It’s that time of the year, the kids are back in class or in daycare, the leaves are turning colors and falling off the trees, the days are getting cooler and shorter and little noses are running like leaky faucets! Who knew a little body could produce so much mucous!
It happens, everyone catches a cold or flu at some point and our little family of four has already had two rounds of the traditional cold. We’ve all had it and thankfully no complications, but we’ve definitely used at least 5 boxes of tissue between us all and our nasal aspirator with saline solution has been our best friend.
Cold and flu season is off to a glorious start in our house, but this is how it is when you have little ones. The sicker they are when they’re small, the stronger, more educated their immune systems will be when they are older… but still, nobody enjoys getting sick and it’s especially heartbreaking when they are so small and seemingly helpless, so the shorter and less complicating these bouts are, the better.
The impact on the entire family from cold and flu can be significant. Days of not only school, but work can be missed, as well as countless hours of already precious sleep and it’s rough for a family if everyone is sick at the same time because at that point even mom and dad are sick and wishing they had someone to care for them! It can be exhausting and simply cooking a healthy meal can seem like a huge task. It can become even more stressful if there are complications such as an ear infection, chest infection, bronchitis and even pneumonia, leading to antibiotic and possibly antiviral treatments. Nobody wants to have to take pharmaceuticals unless absolutely necessary.
A little over a decade ago, after my last bout with pneumonia, I promised myself that I could come up with the best most simple protocols for myself, both for prevention and treatment, but with a focus on prevention. A very key part of this protocol that I made for myself includes Echinaforce and now that I have a little one, she takes Echinaforce Junior. It works and I always have some on hand.
Cold versus Flu, here is a quick reminder of the key differences, without getting in to too much detail on the specifics.
|Signs and Symptoms||Cold||Flu|
|Chest discomfort/Cough||Mild to moderate||Common|
|Fatigue and weakness||Occasionally||Usual|
|Sneezing, stuffy nose, sore throat||Common||Occasionally|
*The above table from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/coldflu.htm
It’s never pleasant getting sick, but it’s almost a sure thing once September rolls around and the weather starts to cool.
The Evidence for Echinaforce
In the last year A. Vogel has come out with the results of their clinical study done in Switzerland on the preventive administration of Echinaforce Jr on children between the ages of 4 and 12 and the results are really exciting. According to their press release, the study is a controlled, randomized, blind, multicentre clinical study involving 203 children ages 4 – 12, designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of echinacea to prevent colds and flus as an instrument to reduce secondary complications and as a result, the need for antibiotics. In short, the results showed that 90% of the participants reported significantly increased immune defense, 32.5% better prevention of respiratory tract infections, 67.3% less fever days, 63.9% reduction in complicated infections with pneumonia, bronchitis or sinusitis. Perhaps the biggest results from the study was the 72.6% reduction in the need for antibiotic treatment, that’s impressive!
In everyday life this translates in to a more robust immune system, which means less sick days, less missed days in school and at work and when you do get sick, it’s not so bad. It also means less fever and
less getting sick period, so less medications - who doesn’t want that! What’s more, is that the children’s tablets are tasty (a nice orange flavor) and easy to chew, so they become a regimen that is easy to follow, even for little ones.
How can you prevent colds and flus?
- Take Echinaforce and Echinaforce Jr. Daily. Both preparations have their own recommended dosages for different age ranges and these dosages are different in preventive treatment as well as acute treatment. Specific details can be found here.
- Wash your hands frequently and don’t skimp on the soap or length of time that you wash. A quick rinse won’t do! Your hands have to be washed for a minimum length of 20 seconds, which is roughly how long it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song through twice. Viruses enter the body through the eyes, nose or mouth, so avoid touching any of those without first washing your hands well.
- Make sure you get a healthy dose of daily vitamin D. Vitamin D is a well-known key vitamin that helps modulate immunity, so whether it be getting outside and in to the sun or supplementing on a daily basis, make sure you’re getting it in!
- Exercise in moderation. Exercise helps strengthen the immune system in a couple of different ways. First, it helps relieve stress, which helps decrease the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol impede the immune system. Second, it helps improve overall circulation in the body, which in turn helps to circulate antibodies that fight off the microbes (viruses, bacteria etc) that make us sick.
- Get an all the sleep you need. Don’t fight it, if you need more than eight hours of sleep, then keep on sleeping! The time you sleep at night is the time that your body uses to recover from the day and this is important to immune function. Being chronically sleep deprived significantly lowers immunity and increases inflammation.
- Reduce sugars and eliminate alcohol. A single tablespoon of sugar is enough to significantly suppress the immune system for 24 hours, making it much more difficult for your body to fight off any foreign invaders. Alcohol also significantly imparts the immune system, leaving you open to infections all sorts, including colds, flus and gut related infections such as candida.
- Take probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria in our body, necessary to keep the other harmful bacteria in check. Our gut is intimately connected to our immune system, which means healthy gut, healthy immune system, a more robust immune system and less infections. Taking probiotics helps ensure that you have more of the right bacteria, the beneficial bacteria, that will help keep you healthy and strong.