Get the word out about echinacea – great for defeating colds

It’s amazing how many people don’t know about Echinacea (let alone how to pronounce it)…

The powdered flower is used to increase the white blood cells in our body which fight colds and flu.

My own personal experience with echinacea is so good that I recommend it all the time. It stops me getting worse when I’m run down.

Come to think of it there are loads of herbal remedies which people find useful for different purposes. Schwabe make a product called EchinaCold, but they also make various other concoctions for migraines, depression, sleep problems, indigestion, coughs and stress… The list goes on.

For those of us who prefer to use herbal remedies Schwabe make a useful source of medicinal treatments, all with the Traditional Herbal Remedy certification mark.


This is why your mum fed you hot blackcurrant when you fell ill

Are you looking forward to the winter?

My wife’s just invested in a new woolly jumper.

Meanwhile, call me boring, but I’m thinking of investing in some flu prevention tablets. I normally only fall ill when I’ve been working hard and run down. But if I do I can get over it in about a day, especially with a good supplement.

Sambucol boosts the immune system
Sambucol helps to support the immune system

So here’s an option… Do you remember your mum giving you a hot blackcurrant when you fell ill? There’s a natural remedy you can buy which delivers all those same powerful antioxidant benefits from a related berry – It’s called Sambucol and it hits colds hard with the equivalent antioxidants of up to 1000 black elderberries per dose. Black elderberries also contain a potent compound which helps to prevent viruses from spreading – perhaps the hot blackcurrant begins to make sense now?

Better still, Sambucol can add a further health boost by combining zinc and vitamin C into the mix, helping to prop up the immune system and keep colds and flu at bay. Plus there are further supplement options like adding multivitamins, iron and selenium.

Studies even suggest black elderberries antioxidants help 90% of people recover from flu within 3 days.

Not bad when you’re preparing for winter.

Finding the Vitamin C Sweet Spot

Interesting findings on vitamin C as reported by Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD

Some research points to possible health benefits of taking vitamin C in amounts well above the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), while other studies do not. Further complicating the matter is that the thousands of vitamin C studies vary greatly in quality. A group of experts has addressed many of these issues in a comprehensive review of decades of vitamin C research. They have concluded that there is a vitamin C sweet spot—a level of intake that maximises health benefits, while minimising risks of getting too much.

“C-ing” the big picture

Three noted vitamin C experts from the US, France, and Denmark combed through hundreds of research papers on vitamin C. They considered many factors, including how the body metabolises, or “processes,” vitamin C, the health dangers of not getting enough, and the downsides of getting too much.

The group looked at randomised controlled trials, long considered the gold standard of high quality research; ecological comparisons, in which nutrient and food intakes and disease rates are compared across different countries; and observational studies, often referred to as epidemiologic research.

Important points to emerge from this review include that:

  • The minimum: The RDA for vitamin C is set to prevent scurvy, a vitamin C–deficiency disease. The daily intake of vitamin C required to prevent scurvy appears to be significantly lower than the amount needed to maximise health and minimise chronic disease risk.
  • The maximum: Blood levels of vitamin C begin to level off for most people around an intake of 200 mg of vitamin C daily from all sources, and consuming more than 200 mg did not significantly increase blood levels. Excess vitamin C intake appears to not be used by the body and is excreted.
  • Safety considerations: At intakes of 200 mg of vitamin C daily, no safety issues have been noted. At intakes up to 3,000 mg daily, toxicity assessments show no evidence of harm for nearly all adults. For people at risk of harm from excess vitamin C, such as those with the blood disorders haemochromatosis and thalassemia, or kidney stones, 200 mg per day appears to be safe.
  • The sweet spot: Most health agencies set a safe upper limit for vitamin C of 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day—5- to 10-fold higher than the 200 mg per day suggested by the authors as optimum. Eating five to nine servings of vegetables and fruit daily can meet the 200 mg vitamin C goal.

Finding your C sweet spot

The RDA for vitamin C is set at 90 mg per day for men and 75 mg per day for women, however, the vitamin C experts lay out a compelling argument for raising this level to 200 mg per day for all adults. Also keep in mind that there are certain situations in which even higher doses of vitamin C may be appropriate. Your doctor or dietitian can help you determine if this applies to you, but our tips can help you get more C into your daily diet:

  • Aim high. Five to nine servings of fresh and lightly cooked vegetables and fruit daily will help you get more vitamin C.
  • Get steamy. Steam your vegetables to best preserve vitamin C. Frying, boiling, or saucepan-cooking destroy more of the nutrient.
  • See citrus. A small glass (6 ounces) of orange or grapefruit juice daily, or an orange with lunch, will up your C quotient. Squeeze lemon or lime into water and tea too. Leave in the pulp for some fibre.
  • Supplement with savvy. If you suspect you’re not getting enough vitamin C, consider a dietary supplement to bring your intake up to 200 mg per day.

(Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr; 52:815–29)

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognised expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.

Cod liver oil makes a come back

There was a time when cod liver oil was feared by children the world over. Forced to gulp down horrid spoonfuls of the vile tasting liquid, they would do anything to avoid it, and all in the name of health.

Healthy oils for body and mind
Healthy oils for body and mind

But life has changed a lot since then. Most importantly it was realised that the Omega Fats in fish oil are excellent for strengthening the brain and heart and decreasing blood pressure. Add to this the benefit of being able to swallow doses in small capsules (thus helping with the taste) and children everywhere began to breathe a smile of relief.

Now Seven Seas are taking the revolution one step further combining a range of healthy oils, vitamins and minerals renowned for their beneficial properties. They’ve got some snazzy names too:

Radiant You
– Fish Oil blended with Biotin and Zinc for healthy hair, skin and nails.
Perfect Harmony
– Fish Oil with Primrose and Starflower Oils for hormonal balance.
Healthy Heart
– Fish Oil with Garlic and Vitamin B1 for the cardiovascular system.
Energetic You
– Fish Oil with B vitamins and CoQ10 for daily health and vitality.
Immune Defence
– Fish Oil with Vitamin C and Zinc keeps you fighting fit.
Flexible You
– Fish Oil with Calcium and Vitamins D & K for healthy bones, muscles and joints.
Active Mind
– Fish Oil blended with Ginkgo and Zinc for mental performance.

With advances like these, once tormented children can say hello to a daily dose of health without fear.

Did you know elderberry juice was so powerful?

Who knew that elderberry juice had so many benefits?

Not only does it contain vitamins A, C and B, it also feeds you a healthy dose of antioxidants.

This seems to have a good effect on the immune system as Elderberry Juice is renowned for its ability to treat illnesses like the flu, common colds, sore throats and other infections.

Its ability to reduce mucus also seems to help with asthma, coughs and bronchitis.

pure elderberry juice
Finally, a pure organic elderberry juice

What is more elderberry juice is also documented as helpful for treating serious diseases like AIDS and diabetes. It helps lower cholesterol levels and maintains a healthy digestive system. It has anti-viral, anti-histamine properties and is thought to deal with many other ailments from yeast infections to skin problems.

I’m wary of listing illnesses as if one herbal remedy could be a cure-all, but the information available about elderberry juice is pretty impressive.

If you are interested Biona have produced a pure organic elderberry juice. While you can find elderberry syrup, this currently seems to be the only completely pure elderberry juice widely available on the UK market.

Life enhancing natural supplements – introducing the Reds series

If you’re feeling washed out you might want to try Spirulina.

The advantage of spirulina is that it is a sea vegetable containing the richest known concentration of nutrients of any food. It contains every nutrient required by the human body in an easily absorbable form.

The supplement firm, Lifestream, have combined their organic spirulina with the organic fruit acerola, a rich source of Vitamin C, to provide excellent support for your immune system.

7 berries of power
7 power berries

Lifestream’s Reds combination supplements

You may also want to try Lifestream’s Reds Acai, which actually blends together the organic and antioxidant power of seven superberries: acai, pomegranate, cherry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and one you may not have heard of: the noni berry from the Pacific.

Nutrients for life
Nutrients for life

As well as providing an energy lift the antioxidants will benefit your immune system and support anti-aging for your body.

Boost weight-loss
Boost weight-loss

Another life-maxing combination is Lifestream’s synergy of Resveratrol and Tart Cherry, again rich in antioxidants for improved energy and health, but also beneficial to sleep, heart health and your body’s joints.

Finally, Lifestream have also combined the acai berry and ‘fucoxanthin’ from the kombu seaweed to produce a supplement for weight management called Fucocai. Acai is well known for supporting weight loss and kombu is a food which helps raise the metabolism meaning you burn your calories faster.

How to get rid of your cold faster

While there is still no cure for the common cold, taking zinc could shorten the duration of the pesky infection by up to 42%, according to a review published in The Open Respiratory Medicine Journal.

