Cold and Flu Season Arrives Early - Here's How to Protect Yourself

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The cold and flu season arrived early this year, say experts.

Flu experts are saying that our annual cold and flu season is off to an early, rousing start, mostly in a swath of six Southern states stretching from Texas to Georgia, especially Louisiana.  In fact, the last flu season to rev up this early was the 2003-2004 season, which happened to be a particularly bad one.  Some medical experts fear that the early start may portend a lot of suffering this year throughout the country.  But other experts aren't so sure.

When asked about this, Scott Epperson, a flu detective with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, "It really depends on what viruses are circulating. There's not a predictable trend as far as if it's early it's going to be more severe, or later, less severe." [1]

Other health officials believe that the early start may mean that the season will peak earlier than normal, perhaps in December or early January.  The flu season normally peaks in February.

Last year's flu season, even though long in duration, was a relatively mild one in terms of its overall health impact with 590,000 hospitalizations and 49,000 deaths.  The previous season, 2017-2018, produced 810,000 hospitalizations and 61,000 deaths.  Most of these statistics involve elderly patients with compromised immune systems [2] .

Of course, all flu viruses are not created equal.  Some, like the one that ravaged Europe and North America in 1918, killing millions, are particularly deadly.  The virus recently identified in the South is a comparatively mild one, one that normally shows up in the early spring.  And some good news for older people: this one tends to infect younger people more than people over 50.

With all that in mind, we don't want to catch the flu.  We also don't want to catch a cold.  What's our best defense?  Our immune system.  A strong immune system will help protect us from both.

Cold and Flu Season:  Immune-Boosting Supplements

Colds and the flu are too easy to catch.  What are the best supplements to strengthen our natural defenses; our immune response and function, and thereby hopefully avoid getting sick in the first place?  Let's get through another flu season; unscathed!

Liposomal Glutathione

Liposomal Glutathione is a naturally-occurring protein, or peptide, present in every human cell.  It is comprised of glutamine, glycine, and cysteine.  Glutathione is an important immunity booster.  Our bodies use it to protect from pathogens, toxins, free-radicals, and physical and emotional stress.  (Available here at  PHL)

One research study concluded;

"Collectively, these preliminary findings support the effectiveness of daily liposomal GSH administration at elevating stores of GSH and impacting the immune function and levels of oxidative stress [3] ."

Senolytic Activator

A senolytic activator is a substance, or combination of ingredients, that helps the body clear out old, diseased cells that are no longer functional, but that remain intact due to the immune system's inability to clear them. Such cells are referred to as senescent cells, at state in which they no longer grow and divide, typically in response to DNA damage.

Senescent cells are not benign -- they send out harmful immune-response chemicals that trigger inflammation in the cells around them.  They also compromise the immune system's ability to respond to harmful pathogens.

Senolytic supplements help target the toxic senescent cells for removal.

Senolytic activating compounds target these undesirable senescent cells [4] . Scientific research has concluded that theaflavins found in black tea, combined with quercetin, target the appropriate biological pathways, allowing the body to more effectively manage senescent cells [5] , [6] , [7] .

ProHealth Longevity offers an outstanding senolytic activating supplement which combines theaflavins, from decaffeinated black tea, with a bioavailable form of quercetin, an excellent bioflavonoid that I'll cover next.

Quercetin

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid (a polyphenolic plant-derived compound) that offers various health benefits. In vitro and animal studies have shown that quercetin has anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antiviral activities. It also may reduce the oxidative degradation of lipids (fats), as well as attenuating lipid peroxidation, reduce excessive blood clotting and make capillaries less permeable [8] , [9] .

Green Tea Extract

Green tea contains the powerful antioxidant polyphenol compound, EGCG, or 'epigallocatechin gallate'.  EGCG has been shown to boost the immune system while helping to prevent damage caused by free radicals.

When the cold and flu season comes, drink green tea extract - it's high in antioxidants that support the immune system, along with other benefits.

EGCG has been the subject of a good bit of scientific inquiry.  Like many phytonutrients, it embodies numerous potential health benefits for people.  It supports healthy cell reproduction [10] , and supports metabolic function and cardiovascular health [11] .  It also benefits immune system function [12] , protects brain health [13] , and promotes a healthy body weight [14] .
Another study showed EGCG's ability to neutralize destructive free radicals while boosting the body's internal oxidative stress defenses [15] .

Green tea extract has also been shown to support healthy cell proliferation, mitochondrial health, intracellular communication, and healthy gene expression [16] .

