When a person first contracts a virus or bacteria, a quick and efficient immune response is needed to fight off the infection. Depending on how well the body mounts this response, a person can get sick for a while, or they can recover quickly with minimal symptoms.
We have found several nutritional supplements that, if started on the very first signs of illness or after direct exposure to someone who is ill, can significantly reduce how sick a person gets and for how long they have symptoms. Early treatment is the key. Once a person has been sick for a day or two, the recommendations listed below may be helpful in strengthening the immune system so a person does not catch a second infection, but the first infection will probably last the normal duration.
While we have found these therapies to be very safe and effective, there are a few circumstances that warrant further medical evaluation:
- Any baby under 8 weeks old with a fever over 100.5 needs immediate medical attention. These youngest children are more prone to getting serious bacterial infections and a thorough examination and lab evaluation is warranted.
- Any fever over 104.5F with no other signs of illness (ie no cough, runny nose or intestinal symptoms) could be a sign of bacterial infection and should be evaluated, especially in younger children.
- Any fever that last more than 5 days should be evaluated. Any sign of respiratory distress, such as rapid breathing, labored breathing, difficulty catching one’s breath, or nasal flaring should be evaluated immediately.
- Any associated urinary symptoms such as pain with urination, increased urinary frequency, or blood in the urine warrants an evaluation for a urinary tract infection.
- Any associated mental status changes, confusion, or lethargy warrants immediate evaluation. Giving a single dose of a fever reducer such as ibuprofen (preferably) or acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol) to see if this improves the symptoms would be acceptable, but if not rapidly improving, immediate medical attention is needed.
1. Vitamin A – we find that a mycelized, natural, or palmitate form (instead of one that is mostly Beta Carotene) is the single most important therapy for fighting infections. This would be our choice if only one therapy could be used. Both liquid drops and gelcaps are available. We found Thorne Research – Vitamin A – 25,000 IU Pure Vitamin A Palmitate Supplement – 90 Capsules to work well for adults and for children we chose these drops Klaire Labs – Micellized Vitamin A 1 oz [Health and Beauty]
Do not use the higher doses listed below as a daily preventative. High doses of vitamin A should never be used for more than 2 consecutive days unless directed by a medical provider. The liver can be damaged if used for long periods of time at these doses. These high doses may also be problematic for people with clotting difficulty or liver disease.
The following dosing is anecdotal, based upon our and other doctors’ experiences:
- Children under 6 months, 10,000 IU;
- Children 6-12 months 15,000 IU;
- Children 12-24 months 20,000 IU;
- Children 2-3 years 25,000-30,000 IU;
- Children 4-5 years 40,000IU;
- Children 6-7 years 50,000 IU;
- Children 7-10 75,000 IU;
- Children 11-14 100,000 IU
- People 15 and older 150,000 IU.
These doses are to be used twice a day for 2 days only.* We advise giving/taking a 1⁄2 dose when not sick to make sure it is tolerated.
Note: If breastfeeding or pregnant, limit the Vitamin A to 50,000 IU .
* As a point of reference, the CDC recommends these or higher doses for children with measles
2. Vitamin C – preferably as Ester or Buffered C. Doses listed here are the total amount per day and should be divided in 3-4 doses. For children under 1 year of age, give 100 mg per each month of age; children up to age 5, 1000 mg per year of age; and as much as possible for older children and adults, as long as the stool does not become loose. This brand Solaray C Two-Stage Timed Release Supplement, 1000mg, 250 Count works well for adults and for kids these chewables are the best Nordic Naturals – Vitamin C Gummies, Immune System Support for Adults and Kids Ages 4+, 60 Soft Gels
3. Zinc – children under 1 year old give 10-15 mg a day, children between 1 and 3 give 20-30 mg daily, older children 50 mg a day, and adults can take 75-100 mg a day. This should be divided into 2-3 doses through the day. Zinc can also be taken as a daily preventive, 5-10 mg per day for younger children, and up to 20 mg daily for adults. We like these zinc capsules Pure Encapsulations – Zinc 15 – Hypoallergenic Supplement for Immune Support* – 60 Capsules and these zinc drops for kids BodyBio – Zinc 2 Liquid Mineral, 4oz
4. Larix (Arabinogalactan) and Echinacea – these herbs have a similar active ingredient called arabinogalactan (Larix is derived from the bark of the Western Larch tree), which is believed to increase production of white blood cells. Arabinogalactan from Larch has been found to be much stronger than Echinacea when using similar amounts, and can be used by patients over 6 months of age. For adults and older children, the dose is 4 capsules 3 times per day, and younger children who can swallow pills should take 2 capsules 3 times per day. There is also a powder available. Adults and large children should use 1 tablespoon 3 times per day, and smaller children should use 1 tsp 3 times per day. Larix 1000mg – 100 – Tablet
Echinacea should not be used as a daily preventative, but adults and larger children can take Arabinogalactan/Larix at 2 capsules twice per day, and smaller children (under 5 years old) 1⁄2 tsp of the powder twice per day through the flu season. Alcohol-free extracts of Echinacea can be used for children. The doses for Echinacea are as follows: We chose Maxi Health Organic Echinacea Supreme with Vitamin C – Immune Booster – 2 Ounce Bottle – Kosher
- 2 – 6 months old: 5 drops, 4 times per day
- 6 –12 months old: 10 drops, 4 times per day
- 1 – 2 years old: 15 drops, 4 times per day
- 2 – 4 years old: 20 drops, 4 times per day
- 4 – 6 years old: 25 drops, 4 times per day
The listed doses of Vitamin C, Zinc, Larix/Arabinogalactan, and Echinacea should be used for 10-14 days, even if symptoms resolve sooner, as it can prevent catching a second illness.
Please be aware that these therapies have not been evaluated in medical studies. One must always weigh the risks and benefits of each therapy on an individualized basis.
Note: This information is not intended to replace consultation between a patient and medical provider. It is for general purposes only. We sourced this from Dr. David Berger of Wholistic Pediatrics & Family Care