Questions and Answers with Dr David Naude, a registered homeopath and the head of medical research at SA Natural Products. He provides simple and easy to follow advice on how to get ahead of the cold and flu season this year – the Living Naturally way.
What is the difference between a cold, the flu and COVID?
|They are respiratory illnesses that are caused by viruses. The difference lies in the type of viruses that cause them, and the symptoms they cause in the body.
The flu is caused by influenza viruses. There are four types of flu viruses including A, B, C and D. It is generally the influenza A and influenza B viruses that cause the seasonal flu outbreaks each year.
Colds are caused by other types of viruses. These are typically caused by adenoviruses, common cold coronaviruses, parainfluenza viruses and rhinoviruses.
COVID is caused by the SARS-CoV-2. It is the abbreviation for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.
The cold, flu and COVID viruses infect the respiratory systems through the eyes, mouth and nose, and cause infections in the respiratory tract, and all the interleading passageways including the ears, lungs, nose, and throat.
Sometimes, a bacterial infection may result in similar symptoms.
What is the most current flu?
|The currently circulating seasonal flu viruses are influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), and influenza B virus strains.
Influenza A(H3N2) is expected to be the most prevalent flu strain in 2023 according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
When am I most likely to get a cold or the flu?
|Because colds and flus are respiratory illnesses they are acquired through the mucosal membranes in our eyes, lungs, mouths, and noses, and by being close to those who are already ill and infectious.
Colds and flu viruses tend to peak during the autumn and winter months; typically, between end-April to end-July in South Africa.
Although we consider them to be seasonal, cold and flu outbreaks can happen any time of the year.
How do I prepare for cold and flu season?
|The short answer is that prevention is always better than cure. Good health is an ongoing journey and should be embraced holistically. It isn’t somewhere that we suddenly arrive. What I mean is that good health needs to be considered consistently through the choices that we make every day, in every way.
As winter approaches, we tend to hibernate indoors, and our wholesome habits fall by the wayside. It’s best to get into a healthy routine before the colder months arrive.
To stay in balance, try to make sure that you:
How do I tell if I have a cold or the flu?
|Flu symptoms tend to be more severe than cold symptoms. They appear more suddenly and include higher fevers. The flu can be debilitating. If left untreated, it may lead to something more serious like pneumonia. Sometimes diarrhoea or vomiting are also symptoms of the flu. Dry coughs, chills, fatigue, high fevers, headaches, muscle pain and aching joints, sore throat and foggy brain are common symptoms of the flu.
Colds tend to develop more gradually, and typically start with a sore throat which then spreads to the nasal passages leading to congestion. Sometimes earache might develop before the infection spreads to the lungs. Milder fevers, wetter and chestier coughs, sneezing, and runny noses are typical symptoms of a cold. Dark mucus tends to develop as the infection develops.
The quickest way to distinguish between the two is to take your temperature. A cold very rarely results in a temperature over 38.5 degrees Celsius.
When do I stop being contagious?
|You are most contagious within the first three to four days after displaying symptoms. If you are recovering that means that your body is producing antibodies and is fighting the infection. It is better not to be around the vulnerable such as people with compromised immune systems during this time. If you are still coughing and sneezing, you are spreading the virus. Babies are still building up antibodies, and might be contagious a little longer.
What are the typical complications of a cold and the flu?
|A typical complication is acute bronchitis. This is inflammation of the connecting tubes of the lungs. They get swollen and inflamed because of a bacterial or viral infection. Most of the time, it is caused by a secondary bacterial infection. As a result, these tubes produce a lot of mucus as they try to get rid of the invaders. You tend to have a deep and persistent rattling cough as well as a fever. Fatigue, mild headaches, a tight chest and difficulty breathing are also common symptoms.
Pneumonia is another typical complication. It can be deadly, especially in the immuno-compromised, vulnerable and those with chronic health conditions. It can be both viral and bacterial. It is most commonly a secondary infection caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), and Mycoplasma pneumoniae in children which are bacterial infections. This means that they can be treated with antibiotics.
Complications are rare if you use A.Vogel Echinaforce appropriately.
What is the normal duration of colds and flu?
|A cold tends to last for about a week, if not less, in a normal healthy person. Head colds are sometimes mistaken for sinusitis or a sinus infection.
Flu symptoms last anywhere between three to five days but can last up to about eight days although you may take longer to bounce back to full strength.
If the symptoms continue longer than that, it might mean that a secondary bacterial infection has developed.
Should I go to the doctor straight away?
|If you have been persistently ill for ten days with a fever of 38.5 degrees Celsius, you may have developed a secondary infection, and require medical assistance.
Top tip: Where can I learn more about my immune system?
A strong immune system protects you from pathogens, infections, and other illnesses. It determines your vitality and plays a significant part in making you feel healthy and well. We unpack the immune system and discuss effective ways to support and strengthen it. Learn all about it by listening to this podcast here.
Prevention & treatment of colds, flus and respiratory tract infections
How can I prevent colds and flus naturally?
When we look at prevention, Living Naturally recommends these two product ranges.
- A.Vogel Echinaforce.
A.Vogel Echinaforce is the most extensively researched, and scientifically proven Echinacea product on the market. It’s been around for at least 60 years. It is made from freshly harvested Echinacea purpurea only. This means it has a stronger antibacterial and antiviral effect than those made from dry plant extracts. It is clinically proven to prevent colds, flus and recurrent respiratory tract infections in general in the young, the old and the vulnerable, and is safe for long-term use. And, reduces the possibility of secondary infection or need for antibiotics by up to 50%. It’s a preventative solution and a treatment.
It is available as drops, tablets, as a throat spray, and as chewable tablets for children.
