After the fun and sun of summer, back-to-school season is here again.
For students, the return to bedtime and homework routines and new academic and social challenges can result in increased stress, combined with the change in environment, meeting and interacting with new people. All together these changes can mean increased exposure and lower our defenses to flu bugs, viruses and other infections, that can spell sick days for the whole family if we aren’t careful.
Stacking the Immunity Odds
There are some natural and straight-forward ways to ensure your family’s immune system is up to the test of the start of the school year. Practising frequent handwashing, making time for nutritious family meals, cutting down on sugar (which impairs the immune system), limiting screen time before bed, and making sure kids get to unwind in healthy ways (like exercise) can all contribute to healthy immune systems.
There are also some clinically proven herbs and minerals that can give the whole family an added immunity boost and help to combat colds and flu symptoms when they do occur. Consider adding these to your Back-to-School shopping list this year.
Andrographis assists the body’s natural defenses and may reduce the duration and severity of cold and flu symptoms. Andrographis is an herb native to India and Sri Lanka and prior to the discovery of antibiotics was widely used throughout Southeast Asia. It was traditionally used in Indian and Chinese herbal medicine for cough, colds and influenza.
Numerous clinical trials have investigated the efficacy of Andrographis versus placebo for the relief of acute respiratory tract infection symptoms in both adults and children. One such trial included 158 adults with the common cold. The patients were divided in two equal size groups, one of which received Andrographis paniculata dried extract (1200 mg/day) and the other a placebo during a period of 5 days. At day 2 of treatment a significant decrease in the symptoms of tiredness, sleeplessness, sore throat and nasal secretion was observed in the group administered Andrographis versus the placebo group. By day 4 of the trial, a significant decrease in the intensity of all symptoms was observed for the Andrographis group, including reduced earaches, phlegm, coughing and headaches.[i]
A 2017 systemic review and meta-analysis of 33 randomized controlled trials which included 7,175 patients in total, concluded Andrographis has a statistically significant effect in improving overall symptoms of acute respiratory infections when compared to placebo, usual care, and other herbal therapies. Evidence also suggested that it shortened the duration of cough, sore throat and sick leave/time to resolution.[ii]
South African Geranium
The South African geranium (Pelargonium sidoides) is native to South Africa. The plant’s powerful properties were first discovered in South Africa, where it was used to help support respiratory and digestive health. The plant later gained popularity in Europe and the United States. Preparations of this extract are clinically proven to reduce the duration and severity of minor nasal, throat, and chest irritations and occasional coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat, and irritants.[iii] This is primarily why it has become a popular herbal supplement taken at the first sign of respiratory irritations.
Tinospora cordifolia is native to India, China, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. It has a long history in India as a natural remedy for cold, fever, diabetes, ulcers, headache, digestive disorders and throat infections. This plant has many active ingredients and is also nutritionally beneficial, containing essential minerals such as: copper, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and manganese. It has been used effectively as a treatment for allergic rhinitis and helps to reduce stuffy or runny nose symptoms. Tinospora has been shown to be an immune modulator, helping to relieve sneezing, nasal obstruction, nasal discharge and inner nasal swelling due to cold and flu or allergies.[iv]
Zinc and Copper
Zinc and copper are essential nutrients that must be obtained via food or supplementation. Zinc is required for a myriad of roles in the body, affecting the development and integrity of the innate and adaptive immune system. Lacking zinc levels in children have been associated with impaired growth, motor development and neuropsychological functioning.[v]
One 2020 meta-analysis looked at 660 studies regarding micronutrient supplementation and its effects on the common cold. Extracting data from 20 human clinical trials, the analysis authors concluded that zinc supplementation may reduce common cold duration by 2.25 days.[vi] Particularly for older adults, another study showed that zinc supplementation significantly reduced the risk of infections and positively promotes immune response.[vii]
Zinc is essential for the function of white blood cells to protect the body from invasion by bacteria and viruses. Copper is necessary for many biochemical processes in the body and provides potent antioxidant effects. Zinc and copper work best when optimal ratios of both minerals are used.
Cold & Flu Symptom Relief
AOR’s Cold & Flu formula conveniently contains all the aforementioned herbs and minerals in one. This advanced combination was designed to help alleviate cold and flu symptoms, reducing symptom severity and duration. It’s a must have formula for when flu and cold season rears its ugly head.
This year, there’s no reason not to start school feeling healthy, rested, and strong – with a little immunity boost the whole family can benefit from.
[i] D.D. Cáceres, J.L. Hancke, R.A. Burgos, F. Sandberg, G.K. Wikman, Use of visual analogue scale measurements (VAS) to asses the effectiveness of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract SHA-10 in reducing the symptoms of common cold. A randomized double blind-placebo study, Phytomedicine,Volume 6, Issue 4, 1999, Pages 217-223, ISSN 0944-7113, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0944-7113(99)80012-9.)
[ii] Hu XY, Wu RH, Logue M, Blondel C, Lai LYW, Stuart B, Flower A, Fei YT, Moore M, Shepherd J, Liu JP, Lewith G. Andrographis paniculata (Chuān Xīn Lián) for symptomatic relief of acute respiratory tract infections in adults and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017 Aug 4;12(8):e0181780. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0181780. Erratum in: PLoS One. 2018 Nov 14;13(11):e0207713. PMID: 28783743; PMCID: PMC5544222.
[iii] Gökçe, Ş., Dörtkardeşler, B.E., Yurtseven, A. et al. Effectiveness of Pelargonium sidoides in pediatric patients diagnosed with uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection: a single-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Eur J Pediatr 180, 3019–3028 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00431-021-04211-y
[iv] Dhama et al. Medicinal and Beneficial Health Applications of Tinospora cordifolia (Guduchi): A Miraculous Herb Countering Various Diseases/Disorders and its Immunomodulatory Effects. Recent Pat Endocr Metab Immune Drug Discov. 2017;10(2):96-111.
[v] Black M. M. (1998). Zinc deficiency and child development. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 68(2 Suppl), 464S–469S. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/68.2.464S
[vi] Wang MX, Win SS, Pang J. Zinc Supplementation Reduces Common Cold Duration among Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials with Micronutrients Supplementation. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2020;103(1):86-99. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.19-0718
[vii] Haase H, Rink L. The immune system and the impact of zinc during aging. Immun Ageing. 2009;6:9. Published 2009 Jun 12. doi:10.1186/1742-4933-6-9