Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Avoiding Colds and Flu’s

The best way to beat colds and flu’s are to avoid them in the first place. You can do this by making it difficult for the germs to gain entry, and by enhancing your body’s natural defenses. This is not so difficult to do when you know your enemy and understand your body’s natural defense mechanisms. Here are some important points to understand:
Colds and flu’s are caused by viruses
Antibiotics do not affect viruses
Cold and flu germs outside a host body usually die in three to seven days
Most colds and flu’s are caught by placing your infected hands to your eyes or nose
While rarely fatal, the flu can lead to pneumonia, a serious disease with a much higher mortality rate
Most cold and flu medications only mask symptoms; you remain infectious to others
The only cure for colds and flu’s is your body’s immune system
We can either aid or inhibit the body’s immune system by things we eat, drink or do
Let’s make sure we mean the same thing when we use words like "cold" and "flu." Here are some definitions:
Cold: "A viral infection characterized by inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the upper respiratory passages and usually accompanied by malaise, fever, chills, coughing, and sneezing. In this sense, also called common cold, coryza." †
Influenza: "An acute contagious viral infection characterized by inflammation of the respiratory tract and by fever, chills, muscular pain, and prostration." †
Gastroenteritis (aka: Stomach Flu, 24-hour flu, intestinal flu, food poisoning): "Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines" † characterized by vomiting and diarrhea. Although sometimes called "flu," gastroenteritis is not caused by influenza viruses; it can be caused by various other viruses or by bacteria.
† From the American Heritage Dictionary.
Gastroenteritis is a totally different condition from "the flu" (influenza). We are not referring to gastroenteritis when we talk about fighting the flu and the discussion herein does not apply to it.

A note regarding Avian influenza ("bird flu")
While avian influenza is exotic and scary, and the possibility of an influenza pandemic needs to be taken very seriously, the truth is there is little to distinguish this new threat from ordinary influenza, which is itself a very serious disease. The primary difference lies in the potential of avian influenza to leave a larger death toll in its wake. Our best defense, therefore, against avian influenza is the same as other forms of influenza: Appropriate hygiene and building a strong immune system.
A note regarding Anthrax and SARS
The initial symptoms of anthrax, SARS and smallpox often mimic symptoms of colds and flu’s. While SARS and anthrax outbreaks make headlines, relatively few people die from them. Relatively few people die directly as a result of the flu too, however there are many more cases of the flu (by orders of magnitude) than these other diseases, and a neglected or improperly treated flu too often leads to pneumonia, which kills thousands of people each year. (Most of the thousands of flu attributed deaths each year are actually pneumonia deaths secondary to a neglected flu infection.) One thing we learned from the anthrax attacks in the winter of 2001-2002 is that a runny nose is a rare feature of anthrax. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC): "A person who has a runny nose along with other common influenza-like symptoms is by far more likely to have the common cold than to have anthrax." So maybe you can take some comfort in your runny nose!

Avoiding Colds and Flu’s
To avoid colds and flu’s you must understand your enemy, know its weaknesses, and know how to parry its attacks. The other line of defense is to maintain a strong immune system and not do anything to undermine it.
Colds and flu’s are caused by viruses. They tend to enter our bodies through our noses and eyes, although the flu may also enter through the mouth as well. From there, they make their way into our sinuses where they set up camp and breed. Usually we infect ourselves by placing our own virus contaminated hands to our faces (such as by rubbing our eyes or noses). Less frequently, we can catch them from airborne sources. We will discuss how to best avoid both sources.
Infectious disease is currently one of the top five causes of death in the United States. 80% of all infectious disease could be eliminated by more frequent and proper washing of the hands with soap and water. This is also the first line of defense against colds and flu’s. The first rule to avoiding infection is: Never put your hands in your eyes or to your nose without washing them first. The eyes are especially important as we often rub our eyes, or flick out the "sand" from our tear ducts, without thinking about it. This nearly automatic response can get us into real trouble. A good way of avoiding this is to wash the "goop" out of our eyes each time we wash our hands. Out of consideration for others, you should also wash your hands immediately after putting them in your eyes or up to your nose. If everyone did both of these things, colds and flu’s would be uncommon in our society.