- A.Vogel Echinaforce Drops: The recommended preventative dose is 20 drops in a glass of water three times daily. For children 6-12 years, one drop per age three times daily.
- A.Vogel Echinaforce Tablets: The recommended preventative dose for adults and children over 12 years is three tablets twice daily. For children 6-12 years it is one tablet three times daily as split doses.
- A.Vogel Echinaforce Junior Tablets: These are specially formulated for children, with a pleasant, orange-flavoured chewable tablet that’s easy to take. It is recommended that children from the age of two years old chew 1-2 tablets twice a day.
- A.Vogel Echinaforce Sore Throat Spray – Recommended from four years old onwards, and to be used preventatively as soon as a sore throat is detected to avoid further infection.
Find out more about A.Vogel Echinaforce and your immune system here.
Bio-Strath is a 100% natural, Swiss plasmolysed herbal yeast supplement that contains 61 of the 100 nutrients your body needs daily. It helps to bring about order and balance in the body, with supportive herbal ingredients for every system inside the body. It has the unique ability to increase vitality, support immunity and the recovery from illness, fatigue, and stress.
It is available as a syrup or in tablet format, depending on your preference. For infants, we recommend Bio-Strath Bare Necessities.
- Bio-Strath Syrup: For sustained good health and vitality the recommended dose for adults and children over 12 years is one teaspoonful (5 ml) once daily before a meal undiluted or mixed into juice. Children under 12 years should take half a teaspoonful (2,5 ml) once daily before a meal undiluted or mixed into juice.
- Bio-Strath Tablets: For sustained good health and vitality the recommended dose for adults and children over 12 years is two tablets once daily before meals with water. Children under 12 years should take one tablet once daily before meals with water.
- Bio-Strath Bare Necessities: Babies up to three months old: 1 ml or 1 dummy dip per day. Babies 3-12 months: 1,25 ml (a quarter medicine measure) or 2 dummy dips per day. Children 1-3 years: 1,25 ml (a quarter medicine measure) twice daily. Children 4 -6 years: 2,5 ml (half a medicine measure) twice daily.
I have a cold or the flu, and would like to treat it naturally, what do you recommend?
Living Naturally recommends three things.
- Increase your intake of A.Vogel Echinaforce and Bio-Strath to acute dosages immediately. Once you start to feel better, reduce the dosages to normal.
- Identify whether you have a cold or the flu. Specifically look at what symptoms you would like to treat before introducing one of these appropriate recommended remedies. Only take them when you are experiencing symptoms. Stop using them when you are feeling better.
- A.Vogel Cold Formula: This is a homeopathic medicine for head colds. In other words, it’s for the supportive treatment of excessive mucus and congestion of the upper respiratory tract. The ingredients address sneezing, runny or blocked nose, postnasal drip, nasal congestion, hoarseness and tearing eyes.
- A.Vogel Cough Formula: This is a homeopathic medicine for the supportive treatment of coughs. Ingredients address dry, irritating, spasmodic coughing as well as the build-up of phlegm associated with wet coughs by their expectorant action.
- A.Vogel Immunoforce Formula: A homeopathic medicine supporting healthy glands and lymphatic tissue. The ingredients specifically address enlarged, swollen or tender glands, and glandular tissue occurring as a result of infections.
- A.Vogel Influaforce: These flu drops are a homoeopathic medicine for the supportive treatment of mild viral respiratory infections, and associated signs and symptoms. The ingredients address mild headache, feverish symptoms, chills, weakness, body and muscle pain as well as phlegm of the respiratory tract.
- A.Vogel Santasapina Bon Bons: Itchy and dry throats can be quite irritating. A.Vogel Santasapina Bon Bons are tasty, soothe your throat and relieve coughs. These unique lozenges contain fresh spruce shoots, honey, and peppermint.
- A.Vogel Sinuforce: A homeopathic medicine for the supportive treatment of nasal congestion and mucus. The ingredients address symptoms associated with congestion of the nasal passages such as headache, postnasal drip, runny nose and mucus build-up. Also available in tablet form.
- A.Vogel Echinaforce Sore Throat Spray: A herbal remedy for the prevention and treatment of colds, influenza type infections, and similar upper respiratory tract conditions, sore throats, and mild lower urinary tract infections. Assists in modulating the immune response to infections.
- Drink plenty of fresh water. You need to drink about two and a half litres of fresh water consistently throughout the day. Increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables. Get plenty of bed rest and make sure that your room is well ventilated.
How do I prevent the possibility of getting a secondary infection?
Getting a cold or the flu compromises and weakens the immune system. Make hygiene a priority to manage the risk of acquiring secondary opportunistic bacterial infections. Wash your hands regularly. We recommend keeping a bottle of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil in the medicine cupboard.
It can be used in a variety of different ways to keep bacteria at bay.
- To help treat and prevent nasal congestion caused by bacteria: Add 2-3 drops in a bowl with 500ml of steaming water and inhale the steam. Alternatively, add 2-3 drops to your humidifier.
- To help treat a sore throat: Add 3 drops to a cup of warm water and gargle 2-3 times daily. After gargling spit out the mixture and do not swallow.
- To help disinfect household surfaces: Fill a 500ml spray bottle with water and add 5-6 drops. Close and shake well. Spray the area that needs disinfecting. It’s 99.9% effective in combating common household germs.
- Influenza (2022) NICD. Available at: https://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/influenza
- Influenza (seasonal) (no date) World Health Organization. World Health Organization. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal)
- National Institute for Communicable Diseases (2023) South African Government. Available at: https://www.gov.za/national-institute-communicable-diseases
- About flu (2022) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/index.html
- Bronchitis: Definition, causes, symptoms, and treatment (2019) Medical News Today. MediLexicon International. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/8888#treatment