PTBOCanada Featured Post: Dr. Brenda Tapp With Cold & Flu Mythbusters

Get ready Peterborough, it's that time of year again! Whether or not we want to admit it, cold and flu season affects us all in one way or another no matter how hard we try to avoid it. Everyone has their own views on how to deal with impending sickness and poor health. Here are a few myths which need explaining from Dr. Brenda Tapp, Clinic director of Peterborough Centre of Naturopathic Medicine and recent Peterborough Business Excellence Awards recipent...

Myth #1: All fevers are bad

Fever is a natural process that occurs in response to an infection, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. As an adaptive immune response against infectious agents, fevers are a beneficial process and a positive indicator of healthy immune function. A fever in the range of 39.0oC - 39.4oC is considered the optimal range for fighting microbes. Elevated body temperatures make it difficult for a virus or bacteria to replicate and survive. Think of a fever like a warning system similar to your car's engine light. To suppress a fever is like asking your mechanic to disconnect the engine light without fixing the problem. Most fevers will resolve without complication. The perceived need for medications to maintain normal temperature is another myth surrounding fevers. While fear of a fever is common, there is no evidence that fever prolongs or worsens the course of illness. 

**Please note: Aspirin should not be given to children, as it may increase the risk of Reye's syndrome. To learn more about how to handle a fever and when to seek medical attention, click here.

Myth #2: Antibiotics will treat a cold or flu

Antibiotics are not always the answer. In fact, only taking antibiotics when necessary is crucial to reducing the spread of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections. Antibiotics should only be used to treat bacterial infections. Acute infections like the cold, flu, sinus infections, and ear infections are generally of viral origin and antibiotics will be ineffective. 

Myth #3: There is nothing but rest to get rid of a cold

Naturopathic medicine has lots of herbs and nutrients to boost the immune system and fight of infections—even viral infections. Echinacea, also known as the purple coneflower that decorates many Peterborough gardens, is the most common immune boosting supplement sold at health food stores. It contains a compound that stimulates the “complement pathway” of the immune system, thus promoting movement of white blood cells to an infection, neutralization of viruses, lysis of bacteria and also promotes white blood cell activation. 


One of the best cold/flu remedies is a medicinal tea containing only garlic, ginger and honey. It tastes much better than you would think. Hot water draws medicinal compounds out of herbs into the water, making tea an effective form of herbal medicine. Some of the reasons it works include:


Fresh, not dried, ginger is effective against respiratory viruses by blocking viral attachment to mucosal membranes and boosting interferons, an important part of the immune system involved in the first line of defense against viral infections. 

• Many studies have also been done on fresh garlic and have shown that it exhibits antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial activity including activity against antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria! 

• In clinical trials, fresh honey has repeatedly been shown to treat a cough and/or sore throat as effectively as over the counter liquid cough suppressants. The bonus is that honey also has several antimicrobial compounds. 

Ingredients for medicinal tea:
-> 4 cups boiling water
-> 4 crushed garlic cloves
-> 2 tsp thinly sliced ginger root
-> 4 tsp honey

--> Steep for 20 minutes, then strain.

This is the third in a series with Dr. Brenda Tapp of of the Peterborough Centre of Naturopathic Medicine. Read her first two columns here and here.

For more information on colds and the flu, or if you have any questions about your health or about naturopathic medicine, Dr. Tapp would be happy to answer them. For more on Dr. Tapp, go to:

Phone: 705.761.6596
Twitter: @PtboNaturopath
Facebook: PeterboroughCentreOfNaturopathicMedicine

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