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Acute Immunity: Fighting the Common Cold

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The common cold is one the most widespread illnesses and is a leading cause of visits to the doctor and absenteeism from school and work. Treatment is typically aimed at alleviating symptoms and this approach is largely a reflection of the limitations found in conventional treatments. To date, there is no commonly available medication able to successfully kill the infection or boost the body’s immune response.

By contrast, there are several herbs and nutrients that not only have a long history of traditional use, but are also supported by a growing body of evidence for their use in the common cold. Of particular interest is andrographis (Andrographis paniculata), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), elecampane (Inula helenium) and zinc. These herbs and nutrients have been shown to reduce the risk for infection and, through their immune stimulating and antimicrobial properties, may also be used prophylactically.

In this infographic, we review these important herbs and nutrients and highlight the supportive research and possible mechanisms that underlie their effectiveness in the treatment of common respiratory infections.

REFERENCES

  1. Eccles R. Understanding the symptoms of the common cold and influenza. Lancet Infect Dis 2005;5(11):718-725. [Abstract]
     
  2. Common cold. Australian Doctor 2015. Viewed 23 January 2015, http://www.australiandoctor.com.au/getmedia/df8aeffe-0b71-432a-b58e-7f70...
     
  3. Kelly J, Busse W. Host imune responses to rhinovirus: mechanisms in asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2008;122(4):671-684. [Full text]
     
  4. Walther BA, Ewald PW. Pathogen survival in the external environment and the evolution of virulence. Biol Rev 2004;79;849-869. [Abstract]
     
  5. Common cold. NPS MedicineWise 2014. Viewed 23 January 2015, http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/respiratory-problems/respiratory-tract-...
     
  6. Braun L, Cohen M, Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence-based guide, 3rd ed. Sydney: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2010.
     
  7. Natural medicine comprehensive database 2014. Viewed 23 January 2015, www.naturaldatabase.com
     
  8. Abelaira HM, Reus GZ, Quevedo J. Animal models as tools to study the pathophysiology of depression. Rev Bras Psiquiatr 2013;35:S112-S120. [PDF]
     
  9. Khan MM. Immunopharmacology. Springer 2008, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-77976-8
 

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The information provided on FX Medicine is for educational and informational purposes only. The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional advice or care. Please seek the advice of a qualified health care professional in the event something you have read here raises questions or concerns regarding your health.

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Melissa Lee
Melissa is a designer turned nutritionist, who has combined the two modalities to create purposeful designs for various health publications and websites. Having initially studied Multimedia Systems Design, she then went on to complete a BHSc in Nutritional Medicine which led to her involvement in the integrative medicine industry and eventually to FX Medicine.