In a previous article, I discussed preventing colds and flu, but if we unfortunately get sick we need to know what to do. Most people have a cold for about 7 days and feel subpar after the flu for up to 2 weeks. However, with quick action using natural methods, you can nip a problem in the bud…or at least shorten your sick time so that you are just annoyed rather than truly miserable.
On the page listing Colds and Flu Do’s and Don’ts, I list the dangers of drug store medicines. Symptoms may be evidence of the healing process at work (even fever), so we should be careful suppressing them with toxic chemicals. 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.
All of the following work in different ways and can be combined:
- Vitamin D– Keeping your blood levels of vitamin D in the 75-100 range will help greatly to prevent illness. But, several experts also say that if you take temporarily 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.
- Vitamin C– If you have heard that vitamin C does not help prevent or treat colds and flu, that was probably based on faulty studies. This study points out that regular intake of vitamin C does help prevent and alleviate infections including pneumonia. The most effective doses were in the range of 6,000-8,000 mg /day. For prevention (and other benefits) I take 500 mg vitamin C capsules plus bioflavonoids 4 times a day. To achieve the higher doses recommended when you are sick, a powdered C might be more convenient.
- 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 your odds of success are lower. 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.
- Elderberry extract– They call the contamination of a computer a “virus” because of the way it works. It takes over the computer machinery and spreads the misery to other computers. Human 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. Once it becomes hidden inside one of our own cells our immune forces have more trouble finding it. (Our good bacteria are very clever and can help direct immune cells to hidden enemies.)This yummy berry extract has a scientifically confirmed folklore reputation as an antiviral for helping with colds or flu. In this scientific article about flu drugs, elderberry extract, was compared favorably to Tamiflu in effectiveness.There is other evidence that it is helpful with both bacterial and viral infections. This paper regarding its use with the H1N1 virus, notes that it may keep viruses from being able to bind to our cells. I prefer the liquid and one sweetened without sugar. Add it to ginger tea if you like.
- 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. Kyolic has a great combination (#103) that contains olive leaf, aged garlic extract, oregano oil and many other ingredients that will help you get well.
- 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”. (Follow package directions but do not go to sleep at night with one in your mouth because you will awaken with a metallic taste that lasts for hours.)
- Probiotics– A number of studies have shown probiotic bacteria to help with viral illnesses. Not all studies show benefit, but then researchers don’t always use great products. 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 you and probiotics have other benefits. You can’t do better than Ohhira’s Probiotics. I like this brand because it already contains hundreds of helpful substances made by the bacteria and it improves the gut environment for all our hundreds of strains of beneficial bacteria.
- Magnesium– Magnesium supplements 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 (25,000 IU or more) for 2 or 3 days
- Silver nasal spray – On the Do’s and Don’ts page, I suggest using a nasal flush with a netti pot. That helps clear out mucus. Then I recommend dosing with Sovereign Silver nasal spray to kill any pathogens that might be hanging around.
BE READY! Too often when we start to feel icky, it is after the health food store is closed and we don’t feel like going out anyway. That’s why I keep my “colds/flu remedy kit” in a plastic cleaning supplies tote like the one shown below. I also include a copy of this page because, if I feel awful my brain is tired too. In addition to the items above, it also contains a box of tissues and a sack to isolate the used ones.
Think positive and avoid harmful medications.