It's the time of year when we start to get struck down with colds and flu, according to the NHS they affect 15 million people in the UK each year.
The best way to prevent the viruses is to build up a strong immune system.
Nutritioinist Dr Sam Christie says: "The UK's National Diet and Nutrition Survey cleary shows many people in the UK do not reach dietary targets for a wide range of vitamins and minerals - nutrients which may reduce the severity of viral and bacterial infections.
"Specific natual plant extracts such as garlic and elderberries, have been used for centuries to reduce the likelihood of catching colds and influenza viruses - as well as to fortify the body's response to infections when challenged. In winter, when we are more vulnerable to infections, we can support a strong immune response by optimising a healthy diet with supplements."
With the help of Dr Christie we've got a list of natural supplements that you can take to help build up a strong immune system and hopefully fight off the cold and flu virus before it takes over.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
Try Nature's Best Echinacea with Goldenseal, the latter is another herb renowned as an immune system enhancer. The two herbs work together in synergy; the first prevents infections and the second helps to speed up recovery. Sounds like it can pretty much tackle anything.
History: Derived from the Greek 'echinos' meaning hedge-hog, referring to the spiny hedge-hog -like fruiting flower head, Echinacea is an original prairie plant from North America. This invaluable plant remedy is now a ubiquitous staple in most consumers' cupboards during the colder months and a modern-day Medical Herbalists' favourite for 'stimulating innate resistance' to infections. .
Why use it? Known to be invaluable in reducing the severity and duration of colds and flu viruses through a range of activities:
(i) as a activator of a group of immune cells known as Natural Killer cells
(ii) increase the engulfing/gobbling-up like activity of 'pack-man'-type immune cells.
Who says? Some researchers have also observed an increase of viral antigens on cells - is there no end to the cleverness of this plant?'
Elder berry (Sambucus nigra)
A daily shot of Nature's Best BerryGuard can be taken throughout the winter months to help boost the immune system. Sweetened with apple juice, it's easily taken off the spoon.
History: Every part, flowers, berries, leaves, bark has been used as a cure for one ailment or other over the centuries.
Why use it? Known to be specifically useful in the treatment of upper respirarotory nasties including catarrh and often combined with rose hip and blackcurrant concentrates at the very early stages of a cold..
Who says? A traditional medicinal remedy used by European Medical Herbalists for centuries, the plant now features in modern-day, published, scentific research.
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Think that this might affect your social life, then don't worry. Nature's Best Garlic tablets have a ten-layer coating to ensure it has passed through the stomach before it's dispersed - so no horrible aftertaste.
History: From the Anglo-Saxon 'gar leac' meaning 'spear leek' - a nod to the leaf-shape of cultivated garlic - garlic is not only a ubiquitous ingredient in most delicious meals but a broadly-acting anti-infective agent.
Why use it? As a diaphoretic, this fabulous medicinal foodstuff can gently increase perspiration. This practice encourages waste from the body via the skin which is known to be useful during early stages of virus-attack, whilst gently 'warming' the interior of our bodies (so particularly useful when the chills strike). Known to be effective against a range of bugs (including viruses) because one of the primary active compounds it has in spade-quantities (only when raw - allicin) blocks the enzymes that give the pesky winter organisms the ability to 'move-in' and damage human tissue.
Who says? Traditional practitioner texts as well as RCTs (randomised, placebo-controlled trials ) published in scientific, peer-reviewed literature.
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Nature's Best Milk Thistle is one of the strongest supplements. You only need one capsule daily with a meal, especially over winter months when consuming larger quantities of food and alcohol.
History: The Milk Thistle plant has a long history of use as a traditional remedy in European herbalism, yet like many others it has largley been forgotten.
Why use it? The flavonol silymarin which is made and concentrated by the Milk Thistle plant has been shown to act protectively on the perimeter of our liver cells. This effect leads to a better degree of stabilisation and strength to the delicate cell membranes. In this way Milk Thistle can help prevent the hepatic entry of virus toxins that would otherwise hamper the body's immune cell production-line and lower vitality.
Who says? Modern-day use of licensed German prepartions of Milk Thistle extracts by docotrs has lead to a distinct body of research based on prospective use and is of great clinical interest.'
Femalefirst Taryn Daviesa