Super nutrient

Zinc is a mineral with a host of roles in the human body, from supporting fertility and proper growth and development to boosting immune function. A deficiency of zinc can make the body more prone to infections. In developing countries where deficiencies of the nutrient are more common, supplementing with zinc helps prevent the common cold, diarrhoea, and pneumonia in children.

Fact or fiction?

Some people maintain that zinc help keep their colds in check, but sceptics argue that evidence for their use is lacking.

In an attempt to sort out the confusion over whether zinc can really help clear up the common cold more quickly, investigators from the Department of Public Health at the University of Helsinki, Finland conducted a review of studies published on the topic.

Thirteen trials were included in the analysis:

  • five trials used zinc lozenges providing less than 75 mg of elemental zinc per day, and
  • eight studies used lozenges that provided more than 75 mg of zinc per day; three used zinc acetate, and five used other forms of zinc.

None of the studies using less than 75 mg of zinc per day had an effect on the duration of the common cold. However, in seven of the eight studies using more than 75 mg of zinc per day, cold durations were significantly shorter.

Zinc acetate seemed to have the most profound effect on shortening the common cold, with a 42% reduction in the number of sick days. Other forms of zinc supplements also helped people get better faster, shortening the duration of the cold by 20%.

Some people don’t like the taste of zinc and others may develop nausea from them, but there have not been reports of long-term side effects associated with their use. “More research is needed on zinc lozenges to find optimal lozenge compositions and treatment strategies,” commented the study’s authors.

Best bets for cold season

When you feel the familiar signals of an impending cold, try these tips to nip it in the bud for a faster return to your healthy self.

  • Moisturise your insides. Viruses like the ones that cause the common cold thrive in dry environments. Dry air also takes a toll on the mucous membranes, worsening a sore throat and nasal congestion. Use a vapourizer or humidifier to add moisture to the air, but make sure to clean it regularly and use new water each day. Also, keep up the fluids to breathe easier and prevent dehydration.
  • Give zinc a try. Look for zinc acetate and aim for a total of at least 75 mg per day.
  • Enjoy a bowl of chicken soup. Grandma’s remedy has stood up to the rigors of scientific investigation, with solid evidence to support the use of chicken soup in treating the common cold. When it’s loaded with vegetables, chicken soup seems to decrease inflammation and ease cold symptoms.
  • Boost your C. Taking 500 mg of vitamin C three times per day at the start of a cold may reduce the duration of illness.

Herbal remedies you may find useful now (if you didn’t before)

Here’s a couple of herbal remedies which you might find useful for this time of year.

First of all there’s Milk Thistle tablets – “A traditional herbal medicinal product used to relieve the symptoms associated with occasional over indulgence… such as indigestion or an upset stomach – based on traditional use only.”

Another is Cold & Flu Echinacea tablets – “A traditional herbal medicinal product used to relieve the symptoms of cold or influenza type infections – based on traditional use only.” (And, may I say, great as a preventative medicine if you know you regularly fall ill around this time of year.)

Now I understand
Both of these are traditional herbal remedies used for centuries by those in the know, yet both seemingly up to date and easy to understand, something anyone would be interested in…

Echinacea - a herbal remedy that makes sense

It seems that the recent regulation of Traditional Herbal Remedies by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) has had the effect of making public understanding of herbal medicine clearer. The packaging looks a lot more like the kind of item you’d expect to find in a pharmacy, as the HRI (Herbal Remedy Institute) products mentioned above show. It’s simply easier for Mr Average to recognise what type of product it is, make sense of the labeling and appreciate what it is for.

Other herbal groups like Bio Health seem to be doing the same thing with their designs and remedy names. (In front of me I have a box of ‘Periagna‘ – Angus Castus Fruit capsules used for pre menstruation, and a box of ‘Ekinalife‘ – another Echinacea product.)

The same evolution can be seen with the new Kalms Day tablets ‘slider’ pack which is designed to provide “patient information, durability, and easy access”.

But do they work?
At the end of the day the real issue is whether these remedies work? But now that more people can easily see what they’re supposed to do, herbal remedies will surely have more of a level playing field against larger pharmaceutical competition?

To find more Traditional Herbal Remedies visit GoodnessDirect’s Herbal shelf.

