Keeping Our Immune System Strong

As the days become shorter and the temperature cools, we should think about preparing for winter and keeping our immune system strong. Many people tend to get sick this time of year. We are susceptible to the flu, other viruses and bacterial infections that can take us out for weeks. Last year around this time a terrible bronchitis was circulating and several of my patients ended up on multiple courses of antibiotics

This is the time to look at how to keep the immune system strong and prevent infections. Often once an infection takes hold it leaves us open to needing antibiotics that have their own set of complications. It is best to try to prevent infections from taking hold.

Here is my prescription for keeping healthy.

Lifestyle is a big factor. Making sure that you eat and sleep enough. Diet is important to consider because sugar has a suppressive effect on the immune system. It’s always a good idea to avoid sugary foods, especially if you are prone to being sick. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables gives us nutrients that help our immune system.

If you need extra help here is a list of herbs and supplements to keep on hand.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin to humans. Unlike animals, we don’t produce vitamin C and need to get it in our diet. We need vitamin C for the synthesis of collagen, neurotransmitters and to metabolize protein. Vitamin C is also an important physiological antioxidant that limits the damaging effects of free radicals through its antioxidant activity. In addition to its biosynthetic and antioxidant functions, vitamin C plays an important role in immune function.

Insufficient vitamin C intake causes scurvy, which is rare in our society. Since vitamin C is essential for collagen production, low intake of vitamin C can connective tissue weakness, and capillary fragility, which leads to bruising.

We need only 200 mg for the minimum dosage daily but higher dosages up to 2000 mg daily have been helpful in preventing colds, especially for people under stress. The buffered or ester C form is preferred over ascorbic acid. Some people can tolerate even higher dosages but it can cause gastrointestinal problems such as bloating and diarrhea.

The small vitamin C IV’s we have in the office contain 5000 mg of vitamin C (known as the Meyer’s cocktail) Since this by passes the intestine higher doses are tolerated. They can be helpful for infections both viral and bacterial as well as to give a boost when you are under stress. Higher dosages are recommended for chronic fatigue and chronic viral infections. Dosages of 50-100 grams are recommended as an adjunct treatment for cancer because these doses can be cytotoxic to cancer cells.


Andrographis is an herb commonly used in India and China to treat infections. It is known as the Indian Echinacea. It has been show to help with cold symptoms as well the flu and bacterial infections. The dose for infections is 400 mg 3 times a daily but for prevention 200 mg daily for 5 days each week has been effective.

Bee Propolis

Bee Propolis is a resinous material that is produced by bees to maintain their hives. Honeybees produce propolis by mixing their saliva and beeswax with substances gathered from tree buds, saps flows, or other botanical sources. It is harvested from the frames of the hive when the honey is removed.
Bee propolis contains flavonoids that have anti-microbial and anti-viral effects. Research documented that it is effective for colds when it was combined with Vitamin C and Echinacea. It can also be effective against herpes infections and canker sores.

Do not use it if you have any allergy to bee stings.
Herb pharm has a soothing throat spray I recommend.

Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver is silver hydrosol where the molecules of silver are electrically suspended in water in various concentrations from 10 to 100 ppm. Before modern antibiotics became available silver was used to treat bacterial infections. The FDA has stated that there is a lack of adequate data to establish general recognition of the safety and effectiveness of Colloidal silver ingredients or silver salts for OTC use in the treatment or prevention of any disease.

However, recent research has shown that some preparations have antibiotic activity and are safe. Long-term use of silver in high doses was not recommended because it can be toxic and cause the skin to become blue. These newer preparations are using another chemical process that reduces the toxicity.

The silver solution we carry in the office is from American Biotech Labs, ASAP Silver Sol. The other recommended brand is Argentyn 23, Sovereign Silver. They have studies showing the efficacy and safety of the product. Their product contains 10 PPM which is a dosage of 50 mcg per teaspoon. Neither of these are toxic unless several bottles are consumed daily. Studies confirm that topically it can be beneficial for wound infections. It should not be taken for longer than 14 days unless you are supervised by a physician.

Beta glucans
Beta glucans are polysaccharides (long chain molecular sugars) that are produced by various fungi, yeast and grains such as oats and barley. They have been studied extensively and seem to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-parasitic, and antitumor activity. They can promote recovery after severe infections, surgery or radiation. They work by improving immunity, helping the action of Natural Killer cells and macrophages (cells that ingest cellular debris and infections material)

For wound healing after surgery, there is some evidence beta glucans can decrease inflammation, and accelerate the repair of surgical wounds.

Dosage recommendations vary between 100 mg daily to 1000 mg or more depending on your health condition. For general prevention 100 mg is fine but if you are fighting an infection use 500 mg per 50 pounds of body weight. Take on an empty stomach or 30 minutes before food

Mushroom complexes
Various mushrooms such as shitake, reishi, cordyceps and maitake have been used traditionally to improve immune function. They also contain natural vitamin D and anti-oxidants that promote general health.

There are several blends available from various companies that have benefits from helping with energy, immune function, mental clarity and beauty.

Om Mushroom and Host Defense brand make an organic blends that have a focus on immune function. Host Defense Mycommunity that we carry in the office has a blend of the mushrooms with the highest immune support.

The other brand that is worth trying is Om mushroom Immune powder, a formula for immune function that you can add to your smoothie.

Bovine colostrum contains immune factors and proteins that support immune function and promote cellular repair. It is especially helpful during flu and cold season to enhance immunity. It is safe for children and has no side effects unless you are sensitive to dairy.

The Stem Cell Worx Intraoral spray is a highly concentrated form of colostrum with resveratrol and brown algae that work synergistically to improve immune function. We carry it in the office and will offer a discount price for the season of $55.00 until December 31.

Its not always possible to prevent getting sick, so if you find yourself being invaded by the viruses or bacteria that are circulating in the community, keep up with your vitamins, increase the herbal immune supplements and come in for a vitamin C drip as early as possible. I always found that it I get on my program early on, I can prevent having to take antibiotics.