Regarding hand washing. Soap kills some of the germs on your hands directly, and helps to loosen those it doesn’t kill outright so they are more effectively washed off your skin. You should lather up your hands well for at least 20 seconds, then rinse-off the soap thoroughly for another 20 seconds. Be sure to include the areas under you nails when you wash your hands, as they are a lurking ground for germs. Lather up between your fingers, including the tops of your hands, from fingertip to wrist. Drying your hands, studies have shown, is also an important step in removing germs. At home, it is a good idea to have a separate hand towel – which is changed frequently – for someone who is sick. In public restrooms, using a paper towel, where available, is more effective than use of a hand dryer. Also, in public restrooms, use a paper towel to turn off water faucets and open restroom doors after washing (to keep from reinfecting your hands, or picking up new germs). [Note: Use of antibacterial soap is neither necessary nor recommended.]
Airborne risks. You should make a habit of keeping your nasal passages clear and of breathing through your nostrils. Your nose is designed to filter out airborne dust and germs. In his book The Nature Doctor, Dr. H. C. A. Vogel writes:
"The nose is designed in such a way that the mucous membranes keep dust and bacteria from entering the body, provided, of course, that we breathe in and out through the nose and that it is not blocked. It is true that we can also breathe through the mouth rather than the nose, but this will make us lose the benefit of the built-in screening device, exposing us to a higher risk of catching colds and infections. Mouth-breathing poses a definite threat to the throat, the bronchial passages and the lungs."
You can give your nostrils a little help by using a xylitol (pronounced zie-li-tall) nasal spray or wash, as described below. This spray is useful in prevention (it makes it difficult for viruses to gain a foothold) as well as treatment (it dislodges viruses from their colonies, reducing their numbers).
It is important to keep your feet warm. Yes, your mother has told you this time and time again, but you thought this was just an old wives’ tale. After all, colds and flu’s are caused by viruses, right? Well, most folklore has its basis in fact. Cold feet cannot cause a viral infection, but they can undermine your defenses thereby opening the door to them.‡ Interestingly, there is a connection between your feet, your nasal passages, and therefore the likelihood of getting sick. Dr. Vogel, once again in The Nature Doctor, writes:
"The nose walls (conchae) react to cold feet. When the feet are cold the walls contract, become cold and dry and cause the glands to stop functioning, so that dust and bacteria are no longer filtered out. It is easy to see why a cold will almost inevitably result, followed by catarrh or a runny nose. You can now understand why it is important to avoid getting cold feet…"
So if your mucous membranes are functioning properly, you are unlikely to catch colds and flu through the air. But if your feet are cold, this defense is weakened and you are at greater risk.
[‡ Some studies were done years ago to see if cold feet could cause colds. A seemingly pointless study with a foregone conclusion, as it was already known at the time that colds are caused by viruses. The studies involved placing the feet of test subjects in tubs of cold water for several hours without exposure to viruses. Hardly a simulation of the real-world conditions. It confirmed what we already knew: People who are not exposed to cold viruses do not catch a cold, even when their feet are chilled. Unfortunately, these studies are often cited to suggest that there is no connection between cold feet and catching colds. This is an example of junk-science, and the need to understand a study’s methodology before drawing conclusions about its results.]
It should be noted that you are usually exposed to far more cold or flu germs on your hands than through the air. You are therefore much more likely to catch a cold from putting virus-laden hands to your nose (or eyes) than from breathing the same air as a person who has a cold or flu. However if an infected person is doing a lot of sneezing – particularly without covering their face – the risk is increased. But the more your mucous membranes are functioning properly, the lower your risk from all sources. This is usually sufficient to eliminate normal airborne risks, but will only mitigate the risk of hand-to-face infection. Use of a xylitol nasal spray can reduce the threat further by making it difficult for viruses to gain a foothold, and by washing away those that have.
It is also valuable to make a habit of breathing deeply most of the time. Very often, we get into the habit of shallow breathing. There are a number of things bad about this, but as far as this discussion is concerned, it has to do with expelling old, stale air completely out of the lungs and replacing it with fresh air. Obviously, there are times when more shallow breathing might be in order (say perhaps while one in a crowded elevator where the air may be sickly). Most of the time, however, it is best to more completely replenish the air in the lungs and not allow stale air to linger for long periods.
Keep an eye on the humidity of your environment. Artificial heating tends to be very drying, so you may consider buying a humidifier for home to keep your air moist enough that it doesn’t dry out or dehydrate your sinuses. Likewise, an air filter in an indoor environment, especially a HEPA type filter, can help remove airborne dust and germs. Negative ions have a demonstrated air cleansing and germicidal effect. Some filters incorporate negative ion generators. Negative ions also make the air smell fresh (it’s the same smell as after a refreshing thunderstorm). An unfortunate side effect of negative ion generators is that they will tend to blacken a nearby wall (over a course of many months or years). This is because the negative ions attach themselves to airborne germs (killing them) or to dust particles in the air, and pull them toward the positively charged wall.