Fall For The Comforting Flavours Of Dr Stuart’s Beneficial Blends This Winter

If you’re thinking of stocking up ready to fight off those winter ailments and ensure your immune system is firing on all cylinders during the coming cold months, you can rest assured that Dr Stuart’s remarkable range of warming herbal teas has a beneficial blend to help you every step of the way.

Help your body absorb vitamin C
It’s a known fact that vitamin C is the most important nutrient in helping to bolster the immune system to help it fight off those unwanted winter coughs, colds and infections; but did you know in order to ensure that vitamin C is working to the max, bioflavanoids (found in a many plants) play a vital role in enhancing its absorption?  Trace elements of these powerful vitamins and minerals can be found in many plant sources.  As Dr Stuart’s herbal teas are made with ‘Active Botanicals, the highest quality herbs from the most prized parts of the plant with the greatest essential oil content possible, why not stock up this winter on Dr Stuart’s warming beneficial blends that can help boost your defences, while giving you that feel good factor?

Echinacea, elderflower and other enriching teas
Keep a pack of Dr Stuart’s Echinacea Plus handy to help boost your body’s natural defences and keep you fighting-fit. This refreshing herbal infusion is packed with hibiscus, peppermint, rosehip and blackberry leaves and enriched with echinacea to boost your immune system and help keep colds at bay.

When it’s chilly outside, why not sit back and sip one of the newest blends, Dr Stuart’s Elderflower and Lemon to keep you toasty on the inside?  For hundreds of years people have looked to the elderflower for its healing properties, as it’s thought that the plant can help lower a fever, reduce inflammation and soothe irritation.  This fragrant combination will satisfy your palate as well as your body.

If you do succumb to a sore throat, Dr Stuart’s offers a simple and altogether more enjoyable way to ease your discomfort. Make yourself a soothing cup of Dr Stuart’s Throat Relief and let its blend of comforting herbs including liquorice root, marshmallow root, cinnamon, myrtle leaves and cloves coat your throat and help melt away your symptoms.

For those miserable wintry mornings when it’s hard to climb out of bed, Dr Stuart’s Detox, packed with the pure natural flavours of dandelion and burdock, sage, ginger, peppermint and spearmint, will help to cleanse and refresh your system from the inside out, giving you just the kick-start you need.

Finally, if you feel like a reviving pick-me-up, make yourself a delectable cup of Dr Stuart’s Apple and Ginger tea.  Its wonderfully spicy blend of fruity apple and invigorating ginger laced with cinnamon will warm you through and through!

Only Dr Stuart’s that are made with are made with ‘Active Botanicals,’ meaning you get the maximum taste and health benefit from each and every cup.

Green Tea Linked to Lower Flu Risk

No one likes to get the flu, so finding simple ways to fight off the illness is welcome news, especially for those at higher risk for infection. A study in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests that green tea extracts may help prevent influenza in healthcare workers.

Better immuni-tea
Certain people, such as healthcare workers, the young and the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes or lung disease, are at greater risk of getting the flu than others. This study looked at the effect of green tea extracts in helping prevent flu in Japanese healthcare professionals who care for the elderly.

In this study, 200 healthcare workers were randomly assigned to receive capsules of a green tea extract that contained compounds known as catechins (378 mg per day) and theanine (210 mg per day) or placebo for five months. The majority of participants had also been vaccinated against the flu.

Results showed that the incidence of influenza in the green tea group was significantly lower compared with the placebo group (4 versus 13 people were diagnosed with the flu).

Prior studies have also shown that green tea may help prevent influenza, and the authors of this study comment, “The consumption of tea extracts including catechins and theanine has also been reported to enhance systemic immunity and prevent the occurrence of upper respiratory tract infection and influenza symptoms in healthy adults.” Larger research trials are needed to confirm these study findings.

Things you can do to prevent the flu
The influenza virus is a cause of serious illness and even death, so it is important to take preventive measures to stay well:

■ Keep it clean. To help prevent contracting or spreading the flu, be sure to wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and get a flu jab. When possible, avoid people who have the flu or going to work if you are sick. While these measures aren’t 100% guaranteed, they go a long way toward lowering the risk of respiratory illness and flu.
■ Choose a healthy lifestyle. Living a balanced life that includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, not smoking, and stress-reducing activities can also boost your immunity and help you stay healthy. Commit to these activities to improve and maintain your health.
■ Talk with a doctor. Visit your doctor to discuss ways to prevent the flu and whether or not a flu jab is appropriate for you.