Every year, millions of people world-wide get sick with the flu (influenza) and cold. For most of us, the fever, exhaustion, and aches and pains of the flu can be debilitating for a week or two, but for the elderly, newborns and those with compromised immune systems the flu can be much more serious. An estimated 100,000 hospitalizations and about 36,000 deaths occur each year from the flu or its complications in the US alone. On top of that, an average American adult suffers two to three colds a year; the average young child has as many as nine. That adds up to something like one billion colds a year in US alone!
The entry point for most viral and bacterial infections is through the nose, throat and lungs. We are exposed to it from someone coughing or sneezing or touching things that have been sneezed or coughed on. IF the mucous membrane lining in the nasal cavity is moist from the production of mucous, then the virus or bacteria cannot penetrate and set up an infection. The mucous secretion forms a protective barrier to keep them out. However, if they ‘dry out’ due to dehydration, lack of good essential fatty acids, lack of preformed Vitamin A (ie NOT Beta Carotene, but the fat soluble form) taking antihistamines that dry you up, lack of moisture in the air from heaters, etc… then when you are exposed to the virus you will most likely get sick.
At this point the next line of defense comes in which is the cell membrane. The way a virus replicates is by sending an enzyme to break a hole in the cell wall, and then transcribing or re-writing the DNA of that cell to the DNA of the virus. Then when the cell divides and multiplies, the virus is also multiplying. Herbs like Echinacea and Elderberry disable the enzyme used to penetrate cell membranes, thus stopping viral replication.
I’m going to tell you how to PREVENT getting a cold or flu, but also tell you what to do and what NOT to do IF you do get sick. And it’s most likely that SOMEONE in the house WILL get sick at some point during the cold and flu season. In fact, according to an article in the FDA Consumer, at any one time, nearly a third of all Americans had a cold during the previous two weeks.
But before I do that, I want to help you learn how to distinguish between a cold and flu.
How to tell if it’s a Cold or the Flu
*Colds tend to come on slowly while the flu is swift and severe. A cold usually begins with a scratchy throat or a runny nose and a sneeze or two. You usually think nothing of it and go on. However, it is precisely at this stage that you should begin taking supplements to stop it from getting bad.
*With a flu, one minute you’re feeling fine and the next minute you feel awful and need to go to bed. It is also precisely AT THIS MINUTE, that you should take the most incredible supplement ever to stop it from getting you down for the count.
*Colds are rarely accompanied by fever, unless it is low grade; fever frequently accompanies flu.
*Colds show localized symptoms such as runny nose and sneezing; flu has general symptoms like fatigue, chills and body aches.
*Colds usually have mild fatigue and mild to moderate chest discomfort and a hacking cough.
*Flus usually have extreme fatigue, acute chest discomfort and a severe hacking cough.
Sore throats can accompany both. If handled wrong a cold can turn into a bacterial infection of the ears and sinus. A flu can turn into pneumonia or bronchitis. That’s why it is SO IMPORTANT to take care of it the right way!!! Which I’ll cover in a minute
6 Steps to Prevention (but also considered treatment)
1. Stay hydrated! There are several ways to accomplish this.
A. Drink lots of fluids!!! Drink water and lots of it!!!! Drinks with caffeine such as coffee, tea and colas DRY YOU OUT more because caffeine is a diuretic!! And don’t drink sugary drinks either as just one tsp of sugar cripples up to 50% of your immune cells for up to 5 hours. Even orange juice has too much sugar. Drink herbal teas, broths, spicy soups with onion, cayenne and garlic and “Yes, chicken soup really does help,” says Dr. Schachter, who has the science to back up the claim. “In addition to providing nutrition, fluids, and mucus-dissolving warmth, chicken soup actually reduces the inflammatory compounds that rise with a cold and flu, called cytkines, which trigger body aches, fever, and fatigue. Studies have actually shown that chicken soup inhibits the release of neutrophils, thus reducing the discomfort of a respiratory infection.
