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Colds and Flu Remedy KIT

They call the contamination of a computer a “virus” because of the way it works. We can catch it on contact; it takes over the computer machinery and it spreads the misery to others. Disease viruses are not separate multiplying entities like bacteria but, rather rogue genetic material that inserts itself into our cells and uses our own processes to make copies of itself. The virus is more vulnerable when it first arrives with just a protein or fat coating containing its genetic material. It is less susceptible to eradication once it becomes hidden inside one of our own cells—our immune forces are mainly scouting to eliminate foreign cells. Check on the prevention page, because it might help even after you start to become sick, to take remedial action on those steps.

Improvement at what price? Most people have a cold for about 7 days and feel sub par after the flu for up to 2 weeks. With quick action, you can nip a problem in the bud…or at least shorten your sick time and be just annoyed rather than truly miserable. On the page listing Colds and Flu Do’s and Don’ts, I suggest resisting the dozens of medicines drug stores offer to suppress the symptoms of colds and flu. The symptoms may actually be evidence of the healing process at work (e.g. fever), so it doesn’t make sense to work too hard on those, especially if it means using toxic chemicals with their own side effects. The concerns about prescription drugs for the flu are also discussed on that page. In contrast, the natural antivirals suggested below have fringe benefits, not toxic side effects. Some are even mentioned in this scientific article about flu drugs where one, elderberry extract, was compared favorably to Tamiflu in effectiveness.

BE READY! Too often we start to feel icky it’s after the health food store is closed. That’s why I keep my well-stocked “colds/flu emergency kit” supplies in a plastic tote like those used for cleaning supplies along with a list of instructions because, if you feel awful, it may be hard to remember what to do. In addition to the items below, it also contains a box of tissues and a sack to isolate the used ones. All of these are useful and work in different ways:

  • Oscillococcinum® – At the first sign of symptoms, try this hard to pronounce homeopathic. If you wait until you are absolutely positive it’s a cold or flu, the pathogen has had time to multiply and the less attractive your odds may be. Some of the science is controversial but suggests that it is safe and reduces the duration and severity of flu symptoms. It is easy to take tiny pellets and handy to have with you. Another good choice is Engystol ® by Heel.
  • Elderberry extract – This yummy berry extract has a long folklore reputation for helping with colds or flu which modern science seems to confirm as noted above in the drug paragraph. There is other evidence that it is helpful with both bacterial and viral infections. One mechanism appears to be that it binds to viruses and keeps them from being able to bind to us as was noted in a paper regarding its use with the H1N1 virus. I prefer the liquid and one sweetened without sugar.
  • Olive leaf extract – This is a plant used for centuries because it relieved infectious disease symptoms. Modern science shows that one of the actions is against viruses. Read Dr. Ron Hoffman’s interesting write-up which is complete with scientific references.
  • Zinc lozenges – As a review of studies concludes, the mineral zinc, especially in lozenge form, results in “a significant reduction in the duration of cold at a dose of ≥ 75 mg/day”. (Never go to sleep at night with one in your mouth because you will awaken with a metallic taste that lasts for hours.) I recommend Zinc Lozenjets by Superior Source.
  • Probiotics – I discuss this topic on the page on building immunity, but it is also useful during an event because a number of studies have looked at probiotic bacteria as a help with viral illnesses. Most but not all studies show benefit, but that is not surprising since the researchers use all different types of supplements and some are probably not as good. I use Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics because that product helps strengthen all our types of beneficial bacteria. In this journal article the authors speculate that probiotics may help fight viruses in these ways: (1) direct probiotic-virus interaction; (2) production of antiviral inhibitory metabolites [selective antibiotics]; and/or (3) via stimulation of the immune system. There is no conclusive proof yet, but, it can’t hurt to try and probiotics have other benefits. You can’t really overdose on Dr. Ohhira’s. I like this brand because it improves the environment for all our hundreds of strains of beneficial bacteria.
  • Vitamin D – Several experts say that if you take high doses (e.g. 50,000 units a day and even more for 3 days from the onset of symptoms) you can nip viral infections in the bud. It has worked for me.
  • Echinacea – This herb has a long-standing reputation for helping prevent colds and for shortening their duration. But, you may have heard in some news report a while back that it was found to not be effective. Those misleading reports result from mixing together studies on different varieties of the plant, different parts of the plant, different extraction methods, dosages, durations, etc. When it is used correctly, good things happen as shown in this recent study (double-blind placebo controlled trial). This report is on an Echinacea extract from a Swiss company. (Bill and I toured that plant many years ago and were beyond impressed.) Read here about some of the other benefits of Echinacea.
  • Magnesium – Magnesium should be part of the basic supplement program for most people, but if you feel achy from a cold or flu, soak in a warm Epsom salts bath. Not only is it soothing, you will also absorb magnesium through your skin. Since it is anti-inflammatory and helps detoxing, you may get well faster.
  • Vitamin A -Vitamin A helps the immune system and supports the health of the mucous membranes like those of the sinuses, throat and lungs. There is little risk in supplementing at high doses for 2 or 3 days.
  • Colostrum – Nature provides an immune supplement in the first mother’s milk of all mammals, including humans. That’s because infants have never been exposed to pathogens before and therefore have no acquired immunity. It makes perfect sense to me to give our immune systems this kind of boost when exposed to a threat. Any colostrum product will likely be helpful.

Copyright 2010-2014 by Martie Whittekin, CCN

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