If someone in your household takes ill, it is wise to put up a separate hand towel in the bathroom for the healthy folks to use. This extra precaution costs nothing and just may prevent a loved one from getting sick. Remember, sick people aren’t feeling well and might not be as diligent as they should about lathering up properly. Also, as mentioned previously, it has been shown that the process of drying hands on a towel is part of the germ removing process of washing, so some germs are being transferred to the towel. This is reason enough to have a separate towel for those who are sick, and to change the towel frequently.
Try to keep sick folks out of the kitchen, and assume that things like door knobs and light switches are infected. Turn off water faucets, open doors and flip light switches with your elbows.
Be very careful after handling money. Money passes from hand to hand, person to person, frequently. You can bet that the money in your wallet has plenty of germs any time of the year. During cold and flu season, money is a potential source of infection. Credit cards and checks are less of a problem, unless the clerk to whom you hand your credit card or check cashing ID is sick. Beware of any pens at the counter — like money, they’ve been in quite a few different hands lately. Get in the habit of carrying and using your own pen for signing credit card vouchers and writing checks. ATM keypads and public telephones fall into the same category as pens and money; consider them potential sources of infection.
Clerks (and baggers) at your local grocery store are another potential source of infection. Since they handle money during cold and flu season, they are very likely to get sick during that time of year (especially if they rub their eyes without washing their hands after handling money). Since the clerk (and the bagger) handles every item you’re buying, your first line of defense is to try to pick a healthy cashier. This can be difficult if the clerk is using medication which suppresses cold or flu symptoms. Watch and listen for signs of illness and change lines if necessary. Complain to store management about their policy of allowing infectious people to handle your purchases. I have told obviously sick baggers not to touch my purchases and have bagged the items myself. Some stores now have self-scan isles. I generally dislike these as a general rule, but do use them during cold and flu season because it reduces the number of hands touching my food items. The touch-screens and other items at these stations, however, have to be considered infected. Use your knuckles to operate the controls.
Be wary of the mail. Was your letter carrier ill? You probably have no idea. How about someone in the mail sorting room? Mail passes through many hands – and touches many other pieces of mail – before it gets to you. Avoid putting your hands to your face after handling the mail during cold and flu season. Open envelopes and discard them, then wash your hands and read the mail. Of course what’s inside the envelope might contain viruses too, so still exercise caution about putting your hands to your face.
Avoid hospitals and doctor’s offices. If you can’t avoid them, be extra cautious in these environments. Sick people congregate in these places, so you can expect the air, door knobs, elevator buttons, hand rails, etc. to be infested with infectious agents of all kinds. Best to plan routine visits around this season, to avoid exposure.
Door knobs and handles. Anything commonly handled by the public, such as door knobs, elevator buttons, hand rails, etc., are suspect especially during cold and flu season. Avoid putting your hands to your face after handling these. Wash your hands frequently.
Avoid flying on commercial airlines. Several investigations have implicated the air recirculation systems aboard modern jets with the spread of infectious diseases. The problem isn’t limited to just colds and flu either. Virtually any airborne disease is a problem, and drug resistant strains of Tuberculosis have spread this way. When you do fly, remember to keep your hands away from your nose and eyes, breathe through your nostrils not your mouth, use a xylitol nasal spray, and do everything to enhance your immune system a few days before and after the flight, including taking elderberry extract (mentioned below), a probiotic with fiber, increasing your vitamin intake (a full spectrum multi-vitamin), increase your vitamin C intake, eat raw, freshly-crushed garlic, and abstain from alcohol, caffeine and sugary foods.
Get plenty of sleep. Potent immune enhancing compounds are released during sleep and many immune system functions are greatly increased by an adequate night’s rest. Studies have demonstrated that people who are consistently deprived of sleep have impaired immune function. If you require an alarm clock or some other external stimulus to wake, you’re not getting an adequate night’s rest. During the winter months your body requires more sleep, so it’s perfectly normal to sleep longer on winter nights.
