In the past few years, the small packets have invaded. They fill up desk drawers at work, kitchen cabinets at home and purses and backpacks. The best-known brand is Emergen-C. They boast themselves as “super energy boosters” and champions of immune defense. They are envelopes of a dietary supplement powder. And when cold and flu season unleashes itself across the region, people reach for them.
Emergen-C has become one of many more natural ways to fend off illnesses and control symptoms. In an era where nearly every disease and ailment has a designer medication aimed to cure or curb it, more people are seeking the right balance of vitamins, minerals and natural herbs to solve their problems. They can be less expensive than many over-the-counter medicines without the litany of side effects.
For battling the old arch enemies the cold and flu, Vitamin C and Echinacea are popular choices. Rebecca Cooke of WindFlower Natural Medicine agreed. “One of the most effective herbs for treatment and prevention of the flu, Echinacea has been shown to inhibit influenza virus in cell cultures.” She also suggests elderberry. “It appears to prevent viral attachment to cells.”
And when the cold or flu attacks, Throat Coat Tea in lemon Echinacea soothes, while a range of throat sprays addresses lymph issues. For sinus sufferers, the Hindu Neti Pot — in which water and special salts are mixed and poured through the nose — can overcome problems and maintain health. Of course, water itself is vital for tissue hydration. When heaters in the winter months augment an already dry, cold climate, drink plenty.
Many people head to places that sell herbs and traditional medicines such as New Frontiers Natural Marketplace for both products and advice. At New Frontiers, about 25 percent of the grocery store’s floor space is dedicated to a wide gamut of dietary supplements. The shelves are packed with a variety of remedies that are grouped by function — including digestion, immunity, vision, bones and joints, heart, blood, liver, kidneys and the respiratory system.
The packed aisles at New Frontiers are a result of the complexity of the human body and its potential problems — and growth in the supplements industry to meet the demands of people seeking natural healing. But, there are a few simple solutions to a healthier life through supplements. “I’m a big fan of garlic, eating it or taking capsules. And for an immune booster, I recommend Colostrum,” said Brian Fuller, supplements manager at New Frontiers.
Mothers might recognize that as the pre-cursor to breast milk. The two most popular products, however, are the Wellness Formula line and GSE brand. The former offers a multi-herbal immune booster. “You still want to take your multi-vitamin, but add Wellness Formula to boost white cells,” Fuller suggested. In the body’s battle against viruses, he suggests grapefruit seed extract, which works on cell walls. And if you prefer to drink to good health, try Bio-Noni, a juice tonic.
Metals and minerals play a role, as well. “In the old days, rich people didn’t get sick because they ate with silverware or put a silver coin in their milk to keep it fresh,” Fuller said. Sure enough, history reveals the Greeks used silver vessels to curb spoilage. Silver preserved, disinfected and offered immune support until the advent of antibiotics. With our soil’s depletion of minerals through modern farming, food is more fiber than substance at times. Colloidal silver — a suspension of fine, antimicrobial particles — can fill that gap.
Ultimately, the goal is to formulate the best fuel for our bodies, eat right and then supplement to create an integrated immune strategy, according to leading natural healing Web sites. Safe and critical amounts are important. More is not necessarily better and not enough hinders optimal performance.
As a note from the supplement world, it’s important to use food-based products. Quality is everything, and there are varying degrees. “We are champions of food-based supplements…as opposed to chemically-fashioned vitamins. We’re all about getting as close to nature as possible,” said Priya Drews, the New Frontiers marketing manager.
New Frontiers — a California company that is celebrating its 20th year this month — broke ground on a new store that will be triple the size of the current location on Milton Road. (It’s a long-time Flagstaff presence, and first started on the corner of Route 66 and San Francisco Street, where Crystal Magic is now located). The 25,000-square-foot store will open on Butler Avenue some time next spring, and it is a result of growing demand for supplements and natural foods in general. For now, the Milton location is always packed. “We don’t have any quiet times in the store these days,” Drews said.
With the sick and sneezing season just weeks away, more people are going to hunt down those natural remedies. They can be an important tool when fighting the cold and flu bugs that dog Flagstaff residents through the harsh winters. NAMLM Gail G. Collins