*This article has been updated, January 2020
Maybe colds are not inevitable!
I have had real success in fighting them off after that first tickle in the back of my throat. My new secret? Here is the advice I received from an MD/Pharmacologist, Dr. Adam Messenger, whose wife is a pediatrician. This is what they do.
ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES FOR COLD AND FLU
The American Academy of Family Physicians reported a summary in the magazine American Family Physician (2012 Jul 15;86(2):153-159) on all the studies which investigated alternative natural medicines which work for the common cold/flu. Some work by hindering viral replication and others by stimulating your own immune system naturally. My goal for you is to prevent you from getting to the point where you have to miss work, go on antibiotics, etc. It is a proactive, preventive medicine approach which focuses on looking at the whole body. You will hear me say time and time again that our bodies are not separate, individual systems. Everything is interconnected, and even our thoughts and emotions can affect our physiology. I went into medicine to be a healer, not just a physician who treats symptoms. I want you to take charge of your own health by maximizing your body’s functioning.
The supplements which have been shown in studies to work are:
- Umcka Cold Care by Nature’s Way: Shown to reduce severity and duration of colds (yes even sinus infections and cough)
- Kold Kare: Works well on colds, flu and sinus infections and cough. It has also been shown to decrease the duration.
- Sambucus Black Elderberry Extract Syrup by Nature’s Way. Inhibits viral replication and thus prevents or shortens the duration of flu and colds if taken at the first sign. There are also capsules which may be more convenient for traveling. All I can tell you is my wife is a Pediatrician and I am an adult Internal Medicine and Cosmetic Medicine physician and people sneeze and cough on us all day. As soon as we feel that tickle or headache, we take the sambucus (and now take Kold Kare and Umcka Cold Care). IT WORKS!
- At the first sign of a cold take a Zinc TABLET (either 30 or 50 md and make sure it is the one you have to swallow). The sprays and lozenges can permanently damage your taste buds.
- I would request that you be on Probiotic supplement every day. Probiotics are the good bacteria in our gastrointestinal system which enhance immunity against colds and flu. They also reduce severe allergies with regular use.Supplement companies are not FDA regulated so they can theoretically put sawdust in your capsule. With probiotics you are looking for the pills that have multiple strains of bacteria (such as Acidophilus, Lactobacillus and Bifidum, S. thermophilus, etc) which require refrigeration to stay fresh. Take 1-2 pills every day (morning or night is fine.) If you are on antibiotics (which kill both bad bacteria as well as our necessary intestinal good bacteria and thus leave us susceptible to yeast infections and an overgrowth of dangerous bacteria called C. Difficile), take 1 pill 3 times daily until the antibiotics are done. It should be noted that it is important NOT to take the antibiotics and probiotics at the same time as they antibiotics will immediately kill the probiotics. I usually tell patients to wait at least 2 hours after taking the antibiotics before starting the probiotics. Given the good bacteria in our intestines have such an important role in maintaining digestive function by keeping other forms of bacteria and yeast in check, people with gastrointestinal issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome may benefit. If you have gastrointestinal issues please discuss which strains or brand to use and how often to take them with your gastroenterologist.
- Finally, Vitamin D3 should be a daily supplement like probiotics. I suggest you have a Vitamin D3 level drawn to see where your levels are. Most of us, due to avoiding the sun, or wearing sunblock, don’t get the sun exposure needed to make this vitamin. The problem is our levels drop and so does our immunity. If I had to take 2 things regularly it would be Vitamin D3 and Probiotics (and I do). I can’t tell you how many colds and flu episodes my wife and I have avoided.
- Take Vitamin D3 (Natures way or call me for a brand name) daily after getting a simple vitamin D3 blood test so your physician knows where to start. Never megadose with Vitamins. Use everything in moderation. Note that the dose and frequency of taking the Vitamin D3 should be determined by your physician. There are some individuals who are so deficient that they will require a prescription form at first.
- Probiotic pill/capsule once every day.
- Take the Umcka Cold Care, Kold Kare, Black elderberry syrup or capsules and Zinc ONLY at the first sign of infection. You do not need to take these every day.
Make sure you complete your due diligence and research which companies use independent testing labs to confirm purity. Also, confirm with your physician before starting any supplement regimen if you have other health conditions, are on other medications, are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant or breastfeeding. If considering use in children, read the instructions on the bottle to determine dose and confirm with your Pediatrician.
The simplest form of infection prevention is hand washing with soap and water, using hand sanitizer gel, cleaning phones, doorknobs, handles, faucets and surfaces with disinfectant. Also, please refrain from touching the face, as the mouth, nose and eyes contain mucous membranes which are easy entrances for viruses. It’s a tough habit to break as we are typically touching our face many times throughout the day, but a little extra vigilance can go a long way.
The CDC recommends that patients receive the influenza vaccine as an additional form of influenza infection. Utilizing both convention as well as some of the proven alternative remedies can help you remain healthy during these tough winter months.
Dr. Messenger is a Board Certified Internal Medicine physician who is also a medication specialist with an additional Pharmacology degree. He practices preventive/integrative medicine in a consultant only capacity as he combines both conventional and alternative medicine to find an individually tailored treatment plan for all of his patients. He is also trained in Cosmetic Medicine and has created a new injection technique for Botulinum Toxins and fillers such as Restylane, Perlane and Juvederm which has produced outstanding results. He practices his Cosmetic Medicine with the same philosophy as preventive medicine. He uses conservative amounts by working with your anatomy to best sculpt a natural look which blends harmoniously with the rest of the face while serving to slow further progression of lines, hollowing and sinking.
He is Medical Director at Eurolaser Services on 20 Purdy Avenue in Rye, NY (914)921-3265 and will also be practicing in Greenwich, CT starting in February.