Drink more water; avoid soft drinks and caffeine. Most people are chronically dehydrated and this impares the immune system. Soft drinks and caffeinated beverages do not count toward "drinking more water" and, in fact, subtract from it (as they generally act as diuretics). Consider using Emer’gen-C (in moderation) in lieu of soft drinks (see section on vitamin C below).
Avoid sugary foods. Sugar can decrease the activity of the immune system for up to five hours. If you have a sweet tooth, discover stevia or xylitol. Stevia is economical, but more difficult to master. Xylitol can actually stimulate the immune system.
Stevia is a natural herb which is between 100-300 times sweeter than sugar. Unlike aspartame (NutraSweet) or sucralose (Splenda), stevia is actually safe and even has many beneficial properties. Aside from containing no calories, it can actually help stabilize blood-sugar levels (thus it is both safe and beneficial to diabetics), can help fight gum disease, and has many other benefits too numerous to mention here. Stevia is temperature stable, so unlike most artificial sugar substitutes, it can be used in baking. Ironically, the US’s FDA has banned stevia as "an unsafe food additive" while sanctioning its use as a "food supplement." So according to the FDA, it’s "unsafe" in small amounts (as a sweetener), but safe in larger doses (as a supplement). Most observers feel this is a wholly political move to protect both the sugar and artificial sweetener industries. Unfortunately, this means you won’t find commercially prepared foods containing stevia in the United States, although you will find them in many other countries throughout the world. You might find stevia in some teas in the US, however, if it’s included for "medicinal purposes." For more information on this remarkable herb, visit: http://www.stevia.net/.
Xylitol, technically a sugar-alcohol, is neither a sugar nor alcohol in the conventional sense. It too is a safe "sugar substitute" (use 1:1), but is low on the glycemic index (7) so it can be safely used by diabetics. It is actually good for your teeth (it will help harden tooth enamel and discourages bacteria which can harm your teeth) and can help boost your immune system. Even more interesting is the fact it can be used in a nasal spray wash which can be used to fight colds and flu (see below). It occurs naturally in many fruits & vegetables and is even produced by the human body. Commercial sources are usually birch trees and corn cobs. It tends to be rather pricy when used as a sugar substitute. It cannot be used in yeast breads as the xylitol inhibits yeast growth, nor in hard candies because it won’t crystalize like sugar. Other than that, it is a complete sugar substitute with half the calories. [Note: In large quantities, it can lead to loose bowels; the effect diminishes with regular use.]
Red Wine. It has been found that those who drink a glass of red wine daily are about 20% less likely to contract the flu. It is believed that this may be related to the vitamins and antioxidants present in red wine (but largely absent in white or blush wines). It is less clear, however, that drinking red wine when sick with a cold or flu would be beneficial as the alcohol would tend to depress the immune function during a time of illness. Other studies have shown a daily glass of red wine is beneficial to the heart, and lowers the odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of age-related dementia. Excessive alcohol use, however, is definitely detrimental to health.
Elderberry extract (see next section below) can be taken as a prophylactic which fortifies the immune system.
We have not said "get a flu shot" for several reasons. Vaccinations are neither risk-free nor as safe as the public has been lead to believe. Almost all vaccines contain preservatives, toxins and other harmful non-vaccine compounds, such as mercury (considered a toxin at any level), aluminum, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol (antifreeze), phenol, etc. Flu vaccinations put you at greater risk of contracting Alzheimer’s disease (largely due to the mercury and aluminum); one study concluded five consecutive vaccinations increased the risk ten-fold. There is a demonstrated link between the flu vaccine and Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which can result in paralysis or even death. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (aka Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) has also been linked. Nasal flu vaccines have an added risk of inducing Bell’s palsy in some people. Deaths (and disabilities) do occur from vaccinations (although proponents will argue that vaccines save more lives than they take). A certain percentage of people receiving a vaccine are expected to contract the disease they are being inoculated against. Contrary to what some "authorities" claim is only a "myth," a flu shot can actually give you the flu; this is quite true and well documented. Flu vaccinations in particular are a gamble because the vaccine serum takes many months to produce, so the folks who manufacture the vaccine must accurately predict — more than a year in advance — which strains of flu will be prevalent when the vaccine is ready for market. This is as hard as it sounds, and when the guess is wrong (as it often is), the vaccine will be ineffective (such as the 2004-05 season). And even if they guess correctly, you’ll only be protected against three strains of the flu. You could still catch one of the many strains not included in the vaccine. Flu vaccine efficacy varies from year to year, but it is all too common to find well controlled studies in which you are actually more likely to become ill if you’ve had the shot. Many believe that vaccines in general may be damaging our immune systems and opening the door for diseases such as AIDS.†† Several studies have shown that the flu vaccine in particular does indeed weaken the immune system. Given all the potential dangers, plus the hit-or-miss nature of the flu vaccine, it is hard to justify, much less endorse, flu vaccinations. Nonetheless, the flu can be very serious and is capable of killing, especially the elderly, so you must decide for yourself if the risks associated with getting a flu shot outweigh the perceived benefits. Just be aware that the decision may not be as clear-cut as you may have once thought.
