100% Natural Top tips for beating colds this winter
Updated: Feb 4
Does it feel like your child gets one cold after another in winter? Has the Christmas season become something you dread, not knowing who is going to fall flat and be absent around the Christmas tree?
Let’s see if there’s another way to manage this recurring nightmare.
Getting a cold isn’t a bad thing. And is an important part of growing up and developing the immune system. At University I was taught that getting one cold a year as an adult is a good thing, because it gives you an all important annual immunity boost.
The reason children get one cold after another in winter is because they haven’t yet built up immunity to the 100 or so viruses that cause common colds. Exposure to these viruses is essential in childhood. Because of this, you will notice your children get fewer colds as they grow up.
The smart thing to do in winter is to support this important process by boosting your child’s immune system so they are armed and ready to develop an immune response, strengthen fast and recover from colds quicker. Like giving Popeye The sailor his spinach!
My mother had a whole series of natural remedies she plied me with as a child. On a daily basis. It was normal to me to have a spoon of honey and a vitamin C chewy tablet before school. Homoeopathy and garlic was what I expected to receive when I got a cold. The word ‘antibiotics’ was a foreign language to me. I have literally never taken an antibiotic tablet in my life. My mother refused. She insisted on building my immune system. She saw a cold as an opportunity, not an inconvenience.
So while all my classmates were falling like flies, carrying bags of cough sweets around, sitting miserably in the nurse’s room and missing days of lessons, I managed to get through junior and senior school without ever taking a day off. I was the one person my PE teacher could rely on to play in 100% of the winter hockey matches. I was made captain. I thought I was just special. Magic in fact. But I now realise that I had a smart mother who had understood and nurtured my immune system from day one.
So... how do you take advantage of this season, to boost the immune system of your child to reduce the duration of their colds and set them up for life?
Here’s my Mum’s top tips:
Vitamin C & Zinc
Honey is enriched with essential vitamins and minerals that make it a natural antibiotic. It is also a good source of vitamin C, D, E, K and B complex and beta-carotene, known to boost the immune system. It is known to help colds, chest congestion and respiratory problems.
It can also be a good cough suppressant. Research has even shown buckwheat honey to be more effective than a dose of dextramethorphan found in many cough mixtures. *
There are many different types of honey shown to be effective for coughs, such as buckwheat, eucalyptus, citrus, or labiatae (mint family) varieties. However, Manuka honey stands out due to It’s active ingredient Methylglyoxal which is most likely responsible for its antibacterial effects. Additionally, manuka honey has antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
Do be aware that it is not advised to give honey to a child under 1.
*Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents.
Garlic contains allicin, a compound which has been shown to have antibacterial properties. It has also been shown to boost the response of white blood cells when they encounter viruses, such as those that cause the common cold or flu.*
The magical Garlic has been shown to reduce the risk of becoming ill in the first place, and also to reduce the duration of illness and severity of symptoms.
An important piece of information to take into account is the studies that show that allicin is only effective in certain conditions. So the way garlic is prepared is very important for maximising it’s benefits.
Cooking in particular has been noted to reduce it’s effectiveness by deactivating allinase (the enzyme responsible for creating allycin).
How to maximise the effectiveness of garlic:
Crush or slice before eating to activate the allicin production.
Before cooking with crushed garlic, leave it to stand for 10 minutes - this increases the allicin content and reduces the amount lost through cooking.
The allycin effectiveness lost by cooking can be countered by basically using a lot! Use more than one clove in a meal to maximise your allycin intake
The only problem you might have is persuading your child to eat garlic! You may like to try crushing it very finely and adding it to a pasta sauce to avoid its detection.
You can also supplement with garlic. It can be found as a powder, aged garlic extract and garlic oil. Aged garlic extract has been shown to be most effective.
*Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and γδ-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention.
*Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey.
