Q. Help! My son and I have come down with a cold –what can I do to support us both?

A. As the warmer weather turns chillier and term-time comes around, we often find viruses like colds and flu start doing the rounds. The first inklings of a cold can include tiredness or fatigue, an increased thirst, a tickle in the throat, or in children, increased irritability. Now is the ideal time to swing into action with herbal and nutritional backup.

Echinacea is traditionally used to relieve the symptoms of the common cold and is thought to stimulate immune response, enhancing the body’s innate ability to fight infection, helping limit the severity and duration of symptoms. Unless the product is specifically developed for children, echinacea is not recommended for children under 12 years, so if your son is younger support him instead with black elderberry. Black elderberry has long been used for children as young as 12 months for its antiviral and immune boosting properties

Add in some extra vitamin C and zinc. Both are needed for strong immunity and get rapidly depleted when the immune system is challenged. If your son finds tablets difficult to swallow, opt for powder versions. Beta 1,3-1,6 D-glucans can be particularly useful for supporting immunity via the gut, whilst Manuka honey is great for soothing sore throats.

Garlic is a great addition to any bug busting regime – studies show it helps prevent attack from the common cold whilst also speeding up recovery time once we are infected.

In terms of diet, avoid sugary foods and drinks, which all lower the body’s ability to deal with a viral attack. Instead, include plenty of fruit and vegetables to boost immune supportive nutrients such as vitamin C and beta carotene. Drink plenty of fluids. The body needs more fluid during a cold, as production of mucous increases whilst the body mounts its attack on the invading virus. It can also be helpful to eliminate dairy products just for a few days or so – dairy is well known to be mucous forming and can tend to make matters worse when you have a cold.

Avoid strenuous exercise which lowers immunity, take gentle exercise to support the action of the lymph system. Your body is tired because it is busy fending off the virus, so rest up and let it do its job.

We often feel we should power through a cold but this is counterproductive and enables the virus to linger.

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