A significant rise in job insecurity since the UK’s decision to leave the EU means people are loath to take time off work – and with an increase in colds and flu, this is leading to higher demand for OTC remedies. Jane Wolfe reports
Today’s busy lifestyles continue to take their toll on consumer health, but according to Mintel’s report Cough, Cold, Flu and Allergy Remedies, 2016 saw the lowest number of working days lost to sickness since records began, ‘suggesting that increasing levels of employment and the looming uncertainty of Brexit have forced employees to keep going’. This need to power through facilitates the spread of coughs and colds in the workplace and increases demand for products that can alleviate symptoms, shorten duration or prevent infection in the first place.
The market research company also found that the number of people who say they’ve experienced a cold or flu in the past year was higher in the last 12 months than the year to January 2016, and the proportion of people who had used oral over-the-counter (OTC) remedies to treat colds had risen from 53% to 59%, and for flu from 37% to 41%. Bad news for habitual cold-catchers, but good news for natural health stores.
Joe Jackson, owner of Apothecary 27 in Haslemere, says the winter season is one of the store’s busiest times. “A lot of our customers have young children and when they go back to school there tends to be a big wave of colds as everyone swaps their germs,” he says. “Last year there was a constant flow of coughs, colds and flu, so we make sure we’re well stocked for the first weeks of September because from that point until well into spring is when the immune system tends to be the focus. This period seems to get longer every year – it used to be from November to January.”
So when is the best time to big up winter remedies in store? “We try and keep very seasonal with our promotions and window displays,” says Tim Hutchin from G Baldwins in Walworth. “Companies like Vogel and Wild Nutrition always gives us good winter wellness support. We usually do our display at the end of September because we’ve got organic September and then from November onwards Christmas starts, so winter health fits well in between.”
“Echinacea is a consistent big seller for us during the winter months,” says Jackson. “People like to take it throughout winter to stop them getting ill and reduce the length of time they are contagious and unwell. Echinacea is an old-time favourite that has always been really popular as it has lots of clinical studies to back it.
“I’ve also noticed that a lot of people have really started to invest in vitamin D supplementation for the winter months to help boost their immune system. Certainly last year we noticed a lot of our customers were far more educated about vitamin D.”
Hutchin believes that although people are more aware of boosting their immune systems, few do so with a particular condition in mind. “Colds and flu still take people by surprise. Maybe because we’re in London and everybody has busy lifestyles, a lot of people come in when they’re already going down with something and they want it gone now because they have a presentation to give or something.”
To reduce the duration of a cold, Wellness Formula by Source Naturals comes highly recommended by both Jackson and Hutchin. “This has been my favourite for a number of years,” says Hutchin. “It’s got all the herbs you want to boost the immune system and fight infection, some of them specific to chest health – bronchitis is called the British disease, and chestiness in the Brits is a big one. It has elecampane, propolis, echinacea, garlic, horehound, astragalus, vitamin C – the works. I’ve used it a number times and have had brilliant feedback from customers.”
A personal favourite of mine is the Nature’s Answer Goldenseal,” says Jackson. “Known as ‘nature’s antibiotic’, it is a herb with really great immune-boosting properties. Whenever I feel I’m coming down with something I have a few drops in water, and it hardly ever amounts to anything. It’s really good at killing off excess germs.”
“Olive leaf is becoming more popular again now, and I’m a big fan of Ovio’s Daily Organic Olive Leaf extract,” he adds. “It comes in a seven-day supply and is fantastic for getting rid of coughs or colds. Quite a few of my customers come in for a bottle of that if they feel they’re coming down with something. We’ve always stocked olive leaf extract but this one was recommended by a customer and it’s gone down really well. Some people take it for one week every month to maintain their immune system throughout the year.”
“Medicinal mushrooms are hugely overlooked as immune support,” says Hutchin, “but people are slowly turning on to them now as an aid to immune health. We’ve also suddenly started selling more colloidal silver. The tricky thing here is that legislation has changed and we can no longer suggest it for internal consumption. However, the majority of customers who ask for it are aware of this. I’m a big proponent of colloidal silver and I take it internally.”