The berries and flowers of elderberry contain antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. Elderberry is also thought to have anti-viral properties. Studies* have shown that elderberry supplementation reduces the severity and length of influenza. It is shown to lessen the effect of colds on children, relieving sore throats, coughs and congestion, too. It is thought to be particularly helpful in chest infections
There are many forms that elderberry comes in. For children, I recommend Biocare’s “Children’s Elderberry complex”. I have a lot of respect for Biocare as a company, and trust the high quality and effectiveness of their products.
*A Review of the Antiviral Properties of Black Elder (Sambucus nigra L.) Products.
80% of the immune system is in the gut. Low levels of beneficial bacteria and miro-organisms in the colon make it easier illnesses to take hold. Probiotics have been shown to benefit a child’s health by supporting the developing immune system.* Supplementation with probiotics is the easiest and most effective way to boost the numbers of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
As always, I recommend Biocare’s probiotics range as many of you already know, due to the high quality and effectiveness. It is easy to get cheaper probiotic supplements than the Biocare range, but you risk the bacteria being dead and ineffective. You also risk taking a dose far too low to be effective.
I recommend these products:
*The clinical use of probiotics for young children.
DHA Helps build the immune system, avoid infections, and reduce inflammation.
Fish pie was a favourite of my Mum’s dinner repertoire.
If your child is not a fan of fish you can give them a supplement.
I recommend Biocare’s Children’s Omega care.
If your toddler is vegan or vegetarian you can find use a flax based oil omega-3 supplement that is filled with ALA.
Vitamin C & Zinc
The Nobel Prize winning Biochemist Linus Pauling discovered that the white blood cells responsible for attacking viruses and bacteria require Vitamin C.* They require up to 50 times the concentration of vitamin C than is found in the surrounding blood surrounding the cell. So it’s important to always have a high amount of vitamin C circulating in your blood for them to absorb.
Vitamin C supplementation has been shown to be more effective at reducing the symptoms of a cold when combined with zinc**.
So it is generally advised to supplement with Vitamin C and Zinc together
*Vitamin C and the common cold:
**A combination of high-dose vitamin C plus zinc for the common cold.
Sugar has been proven to reduce the immune system by 60%. One theory is that the body mistakes Sugar for Vitamin C. Simplified, the theory states that Sugar (glucose) and vitamin C have a similar chemical structure. So when the white blood cells are absorbing the high quantities of vitamin C that they need, they can absorb glucose by mistake. This results in them not having enough vitamin C to carry out their immune function optimally.
Whatever the correct scientific reason is, it is well understood that reducing your sugar intake allows the immune system to function optimally so it’s a really good idea to seek out sugar free alternatives for your child for the winter months!
Homoeopathy works on a basic principle of activating the body’s own defences to fight diseases.
My mum was always popping homoeopathic tablets in my mouth. It was her first port of call the moment I looked like I was coming down with a bug. Her favourites were:
I wouldn’t recommend self-medicating homoeopathy. I would suggest taking the advice of a professional. I have for many years worked with a homoeopathic GP in Didsbury, South Manchester, and have referred many happy patients to her. If you are interested in utilising homoeopathy for your child I would recommend getting in touch with her. Dr Vimal Aggawarl. 0161 434 7127.
I often treat one child in a family with cranial osteopathy, while the siblings remain untreated. For many years, parents of more than one child have reported back to me that the child receiving osteopathy gets ill less often than their siblings. Osteopaths believe this is simply due to the fact that we keep the body free from tension. This allows free flow of fluids throughout the body, including the lymphatic system. This prevents build up of metabolites, and allows free flow of delivery of oxygen and nutrients to all tissues of the body. Tight tissues restrict blood flow, and inhibit delivery of nutrients and drainage of toxins (metabolites).
The overall effect is a more efficient immune system.
I would recommend children receive a cranial osteopathic treatment at the turn of the seasons from Autumn into Winter, when all the bugs and viruses start to appear. But ideally, 3- 4 times a year.
I hope this article helps you all enjoy a happy, healthy sparkly festive season.
ps. If you are my patient, you are eligable for 10% discount on Biocare products. Just give my name when ordering and your discount will be applied.