ProHealth Longevity offers its 'Green Tea EGCG Extreme™'.

RNA - Ribonucleic Acid

RNA is a nucleic acid, found in the cytoplasm of cells where it plays a key role in protein synthesis and cellular renewal.  Having sufficient levels of RNA is vital to every aspect of health and well-being.

RNA supplementation is believed to boost the immune response system and support healthy cellular division [17] , [18] .    

Cistanche

The Cistanche plant is an endangered species that grows in semi-arid areas, especially in China.  The plant stems have been used as a general tonic in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.  Extensive research on Cistanche has demonstrated numerous health benefits which includes the modulation of immune system functions.  Some of its other benefits include its antioxidant properties, anti-senescent abilities, neuroprotection, anti-inflammation, liver protection, and support of bone formation [19] .

The Cistanche plant, native to China, is rich in life-supporting compounds. It's  also endangered.

Researchers have isolated a key compound in Cistanche, called 'echinacoside', which stimulates the production of naïve T cells.  It also lowers the amount of memory T cells, which aids the immune system in launching a more balanced response to pathogens.  It also elevates the number of natural killer cell activity (NK).  Animal studies resulted in a 15% increase in subject animals' lifespan [20] , [21] .

Cistanche and its bioactive component, echinacoside, have also been found to seek and destroy free radicals, maintain healthy nervous system functioning, and to promote longevity [22] , [23] , [24] .  PHL also includes Cistanche in its line-up of proven immune-boosters.

But I Got Sick Anyway

When the cold and flu season sweeps in, sometimes we get sick no matter what we do.

Try as we might to amp up our immune system for the onslaught of the cold and flu season, sometimes we get sick anyway.  It was just our time…our karma…those two people coughing on the elevator?

If so, you know the drill: lots of rest, fluids, binge-watching Netflix; plus the inevitable rush to the drug store, where there are plenty of natural treatment options to help minimize the symptoms, such as sore throat, runny nose, aches, fever, and chills.  Let's look at some.

Natural Cold and Flu Season Remedies

Ginger

Ginger is a pleasant-tasting root (rhizome), used by many throughout the world as a spice and an herbal tea.  Ginger contains gingerol, an alkaloid with some significant health-supportive properties, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant [25] .  Traditionally, ginger has been used as a digestive aid and to reduce nausea, including sea-sickness.  It has also been used traditionally to help alleviate 'flu-like' symptoms.  WebMD recommends ginger tea as a simple, natural antidote to some of the symptoms associated with colds and the flu [26] [27] .

Honey

Honey has both antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.  Many people use honey to ease the pain of a sore throat.  Honey can also act as an effective cough suppressant [28] .  "A little dob of honey in my ginger tea, please."

Echinacea

Echinacea has been used by native American populations for hundreds of years to treat a variety of health complaints, including infections.  It is rich in flavonoids, which are known as antioxidants and immune builders.  One research study focusing on echinacea's effectiveness in alleviating the common cold concluded:

"Echinacea has a benefit in reducing the incidence and duration of the common cold" [29] .

Garlic

Garlic contains allicin, a compound thought to have antimicrobial properties.  Garlic has also been studied for its potential in preventing colds, and alleviating the symptoms of a cold once we've caught one.  One comprehensive, controlled study of garlic's impact on the common cold used two groups.  One was given a garlic supplement and the other was given a placebo.  The garlic group had twenty-four members come down with a cold, whereas the placebo group reported sixty-five.  Of those who did become ill, the duration of the colds suffered by the garlic group was one full day shorter, on average [30] .
Show references

  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/06/us-flu-season-arrives-early-driven-by-an-unexpected-virus.html  
  2. Ibid
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28853742  
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25446976  
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28939421
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22750215
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25754370  
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26999194  
  9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0924224415301709
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25853098
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26318390
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21827739  
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26302801
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21827739
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24915350
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27690569  
  17. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jnsv/61/1/61_73/_article/-char/en
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9246059
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5758349/
  20. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/cpb/67/7/67_c19-00008/_pdf
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24523825
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29344414  
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27703431
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28581010
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3160151/    
  26. https://symptoms.webmd.com/cold-flu-map/how-to-stay-hydrated-when-youre-sick   
  27. https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/video/video-ginger-tea-cold-flu-remedy    
  28. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/3/465
  29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK74094/
  30. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006206.pub4/epdf/full
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