Hutchin is also a huge fan of vitamin C: “Everybody overlooks vitamin C because we think we know all about it, but it is so easily accessible, it is relatively cheap, it works a treat and we can’t get enough of it – it does so much for us.”
With the increase in publicity regarding the link between probiotics and immune health, are probiotics likely to become a winter essential? Natalie Lamb, nutritional therapist and technical advisor at Protexin, whose products include Bio-Kult, says: “We have certainly seen a positive increase in the number of customers who purchase Bio-Kult probiotics to support their winter immune health. Multi-strain probiotics have been shown to significantly shorten common colds and reduce the severity of symptoms in a number of studies.
“The gut microflora plays an essential role in influencing the immune system’s state of alertness and optimizing the speed and effectiveness of the body’s defence response to an infection such as the common cold. Our gut-associated immune system is an important first defence mechanism protecting us from the outside world, so it is incredibly important that this is functioning well.”
Bio-Kult invests in Survive Winter consumer campaigns to educate on the role of probiotics for winter ailments, as well as supportive material and training for health stores.
“Now more research is becoming available to the public, probiotics are a bit more mainstream and customers are coming in and talking about the link between having a probiotic and boosting their immune system,” says Jackson. “I think this year we will see a big drive in probiotics in the winter time.”
Hutchin agrees that public awareness of probiotics is expanding because of marketing and the amount of research that’s being undertaken. “Probiotics are really coming into the forefront. I’m not sure if this winter we will see people using them to boost immunity but I can certainly see that maybe next year it will have filtered down enough to the general public for it to start making a real impact.”
Apart from coughs and colds, arthritis can worsen for some people when the cold sets in. “With the change in the weather we do notice that people’s arthritis does flare up and some of our older customers notice a change in their symptoms during the colder weather,” says Jackson. “The first call would probably be a glucosamine supplement or something with ginger or rosehip, which is anti-inflammatory. We’ve also had amazing results with turmeric. The one that we’re getting the best response from is the Viridian Curcumin Complex – it’s the pure curcumin from turmeric, which is the active compound, and it’s also got ginger and boswellia which is great for pain relief and reducing inflammation; and Pukka Wholistic Turmeric is a firm favourite too.”
How to supercharge the immune system
To keep the immune systems healthy, nutritional therapist and author Christine Bailey says it’s important to address lifestyle as well as diet. High sugar intake can suppress the immune system, as can stress, lack of sleep, smoking and too much alcohol. Here, she advises on some of the key nutrients to focus on to supercharge the immune system.
Vitamin D: Many studies show that people with higher vitamin D levels contract substantially fewer colds, flu and other viral infections. There are only a few food sources of vitamin D – including oily fish and mushrooms – so most people will benefit from supplementation.
Antioxidants: Research has shown that supplementing with antioxidants stimulates immune function. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the chances of catching a cold and may speed up recovery; vitamin E protects the cell membranes of the immune system and enhances the effects of lymphocytes; and coenzyme Q10 has an important role in stimulating the immune system.
Protein: Sufficient protein is necessary for a healthy immune system. Whey protein is particularly beneficial as it contains several substances that enhance immune function, including beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, lactoperoxidase and lactoferrin, which also acts as an antioxidant.
Zinc: Zinc deficiency can lead to reduced immune function, increasing your risk of an infection. You can raise your zinc intake naturally by eating plenty of pumpkin and sesame seeds, lamb, beef, oats, yoghurt and prawns.
Beta glucans: These are polysaccharides that can naturally boost the immune system by optimizing its response to diseases and infections. The body doesn’t produce beta glucans, but they are found in oats, barley and mushrooms.
Probiotics: Over 70% of our immune system resides in the gut, and the gastrointestinal tract relies on friendly bacteria to help support a robust immune response.
Other immune-boosters include: garlic, which has the active compound allicin which has demonstrated antiviral activity; elderberry extract, which has also been shown to have antiviral properties; and medicinal mushrooms like shitake, cordyceps and reishi, which are antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal.
