Newsletter Notes by David Winston, AHG

November / December 2004

Preparing the Immune System for the Changing Seasons

Fall marks the start of the cold and flu season. How do you get your body ready? What formulas are appropriate for the acute phase of cold and flu? We asked our chief herbalist and formulator David Winston to help answer these questions...

Getting ready for the season—depends on your overall health status. If you are prone to winter sickness—recurring events, begin now to strengthen your overall immune system so that you can resist what the Chinese call “external pernicious influences” during the season.

For building the general immune system, the mushroom based products are wonderful. Try Chaga Tea, Reishi, or Seven Precious Mushrooms. If your lungs are particularly susceptible to infections add Astragalus — I like our White Metal Tea as a general tonic to the lungs. If teas are inconvenient, you can use small amounts of our Astragalus/Echinacea Compound formula to potentiate your immune activity.

As general defense (if you are in the company of people who are sick) I use our Herbal Re-Leaf Throat Spray-a blend of soothing, antimicrobial herbs Echinacea Angustifolia, Collinsonia, Coptis, Licorice, Sage, Cinnamon, Myrrh, Osha, Propolis and essential oils of Lemon, Cinnamon and Peppermint. And if I am starting to feel sick, I reach for our Ultimate Echinacea a great blend of Echinacea angustifolia root, Echinacea purpurea root and flower and Echinacea pallida root . These are also both great ‘early stage’ remedies.

My favorite acute remedies depend a bit on the way the symptoms present themselves—I usually continue to use Ultimate Echinacea and Herbal Re-Leaf Throat Spray into the acute phases, increasing the dosage and add other herbs for the specific symptoms. I might switch from Ultimate Echinacea to Echinacea/Goldenseal Compound for acute bacterial infections, especially of the sinuses and respiratory tract, i.e. bronchitis, ear infections, influenza, sinusitis, strep throat, laryngitis and colds. For acute viral infections such as flu, chicken pox, shingles, mumps, measles I tend to use VX Compound’s active antiviral properties from St. John’s wort , Lomatium, Hyssop, Lemon Balm, Isatis and may add Japanese Honeysuckle, Andrographis or Elderberry if indicated.

These formulas can be overly strong for children. You can adjust dosage downward by Clark’s rule (divide the child’s weight by 150 and use that fraction to adjust the dosage levels), but my preference is to use higher doses of our pleasant tasting orange flavored Healthy Kid’s Compound — a blend of anti-bacterial and anti-viral herbs— Echinacea, Elderberry, Lemon Balm extracted with glycerine which makes it a milder remedy. I use it for acute onset viral or bacterial conditions such as colds, influenza, otitis media, sinus infections and mild upper respiratory tract infections as well as intestinal viruses, chicken pox, measles, German measles and Fifth disease.