Colds and flu PART 3 / Vitamin D news / Gift Idea

At the end of the Healthy by Nature show this week, we’re lucky to have John Cannell, MD, President of the nonprofit Vitamin D Council, give us a brief reaction to the big Vitamin D news. During the main part of the show we focus on pregnancy and delivery with 2 in-studio guests: Kalena Cook, author of Birthing, a Better Way and Lori Walter, author of a book and DVD called Stretch for Pregnancy.


If you missed “Colds and Flu, PARTS 1 and 2” (I’m on an unintentional roll with the rhymes), here are links to them: Just say “No” (prevention) and Colds and Flu Remedies (emergency kit).

Don’t take antibiotics for a viral condition. Most upper respiratory infections like colds and flu are caused by viruses. Antibiotics don’t kill viruses but they do kill bacteria, including the helpful ones that perform so many services like protecting you from the next infection that goes around. Avoid antibiotics unless your doctor says you also have a bacterial infection or are at especially high risk. If you must take antibiotics, start taking probiotics immediately to minimize the damage.

Don’t reach for products containing aspirin. Reducing aches or fever with aspirin is potentially a very very bad idea. For children with a virus, aspirin increases the risk of Reye Syndrome, a serious illness. For adults, use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs like aspirin (or Motrin®, Advil®, Naprosyn®, Aleve® and Relafen®) during the flu is believed to increase fluid in the lungs and impair the lung’s ability to expel the fluid as well as aggravate conditions that lead to organ failure. Aspirin apparently may have contributed to many of the deaths from the 1918 flu pandemic and from H1N1 in 2009. 1,2 In animal studies, the use of aspirin with viral conditions increases the number of deaths.3

Don’t overreact if you feel warm. (The following does not apply to adults with a fever of 103 degrees or higher or to children where the issues are more complex and depend on age.) Increasing body temperature is one of nature’s healing responses. Therefore, lowering body temperature with medications might make the condition last longer. In fact, many people have good results using their Far Infrared Sauna I do. (I always take a big glass of water in with me. I dissolve EmergenC in it because that provides electrolytes that I might sweat out.) Another home remedy is to take a very warm bath with Epson’s Salts dissolved in it. Immediately after, bundle up and go to bed. If you usually sleep 8 hours, try to get 10.

Don’t wait too long. Start resting, drinking extra water and taking your natural remedies at the very first signs of trouble. And, don’t hesitate to get professional help if you are really sick. If you continue to feel worse or aren’t starting to get better in a couple of days, check in with your doctor. Each person is different and you might be at greater risk for complications. Don’t believe all you hear about nighttime cold remedies. The commercials for these products make them seem like the greatest thing since popup tissues, but I’m not a fan. At best you may get some medicines you don’t need. Many products suppress coughs with a chemical, dextromethorphan, that according to the government does not treat the cause of the cough or speed recovery and can be fatal in children. That drug tells the brain not to cough which seems like a bad idea since allowing fluids to build up in the lungs might lead to pneumonia. The liquid products contain acetaminophen (like Tylenol®) and alcohol, a combination proven to be toxic to the liver. Acetaminophen reduces fever, and as suggested above, that might slow the body from eliminating the bug. Then there’s corn syrup (limits immune response), artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. The best ingredient may be the alcohol which some credit with helping to relax and sleep. (However, grandma’s whiskey and honey might be a better approach.) Vick’s VapoRub® on the chest and oddly enough even on the soles of the feet might bring sufficient cough relief much more safely.

Don’t be confused by recent official cautions on immune-boosting Vitamin D. Read Bill Sardi’s response.

Don’t worry if the old saying is “feed a cold/starve a fever” or the reverse. I say, eat when you are hungry, but allow your body to direct its energy toward fighting the illness by eating food that is light and therefore easy to digest. (Vegetables, vegetable juices and protein drinks for example.) I’m one of many for whom milk generates mucous, so consider avoiding it for the duration.

Don’t forget the kitchen remedies. There is actually at least one study documenting the benefit of chicken soup. It seems to have an anti-inflammatory effect.4 I use ginger tea for the same reason and it is also warming. I make mine from slices of a raw ginger root steeped in hot water.

Don’t obsess about how bad you feel. Your brain tells your cells what to do, so make sure the messages you send are the right ones. For example, tell yourself that you are “feeling better” NOT “coming down with a cold.”

Don’t spread your disease around. I’ve mentioned keeping a sack near the patient to collect used tissues, but even more important is to contain coughs. Here is video (kind of funny) about making coughing into your sleeve fashionable.

Don’t depend just on your memory. It’s hard to think straight when all you want to do is dive under the covers, so perhaps keep a copy of all three newsletters in the emergency kit. If you have someone around to help, you can at least groan and point to what you need.

Don’t stop treating too soon. As soon as you start feeling human again here’s a temptation to go back to your old ways and stop the remedies that were helping. However, until the bug is totally vanquished, there is always a chance of it regrouping to cause a disheartening relapse.


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My first book : Natural Alternatives to Nexium, Maalox, Tagamet, Prilosec & Other Acid Blockers. Subtitle: What to Use to Relieve Acid Reflux, Heartburn, and Gastric Ailments.

My latest book : Aloe Vera-Modern Science Sheds Light on an Ancient Herbal Remedy

Copyright 2010 Martie Whittekin, CCN

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or substitute for your doctor’s advice.

1Starko KM. Salicylates and pandemic influenza mortality, 1918-1919 pharmacology, pathology, and historic evidence. Clin Infect Dis. 2009 Nov 1;49(9):1405-10.

2Hama R., A/H1N1 flu. NSAIDs and flu. BMJ. 2009 Jun 15;338:b2345. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b2345.

3Eyers S, Weatherall M, Shirtcliffe P, Perrin K, Beasley R. The effect on mortality of antipyretics in the treatment of influenza infection: systematic review and meta-analysis. J R Soc Med. 2010 Oct;103(10):403-11.

4Rennard BO, Ertl RF, Gossman GL, Robbins RA, Rennard SI. Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. Chest. 2000 Oct;118(4):1150-7.

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