Winter remedies products
Absolute Aroma’s Prevention Essential Oil Blend
Absolute Aromas have a fantastic blend of essential oils that can help defend and protect you against Autumn illnesses naturally. Prevention contains a mixture of Tee Tree, Cajeput, Ravensara and Niaoli, all of which are anti-bacterial and anti-viral and help to minimise the spreading of germs. There are many ways you can use Prevention, as a lot of flu type viruses are air-borne it is great to use in a diffuser. It can also be put on cleaning cloths to keep surfaces fresh and on a tissue to inhale and revitalise your airwaves. Choose Prevention to defend and boost your natural defences.
Wintervits® Immune Booster
Age, stress, and poor nutrition can deplete our immune system of its effectiveness. In order to avoid illness, the body needs to be equipped with a whole host of essential micronutrients. Supplements are a great way of safeguarding nutrient intake. Wintervits® a synergistic blend of vital Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal extracts such as: Vitamin C, Zinc, Maitake mushroom, Astragalus, Rutin and Proplis extract; are well-known for their immune boosting properties. Wintervits® also has the added benefit of Quercetin, which contains powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help support a healthy immune system. Wintervits® retails at £10.49 for 30 tablets. Contact HealthAid Ltd on 020 8426 3400 for purchase and stockist information or visit www.healthaid.co.uk.
Organic Oriental Chai & Liquorice
Heath & Heather’s deliciously rich and warming Organic Oriental Chai & Liquorice infusion has recently been awarded a highly coveted Great Taste Award, proving its strength in both quality and flavour. Naturally caffeine-free and beautifully fragrant, this healthful drink is full of life; blending together the functional spices found in a classic Chai tea, such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper. It is a wonderful Winter tea, expertly balanced with the natural sweetness of organic Liquorice root. Perfect to warm you up in the cold months ahead, to enhance both health and happiness.
At Helios we are busy preparing homeopathic remedies for winter. Our individual remedies cover a wide variety of winter ailments from coughs, colds and flu, to sore throats, sinusitis and much more and our natural plant based creams are formulated to soothe sore, dry, cracked or chapped skin. All remedies and creams are made to traditional methods by hand and are backed by expert advice from our team of qualified homeopaths and comprehensive point of sale literature. Ensure your customers stay healthy this winter, naturally.
Natures Aid Beta-Glucans Immune Support +
The immune system is the body’s natural defence against infectious organisms, so it is important to ensure that it gets all the nutrients it needs. Natures Aid award-winning Beta-Glucans Immune Support+ is an advanced immune formula, combining 150mg of the increasingly popular Beta Glucans (1,3/ 1,6) with odour-controlled garlic, elderberry, and vitamin D3. Plus vitamins A & C, zinc and selenium, to contribute to the normal function of the immune system. New and improved formula. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans. 30 Tablets – £9.45 90 Tablets – £22.95
Manuka Health MGO Manuka Honey
Manuka Health was the first company in the world to certify manuka honey according to methylglyoxal content, the natural compound in manuka honey. Manuka Health pioneered the testing and grading of Manuka honey based on natural MGO content. Each MGO™ Manuka Honey product is tested and certified to contain a minimum level of methylglyoxal, ranging from 30mg/kg to 550mg/kg in our highest grade MGO™ 550+ Manuka Honey. It is certified Manuka Honey from beehives in remote and pristine areas of New Zealand, with full traceability from beehive to shelf.
Beta Glucan 30 Veg Caps
Beta-Glucan in the form of 1/3,1/6 has been highly researched and is formulated with vitamin C, D and Zinc to provide daily nutritional support and contribute to the normal function of the immune system. This product provides 1000 IU of Vitamin D3 from a sustainable, vegan source. The combination of ingredients helps to support a healthy immune system, especially under periods of increased physical and emotional stress. Beta-Glucan veg caps is part of the 200+ range of nutritional supplements from the ethical vitamin company, Viridian Nutrition, founded on the principles of Purity, the Environment and Community. Non-GM, non-irradiated, allergen-free, against animal testing. Cost: Trade £7.64, Retail £18.60
Horseradish and Garlic Complex Veg Caps
Providing high strength horseradish and garlic extracts alongside vitamin C and zinc which help contribute to normal function of the immune system. This product provides 1000mg of Vitamin C and 30mg of Zinc per day. Vitamin C aids in the maintenance of the immune system including during and after intense physical exercise. Horseradish and Garlic Complex is part of the 200+ range of nutritional supplements from the ethical vitamin company, Viridian Nutrition, founded on the principles of Purity, the Environment and Community. Non-GM, non-irradiated, allergen-free, against animal testing.
