How to help ourselves during COVID

Echinacea flower
Echinacea flower

There’s no panacea for avoiding COVID apart from following all the social distancing, masks and handwashing rules, and of course more recently the vaccination.  However, we can keep ourselves in tip top condition so we are more able to cope with it if we do get it. Some people are very ill, while others seem to breeze through it with very few symptoms, while others are asymptomatic.

Healthy Soul asked Ali Cullen, nutritional practitioner and consultant at A. Vogel, herbal manufacturers, to give us some advice. She is a nutritionist and herbalist and the following is what she recommends for staying healthy.

Support the immune system naturally:

• Get plenty of sleep.
• Drink alcohol in moderation only.
• Quit smoking.
• Exercise regularly.
• Maintain a healthy weight – being overweight or obese can risk changing the number of healthy bacteria in the gut and encourages inflammation in the body, both of which can leave you more vulnerable to illness or infection.
• Get out in nature daily if possible.
• Minimise unnecessary screen time.

What to eat

Ensure your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, specifically those containing vitamin C, such as oranges, strawberries, red and green peppers and broccoli, and beta-carotene (vitamin A), such as red peppers, carrots, spinach, and yellow fruits such as apricots and mango – these nutrients help keep your respiratory tract healthy so that it is better able to fight infections.

Ensure you include sources of zinc in your diet, such as meat, shellfish, cheese, bread, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and fortified cereals – zinc helps to keep the immune system functioning normally and is essential for wound healing.

Use herbal support

By supporting the immune system, Echinacea helps to maintain the body’s resistance to infection.

Echinacea is a plant native to America but is now cultivated extensively in Europe. Up to 10 species of Echinacea have been identified, but only three (E. purpurea, E. angustifolia and E. pallida) are used medicinally. Echinacea purpurea has been most widely researched, and recent research flagged up its potential use against new coronaviruses.1 (See details of research at the end).

Vogel’s Immune Support provides:A Vogel Immune Support

• Vitamin C sourced from acerola cherries, which contains up to 100 times the amount of vitamin C found in lemons or oranges. Vitamin C is extremely supportive of immune function, and that found in acerola is more readily absorbed and used by the body.
• Nasturtium extract which contains glucosinolates that have an affinity for the lungs, and is also a very rich source of vitamin C.
• Zinc which is immune supporting.
• Vitamin D, also an immune supporting nutrient.

http://www.avogel.co.uk

LEARN MORE:

The science behind Echinacea:  

Echinacea has been shown in numerous studies to be effective in relieving symptoms of colds and flu. In 2004, Goel et al published a trial that demonstrated the efficiency of Echinacea purpurea extract in the treatment of colds and flu, when it is used as soon as a cold starts. At seven days, 95 per cent of the subjects using Echinacea were free of symptoms compared with only 63% in the placebo group.2

In 2005, Goel published another trial showing that volunteers taking Echinacea purpurea extract at the onset of a cold had a greater decrease in their daily symptom score than a placebo group.3 Both studies by Goel involved ethanolic extracts of Echinacea purpurea extract produced from freshly harvested plant material, as in our Echinaforce drops.

In 2006, a Cochrane Report reviewed 16 controlled clinical trials investigating the effectiveness of several different Echinacea preparations for treating the symptoms of common colds. They concluded that some preparations based on Echinacea purpurea (including the aerial parts) might be effective for shortening the duration or decreasing the severity of cold symptoms in adults if taken after the onset of those symptoms.4

Max the vitamin content of your meals

Numerous studies have shown Vitamin C to be beneficial for the immune system. In research, it has been shown on several occasions to reduce the severity and duration of the common cold.5

In one study, participants were given a tomato juice rich in lycopene (another antioxidant which helps to prevent against cell damage) and Vitamin C. Results found that, after consuming the tomato juice, markers of inflammation (associated with infection and disease) amongst participants went down, and the level of antioxidants went up.6

Vitamin C is also thought to be helpful in reducing fever. Consumption of fruits that are rich in Vitamin C is thought to help people recover more quickly from a fever, as well as reducing the ‘hot flush’ feeling that occurs when the body reaches a high temperature.7 Whilst high temperatures are useful at the initial stage of an infection, a persistent high temperature is uncomfortable and dehydrating.