B. Take Essential Fatty Acids like those in Fish Oil or Flax Oil. When you think of dehydration-think oil and water. If you don’t have the right fats in your body, then all the water in the world won’t keep you hydrated. You need both. This is especially good to also help with dry eyes, dry mouth, dry skin and hair, dry chapped lips, dry nasal passages, etc, as these are signs that you’re deficient in both water and good fats.
C. Run a vaporizer or humidifier to keep moisture in the air.
2. Keep Immune System Strong!
The way to stay well is to be well. You can prevent a multitude of health problems in life with this one simple piece of advice. It’s impossible in our modern world, to eat right all the time. We simply MUST supplement our diets with vitamins and minerals and EFA’s to keep from becoming deficient in them. When we become deficient, among other things, it cripples our immune system. So how do we keep our immune system strong?
Besides eating right, getting exercise, avoiding stress and getting plenty of rest-which are the remaining 4 steps, there are supplements you can take to help. Astragalus is a top-notch herb found in a product we have called Thymulus which also contains Thymus Extract. The Thymus Gland is the master gland of the Immune System. To keep it healthy, we need all the vitamins and minerals. I couldn’t BEGIN to tell you how important Vitamin C is for keeping you well. It enhances white blood cell production, increases interferon levels which interferes with viruses.
Zinc is equally as important. The Lancet has reported that zinc deficiency causes a wasting away of the thymus gland. Zinc is also vital in producing thymic hormones. This is just ONE mineral, and if you’re deficient in just this ONE, you can see what a difference it can make in your health.
Vitamin A has long been called the “Anti-Infection” vitamin because of its role in keeping the mucous membrane lining moist and healthy. Remember this lining is a barrier to invasion of germs. When someone gets a sinus infection, we put them on a product called ViraPlex that has these and other nutrients as well as herbs, and it works GREAT for clearing up Sinusitis.
If you have a healthy immune system, it is possible that even though you’ve been exposed to a virus or bacteria, you won’t get sick. Throat and nose swab/cultures may find the streptococci or pneumacoccus bacteria present, but you exhibit no symptoms of the infection, because either the mucous lining is not letting it in, or your immune system is dealing with it w/o you even knowing it. It’s vital to have and keep a strong immune system.
3. Eat right by avoiding sugar and white flour products, and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. During a cold or flu, avoid all dairy and heavy, fat-laden foods. Eat raw salads and soups.
4. Get plenty of rest and sleep. During the deepest levels of sleep, potent immune enhancing compounds are released and many immune functions are greatly increased.
6. Avoid Stress. What might be easier is to at least protect yourself from the damaging effects of stress by… TAKING SUPPLEMENTS! Also, wash your hands often.
What NOT to do if you get sick!!
DON’T take OTC symptom relievers such as antihistamines, cough suppressants, Tylenol or other things to reduce fever, etc. These products can actually prolong the illness and make it worse by causing the infection to turn inward setting up secondary infections like pneumonia, strep throat, ear and sinus infections etc!!
Here’s Why: The body has it’s own ingenious mechanisms to get you well by ‘expelling’ the virus as in diarrhea, runny nose, coughing and fever. But what do we do?? We take OTC medicines that STOP these things, thereby allowing the virus to stay in the body and driving it deeper.
Fever impairs viral replication and causes the release of the body’s own interferon, a potent anti-viral substance. Whereas taking aspirin to reduce fever or headache can enhance viral replication. Unless a fever is exceptionally high, (over 103 for children and 102 for adults) or long lasting, (more than two full days) it is usually a wise choice to let it run its natural course, even with children. Administer LOTS of liquids during fever-diluted juices, water, broths, and bathe frequently to wash off the toxins thrown off by the fever so they don’t reabsorb back into the body.
