By Dr. Sara Hart, ND, MSOM, CO registered Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Acupuncturist
The old phrase, “you’ve got to nip it in the bud,” is so true when it comes to addressing acute cold and flu symptoms. In exploring what works when it comes to immune stimulation and fighting seasonal illness, I look to traditions around the world that have been keeping people healthy for generations.
Contrast hydrotherapy – common to Finnish culture, Japanese, and native American tradition, the alternating hot and cold water stimulation to the body does wonders to boost the
This can vary from enjoying a regular warm shower and briefly alternating the temperature to as cool as can be comfortably tolerated, then back to heat as warm as is comfortable and back to cool again. A typical duration is one minute hot, then five to ten seconds cold repeated three times.
Intensifying the experience with hot tubs or sauna use alternating with intermittent cool/cold temperature is common as well and has profound measurable effects. In a Finnish study of contracting hydrotherapy from a sauna to a shower the white blood cell activity after use was especially enhanced. Athletes making use of the sauna with contrasting cold shower had a more dramatic result, although it is effective in non-athletes as well.(1)
Medicinal mushrooms – As researcher and mycology expert Paul Stamets describes, mushrooms can save the world. The complexity of the mycelium web has numerous interactions with our own immune system when we consume the wide varieties that nature provides. Modern research mimics what Chinese Medicine has known for years. Various mushroom strains are well known to boost the protective energy of the body,
“We share in common the same types of pathogens, humans and mushrooms…We speak the same biological language… Agaricus mushrooms are my favorite. They are very active immune stimulators. They are known to destroy the pox virus, flu virus and our common cold rhinovirus,” Stamets shares.(2)
Many Americans suffering from cold and flu symptoms will be prescribed antibiotics drugs this year. These are important, life saving drugs that have gone through many incarnations as time and the marketplace has changed. While every prescribing practitioner knows the danger of over-prescribing, many feel they have to give something to a patient in distress. Even if it’s a viral infection, an antibiotic can still provide some symptomatic and placebo relief. However, when it’s not truly an out of control bacterial infection the cost of using antibiotics may be greater than the benefit for long term health.
There is a concerning association between the number of antibiotic prescriptions used in one’s lifetime and developing cancer. People who have used ten or more courses of antibiotics in their lifetime have a significant increase in rates of cancer. This does not mean that antibiotics cause cancer, but that we are identifying a correlated trend.(3)
Berberine containing herbs – this chemical compound found in nature exists in a wide variety of plants that have been traditionally used to defeat illnesses. Goldenseal, oregon grape root, turmeric, chinese skullcap and more all contain this powerful compound. It is known to kill bacteria, yeast, parasites and more. In doing so, it also enhances intestinal elimination and provides rich nutrients to the body.
From a traditional medicine perspective, enhancing the body’s natural defense mechanisms by stimulating the immune system provides not only a relief from aggravating symptoms but more importantly supports improvements in long term health.
Stillwater Clinic & Apothecary provides acute care services to Lyons and the surrounding communities! I practiced in Oregon as a primary care doctor for five years and now diagnose and treat patients in my office here in Lyons as a Registered Naturopathic Doctor. I offer natural medicine alternatives to pharmaceutical treatment as well as collaborate with area physicians to meet the full healthcare needs of individuals.
1. Wanda Pilch,1,4 Ilona Pokora,2 Zbigniew Szyguła,1,4 Tomasz Pałka,1,4 Paweł Pilch,3 Tomasz Cisoń,1,4 Lesław Malik,3and Szczepan Wiecha J Hum Kinet. Effect of a Single Finnish Sauna Session on White Blood Cell Profile and Cortisol Levels in Athletes and Non-Athletes. 2013 Dec 18; 39: 127–135. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3916915/
3.Dobson, Roger. The risk of developing prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancer rises with use of antibiotics, a large observational study has found (International Journal of Cancer 2008 Aug 14, doi: 10.1002/ijc.23622) http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a1381.