Q: It seems like I get sick every couple of months with a cold or other infection. It’s even worse during the winter. I don’t understand it. I eat a very healthy diet and exercise twice a week with a trainer and twice on my own. I also take a multivitamin and a few other supplements. Are there any other natural cold remedies I can try?
A: You’ve got the basic lifestyle issues under control. However, you didn’t mention sleep, which is extremely important in maintaining robust immune function. If that’s a problem, consider taking 1–3 mg of melatonin and/or trying other techniques shown to promote restful sleep.
Chronic stress can also wreak havoc on the immune system, so do what you can to “chill out.” And make sure you practice scrupulous hygiene, especially during cold and flu season. You should also take supplemental vitamin D3. Numerous studies demonstrate its immune-enhancing effects. I strongly recommend that you begin taking 2,000–5,000 IU per day, have your blood level tested in three months, and adjust your dose to maintain a level of 50–80 ng/mL.
There are a number of other natural cold remedies that do wonders for the immune system. My favorites include:
High-dose vitamin C (500 mg four or five times a day)
Echinacea (use as directed)
Probiotics (dosages vary depending on brand)
Speaking of probiotics and vitamin C, you should also consider taking a specific probiotic strain called Streptococcus salivarius K12, which has been demonstrated to protect against infections of the ears, nose and throat, as well as intravenous vitamin C. When vitamin C is infused into the bloodstream—in doses far higher than could ever be tolerated orally—it produces hydrogen peroxide, which kills bacteria and viruses without harming healthy tissues. Long-time Whitaker Wellness patient Louise told me that at the first sign of a sore throat, headache, or any other symptom that foreshadows an infection, she comes in for a 50 g vitamin C drip. Nine times out of 10, this nips it in the bud. I suggest you find a physician in your area who offers this therapy. (Visit the American College for Advancement in Medicine.)
Finally, regular use of xylitol or saline sprays is helpful as well, because it helps clear “bugs” out of the nasal passages. If I were treating you, I’d also prescribe low-dose naltrexone (LDN). Although this powerful immune modulator is most often used to treat autoimmune disorders and cancer, your system could obviously use a boost, and many of my patients swear by its preventive properties. The suggested dose is 3–4.5 mg taken at bedtime. LDN, which requires a prescription and is available from compounding pharmacies, is extremely safe and well tolerated; its only contraindication is narcotic drugs.