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Phone: (0274) 837 188
Open: Tues-Fri 10am-6pm

On my return from a two week trip to China (a bucket list must!) there was a definite change of season in New Zealand, with fallen linden tree leaves covering my street and with a nip in the air in the mornings. A beautiful time of year!

Rapid temperature changes, whether from cold to hot, but more predominantly from hot to cold, are stressful to the human body as we adapt to maintain balance. Add exposure to upper respiratory viruses to this and our immune systems are challenged to fight these bugs off, especially if we already have a health condition to manage to start with.

It is a good idea to continue exercise, particularly when the heart rate is raised and sweating occurs, as the higher temperature helps to kill off the unwanted viruses. Take care, however, not to chill down too quickly afterwards, again because of the stress of changes of temperature.

Remembering to throw a jacket into the car when going to work to allow for temperature fluctuations and to keep warm when the temperature drops in the early evening.

Eating properly is always a foundation stone for good health, and especially when the weather changes from warm to cool. Now is the time to reintegrate hot dinners, soups and casseroles. Using warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and curry powders are beneficial at this time – for instance, Thai pumpkin soup is nutritious and comforting! Ingredients include red curry paste, pumpkin and coconut cream – see for the base recipe, and add Asian fish sauce, onion, garlic, and seasoning to taste.

On the subject of garlic, use it liberally in your diet or if that is not practical in your household, buy some garlic capsules. Garlic has antioxidant and antimicrobial activity, and is anti-inflammatory and anti-viral too. Its immune-stimulating actions earn it a place in our toolkit to combat winter chills and ills. Of course it also has a lot of evidence-based research for its cardiovascular benefits too. The main caution is if you are taking blood-thinning medication, in which case moderate dietary use of garlic is fine, but it is wiser to stay away from garlic supplements.

Vitamin C is well-known in doses between 500mg – 2000mg per day is a must for its immune-enhancing and anti-inflammatory actions.

Herbal medicine is also very effective for immune support. Many people know about Echinacea, but here I want to mention Astragalus.

Astragalus root is originally a Chinese plant, but has been widely adopted by Western medical herbalists as a tonic and treatment for colds, ‘flu and other chronic viral infections, either on its own or together with other herbs such as Echinacea and Licorice. Research has shown that Astragalus activates and stimulates the proliferation of various immune cells. Traditionally, Astragalus is not used in the active phase of an infection (the first 2 days of a cold, for instance) but comes into its own straight after the end of the active phase, when it significantly helps to speed recovery and shorten the duration of symptoms.

If you would like a liquid herbal immune support formula tailor-made for you, or herbal advice, do give Holden Healthcare a call to book an appointment to see me and I can make something up to suit your own individual needs.

Soup photo credit: Pumpkin soup via photopin (license)

By David Holden, ND, MS – Naturopath & BioChemist

Yes, you can do it! The Wellness Approach to winter is to boost your system with specific foods, herbs, exercises & Lifestyle Medicine so bugs done get a look in! As an ex-Microbiologist of 5 years before I became a Naturopath, I studied all bugs known to mankind at the time of my training. Interestingly we are discovering new bugs all the time due to advances in microscopes and detection technologies as well as better scientific understandings of how the immune system works.

I personally haven’t had a major flu or cold in winter for nearly a decade now! And it isn’t rocket science folks, it is actually very simple, but it takes time to do it, so if you wish to avoid all the office worker colds and flus going around (dirty air con is a major contributor) or to boost your kids immune system from all those nasty school bugs before the colder weather you need to start NOW! It takes on average 3 months to build immunity if it is really low in a healthy adult, about 2 months for kids unless either has a diagnosed disease in which case it will probably take longer. So this article was written in March, so if you start now by June you have a good chance of boosting YOUR immune system by at least 25%, in some cases 50% and this can be tested with our equipment at HHC to prove it.

The key principles that Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know is:

1.     Specific Vitamins & Minerals DO WORK and can significantly protect you BETTER than the flu vaccine and are much safer! The main Vitamins are C & D3 and the main Minerals are Zinc & Selenium.

