. Unfortunately, up to 90 percent of people are deficient in vitamin D.
For maintenance, take 2,000 IU vitamin D daily.
3. Garlic (600-1,200 mg daily)
Garlic is a natural antibiotic as well as antifungal and antiviral agent. A study published in the journal Microbes and Infection found that the sulfur compounds known as allicin in garlic act as natural antibiotics. It helps boost the number of virus-fighting T-cells in your bloodstream. It also helps kill intestinal parasites. It contains a host of vitamins, nutrients and minerals that are beneficial to overall wellness.
One study gave 146 healthy volunteers either garlic supplements or a placebo for three months. The garlic group had a 63% lower risk of getting a cold, and their colds were also 70% shorter.
If you often get sick with a cold or flu, eating garlic can help reduce your symptoms or prevent your illness entirely.
For maintenance, eat 2 to 3 freshly crushed or sliced garlic cloves daily. If you choose to cook with garlic, remember that crushing garlic and allowing it to stand for 10 minutes before cooking can help prevent the loss of its medicinal properties. Supplement doses range from 600 to 1,200 mg per day. High intakes of garlic supplements can be toxic, so don't exceed the dosage recommendations.
Ginger’s natural antibiotic property helps prevent and treat many health problems caused by bacteria. Fresh ginger has an antibiotic effect against food-borne pathogens like salmonella. It also has an antibacterial effect on respiratory and periodontal infections.
For maintenance, drink ginger tea daily. Grate 1 inch of fresh ginger and boil it in about 1½ cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain, add honey and lemon juice for taste and drink it. Also, include dry or fresh ginger in your cooking.
5. Astragalus Root
Astragalus root is a powerful antiviral herb. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to boost the body’s immune system. Scientific studies have shown that astragalus has antiviral properties and stimulates the immune system, suggesting that it may help enhance your immune system to prevent and fight bacterial and viral infections, including the common cold.
A study out of Beijing displayed its ability to control t-helper cells 1 and 2, essentially regulating the body’s immune responses.
Another study evaluated the effects of astragalus on herpes simplex virus type 1 and found that the herb has obvious inhibiting efficacy.
Astragalus also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and it is used on the skin for wound care. It’s also an adaptogen herb which means it may help the body handle stress more effectively.
There is not a standardized dosage for astragalus, but you can work with your health practitioner to determine how much you should take and how often.