Tired of Cold and Flu? Let Nature Boost Your Resistance

tea.With the change of seasons and the temperature dropping, many folks are experiencing an increase in incidence of cold and flu. I have had numerous emails and calls regarding my opinions of flu shots, so I decided to write about some of the latest information on how to prevent cold and flu. I have written about this topic before but from a different angle. I will revisit some of the concepts in previous articles.

What is a cold? What is the flu? There are over 200 viruses that can cause the common cold or influenza. The main differences are in the symptoms. An individual with a cold will exhibit general malaise, fever, headache, and upper respiratory tract congestion. A watery discharge, dry, sore throat and thicker mucus secretion are typical. With the flu you will have the same type of symptoms but they will be more severe with body aches.

The flu also usually occurs as epidemics, which is why flu (influenza) vaccines are being promoted. Because there are so many strains of flu, swine, Asian, Russian, to name a few, how do you know that the vaccine you get will cover your specific type of flu? The safety and efficacy of flu vaccines is debatable. Viruses are divided into three categories: A, B, and C. You might get vaccinated for type A and still get the flu because it is a different strain. Despite warnings of adverse effects of both trialed “live” and “killed” vaccines, flu vaccines have been gradually introduced to the market. Reported post vaccine reactions include encephalomyelitis (acute inflammation of the brain), Guillain-Barre’Syndrome (a form of paralysis), neurological illness, neuritis (inflammation of the nerves), and suspected autoimmune disorders. Analysis of some data shows that there is no difference in the incidence of flu in individuals receiving flu vaccine and those not receiving the vaccine. Trials demonstrated that the vaccine is ineffective in preventing disease and produces unacceptable reactions in children.

Of course there are always going to be certain conditions that may warrant the need for a flu vaccine, specifically elderly with cardiac weakness or immunological weakness such as cancer or Aids. My recommendation is for you to do more research and make a decision based on that.

Let’s look at some of the underlying issues involved with colds and flu and how we can overcome some of the symptoms and even prevent it from happening.

Paying attention to the foods we eat can help avoid creating the imbalances and toxicity that leads to illnesses of all sorts. It is important to avoid the foods that decrease immune functions. Research shows that the intake of refined sugars reduces the function of white blood cells. This includes white sugar, corn syrup, alcohol and even natural sweeteners like honey, dried fruit, fruit juice, and concentrated fruit sweeteners. Excess toxins from animal foods and chemical preservatives and additives need to be reduced also. Dr. Hibbs states that getting extra sleep, drinking more fluid in the form of herbal teas and clean water along with fresh fruits and vegetables will strengthen the immunity as well as aid detoxification processes. Reducing dairy products during a cold or flu outbreak will help to reduce the amount of mucous being eliminated.

What can we do once we begin to feel the symptoms of cold and flu? There are numerous folk remedies that come to mind. Let’s look at some nutritional supplements and some of the herbal remedies that will enhance the immune system and reduce symptoms. Vitamin C has long been touted for the common cold. Dr. Linus Pauling, the father of vitamin C research, recommends taking vitamin C at the onset of a cold or flu; doses of 500 mg to 1000 mg every two hours. This may seem like a lot and it is, but research shows that vitamin C has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and immunostimulant properties. It enhances white blood cell production, increases interferon levels and promotes thymic hormone release that activated the total immunity. At this dosage level, however, some folks may experience stomach upset and loose stool. If one experiences these symptoms, it is recommended that they begin with a lower dose and increase over a slower period of time.  Remember there is not any toxicity with the use of vitamin C.

More recently research has targeted the mineral zinc in the form of a zinc lozenge that you dissolve in your mouth at the first onset of a cold or flu. Zinc aspartate is the form used and dosage is one 15 mg tablet every four hours the first 3 days. Zinc maintains a healthy immune system and promotes thymic hormone activity. With the use of zinc, the duration of the cold or flu has been shown to decrease. It also helps with the accompanying symptoms of sore throat. One fact about the use of zinc lozenges is that for it to be effective, it must be ionized with saliva. This means you must suck on the lozenges. The lozenges you take must be free of sorbitol, mannitol, and citric acid. The best lozenges use glycine as a sweetener.

Because the cold and flu virus implant at the throat site before moving into deeper sites in the body, I use a throat spray that includes a compound called beta 1-3 glucan. This compound has been shown to increase the macrophage activity of the immune system thus reducing the number of potential pathogens. I also use the herb elderberry extract for the same purpose. Both substances have been thoroughly researched and have been proven to be effective. Of course, the use of Echinacea, which I hope you are all aware, has been very effective in treating and preventing the spread of cold and flu. Remember that the research shows that the fresh expressed juice from the flower top, leaf and stem of Echinacea Purpurea was the most effective, not the root. The root of the variety Echinacea Angustifolia has been as effective as the fresh pressed juice. Make sure you get the right stuff.

Goldenseal, better known as yellow root, also is beneficial to the immune system. Goldenseal is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and many germs or pathogens can not live when it is present in the system. The medicinal value is due to the content of berberine, an alkaloid. It is also good for the sinuses when they are plugged up by its action on reducing the inflammation in the sinus tissue.

Another plant familiar to our area is elderberry fruit and flower. In recent research, elderberry extract was found to prevent the spread of cold or flu virus when taken at the first onset of symptoms. Flu viruses implant in the throat first and then move to other areas of the body. They found that elderberry prevents the growth of these viruses. The flower of elderberry has long been combined with yarrow or peppermint to break a fever and to help clear the lungs of congestion.

I also prefer the use of fresh ginger tea. Ginger has numerous properties that aid the body. It helps to clear mucous from the head and lungs and is good for vomiting and nausea. To make a cup of tea, slice 2 or 3 thin slices off the fresh root. Steep the root in boiling water for 10 minutes. You can then add some fresh lemon juice for more flavor.

One other remedy I use is a homeopathic preparation called Oscillococcinum. A recent double blind placebo study in Great Britain confirmed the curative effectiveness of this compound to reduce the severity and duration.

No one likes to come down with a cold or flu. Improving the immune system with lifestyle adjustment seems to be the best way to prevent it.

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