The Immune System

and Natural Supports

Start with the ABCs of immune support

We ought to take advantage of no-cost lifestyle practices to sharpen and strengthen our immune response. These “immune-hygiene” practices include basic hygiene (simply put, washing hands and proper food preparation), restorative sleep, stress management, regular cardiovascular activity, a balanced diet, and sunshine. While admittedly banal and self-evident, never underestimate the profound influence of these practices on all facets of health. But life happens, and for most of us, we fall short of building a perfect foundation. Supplements can, therefore, help fill in the cracks and provide some peace of mind.

Seasonal daily supports

Many people enjoy using garlic, Elderberry, and olive leaf extract products throughout the cold and flu season. Garlic contains a sulphur compound called allicin, responsible for many of garlic’s prized antimicrobial properties. Allicin is mostly lost when garlic is crushed, chewed, or cooked but can be stabilized in a supplement. Garlic may relieve symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections and mucus build-up. Olive leaf contains a phytochemical called oleuropein (broken down in the body to elenolic acid), a powerful anti-bacterial agent. Elderberries have demonstrated antiviral properties against common flu strains. A popular combination product, NOW® Allibiotic CF™, offers a synergy of such ingredients, including garlic, olive leaf extract, elderberry concentrate, and Arabinogalactan (ImmunEnhancer™), a prebiotic shown to support immunity through enhanced gut health.

Once you are sick

Should a cold or flu make an unwelcome visit, various natural remedies can relieve symptoms such as coughing, sore throats, headaches, and congestion. The key is to have your chosen treatments on hand. Why? Most traditional remedies work best when taken at the first sign of symptoms. NOW® Andrographis Extract contains Andrographis, an herb used traditionally to provide immune support for upper respiratory tract infections (throat, sinuses, and lungs), especially where a lot of mucus and congestion is present. Also, consider NOW® Licorice Root. Licorice has demonstrated antiviral properties and is great at soothing irritated mucous membranes. Licorice has traditionally been used to soothe dry coughs and sore throats. Lung and sinus congestion can also be addressed by diffusing a few drops of NOW® Organic Eucalyptus Essential Oil. Alternatively, add one drop of eucalyptus oil into a sink full of steaming hot water and use a towel to trap the vaporous while you inhale deeply.

When to see a doctor

While home treatments can be very effective, you should seek help when things get out of hand. For example, consult a doctor if tonsils are beefy-red, discharges are thick and yellow or green, and cough is severe, you experience chest pain or difficulty breathing, have a fever of 103 degrees F or greater for over four days, are elderly, immune-compromised, diabetic or a child. If you are unsure, ask your doctor’s office regarding any free helplines you can access. For example, anyone in Ontario, Canada, can call TeleHealth Ontario at no cost 24/7 and talk to a nurse.

References Olive Leaf: Olive leaf. Monograph. Altern Med Rev. Mar 2009;14(1):62-66. Oregano: Zhang X-L, Guo Y-S, Wang C-H, Li G-Q, Xu J-J, Chung HY, et al. Phenolic compounds from Origanum vulgare and their antioxidant and antiviral activities.

Thalia Charney

MA, Holistic Nutrition and Wellness Coach Nutrition and Health Education Manager, NOW Foods

Thalia has a lifelong passion for all things nutrition and healthy living. With over 30 years in the health industry, her formal training and personal and professional experience form a solid basis for her speaking and education. Her experience includes an eclectic background in herbal medicine, nutrition, essential oils, green living, meditation, vegetarian cooking, and working as a wellness coach, fitness instructor and personal trainer. Thalia is also the author of “The Confident Shopper: The Guide to Food Labels and Fables,” “The Expert Patient: Health is Not a Spectator Sport,” and The 3-Minute Liquid Meal Blueprint.