It’s scary, each year, when flu season hits. There is no way to completely prevent a flu from occurring, but there are ways you can boost your immune system to more effectively and valiantly fight it.
A flu is spread via contact. The key problem is we tend to touch our faces without thinking, and if we touch a common surface (eg, doorknobs, handles, etc.), and then scratch the outside of our nose or lips, the virus is invited inside where it will run amok.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), flu season primarily occurs during fall and winter, although the influenza viruses are roaming around all year long. Drug stores have already begun advertising flu vaccines. This is sensible as it takes approximately two weeks for the vaccine to work, so that people who get the shot can be more protected beginning in October, when the incidence of flu begins to rise.
Also according to CDC, there are some new things about flu vaccines this year, as stated:
- Flu vaccines are updated to better match viruses expected to be circulating in the United States.
- The A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine component was updated from an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus to an A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus.
- The A(H3N2) vaccine component was updated from an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 A(H3N2)-like virus to an A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus.
- Both B/Victoria and B/Yamagata virus components from the 2018-2019 flu vaccine remain the same for the 2019-2020 flu vaccine.
Now, we want to clear something up: when people insist they got the flu after they got the flu shot, this is often, but not always, caused by their exposure to the virus prior to the two week window of full effect of the vaccine. Meaning, within those two weeks, they already contracted the virus and it began its life process in vivo.
The flu shot is a prophylactic, but there are dietary supplements that healthy individuals who tend to undergo stress can take.
Tongkat ali: This Malaysian herbs, also known as Eurycoma longifolia, has been shown in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel study to enhance comprehensive immunity in middle-aged men and women. The Tongkat ali group (who took 200 mg per day for four weeks) showed significantly higher numbers of Scoring of Immunological Vigor and immunological grade than placebo group.
Modulate human immunity in a middle-aged Japanese population. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel study was conducted for 4 weeks. Eighty-four of 126 subjects had relatively lower scores according to Scoring of Immunological Vigor (SIV) screening. Subjects were instructed to ingest either 200 mg/day of TA or rice powder as a placebo for 4 weeks [TA and Placebo (P) groups] and to visit a clinic in Tokyo twice (weeks 0 and 4). SIV, immunological grade, immunological age, and other immune parameters were measured. Eighty-three subjects completed the study; 40 in the TA group and 41 in the P group were statistically analyzed, whereas two were excluded from the analyses. At week 4, the SIV and immunological grade were significantly higher in the TA group than those in P group (p < 0.05). The numbers of total, naïve, and CD4+ T cells were also higher in the TA group than those in P group (p < 0.05). No severe adverse events were observed. The results suggest that ingestion of the root water extract of TA (LJ100/Physta®) enhances compre-hensive immunity in both middle-aged men and women.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C’s most studied use is for the common cold. One study analyzed the findings of two randomized trials that investigated the effects of two vitamin C doses on the duration of the common cold. The first trial gave 3 g/day vitamin C to two groups, 6 g/day to a third group, and placebo for those in the fourth group. Compared with the placebo group the 6 g/day dose shortened colds by 17%, twice as much as the 3 g/day doses did. The second trial administered 4 g/day and 8 g/day vitamin C, and placebo to different groups, but only on the first day of the cold. Compared with the placebo group, the 8 g/day dose shortened colds by 19%, twice as much as the 4 g/day dose did. Both studies revealed a significant dose-response relationship between the vitamin C dosage and the duration of the common cold.
Zinc: One analysis of two randomized trials that examined the effects of zinc lozenges for the duration of common cold symptoms found that colds were shortened on average by 4.0 days and by 1.77 days.
Another meta-analysis of three randomized controlled trials zinc acetate lozenges may increase the rate of recovery from the common cold three-fold. On the fifth day, 70% of the zinc lozenge group had recovered compared with 27% of the placebo group. Dosages of zinc in the three studies was between 80 to 92 mg/day.
Elderberry (in the form of ElderberryCare™): In one study, the phytochemicals from elderberry juice were shown to be effective at stopping the virus infecting the cells, however to the surprise of the researchers they were even more effective at inhibiting viral propagation at later stages of the influenza cycle when the cells had already been infected with the virus. This observation, noted study authors, was significant because blocking the viral cycle at several stages has a higher chance of inhibiting the viral infection. The team also
Found that elderberry stimulated the release of cytokines to coordinate a more efficient response against the invading pathogen. ElderberryCare™ from HP Ingredients is an elderberry extract with 5 to 25% anthocyanins, in both organic and conventional.
Maqui (in the form of MaquiCare): Maqui berry, prominent in the Patagonia region of South America, is high in anthocyanins and a unique compound, delphinidin. The juice of the maqui berry is anti-inflammatory – it has been shown to inhibit NFkB, a key biochemical that causes an inflammatory reaction. Inflammation is typically present during cold and flu. Maqui’s delphinidin has been shown to exert immunostimulatory effects, and further maqui has the highest ORAC value compared to all other berries. HP Ingredients provides organic MaquiCare standardized to 10% anthocyanins and 8% delphinidin.
Andrographis paniculata (in the form of ParActin): Studies on ParActin show that 50 mg daily helps bolster immune function to more easily vanquish cold and flu viruses. Additionally, research shows that 300 mg once or twice daily can significantly reduce the intensity of symptoms once a cold gets hold.