2.     The key herbs are Astralagus and Garlic.

3.     The key exercises are Cardio Vascular HIIT & Yoga / Qi Gung & Tai Chi.

4.     The key Lifestyle Medicine tips are to be relaxed and stress free as much as possible, to do this Mediation and Creative Visualization are the main methods used as they help reduce Immune System stresses.

Let’s look at these in more detail:

Vitamin C is well known as an Immune System stimulant. The research dates back well over 60 years mainly by Dr Linus Pauling, PhD who was one of only 2 people in World history to win 2 Noble prizes in Medicine. (The other one, Dr Otto Warburg, MD discovered Medical Ozone, one of 5 known Naturopathic cures for many types – but not all – of Cancer and other diseases).

Dr Pauling’s work concluded that Vitamin C protects the cell wall from viral & bacterial infiltration by strengthening it and making it impermeable to them; thus protecting and ‘rate limiting’ the spread of viruses & bacteria when they try and multiply rapidly making the person very sick and contagious quickly.

The Master key with Vitamin C is

to hit it hard on the first sign

of any cold or flu symptoms.


As viruses, and to some lesser extent bacteria, spread rapidly – viruses can multiple 1,000 x within a few hours, bacteria 100 x so if you don’t hammer them quickly they will take over and you will get sick very fast, within 24-48 hours, as anyone knows who has contracted a real flu.

Dose is weight dependant, basically 1 gram Vit C per 10kg body weight is the MINIMUM dose to hammer rapidly growing viruses.

You can double or even treble this suggested minimum dose to bowel tolerance if you want to get even better & faster results.


Bowel tolerance is where you take as much oral Vitamin C until you get loose bowels then back off the dose by 10-20% until the loose bowel firms up. This is the ONLY major uncomfortable side effect of high dose Vitamin C – diarrhoea. If you take the new fat soluble forms of Vitamin C like Lypospheric, Nano or Micro Particle Vitamin C you can take much higher doses without loose bowels. Intravenous Vitamin C (IVC) is by far the best way of getting huge doses of Vitamin C into your system quickly but it is very expensive compared with oral Vit C, but dose have this distinct advantage over oral dosing – it won’t cause loose bowels. So the average dose for a 60-80kg adult is between 2-3grams daily as a preventer, much more, 5-15grams daily if you actually have a full blown infection. At these levels you need to be taking the new fat soluble Lypo C’s to reduce the incidents of diarrhoea. IVC is the only way to go if you gte a life threatening infection like Swine Flu or Bird Flu, here really high doses can actually cure the infection completely as has been show so well in the much publicised case of Alan XXXXXXX in 20XX in Auckland.

Vitamin D3 is not so well known publicly, but has been the focus of a lot of attention in recent decades with people like Dr Joseph Mercola, DO et al, who wrote some major articles on Vitamin D3 in the late 1990’s and throughout the OO’s (noughties). Vitamin D3 is at the core of immune system function and unlike the old medical model that says Vitamin D3 is only good for strengthen bones, we now know so much more about Vit D3 and how it works and how vital it is in immune system function and support. It is estimated scientifically that if everyone on the planet was dosed on Vitamin D3 regularly then the incidence of Cancer would drop nearly 50% within 3 months as it takes time to build it up in your body stores. Unlike Vitamin C which is water soluble, Vitamin D3 is fat soluble so it is stored for longer in the body tissues, not washed out by fluids like Vitamin C is. But it takes at least 3 months to get your levels up to the recommended, over 100d/l which is much higher than the medical RDA levels of between 40-80d/l. I prefer patients to have levels above 120, especially if there is a cancer family or personal history.

Vitamin D3 is just as, if not MORE important than Vitamin C in combating colds and flus. As it is stored in the human body for much longer than Vit C, it is more helpful but it does take time, weeks to months if you are very low, to build the levels up unlike Vit C which is absorbed rapidly within a few minutes or hours.

I specify Vitamin D3 as D2 is toxic in higher doses and doesn’t have the same immune building effects of D3. The best dose is actually much higher than is given medically over time. An average adult should be on 5-15,000iu Vit D3 daily if their levels are low or if they have a compromised immune response like a herpes or other longer term viral infection like HIV or various Cancers. The Medical range is 40-80 d/l the Naturopathic range is over 100, ideally 120+. Most people can go up to 200 d/l with no toxic side effects. However, some people are more sensitive and can get skin rashes and in severe cases kidney stones if they take very high doses of Vit D3 for extended periods of time without medical blood testing which I recommend at least 2 x annually.