[†† It is now well established that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), generally cited as the cause of AIDS, has been in the human population since at least 1959 (Kinshasa, Zaire). Perhaps since 1930 (± 20 years). This raises the question why the AIDS epidemic didn’t occur decades sooner? One possible answer is that our immune systems are normally capable of combating the HIV virus, unless compromised or weakened to begin with. It has been suggested that multiple vaccinations do just that. It is only a theory and may not be true, but it does make one wonder.]
For more information about potential dangers of vaccinations in general, and certain vaccines specifically, visit these web sites:
Flu Vaccine
Vaccine Website
The National Vaccine Information Center
Combating/Recovering from Colds and Flu’s
Okay, if you couldn’t elude the flu or a cold, what to do? You’ve heard the drill before: First, get plenty of rest. Sleep is one of the most powerful immune system stimulants. Drink lots of fluids. Most people are chronically dehydrated and water is essential to proper immune system function. Don’t exert yourself. Your body needs its energy reserves for a strong immune function. Stay home from work or school. You will not be productive there, you’ll prolong your illness, and you’ll unnecessarily expose others. Be considerate to everyone: stay at home, get plenty of bed rest, read a good book, and wash your hands frequently to avoid spreading it to others.
Drink lots of water, natural fruit juices, or vegetable juices. Adding 5-15 drops of liquid GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract) 2-3 times a day to your juice will have an immune system boosting effect.* Avoid soft drinks, alcohol, coffee and caffeine. You should try to drink at least 8oz of non-chlorinated water each hour. Try to drink continuously throughout the day. Water is essential to help your body fight illness; your immune system cannot function properly without adequate quantities of water. It will also combat dehydration. Dehydration can be fatal. Drinking adequate amounts of water will also help to abate cold and flu related headaches.
[* NutriBiotic makes a liquid concentrate GSE containing CITRICIDAL,® a formulation which has been endorsed by Dr. Julian Whitaker, Dr. David Williams and others. GSE comes from the seed of grapefruits, as well as the white pulp next to the skin. NutriBiotic’s formula comes from organically grown grapefruit.]
Caffeine and many soft drinks act as diuretics which will actually deplete your body of water. Caffeine or sugar can undermine your body’s immune system. Alcohol, while generally beneficial in moderate amounts when healthy, will both depress the immune system and dehydrate you when you’re sick. It will prolong your illness. The exception might be a glass of red wine, which is vitamin and nutrient rich.
If you are having trouble drinking enough water, perhaps due to a sore throat, try adding some lemon juice, natural fruit juice, warming it a bit, or making a naturally non-caffeinated herbal tea. You might also consider making some hot lemonade from fresh lemons, or hot grapefruit juice. If you feel the need to sweeten it, use Stevia (liquid or powder), orange juice, honey, or grape juice — never refined sugar nor aspartame (NutraSweet). Xylitol (a natural Sugar-Alcohol compound), is an acceptable "sugar" substitute, and actually has immune system benefits which could help to combat cold and flu (however it is still relatively hard to find in the US; one source is, ironically, Coffee Wholesalers).
Elderberry extract. Elderberry, a relative of the blueberry, has been found to have powerful anti-viral properties. Elderberry extract may be used to treat a cold or flu, or taken as a prophylactic which fortifies the immune system. Sambucol is a popular brand, however it is mostly glucose syrup. My feeling is that the APITHERAPY HONEY organic ELDERBERRY extract with Propolis product by Honey Gardens is far superior. It contains raw honey and propolis (both of which are immune boosting) and no added sugars.
