Picture Of Young Sick Man

At Wondrous Roots, this time of year brings many through the door looking for remedies to help keep them healthy and/or fight an illness. Fortunately, there are several different options, usually depending on the individual. 

“Do you get sick easily?” we might ask. In that case, it’s always a good idea to recommend something that strengthens the person’s own immune system. My top picks for that include:

Moducare: Plant sterols and sterolins that neither oversuppress or overstimulate the immune system but, instead, balance the TH1:TH2 response individually. Because of the balancing action, we can use this with someone who picks up cold and flu easily, someone with cancer, someone with allergies, and someone with autoimmune conditions.

Beta glucan 1,3-1,6 D: Beta glucan is a polysaccharide grown on yeast, mushrooms and oats. It, too, enhances immune system response. It is also known to balance, though for someone with autoimmune concerns, I prefer Moducare. 

Then, there are botanical medicines that both strengthen the immune system and fight various viruses and bacteria.  Here are some of the ones I consider stars: 

Echinacea: Although it may be argued based on studies that echinacea does not shorten duration or severity of a cold, in those studies the echinacea was administered after symptoms had fully developed.  I recommend echinacea the moment the first scratch in the throat is felt – long before full-blown symptoms are underway. 

Especially when combined with goldenseal root, a very potent opposition to the infectious agent is mounted. I used our own combination of echinacea and goldenseal just this week for a threatening cold and was able to quickly send the nasty beast running.

Goldenseal: As mentioned above, has natural anti-infection properties

Elderberry: Prevents influenza virus from entering through the mucous membranes (think nose) – if you haven’t been taking elderberry as a precaution and you get the flu, begin immediately, as it also stops the virus from replicating once its already “in.” 

Olive leaf: Also effective against influenza and para-influenza viruses. 

Osha root: Can’t say enough about this wondrous medicine for cough/bronchitis/lungs

There are, of course, many others, and I think they work better in appropriate combinations. 

Then there’s Fire Cider. I’ve written about that before, but it must be mentioned here. The fire cider recipe includes apple cider vinegar, onions, hot pepper, garlic, citrus, horseradish and ginger. All of these offer their own cold-‘n-flu-fighting properties and work so much more potently when blended together.       

But what about some of the old wives’ tales?

“Feed a cold, starve a fever.”This doesn’t make much sense to me.  Hydration is super important during either, and, in my opinion, appetite is a good guide when it comes to how much food is appropriate for the individual.

When digestion isn’t hogging all the energy, the body has more to spend on fighting the fiend. However, good nutrition supports the body’s healing processes. My advice: Eat to appetite, eat nutritious foods only, stay hydrated. Soups are excellent when it comes to both. 

Which brings us to...

“Eat chicken soup.” Chicken soup boasts benefits beyond hydration and overall nutrition. Rich in Vitamin B5 and tryptophan, chicken soup can help “gladden your heart” as you sniffle. Research out of the University of Nebraska Medical Center conducted in 1993 suggested that the mixture of chicken, vegetables and hot fluids work together to provide measurable relief. That research showed that chicken soup works to limit the production of neutrophils, the white blood cells that eat bacteria and ultimately cause inflammation and mucus production.

It’s this anti-inflammation power that seems to be the most important. We need white blood cells to fight off infection, but, apparently, it’s too much inflammation – rather than the actual virus – that causes the sniffling, sneezing and congestion that makes us feel so miserable.

It was Ben Franklin who said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”I say, keep your immune system nourished with a nutritious diet, a healthy lifestyle and the strategic use of vitamin and herbal supplements.

Certified holistic health practitioner, nutritionist and traditional apothecary/herbalist Rebecca Roentsch Montrone employs the modalities of diet, lifestyle management, nutritional supplements, bio-identical hormones, and botanicals to help bring healing and optimize health. She holds a bachelor of science degree in holistic nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is certified through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Her practice, Wondrous Roots, is located at the Miller Forge Building on 103 Roxbury St. in Keene and is open weekdays, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: 603-439-2603. Email: rebecca@wondrousroots.org. Website: wondrousroots.org. Catch live radio broadcasts WKBK Keene, noon to 1p.m., Saturdays.