Supplements to Prevent the Flu

We all know the flu this year is bad.

In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.

So how can you prevent the flu?

First off, there are some easy and free things you can do (see this post).

There are also natural products that help prevent flu.

How do you know which supplements actually prevent flu versus those that claim to prevent flu, but don’t really work?

You can tell the difference between what works (and what doesn’t) by reviewing the scientific evidence.  But my guess is you don’t really have the time to sift through dozens of scientific articles.

So I’ve done the research for you — I’ve read and assessed the studies so you don’t have to.

Here are the details on the most popular supplements used to prevent flu — I’m telling you if they are effective and safe.


American Ginseng

American ginseng (Panax ginseng) is used for various medical purposes.

Studies show American ginseng may decrease the risk of developing the flu or common cold in adults. Evidence also suggests American ginseng may reduce symptom severity if you get the flu or common cold.


American ginseng is considered likely safe when used orally and short-term. The most common side effect is headache. American ginseng can decrease blood glucose and those with diabetes; high doses are associated with insomnia and schizophrenia. American ginseng can interact with prescription medications — especially warfarin — so be cautious.

Bottomline: American ginseng may keep you from getting the flu or common cold. However, you need to make sure you discuss using ginseng with your healthcare provider due to drug interactions and medical condition reactions.


Echinacea

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Echinacea is used for treating and preventing the flu, the common cold, and other respiratory infections.

There is plenty of evidence for echinacea in treating colds (see this post for more info). 

However, there is less evidence to support using echinacea to prevent flu. In fact, the most compelling evidence suggests echinacea may improve immune response to influenza vaccine.


Echinacea is considered likely safe when taken orally and used short-term.

Echinacea species are related to the ragweed family. If you have a ragweed allergy, echinacea is not for you. Because echinacea stimulates immune function, it may not be appropriate for those with autoimmune diseases.

Bottomline: Echinacea may help you once you get sick. However, it’s effectiveness in presently flu is questionable.

Garlic

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You are likely most familiar with garlic as a culinary herb. However, garlic is also used medicinally for conditions such as blood pressure, dyslipidemia, and infections.

Garlic has evidence to show it reduces illness severity if you get a cold or flu. There is also evidence to suggest garlic helps prevent colds. The evidence for influenza is less compelling.

Garlic is considered safe when used orally and appropriately.

Bottomline: If you get sick with a cold or flu, garlic may reduce your illness severity. As of now, there isn’t strong evidence to suggest garlic will prevent flu. Garlic may prevent the common cold.


Now You Know

You are armed with the evidence behind the most popular supplements to prevent the flu and common cold.

Now you can navigate the supplement aisles with confidence and make an evidence-based decision that is right for you.

In health,

Skye

 

5 Ways to Prevent a Sinus Infection

We’ve all been there. The snuffy nose that runs like a faucet. Coupled with pain and pressure in the face.

Yep. Sinus infections.

And sinus infections are RAMPANT this time of year.

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I used to get two sinus infections a year — one in the winter and one in the summer when my seasonal allergies went berserk.

But then I decided I would really figure out how to prevent them. Using evidence-based and integrative strategies. And voila! Sinus infections no more!

So how do you prevent sinus infections?

Keep reading for my top tips.

1. Avoid Breathing Dry Air

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You may be thinking, “Yeah, right. How do I do that in the winter?”

Great question because the combo of cold air and artificial heating is a recipe for dryness.

There are a few things you can do.

One is to use a humidifier, especially while you’re sleeping. These relatively inexpensive devices can be a godsend. They work by infusing the air with moisture, which makes things much more comfortable for your nasal passages and sinuses.

Another is to use saline nasal rinses. You can read more about those here.

2. Savor a Cup of Tea

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This is something I can completely get behind.

Tea, particularly of the green variety, has been shown to prevent sinus infections. It is thought the cathechins are responsible for this effect.

If you are new to tea, rest assured green tea tastes delicious. However, how you steep the tea is incredibly important. If you steep green tea for too long or at too high a temperature, it will taste bitter and honestly unpleasant. Be sure to follow steeping instructions to ensure your cup tastes great.

3. Stay Away from Smoke and Pollution

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Cigarette smoke is not only bad for your lungs — the smoke also irritates your nasal and sinus membranes.

When your nasal and sinus membranes are irritated, you are much more likely to get a sinus infection.

High pollution levels also have the same effect. So consider exercising indoors when the air quality is subpar or investing in an air purifier. Air purifiers are not cheap, but can make a huge difference if you live in an area with pollution.

4. Avoid Your Allergens

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When you are exposed to allergens, you often cause inflammation of the nasal and sinus membranes.

If you cannot avoid your allergens, at the very least treat your symptoms.

5. Wash Your Hands . . . Now and Often

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Wash your hands. Right now.

If you come into contact with people with colds or other infections, you increase your risk of illness.

The best way to prevent cold transmission is by hand washing. Now and often.

Keep Yourself Healthy & Happy

I’m a true believer in the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So if you suffer from sinus infections, try these tips to keep you (and your sinuses) healthy and happy.

xo,
Skye