Now that I’ve talked about the immune system and probiotics, there are other popular supplements that work to support the immune system. One is Echinacea. It is a wildflower that has 9 different species, 3 of which have therapeutic properties. It works by helping the body to rid itself of microbial infections, both bacterial and viral. This is something the flu shot cannot do, as it does not protect against infections caused by microbes other than the influenza virus. Echinacea is also used in treating many conditions such as sinus infections, sore throats, tonsillitis, coughs, bladder and kidney infections. You should look for a product that contains at least 3.5% echinacosides, the active ingredients confirmed in various studies. The issue with Echinacea, is that it must be CYCLED when taking it. Don’t make the mistake of taking it regularly without this following information. The most common protocol is to take it for 2 weeks, and replace it with another immune-enhancing herb, like astragulus for 1 week. Astragulus is a Chinese herb that acts on the immune system similarly to Echinacea. (It’s generally found next to the Echinacea in better health food stores, or in my office) You would then return to the Echinacea, for the next 2 weeks, and repeat the cycle. This maintains its potency.
Although there very few known side-effects of Echinacea other than some people’s allergy to its flower, there are patients, however, who should not take it. According to recent research, those with lupus, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and other auto-immune disorders should not take Echinacea, as it may worsen these conditions. Please be aware of over the counter products that add this into its ingredients, especially sports drinks and iced teas.
Antioxidants, especially zinc, can be effective for supporting the immune system. Again, medical grade formulas are best, as they use the correct form of each ingredient. Zinc has many different forms, and some are more absorbable than others. Studies show Zinc Orotate and Zinc Citrate are the most bioavailable forms, meaning they are used most efficiently by the body. Be careful not to take too much zinc, as it may actually lower your immune system, increase your LDL, and decrease your HDL levels. I order specific blood work for my patients to ensure they are taking the right form and the right dosage of zinc and other vitamins and minerals. Another concern is that some medications may interact adversely with zinc. Some may increase zinc levels in the body to unhealthy levels. One is a potassium sparing diuretic called Amiloride. Those on that medication should not supplement with zinc. Blood pressure medications, or ACE inhibitors like Lisinopril, some antibiotics like Cipro, diuretics like Hydrochlorothiazide and more, actually decrease levels of zinc in your body. People on those medications must supplement with zinc. These reasons alone, are important reasons why you should not self-diagnose and prescribe dosages for your supplements. Check the labels on immune building over the counter supplements, and health drinks for zinc in their ingredients. It’s always best to get your vitamins and minerals from food sources. Good sources of zinc include crab, oysters, red meat, poultry, pumpkin, cooked greens and more. Consuming foods rich in nutrients is generally better than taking a supplement.
Let’s start the cold and flu season by going into our health remedies with OUR EYES WIDE OPEN! Don’t hear or read information and rush into self-prescribing! Research products, their ingredients, AND their potency before putting them into your system. Remember too, you get what you pay for!
If you have a question about any of my articles, please email me at DrLeisa@CaringPainRelief.com
Leisa-Marie Grgula, D.C.
Accurate Care Pain Relief Center
21043 N. Cave Creek Rd. #A9
Phoenix, AZ 85024