Vail Daily health column: Protect yourself from viral infections |

Vail Daily health column: Protect yourself from viral infections

The cold and flu season is upon us. In fact, it started early this year with the enterovirus in our schools. Ninety five percent of the colds are due to viral infections. This means that antibiotics do not work for most colds. Antibiotics only work for bacterial infections and not viruses. 

Since we live in an area where tourists come from all over the world, we get many different types of viral infections. I have lived in the Vail Valley for 17 years, and it appears that every year these viral infections get worse. Many people get colds that last for three weeks and they’re still going to work or school, thereby exposing others. So how can you get your immune system ready to protect you this season?

First, make sure you take a good multiple vitamin that contains the antioxidants vitamin A, C, D and selenium. These antioxidants protect the immune system from viruses, bacteria and chemicals in our environment. Many people are deficient in vitamin D. This is why it is important to get a blood test to make sure you’re not deficient. Vitamin D protects against colds and flu, as well as breast cancer, prostate cancer, allergies, asthma and dementia.  

Many people are also deficient in probiotics. Probiotics protect our immune system in the gut, so probiotics can also prevent us from viral, bacterial and parasite infections. Good probiotics should be refrigerated.


Other tips include:

• Make sure you wash your hands frequently, especially after touching areas such as door handles, phones, pens and computers where many other people are working. Don’t shake hands with a lot of people. 

• Get eight hours of sleep a night.  

• Exercise one hour, five times per week. Many people in our community tend to do too much exercise, which can actually deplete your immune system. 

• Eat healthy. Eat at least 5 to 12 vegetables a day and protein with each meal. Drink alcohol in moderation; two drinks no more that three times per week. Take sugar and fructose out of your diet. These foods are responsible for inflammation in the body.   

• If you start feeling a cold or flu coming on, immediately start taking antiviral herbs such as echinacea, garlic, ginger, osha, astragalus root, schisandra, etc. These are the strongest in tincture form. These can get rid of a cold within 24 to 48 hours.  

• Drink hot teas such as ginger, lemon and honey. I have formulated a cold and flu tea that works very well. 

• Eat chicken or miso soup with ginger and garlic. 

• Eliminate products with dairy while you are sick. Dairy products contribute to increased mucus.

• Using a neti pot can help, especially if you get a lot of sinus infections. 

I offer a cold and flu clinic in which I examine your sinuses, throat, ears and listen to your lungs. Then I craft a specific antiviral tincture related to your condition. The key is responding as soon as you get sick. There is no need to be sick for three weeks this winter.  

Deborah Wiancek is a naturopathic physician who has a family practice at the Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic & Pharmacy in Edwards. She has been practicing in the Vail Valley for 17 years. To schedule an appointment, please call 970-926-7606 or email wiancek@ Visit or for more information.

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