Probiotics, Omega-3 and Oscillococcinum on Doctor’s Short List for Cold and Flu Season
The World Health Organization estimates that 3- to 5-million people worldwide contract a serious case of seasonal flu each year, while tens of millions experience milder cases. Between 250,000 and 500,000 people globally die from flu every year.
“It’s critical to identify whether you are dealing with the cold or flu and a doctor has the tools to help you do just that,” said Dr. Ken Redcross, board-certified internal medicine physician in New York. “I always recommend seeing a healthcare professional as soon as symptoms set in so you do not waste time guessing about a treatment plan.”
What many perceive to be a flu-related illness can often be confused with the common cold. Both share many symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell the difference. Colds and flu are respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. Generally, flu symptoms come on hard and fast, are more intense, and then dissipate more quickly compared to the common cold, in which symptoms tend to be milder, and linger for a longer duration. Unlike the common cold, flu also carries with it the risk of serious health complications such as pneumonia, bacterial infections and hospitalizations.
“The most important thing you can do is get a flu shot and be proactive by stocking up on remedies and nutrients to take quickly if you get hit with a cold or flu. No matter how healthy you think you are, we are all at risk,” said Redcross. In addition to getting a flu shot, frequent hand washing, staying hydrated and exercising regularly, he recommends these nutrients and over-the-counter medicines for flu prevention and recovery:
1. Probiotics: The same live cultures that can ease digestive stress can also stave of colds. Research conducted in 2012 compared two groups of college students suffering from colds. The group that took a probiotic supplement with Lactobacillus rhamnosus recovered two days earlier and had symptoms that were 34 percent less severe.
2. Omega-3: A study published in Cell, found a modified omega-3 fatty acid known as protectin D1 markedly increased the chances of survival in mice infected with various strains of influenza virus. Researchers found that protectin D1 actually disrupts the replication of influenza.
3. Oscillococcinum: Easy-to-take and low-cost, this homeopathic medicine can be found in most pharmacies and given to children as young as 2. Clinical studies show that Oscillococcinum shortens the severity and duration of flu symptoms. A study published in a British scientific journal found that when patients took Oscillococcinum within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, nearly 63 percent showed “clear improvement” or “complete resolution” within 48 hours.