I started to come down with a cold in the fall of 2005 and immediately began to aggressively treat it with the Honey Gardens elderberry extract, heavy use of a homemade xylitol nasal spray, lots of water, vitamin C, garlic, a probiotic and plenty of sleep. I had a nasty runny nose. My symptoms, however, lasted for only a single day! I felt really good by the second day, but continued with the "sick" regimen for the next week. It is important to understand that while you may feel fine, your immune system is still waging a major battle and you need to support it all you can to avoid a relapse. Especially important is to get adequate sleep.
Probiotic. A probiotic will fortify your intestinal flora, which are essential for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. This is key to good health and a strong immune system. Studies have shown that patients who begin a course of probiotics with fiber a few days prior to surgery are less likely to pick up a post-operative infection during their hospital stays. This demonstrates a strong connection between intestinal flora and immune function. The fiber – which provides the friendly bacteria both food and sanctuary – can be as simple as an apple or banana. Primal Defense is a fine probiotic product. Other ways of fortifying your intestinal flora include eating unpasteurized* fermented or cultured foods, such as yogurt (without added sugars), sauerkraut, miso, cheese, apple cider, apple cider vinegar, etc. Unfortunately our society is enamored with pasteurization, so finding beneficial unpasteurized live foods can be difficult. For this reason, a probiotic regime is recommended for optimal health.
* Pasteurization is not necessary if proper sanitation procedures are employed in food handling and processing. Too often pasteurization is used to cover up poor sanitation practices. Pasteurization always results in a nutritionally inferior food product. Avoid it whenever you can.
Drink non-chlorinated water. Chlorinated water kills beneficial intestinal flora. Don’t drink it. Use a filter to remove chlorine from your drinking water.
Sore throats (from colds and flu’s) result from irritation by drainage of nasal fluids into your digestive tract. A simple lukewarm salt water gargle will sooth a sore throat and promote healing far better than any drugstore concoction. Pickling salt is preferred, but regular table salt will do. Make the water as salty as you can tolerate, without making it more salty than is comfortable. The salt will tend to sooth the inflamed tissue and promote healing. Adding a few drops of liquid GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract) can be beneficial. For a gargle, add one drop per ounce (so about three to six drops for the average gargle preparation). GSE has an anti-bacterial and anti-viral effect yet is safe if ingested (in fact many people take it as a supplement to boost overall immune system function).
Runny nose. An effective treatment for a runny nose is to use a xylitol nasal spray. A more aggressive treatment is to sniff up salt water (or a xylitol wash). Some people find that lying down is helpful. A natural decongestant, such as Herbal Vapors salve (a non-petroleum based Vicks/Mentholatum alternative), available from Mountain Rose Herbs, may provide relief. You’re best off avoiding decongestant medications you find at the drugstore. While these can be effective in suppressing symptoms, they will also prolong your illness. Aggressive treatment with a xylitol spray, and elderberry extract, will do far more to curtailing your illness.
Let your appetite be your guide. Do not force yourself to eat unless you are hungry. If you are hungry, soup is often a good choice. It will help warm you as well as provide nourishment. If you are not hungry, consider drinking natural fruit or vegetable juices for nourishment. Ice cream is best avoided due to its sugar content and cooling effect. A fruit sherbet or sorbet, while not ideal, would be a better choice. So you have a sore throat and you ate the ice cream, sherbet, or sorbet anyhow: Follow it with a hot beverage to warm you back up.
Increase your intake of vitamin C. The "Recommended Daily Allowance" (RDA) is far too low. A healthy adult should consume around 2000-4000 mg’s (2 to 4 grams) of vitamin C daily. For a sick person, the amount increases. Your body can actually tell you how much vitamin C you should be taking. Vitamin C, taken in sufficiently large doses, loosens the bowels. When you reach the level of vitamin C intake which causes loose bowels, you are taking too much vitamin C. This is called the "bowel intolerance test." Take up to that amount, then back off slightly (assuming your bowels aren’t loose due to diarrhea, of course). When you’re sick, the amount of vitamin C required to loosen your bowels will greatly increase, thus indicating an increased need for this vitamin. Don’t be surprised if this goes up to 18-20 grams of vitamin C. In very rare instances, this has been known to go as high as 100 grams in certain individuals. In general, Dr. David Williams and Dr. Julian Whitaker each advise: When sick, take 1 gram of vitamin C every hour you’re awake.