As well as contributing to normal function of the immune system, Vitamin C helps to protect cells from the oxidative (chemical) stresses we face daily, helping us to feel less tired. It also helps the normal formation of collagen which is important for the functioning of our blood vessels, bones, joint cartilage, gums, skin and teeth.

Zinc contributes to normal functioning of the immune system, and a deficiency in zinc may lead to a weakened immune response. Zinc supplements are known to play a role in reducing oxidative stress (which can increase the risk of illness and infection). One review of several studies found that 80-92mg per day of zinc may reduce the length of the common cold by up to 33%.8 In addition, zinc supplements have been found to reduce the risk of infections and promote immune function in older adults.9 Zinc also plays a critical role in wound healing and is commonly used in hospitals to treat burns, certain ulcers and other skin injuries.10 This is because zinc is required for collagen synthesis and the body’s inflammatory response, as well as immune function, all of which are crucial for wound healing.

Another key nutrient in Immune Support is Vitamin D. Vitamin D has a role to play in various bodily systems, including the immune system which it helps to support function normally. As vitamin D deficiency is a fairly common occurrence across all population groups, this could be a contributing factor in regular bouts of sickness, colds and flu.

Biologically active forms of Vitamin D contain calcitriol which acts as a cytokine, a chemical produced by infected cells to help mobilise immune cells into fighting the infection. Low levels of vitamin D are, therefore, associated with lower levels of cytokine activity. This means that, when the body is under attack from pathogens and viruses, it is less able to call on the help of immune cells.

Vitamin D can sometimes be hard to come by in the winter months when we don’t get sufficient access to sun light – a key source of vitamin D. At this time colds and flu can be more abundant so it is especially important to ensure you get enough vitamin D, either through your diet (although these sources are fairly limited or by taking a gentle supplement.

RESEARCH:

1 Signer, J., Jonsdottir, H.R., Albrich, W.C. et al. In vitro virucidal activity of Echinaforce®, an Echinacea purpurea preparation, against coronaviruses, including common cold coronavirus 229E and SARS-CoV-2. Virol J 2020; 17: 136.
2 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14748902/
3 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16177972/
4 https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000530/full
5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23440782
6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17640421
7 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2003.10719272
8 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28515951
9 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2702361/
10 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4413488/
4 Tobler M et al: Characteristics of whole fresh plant extracts. Schweizerische Zeitschrift fur GanzheitMedizin, 1994

Colds, coughs, flu

cherriesWill we get the usual colds and flu when everyone’s wearing masks, social distancing and not mixing in large crowds due to Covid-19?  It remains to be seen!  Here’s how you can  prevent them and stay healthy.

  • Regular Vitamin C – especially as Montmorency cherries.
  • Echinacea daily – you can take it all winter.
  • Garlic – many people swear by garlic capsules, or if you can stomach it, plenty of raw garlic.
  • Blackcurrant – in various preparations.
  • Vitamin D has come into its own lately because it has been suggested that people with low levels are more likely to suffer badly if they contract Covid-19.  Whether that’s proven or not there is no doubt that we need plenty of Vitamin D in the winter because we normally get it from exposure to the sun.

 

COLDS Serious illnesses are not cured with complementary medicine, but symptoms can sometimes be managed with a healthy eating regime and use of therapies. We’re more likely to get colds when we’re run down, stressed and tired. They are most common between September and March with the peak time around Christmas (when you may be stressed and worn out). People still work when they have a cold, but rest and sleep are the best solution because the body heals itself when you sleep. Symptoms include:

