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Dear MIRIAM: KEEP OUT THE COLD.

Byline: Dr MIRIAM STOPPARD

Dear Miriam DO things like echinacea boost your immune system? I was wondering what I could do to improve my resistance to winter colds.

EVEN though a recent review suggested it may help bolster the immune system, I put more faith in a report in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine which found echinacea doesn't work for colds.

I suggest next year you make sure you get a flu jab in good time, say in October.

Complementary remedies like garlic and ginseng have some effect on the immune system but don't necessarily stimulate those parts of it that help you resist winter colds and other infections.

On the other hand, certain probiotic bacteria in the intestine stimulate the immune system in the right ways, increasing scavenger cell activity and promoting production of antibodies against invaders. They also dampen down inflammation.

What's more, this effect may last for up to six weeks after taking the probiotic. The useful strain is bifidus, so look for it in probiotic products.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 10, 2008
Words:172
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