Linus Pauling personally took 18 grams of vitamin C daily, and suggested a minimum of 12 grams for the average person. Although Dr. Pauling based this recommendation on some very compelling reasoning,* this amount seems excessive (as it would be hard to acquire this much vitamin C through diet alone). This begs the question of bioavailability and the form of vitamin C used. Dr. Pauling’s recommendations may have been based on ascorbic acid, which is what most vitamin manufacturers call "vitamin C," even though it is only a vitamin C precursor. Bioavailability is thus an important factor in considering vitamin C dosage. Most vitamin C supplements are based on ascorbic acid because it is relatively inexpensive, chemically stable and stores well. Ascorbic acid is only an intermediate form, which the body must convert to mineral ascorbates to use; it is not particularly bioavailable. More bioavailable forms are offered by only a few companies. Also, bioflavonoids are known to help the body utilize vitamin C and enhance vitamin C bioavailability.
[* Dr. Pauling found that most mammals’ bodies, except those of humans and guinea pigs, manufacture vitamin C. What’s more, he found that they all seemed to manufacture the same amount of vitamin C per pound of body weight. Dr. Pauling took that constant and multiplied it by the weight of the average human to arrive at his recommended daily dose of 12 grams of vitamin C. Dr. Pauling said that vitamin C strengthens the tissues in blood vessels and that adequate vitamin C intake would virtually eliminate heart disease and stroke. Extreme vitamin C deficiency is known to cause scurvy, a condition in which the blood vessels literally fall apart, so there seems to be merit to Dr. Pauling’s reasoning as regards heart disease and stroke.]
Two good sources of vitamin C, both of which come in (1000mg) packet form and are dissolved in a glass of water, are Emer’gen-C and Ola Loa. Ola Loa is a more complete multi-vitamin product, contains fewer sugars, but is also more costly. A good compromise is to take one Ola Loa daily, and use additional packets of Emer’gen-C as needed for your desired daily dose of vitamin-C. It is a good idea to distribute your vitamin C intake throughout the day; do not take it all at once.
Keep warm. Do not neglect your feet; keep them warm too. Put on extra socks, maybe wool socks, wrap them in a blanket, whatever it takes. If you are cold or chilled, drink hot herbal tea or some other hot non-caffeinated beverage. Nothing is quite as warming as drinking a hot beverage. You need to be drinking lots of fluids anyhow.
Take zinc. Zinc lozenges, dissolved in the back of the mouth and allowed to flow down the back of your throat has been known to stop a cold dead in its tracks in certain individuals. It is thought to shorten the duration in other individuals. This must be done at the first signs of a cold! Note: If you feel nauseous, discontinue use as this is a sign of zinc toxicity.
Eat raw, freshly-crushed garlic. Garlic has anti-viral properties and boosts the immune system in general. It is possible to stop a cold dead in its tracks in three days by eating four cloves of freshly-crushed raw garlic three times a day (along with lots of water, vitamins and rest). Although you may find yourself oozing garlic from your pores and smell offensive to your loved ones! You can ease back on the garlic if you supplement with elderberry extract and aggressively use a xylitol nasal spray. Once you start feeling better it is vitally important to continue with water, nutrition & rest and to allow your body to recover before returning to normal activities and habits. Failure to do so can result a very nasty relapse.
Note: Deodorized garlic tablets are ineffective in this regard because it is the "smelly" compounds in garlic which give garlic its anti-viral and anti-bacterial effect. Also, it is likely that no single compound in garlic confers all its therapeutic effects. It is likely to be a synergy of compounds. Any refinement, such as deodorizing, is likely to remove beneficial compounds. One example of the synergy of compounds contained in garlic are alliin and an enzyme called allinase. In whole garlic, these two constituents are segregated, but when a garlic clove is "damaged" (e.g. crushed) the two mix together to quickly produce allicin: A pungent, potent-antibacterial sulphur compound which is not present in whole garlic! Heat destroys allicin, and so does age (it chemically breaks down in one to seven days). One final note: "Allicin potential" of deodorized garlic supplements is a marketing gimmick to convince you the product has value; it does not. Don’t be fooled and don’t waste your money on this sham.
Do not take commercial cold or flu remedies from the drugstore. These preparations do not fight infection and can actually lengthen the duration of illness. Symptoms like a runny nose and fever actually help your body fight infection; suppressing them with drugs undermines the healing process. A saline-xylitol wash, on the other hand, works synergistically with your body to flush out viruses (and provide temporary relief). There is another drawback to commercial medications: they can mask your symptoms making you feel artificially well. This entices you to over-exert yourself when what you really need is to be taking it easy and getting lots of rest. This usually prolongs your illness and the time you remain infectious to others. (Smart employers insist that sick people take time-off rather than come into work and spread sickness around.)
Pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc. should not be needed if you’re adequately hydrated and keeping your nasal passages clear (use a saline-xylitol wash).
Fever, in most cases, should not be viewed as a problem; it is the body’s natural reaction to infection and actually helps to shorten the duration of illness. Excessive fever (or prolonged duration) is, however, a concern and may require the attention of a health care provider. Aspirin should NEVER be given to children with fevers!
Make sure your environment is not too dry. Adequate moisture in the air is important. Use of a humidifier, vaporizer, or breathing steam from boiling water on the stove-top can help.
Brush your teeth with a combination of salt and baking soda — or use a tooth powder containing these ingredients. This will not irritate a sore throat and will make your mouth feel clean (at least for a while). The salt will also help to fight gum disease — a side benefit. Also pour a little hydrogen peroxide on your toothbrush before you brush and again as you put it away. Actually, disinfecting your toothbrush like this is good to do from time to time even when you’re healthy. Even better is to allow it to soak overnight in a glass filled high enough to cover the bristles with a 50-50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water.
Crushed eucalyptus leaves or oil and water in a potpourri pot, or eucalyptus oil in a vaporizer, often makes the sinuses feel better.
Nasal Spray/Wash
This formula is useful for treating and preventing colds, flu’s and allergies. It can be used either as a nasal spray or wash. The spray is useful to treat symptoms or as a prophylaxis. Use as a wash to more aggressively treat symptoms or prevent illness on known exposure.
Nasal Spray/Wash Formula
US Measure
1 cup
237 ml
¼ scant to level teaspoon
1.25 ml
2½ level teaspoon
12.32 ml
4 drops NutriBiotic®Grapefruit Seed Extract
Instructions: Use of warm water (preferably non-chlorinated, filtered or distilled) helps to dissolve ingredients and, when used as a wash, is comforting. Stir mixture until the ingredients dissolve completely. Pickling salt is preferred to regular table salt as the latter usually has undesirable additives (to enhance flow). The salt is soothing and therapeutic. While the xylitol is optional, it helps to wash away germs and pollutants in your sinuses, and makes it difficult for germs to colonize. If you have liquid NutriBiotic GSE, add 4 drops. Other brands may have different sized drops or potencies, so adjust as needed. NutriBiotic has fairly small drops and is 33% Citricidal. Some GSE brands are triple strength, or 100% Citricidal. The GSE is useful to attack germs and acts as a preservative. Without GSE, use formula within a few days or discard.
Garlic nose drops. In his book The Healing Power of Garlic Paul Bergner writes: "Garlic nose drops directly kill the viruses that cause cold or flu." He also writes about a study with mice where some were inoculated with garlic, and some were not. The flu virus was introduced to the nasal passages of each mouse. Those mice that received the garlic remained healthy, where all the others got sick. To make nose drops, Bergner instructs us to crush some garlic to obtain juice, and add ten parts water and mix well. It could be added to the saline-xylitol formula above, if you like, to enhance its germ killing abilities.
In addition to the nose drops, eating raw garlic is also helpful and has a systemic effect. Note: deodorized garlic tablets are not useful in fighting viral or bacterial infections.
To use as a wash: First, blow your nose. Then, over the bathroom sink, put one or two teaspoons of nasal wash mixture in the palm of your hand, put one nostril in the water, close off the other nostril with a finger and inhale briskly. Try to take the water far up into your sinuses. Then let the water drain out your nostril and into the sink. Repeat this several times then switch to the other nostril. If done correctly, you’ll have a sensation in your nose which is very similar to having recently taken a swim (at least with a salt water mixture; the xylitol mixture may produce a somewhat different sensation). Repeat this process, alternating between nostrils, until your nose is feeling relatively clear. The salt in the water helps to cleanse and soothe the mucus membranes and sinuses, and helps make you feel better (at least for a while). You are attacking the flu and cold viruses where they live, and diminishing their numbers (particularly if you’ve added xylitol, GSE or garlic juice). Repeating this procedure as often as needed during the day will help to shorten the duration of your illness, and make you feel better. Doing this before going to bed can help to promote sleep. This procedure can also be effective against seasonal allergies as it cleanses the sinuses and washes away irritants.
If you cannot or do not wish to make your own nasal spray, a commercial formula is available for purchase called Xlear (pronounced "clear.") It is a very good product.

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