Coughing is your body’s way of getting the junk out of your lungs or passageways, so we should help it along rather than suppress it. UNLESS it’s a dry cough. If your cough is productive, meaning that you’re bringing up heavy, wet mucous or phlegm, don’t take a cough suppressant. To loosen lung or bronchial congestion, take an expectorant-type cough medication containing guaifenesin, wild cherry, slippery elm, mullein, etc.
A dry, hacking cough is different, and although cough suppressants won’t cure it, they can shut down the cough reflex so that you can sleep. Again, if it’s ‘dry’ get a vaporizer going too.
Natural Treatments for Cold and Flu
As mentioned, the same steps that help prevent sickness are even more necessary if you get sick. At the first sign of symptoms, the goal is to attack the virus early because it replicates the most within the first 48 hours
There are just a few things that I would never be without during Cold & Flu season. In fact, I never even travel without them. I have a mini Cold& Flu kit that I keep in my suitcase, because what could be worse than to go on a long-awaited trip and then get sick!! I don’t leave home without it.
Oscillococcinum – It is by far the most popular homeopathic remedy and the top-selling otc flu remedy in France and has been used for 65 years. If taken at the very first onset of flu symptoms, it can literally have you well by the next day. Double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have confirmed it’s effectiveness in decreasing flu symptoms for a significant number of patients. The British Homeopathic Journal reported that 17.4 % of those taking Oscillococcinum were symptom-free the day after treatment began, compared to only 6% of those taking a placebo. In a similar study published in the March 1989 issue of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 24.6% of those with mild to moderate symptoms had recovered by the second day, compared to 11% of those taking placebos.
Gaia’s Quick Defense is my next product. It contains such powerful anti-virals as Andrographis,Echinacea, Elderberry and Ginger. Echinacea is reported to possess antimicrobial activity against bacteria, fungi and viruses. It is claimed to activate and increase white blood cell activitiy and cell-mediated immunity. Echinacea is also reported to increase interferon, tumor necrosis factor, and interleukin-1 production.
Elderberry, like Echinacea, disables the enzyme that flu viruses use to penetrate cell membranes. Elderberry has been shown to possess antiviral properties.
A study published in the winter 1995 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine examined the flu-fighting abilities of Sambucol, a commercial elderberry extract preparation.
In the study, scientists found that Sambucol interfered with the growth of multiple strains of both influenza A and B viruses in cell cultures. In human tests, 35 healthy subjects were given 4 TBLS of Sambucol daily for 3 days, and researchers recorded no side effects. 27 subjects were then given either Sambucol or a placebo for 3 days during a flu outbreak at an Israeli Kibbutz. None of the participants had received a flu shot. Fully 90% of those taking Sambucol were completely cured within 3 days, while most of those who took the placebo needed 6 days to recover.
Colloidal Silver: Colloidal Silver Hydrosol is reported to be a very powerful, natural antibiotic, known to destroy over 650 infectious microbes, including bacterial, fungi and viruses. Colloidal Silver is a catalyst, disabling the particular enzyme that all the one-celled bacteria, fungi and viruses use for their oxygen metabolism, which means they suffocate and starve.
Thieves Oil: This is a blend of highly antiviral, antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-infectious essential oils. Diffuse for 15 minutes every 3-4 hours or apply it directly to the bottom of the feet.
There are many other natural remedies for colds and flu besides herbs and homeopathy that I wish I had room to share with you. I want to list just one more old time ‘home remedy’ that is also used in Ayurvedic (Indian) and Chinese medicine.
Take one tablespoon lukewarm honey with 1/4 spoon cinnamon powder daily for 3 days. This process will cure most chronic cough, cold and clear the sinuses. A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains a natural ingredient, which kills the influenza germs.
The “Hot Toddy” recipe of 1 cup boiling water (or herbal tea), 1-2 shots of whiskey, 1 TBLS honey and the juice of ½ lemon is another home remedy that really helps colds and flu.
Again, the secret to all of this is to take action at the first sign of sickness! This means you need to have it on hand before sickness strikes! Don’t be caught unprepared this cold and flu season. It could make all the difference in the world!