  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • blocked up nose
  • sore throat
  • earache
  • sinus pain
  • low grade fever
The way to avoid colds is to eat and sleep well, manage stress, exercise and take regular Vitamin C, zinc and Echinacea in winter. Once a cold is in full force the aim is to get over it as quickly as possible.
  • Keep taking Echinacea to boost the immune system and help to clear up the cold faster.
  • Chew grapefruit seeds or take the liquid extract, according to Suzanne Woodward, medical herbalist.
  • Steam inhalations help to clear stuffed up noses – put a few drops of eucalyptus, tea tree, or lavender oil in a bowl of boiling hot water and breathe in the vapours.
  • Try ginger root tea– one inch of peeled and chopped ginger boiled in water.
  • Cherry Active is made with Montmorency cherries and is absolutely packed with Vitamin C. It tastes nice and helps to keep you in top form.
  • Vitamin D has come into its own lately because it has been suggested that people with low levels are more likely to suffer badly if they contract Covid-19.  Whether that’s proven or not there is no doubt that we need plenty of Vitamin D in the winter because we normally get it from exposure to the sun.
A great combination is Yarrow, Peppermint and Elder, often prescribed by herbalists as a tea – Yarrow fights fever, Elderflower eases catarrh, and Peppermint cools and calms.

The other great soothers for colds:

  • Plenty of Vitamin C – nutritionists claim that 200 mg a day or more is safe when in need
  • Garlic boosts the immune system – take capsules or if you can bear it put it raw into soups and casseroles.

Cautious note: always check with your GP if taking prescribed medication BEFORE having herbal remedies as they may contraindicate the medicines.

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Cherry Active Concentrate Cherry Active 473ml
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Cherry Active Capsules Cherry Active 60
Coldenza homeopathic combination Nelson’s 72
Ester C Vitamin C Viridian Nutrition 30 veg caps
Citricidal grapefruit seed extract  Biocare 25ml
Eucalyptus oil Tisserand Aromatherapy 9ml
Tea tree oil Tisserand Aromatherapy 9ml
Lavender oil Tisserand Aromatherapy 9ml
Sambucol Elderflower Sambucol 120ml
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Antibiotics
  • Antibiotics don’t work for viruses, such as colds and flu
  • Taking too many can lower the body’s defences when it needs to fight more serious infection

COUGHS

Respiratory tract infections take up more of the GPs’ time than anything else, but while pneumonia and bronchitis can be serious some coughs linger after cold and flu symptoms have gone.Trudy Norris, herbalist and president of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, suggests an infusion of thyme which is antiseptic, clears phlegm and fights chest infections . ‘Put a heaped tablespoonful of dried thyme into a litre of boiling water and fill a thermos flask. Add a teaspoonful of honey to the mixture to relieve irritation and keep near day or night.’ Just sipping a mixture of one teaspoonful of honey and warm water can prevent persistent coughing at night as well.

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FLU:

Echinacea can be taken at the first signs of aches and pains (unless you are on medication in which case you should check for contraindications), as well as homeopathic remedies:

  • Gelsemium for aches and pains, rising temperature and constant aching;
  • Rhus Tox for aches and pains which get better when moving around;
  • Belladonna for sudden high fever, with or without sweating, cold hands and feet.

Boneset is an excellent herbal remedy for someone who has had flu for a couple of weeks, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better.

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SORE THROATS: Antibiotics should only be offered for infections like tonsillitis but natural remedies can help to soothe the throat. If a sore throat seems to be signalling the start of a cold the homeopathic remedy Aconite can stop it progressing. Over recent years doctors have been advised to cut down on handing out antibiotics yet research shows that 44 per cent of people who see doctors when they have a cold are given a prescription for antibiotics. The downside of this is that when they get a serious illness they may be antibiotic-resistant (as we’ve seen with many hospital infections). Propolis is made by bees from natural ingredients to protect their hives from infection and invasion, and gargling with it soothes a sore throat. Gargling with a few drops of tea tree oil or a pinch of salt in a glass of warm water also eases the pain.

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HEADACHES

Too many painkillers can suppress headaches and make them recur. The causes of a headache may be tension, hormonal imbalances, blocked sinuses, or back and neck problems. If headaches persist you should always consult a doctor, but if there is no serious problem you might find that a chiropractor or cranial osteopath can find the problem and ease the pain.

Trying to get rid of a headache can be really difficult, and one approach is to put strong smelling eucalyptus or camphor on the skin above the sinuses or on the forehead as so many headaches are caused by blocked sinuses. There are now several sticks available that make this easy to do, except you must be sure not to get it too near your eyes or they will pour.