Costs: 30 Capsules Trade £4.82, £11.30 Retail. 90 Capsules Trade £8.99, Retail £21.85
Ultimate Flora Ultra Potent 100 billion
Ultimate Flora Ultra Potent is a 100 billion one a day probiotic, formulated with 10 specific strains for during antibiotic use and to support complete recovery after antibiotic use. Also for gastrointestinal or oral infections, severe digestive issues, reduction of cold or flu symptoms and to boost systemic immunity. Our unique enteric coating delivery system ensures 100% delivery of 50 billion Lactobacilli and 50 billion Bifidobacteria, offering complete support and recovery to the entire intestinal and urogenital tract following illness or imbalance. Suitable while pregnant and breastfeeding.
Amazing Grass Immunity Green Superfood Tangerine Defence
Amazing Grass® Green Superfood Blend includes a proprietary combination of organic, non-GMO wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa, spirulina, spinach, chlorella and broccoli. Every serving is full of vitamins and minerals. To help achieve the recommended 5 to 9 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, Tangerine Defense Green Superfood has a blend of organic mushrooms, herbs and vitamins added which help deliver powerful immune-boosting antioxidants, plus a tangy burst of tangerine flavour. Helps support overall health and immunity, aids digestive function, alkalises and strengthens immune system. Raw, vegan and gluten free.
Nature’s Answer Vitamin D3 Drops 4,000iu
Nature’s Answer Vitamin D3 Drops contain 4000iu per serving, almost 7 times the RDA for grown adults, but a safe dose to maintain good health. Once almost exclusively known as a bone health nutrient, more recent studies have uncovered an incredible array of potential health benefits to increasing vitamin D levels, including improved immunity and improved health in many aspects. Nature’s Answer are the pioneers of low alcohol and alcohol free extracts, unconditionally guaranteed. Delivered in extra virgin olive oil, is delivered in a highly absorbable liquid form, with none of the fillers, binding agents, and other additives you will find in other brands.
Ener-C Peach Mango
Ener-C Peach Mango new flavour from Ener-C for 2017. Effervescent vitamin C as mineral ascorbates, with 100mg vitamin C per serving. Mix with water for a health & energy boost, to support immune system, replenish and maintain electrolyte balance. Along with vitamin C, the formula also contains 25 key nutrients and vitamins including vitamins A, E and B. Other flavours available include – Pineapple Coconut, Lemon Lime, Orange, Tangerine Grapefruit, Raspberry and Cranberry. All vitamin and mineral sources have been chosen not only for their quality, but also for their ability to absorb easily in the body, ensuring that you get the greatest benefit from each and every packet of Ener-C.
Pukka Organic Elderberry Syrup
One of nature’s richest sources of natural vitamin C, the inky black elderberry is packed full of anti-viral and anti-inflammatory active ingredients. They contain triterpenes and phenols and are high in both essential oils and volatile oils. Their natural tannins, flavonoids and anthocyanins turn this into a wonder berry for winter. Our Elderberry Syrup packs elderberries in a ratio of 6:1 – meaning you get 6 times the concentration of this incredible berry with every dose. That’s 12000mg of fresh berries in every 15ml of syrup.
Source Naturals Wellness Formula
Source Naturals Wellness Formula is a complex of over 30 powerful ingredients, including: vitamin A, C and D3, minerals Zinc, Selenium, Copper, herbal extracts including Garlic Bulb, Propolis Extract, Echinacea purpurea Root Extract, Elderberry Fruit Extract, Olive Leaf Extract, Eleuthero Root Extract, Elecampane Root, Citrus Bioflavonoid Complex, Goldenseal Root Extract, Angelica Root Extract, Astragalus Root Extract, Mullein Leaf, Pau D’Arco Bark Extract, Cayenne Fruit, Ginger Root Extract and Grape Seed Extract. These ingredients deliver a broad spectrum of antioxidants, and unlike single-action formulas the ingredients work together in synergy, unlocking the power of these botanicals.