While there is no substitute for having elevated levels of C & D3 you also need to boost minerals to get more complete protection.

Of all the Minerals Zinc is by far the most important,

with Selenium a close second for boosting immunity.


NZ & Australian soils are very low in both minerals, especially Selenium. In the 1990’s the World Health Organisation (WHO) linked low Selenium (Se) levels in soil to elevated Cancer rates from the results of World Wide scientific research studies. The evidence is very clear, countries that have low Selenium levels have high Cancer death rates, end of story, just like Australia & NZ. If it’s not in the soil, then it won’t get into our foods so we need to supplement. Selenium is best derived from Brazil nuts, aim for between 3-6 daily for a couple of months and that will tip the scales in the right direction, again a simple cheap blood test is useful to find out exactly where your levels are. Be aware that you can OD on Se levels! If you levels get above 2.5 you can get some liver toxicity, it is reversible, but best not to go that high. In NZ the standard medical levels are low normal range is 0.5-1.5, but in the USA where I trained it is over 1.4-2.2. So I ignore the medical range here in NZ as it is deliberately low, which is bizarre and reflects the lack of knowledge of this vital immune boosting mineral to human health.

Zinc is involved in over 60 different enzyme systems in the human body so is a vital mineral for immune recovery after illness, as well as helping to heal all skin diseases and mucous membrane conditions. Food sources are unreliable at best, especially if the food is grown in Aussie or NZ as the soils are low in it. So supplementation is the best and most cost effective options for most people I see. I recommend the Metagenics Meta Zinc product as its well absorbed, just 1 daily with breakfast is enough to bring most people up to good levels within 2-6 months depending on the person’s lifestyle. I always add Zinc testing to my new patient blood reports so we know exactly where it is early on especially with Cancer and other serious illnesses. Tell this to your average TGA or Medsafe bureaucrat who want to restrict what dose you can take and get access to. It’s easy to see why conspiracy theorists get their nickers in a twist as the levels of these 2 key vital immune nutrients, D3 & Se are restricted publicly and it is hard to get the really big doses endorsed by scientific research because Governmental agencies are treating Supplements like Drugs when they are not. It certainly isn’t backed up by the hard scientific research. We need a separate category for Nutrients that are used in mega-doses to heal medical conditions.

I suggest that the restrictions we have seen in recent years on Vit D3 and Se doses is fuelled by vested commercial Big Pharma(ceutial) interests rather than science! Big Pharma doesn’t want you to be well! There is no money in that, they want you to remain sick so you will see your GP more often and get prescribed useless antibiotics, that do diddly squat for viral infections. In-fact the recent research shows routine antibiotic prescribing for flus actually makes them last longer!! Taking probiotics would be far more useful in reality. But tell that to some Medical Doctors, they seem to have their heads in the sand when it comes to Vitamin & Mineral prescribing, and the reason is they are not taught enough in mainstream Medical Universities about the healing effects of nutrients. Big Pharma dictates to a high degree what is taught at Medical schools around the Western (and now Eastern) World, but happily this is starting to change as nutrients are taking their rightful place alongside restricted medicines as therapeutic agents, but they need a different category to be regulated under as their levels of safety are orders of magnitude safer as a general rule than Pharmaceuticals. Because Nutrients work differently to drugs by correcting nutrient deficiencies they are generally a quantum level safer than drugs. No one died of a Prozac or Asprin deficiency, but people do die of B & C vitamin deficiency (Beriberi and Scurvy).  The main reason Nutrients are safer than Drugs as a rule rather than exception is because they are made from mostly nature derived products, not something synthesized in a lab. The better supplement companies have strict quality controls so they rule out contamination from external sources like heavy metals and solvents used in lower quality extractions. But not all supplements are equal, many cheaper products often made in Asia are contaminated by pesticides and heavy metals as we have seen in recent years so there is a case of regulation, albeit muted compared with Drugs.

So that covers the basics on Vitamin & Mineral boosting of the Immune System function especially before winter. If you start taking these nutrients in early to mid-Autumn (March – April) you should get sufficient momentum up to significantly boost your immune system before all the winter colds and flus do the rounds.

