Dr. Carla Cashin, ND | Naturopath Victoria BC
The cold and flu season is here, and many of us are wondering what home remedies we can use to address such common illnesses. The following guidelines still stand:
1) Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated (e.g. herbal teas, water, and electrolyte solutions)
2) Eat simple and easily digestible foods such as clear broths and soups, applesauce, steamed veggies, steamed fish or slow cooked meat and rice
3) Reduce sugar and processed foods which may negatively impact immune function and avoid dairy which may worsen congestion
4) Get plenty of rest, including staying home from work or school while symptomatic.
In addition to these familiar recommendations, a great naturopathic tool to add to your medicine chest this cold and flu season is Black Elderberry.
Black Elderberry has a long history of use in Europe and North America in the treatment of colds and flus, and is well known for its antiviral properties. Multiple studies now support its effectiveness in cold and influenza, reducing symptom severity and shortening the duration of these infections(1,2). The antiviral properties of Elderberry compare favorably to antiviral medications, including Oseltamivir and Amantadine(3). Notably, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) screened natural products for antiviral action against the H1N1 influenza strain and found that Elderberry was superior to most other remedies(4).
Preparations of Black Elderberry such as syrups and lozenges taste good and are safe for use in children and adults. Talk with your naturopathic doctor about dosage guidelines for Elderberry, and remember to seek appropriate medical care if symptoms of cold or flu worsen or persist, if you develop a high fever, or are at high risk of developing complications (infants and young children, elderly, immunocompromised individuals, patients with asthma or a chronic disease).
(1)Tiralongo, E. et al. “Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial,” Nutrients 8:4 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848651/
(2)Zakay-Zones, Z. et al. “Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections,” The Journal of International Medical Research. 32 2004. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080016
(3)Roscheck, B. et al. “Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro.” Phytochemistry 70:10 2009. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031942209002386
(4)Tieraona Low Dog, MD. “Elderberry for Cold and Flu Season.” https://drlowdog.com/elderberry-for-cold-flu-season/