Q. Dear Terry, “Last year I came down with a really nasty cold in late August. I want to prevent that from happening again and keep myself healthy for the whole cold and flu season. What natural medicines can I take for this?”– Dana C., Twin Falls, ID
A. Dear Dana, When it comes to dealing with viruses that cause the common cold or flu, I believe andrographis and umckaloabo are a very powerful combination. Andrographis has been widely used in Ayurvedic medicine since ancient times. Some of its uses today include defending against viruses and harmful bacteria, and helping to prevent or treat other types of infections. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, andrographis relieved cold symptom intensity in just two days. That means it reduced fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, and the achy sleeplessness that often accompanies a cold. By the fourth day, all symptoms, including headache, earache, phlegm production, and coughing, were significantly reduced.
One of the reasons that andrographis is so effective is that it enhances the activity of our own virus fighters, including T-cells and natural killer cells. These cells are part of the body’s natural defenses and help stop viruses from invading cells and replicating. In addition to stopping seasonal colds and flus, andrographis also has powerful antibacterial properties. This is important because one of the consequences of a viral infection can be a secondary bacterial infection.
The root of umckaloabo (Pelargonium sidoides) has been used as a traditional medicine in South Africa for hundreds of years to treat coughs, colds, upper respiratory tract infections, and gastrointestinal infections. Clinical studies show that umckaloabo effectively and safely reduces symptoms, severity, and duration of colds, upper respiratory tract infections and acute bronchitis. In one clinical study, 103 people with the common cold were given either umckaloabo or placebo. The researchers and participants tallied the results using the Cold Intensity Score (symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, etc.). By this measure, in only five days, the reduction of symptoms was almost double in the umckaloabo group versus placebo group.
Umckaloabo contains an array of polyphenols that strengthen the immune response. But one of the plant’s most beneficial compounds is umckalin, and I prefer extracts that are standardized for it, so there’s consistency in its bacterial and viral fighting effects.
I would take 400 mg of andrographis standardized to 80 mg of the key compounds, andrographolides, with 30 mg of umckaloabo standardized to 0.3% umckalin and 12.5% polyphenols, twice daily. These botanicals can be taken in the short-term, when you feel an illness coming on, and are safe enough to be taken on a long-term basis as well.
You may also want to consider adding in propolis, elderberry, vitamins (A, C, D3, and E), plus minerals like zinc and selenium for additional support.
Terry . . . Naturally