This is the time of year that patients come in with many questions about the cold and flu. Should I get the flu shot? What happens if I get the flu? What do I do for the common cold? Though there are many things you can do to avoid catching these nasty viruses this winter, there is one remedy in particular that everyone should know about. Black elderberry has a long history of use in colds, and several studies in humans have shown that black elderberries not only reduce the severity, but also the duration of influenza. As a matter of fact, when the H1N1 flu was going around, the National Institute of Health screened a wide range of natural products to see if they had antiviral activity, and black elderberry ranked very high. Black elderberry has both antiviral and antibacterial properties, having effectiveness against influenza A, influenza B, and several gram positive and negative bacteria. Elderberry can be safe and effective for many of the common respiratory complaints people have during the cold and flu season. It’s safe for children, and safe for adults as well, making elderberry an essential member of your medicine chest this winter. I personally get my elderberry from www.mindfullymadeforyou.com to support local small business!
One of the most common allergens is grasses and specifically timothy grass. We are seeing these right now. While preventive treatment is ideal, treatment is currently focused on relieving the symptoms. There is a new option for allergy sufferers of common grasses for future seasons. The middle of freezing temperatures is when the grasses are dormant. It is that time that preventive treatment needs to start.
The newest option to treat for the timothy grass allergen is Grastek. This is immunotherapy in a pill. For those that have endured the weekly shots this is a novel, relatively painless approach to immunotherapy that can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Grastek covers Timothy grasses but also has cross coverage to other grasses.
It should be started for seasonal care 12 weeks ahead of pollen and throughout the season or taken consecutively for 3 years.
Click on the following link for more information on administration of Grastek.
Another common allergen that is on the horizon is ragweed. Fortunately, our timing of discussing this form of treatment is ideal. The same manufacturer of Grastek has developed a similar treatment for ragweed with the prescription drug Ragwitek.
Ragwitek like Grastek should be taken 12 weeks before the allergen season. In this geographic area the typical ragweed season begins about August 15. That gives an estimated start date of the medication in mid-May.
Ragwitek is taken similarly to Grastek with pre-seasonal and seasonal administration or continuous administration for 3 years.
TRADITIONAL ALLERGY CARE
Many other treatments remain the mainstay for allergy treatment:
While avoidance can be difficult here are some pointers that may help:
Stay indoors when the pollen count is high especially between 5AM to 10 AM when pollen counts are highest
Wear a mask when mowing or avoid mowing altogether
Choose grasses for your lawn that produce less pollen–dichondra and irish moss are some examples
Mow frequently to keep grass short
Keep windows closed
Avoid attic fans
Bathe pets frequently
Do not dry clothes outdoors
Minimize alcohol intake as it leads to dehydration and increased sensitivity to allergens
Another topic to come…How do I know what I am allergic to?