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Common colds – how to support your child’s immune system naturally

ExpertsPost Category - ExpertsExpertsWellnessPost Category - WellnessWellness - Post Category - HealthHealth

It’s that time of year again, mamas! Our tropical weather might not bring on colds in full force, but lots of travel to and from colder climes still seems to do the trick. Let Sassy expert and naturopathic doctor, Dr. Bean give you the lowdown on the common cold and some not-so-common, but very effective, strategies for treating it.

As a mother, my heart goes out to the kiddies that fall ill. When they catch a cold, you can be left feeling helpless. If the situation isn’t serious, are there things you can do at home before heading to the doctor? Yes, there are lots of things you can do! As a naturopathic doctor, I use simple and effective treatments to help support and boost children’s immune systems naturally when they come down with the cold.

Fact about the common cold
The first thing to be aware of is common colds are usually due to viruses, particularly the rhinovirus or adenovirus. As a result, antibiotics will not be an appropriate treatment.

What does a common cold look like?
Your child could present with a variety of symptoms associated with the common cold such as sore throat, runny nose, congested nasal passage, sneezing, headache, fatigue, irritability or fussiness, or low-grade fever.

It is important to note that some of these symptoms could be pointing to something else going on. If you feel there is something more going on with your child’s health, it is always a good idea to seek professional help.

What’s the first thing you should do when your child has cold symptoms?
Encourage your child to rest. Their body needs energy to fight the infection. Also, do not force your child to eat, as a loss of appetite allows energy to go towards the immune system rather than digesting food. Instead, when they do eat, make sure your child is obtaining quality nutrients during this time such as good proteins, fruits and vegetables. In addition, give your child some liquid every 15 – 30 minutes to keep hydrated.

Common Cold_2

Image sourced via Shutterstock

Next step?

Supporting the immune system with nature’s most powerful antimicrobials:

  • Vitamin C: Along with being an important antioxidant it also helps to enhance white blood cell function, activating and increasing interferon levels, antibody responses and antibody levels.
  • Cod liver oil: This contains vitamin A, which has been shown by some studies to improve immune function.
  • Zinc lozenges: To soothe sore throats, zinc lozenges can be very effective.
  • Probiotics: An excellent way to help support the immune system. A large portion of our immune system is created in our digestive tract; therefore, we need to add good bacteria such as Lactobaccillus and Bifidobacterium. Without good bacteria, things can get out of control and weaken production of immune cells. In addition, good bacteria become especially important if your child is on antibiotics.
  • Echinacea: At the onset of a cold, the medicinal properties of this herb work to increase the production and activity of white blood cells. It also works to increase production of interferon, an important part of the body’s response to viral infections.
  • Garlic: The active ingredient of garlic is called alicin. Alicin is a strong antimicrobial, which means it can fight bacteria, viruses and parasites. There are creative ways to give garlic to your child!

Make sure you avoid weakening your child’s immune system! 

  • Ditch the sugar – Sugar (glucose) makes the immune system sticky, dampening the powerful players of your immune system. Eating or drinking 100grams (8tsp) of sugar, the equivalent of about two cans of soda, can greatly reduce your white blood cells from killing germs by about 40%. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than 40 minutes after consumption and can last for about 5 hours.

Is there anything else you can do?
Yes! I have had great results using homeopathic remedies with my little patients. They are a safe and effective treatment (when used appropriately). This is another avenue we can use to battle your child’s lingering or even acute cold symptoms. 

Disclosure: This article does not replace information from your doctor. Always seek professional advice before changing or eliminating important medications and supplements. It is important to talk to your naturopathic doctor before using botanical medicine or food changes as there may be an interaction with your medication, allergic reaction, or not advisable to use with certain diseases or conditions.

Top image sourced via Shutterstock

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