Herbal Medicines that add to this list are Astralagus and Garlic. Both herbs are supreme at boosting immunity but in different ways. Astralagus has a distinct immune boosting function as it increases White Blood Cell (WBC) count quite quickly in lower level individuals. The exceptions are those on Chemotherapy – these need special attention as their system is drug side effect lowered so more work is needed to get the levels back up to where they belong. But for normal folks not on Chemo Astralagus hits the mark most times with little else other than the Vitamins and Minerals mentioned above.

Garlic has traditional been used to kill bacteria and viruses for centuries and is as safe as houses. I prefer to eat the Elephant Ear strains of garlic with the big bulbs as they contain more of the active ingredients in them so you are getting a more useful dose. 2 cloves daily in cooking (not eaten raw) is best for most 60-80 kg adults, half this dose for kids under 16.

With Lifestyle Medicine you need to be exercising at least every second day, daily is best to stimulate your lymphatic system and get things moving generally in your immune system. Any form of exercise is better than none! I prefer HIIT / Yoga / Weights as the best forms – see my article on “Smart Exercise: for much more detail on this vital subject to help immunity. It has been said by the World famous Nutritionalist, Dr Paavo Airola, ND, PhD who was well recognised last century as an authority on Naturopathic Medicine and as a PhD in Applied Nutrition that he would “… rather treat a patient that ate rubbish and exercised every day, than someone who ate the best organic foods on the planet but didn’t do any exercise . . . “. And he is right.

Exercise stimulates your lymphatic system, the bodies waste disposal system that connects to the bowels and kidneys, to dump more wastes out quickly and easily. This is what it was designed to do and it will not function properly without good daily exercise as long as you don’t overdo it, which many people do these days! Unfortunately, it is far too common for people to not exercise at all. Reaching over for the TV remotes and ‘weight lifting’ junk foods into their mouths is many people’s idea of exercise especially in the US and other industrialised Western (and now Eastern) countries. This is why we are seeing such epidemic waves of obesity hitting our shores. And not just mildly overweight either, but both morbidly and fatally obesity. This is well publicised so I won’t dwell on it here, suffice to say if you are more than 20% above your normal body weight you are going to start having health issues eventually, so bets get the weight down before it gets too out of control. This is a HUGE area (pun intended) and if it affects you please read my article on balancing the Thyroid to enable people to maintain a healthy body weight and BMI.



1.     “The Vitamin Bible” by Earl Mindel, PhD available world-wide

2.     “How to Get Well” by Dr Paavo Airola, ND, PhD available world-wide

3.     “Healing with Foods & Nutrients” by Dr Bernard Jensen, DC, ND, PhD available world-wide

4.     “Prescription for Nutritional Healing”, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements Paperback – October 5, 2010 by Phyllis A. Balch CNC (Author)
5.     Various research studies on Vitamin C spanning 40 years by Dr Linus Pauling, MD, PhD, twin Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry 1954 and Peace in 1962. The only person in history to receive two unshared Nobel Prizes

6.     Numerous articles on by Dr Joseph Mercola, DO, USA;

7.     Numerous articles on and most all of the books by Phillip Day, investigative journalist UK; Vitamin D Round Up Sept 7th, 2012:

8.     “The importance of selenium to human health”; The Lancet; Volume 356, Issue 9225, 15 July 2000, Pages 233–241;

9.     “Zinc in Human Health: Effect of Zinc on Immune Cells” by Ananda S Prasad; Wayne State University School of Medicine, E-mail: printed April 3, 2008. Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, United States of America;

10.   “Vitamin C and immune function” (Article in German) by Ströhle A1, Hahn A: Med Monatsschr Pharm. 2009 Feb;32(2):49-54; quiz 55-6.

David Holden is a qualified and registered Naturopath and BioChemist practising Naturopathic Medicine and Nutritional BioChemistry in Takapuna Auckland. He has a detailed Scientific training and has been in full time clinical practice for 30+ years with a wealth of experience helping people get and stay well. He can be contacted for consultations one on one or group talks by calling his office staff on 09 282 3588 or emailing . You can sign up for his regular monthly newsletters by visiting either of his websites with heaps of free health information and resources for people that want to get and stay well on: or

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