Feverfew is the herbal answer to painkillers and Belladonna homeopathic remedy, is good for a throbbing headache, particularly in children.

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GLUE EAR/EAR ACHE

Often children with ear problems have repeated prescriptions for antibiotics which run down their immune systems. Homeopathy works well for glue ear and Pulsatilla is the most common remedy when there is lots of discharge. In cases of repeated ear infections a visit to a professional homeopath can be invaluable.

For adults earache can be cleared by putting a drop of lavender oil on a piece of cotton wool and placing it in the ear, but the vapours are quite strong and may not be recommended for children. For a desperate child you could try the old fashioned remedy of a baked onion, cut in half, wrapped in muslin and placed on the outside of the ear. Jenny Jones, herbalist, explains, ‘The vapours from the onion oils are antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, and they go into the ear and the heat of the warm onion is also soothing.’

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The National Institute of Medical Herbalists, 01392 426022, www.nimh.org.uk For a list of homeopaths contact: The Society of Homeopaths, 01604 621400, www.homeopathy-soh.org

Jenny Jones, Creative Health Centre, Leamington Spa, 01926 316500

 

 

Boost the immune system

cherries for JuneHealth stores are doing a roaring trade at the moment, due to  Coronavirus and that’s because people who know about vitamins and herbal medicines are stocking up. So what are they buying?

Vitamin C:  has a reputation for fighting all viruses, and so it’s a daily essential. When you are healthy you only require 10mg of Vitamin C, because that’s all the body can absorb at once (it pees the rest out). When you are unwell the body is depleted of Vitamin C so you need much more.

How to take it: Cherry Active is made from Montmorency cherries and is packed with Vitamin C – take as a juice (which you can dilute and drink hot) or tablets.  Or you can buy capsules, tablets or gel Vitamin C.  See:See Vitamin C fights all viruses.

Cherry Active liquid made from Montmorency cherries. Delicious and packed with Vitamin C, Concentrate, 473ml, £17.15;  30 capsules.

Nature C Vitamin C tablets, made by A. Vogel. Chewable, tasty and made from food.

To purchase these with a 5% discount go to www.superfooduk.com and put in the promotion code: HSoul1

Echinacea: is a herbal remedy that has the ability to boost the immune system and make you feel better. It was traditionally used by native Americans for many illnesses and infections, including snake bites.

Echinacea Hot Drink from A. Vogel  combines  fresh Echinacea root with herb extracts and Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) which is very warming and is claimed to prevent viruses entering cells of the body.

A. Vogel’s Echinaforce Echinacea Throat Spray moistens your throat and can prevent coughing.

A. Vogel Echinaforce Echinacea tincture, 50ml.

A. Vogel Echinaforce Echinacea tablets, 42.

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Zinc – 15 mg daily . Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system and may prevent viruses from entering cells which they need to do in order to multiply.

Bee Health, Vitamin C and Propolis, 60 tablets

Garlic – garlic is antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral and antibiotic. You can heavily lace your food with garlic, which will keep everyone away, not just the devil. Or you can take Allicin capsules – allicin is the active property in garlic that boosts the immune system. antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral and antibiotic.

Allicin Max Veg Caps, 30 – 180.

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Vitamin C fights all viruses

orangesIn China there is a trial going on with intravenous Vitamin C 24g or 24,000mg daily for 120 hospitalised coronavirus patients. We all know about Vitamin C and many take it when they are getting a cold. What is less known is that the NHS advises people to take 40mg a day, which is quite low. Supplements range in their strength but it’s quite common for people to take 500mg or 1,000 mg a day. There is not a problem with overdosing, because excess is excreted, but if someone is taking too much for their own body(as we all vary) they could have diarrhoea.

Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD, a US cardiologist, claims that Vitamin C can kill any virus if taken in the right quantities, including measles, mumps, rubella and  serious illnesses such as malaria, tetanus, dysentery, Ebola and many life-threatening viruses. To treat some of these with Vitamin C, it would need to be administered intravenously at high levels. This is hard to come by in Britain as it’s unlikely to be undertaken in the NHS and would have to be paid for.

Levy also states that Vitamin C has the power to reach embedded toxins and infections at cell level and destroy them.  Other toxins that it can kill are:

  • Snake and spider bites, etc.
  • Alcohol
  • Barbiturates
  • Toxic mushrooms
  • Heavy metals

For most of us the main concern, if we are lucky, is to minimise colds and flu and taking Vitamin C daily is a good start. If a cold starts to niggle it’s worth upping the dose because it can stop it before it takes a hold.

The market for Vitamin C is quite complex to the average consumer.  There is Vitamin C which is ascorbic acid, made synthetically and this is a good way to take it. Dr Levy advises that while ascorbic acid itself can upset stomachs in some people, sodium ascorbate does not have this effect.  He guards against taking potassium ascorbate or calcium ascorbate as too much of these minerals can be harmful to some people. Liposomal Vitamin C is also an effective way of taking it –  a gel that  you put in a small glass of water.  Try Altrient Liposomal Vitamin C, 1000 mg.

And then there’s natural Vitamin C from fruit and plants, such as Cherry Active from Montmorency cherries and Nature C from A. Vogel.  If under threat in winter from viruses, it’s best to choose the Vitamin C that can give you the highest reasonable dose (say, 1,000 mg although some people take more).  See: Colds, Coughs and Flu.

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Back to the ubiquitous Coronavirus (or COVID-19)  the China Daily reported recently that more than 85 per cent of novel Coronavirus pneumonia patients nationwide have received Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a means of treatment, according to the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine. They have also reported that around 87 per cent of patients taking TCM medication have recovered or been discharged from hospitals.

It’s very difficult to know who to believe in this day and age of fake news as reports of Vitamin C being effective have been hotly disputed. All people can do is make up their own minds.

The miracle of lemons

Lemons are antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, antifungal, astringent, detoxifying, anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine, provide masses of  Vitamin C and can be used in cleaning and beautifying.  The amazing benefits of lemons for health are fully explained in the book, The Miracle of Lemons, by Dr Penny Stanway.

What few people realise is that lemons may be acidic in the mouth, but when they are digested the acids are broken down into water and carbon dioxide, and the other contents release alkalising minerals in the body – including calcium, iron, potassium, sodium. Far from avoiding them because they are too acidic, they keep the body alkaline, so we should be using them more!
The nutrients in lemons are so numerous that we can’t even list them all here. Here’s a flavour of them:
• Vitamin C aka ascorbic acid.  A small lemon contains 60-100mg of Vitamin C.
• Antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body – the chemicals that cause disease  – these include Vitamins C and E, selenium, and zinc.
• Citric acid which removes water from the body’s tissues into the bloodstream.
• Glucaric acid which lowers LDL cholesterol (the harmful one) from the body.

Health benefits:

Digestion: The acids in lemons – ascorbic, citric and glucaric – aid digestion for anyone who has insufficient gastric acid.
Arthritis: Lemons are good for arthritis, which thrives on an acidic system, despite the fact that people often warn sufferers to avoid citrus fruits.
Stabilises blood sugar levels: The acids and pectin within lemons slow the absorption of sugar after a meal with a high glycaemic index (that normally raises blood sugar levels).  This helps to stop low sugar dips which often lead people to eat more.
Sore throats or coughs: Lemon is often included in cough preparations – hot lemon and honey can be very soothing when you’re feeling ropey.
Athlete’s foot: Lemon juice is antifungal and can clear up a mild case of athlete’s foot when applied direct.
Dr Stanway mentions many more health benefits in her book.

How to eat or drink lemons

The easiest thing you can do is to squeeze lemon juice into meals – casseroles, stews, fish dishes, salad dressings. You can simply make a dressing of olive oil with lemon juice.
Or drink a glass of water with a fresh lemon wedge in it, or if making smoothies add lemon juice. You will barely notice the taste but will get all the benefits.

Choosing the best fruits

The long list of fungicides, pesticides and insecticides that growers put on lemons could put you off completely.  Far better to go for the unwaxed versions – the wax contains fungicides, and better still, organic lemons that are not subjected to such harsh chemicals.

To buy The Miracle of Lemons click on the Amazon carousel on the home page.

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