Friday, December 31, 2010

Great tips for recovering from colds and flus

I found a really informative site talking about natural ways to recover quicker from colds and flus. Many of these tips I have already passed on but I am going to copy the whole section on colds and flus and link to the rest of the site if you'd like to read their info on preventing colds and flus as well as other things like avian flu, etc.

From the Quanta-Gaia website
Combating/Recovering from Colds and Flu’s
Okay, if you couldn’t elude the flu or a cold, what to do? With early and aggressive treatment, it is possible to limit your symptoms to a single day. But if you allow it to gain a foothold, symptoms will be more persistent. Although you may limit your symptoms to a single day and even feel good, it is important to understand that your body is still fighting off an infection; proper care is essential to preventing a “relapse.” Especially important is to get adequate sleep.

If you begin treatment the first day with a couple xylitol nasal washes, elderberry extract, vitamin C, a garlicky meal, and drink plenty of water and get lots of rest, you may find your symptoms disappearing within 24 hours. The nasal wash, water intake and rest are likely the most important elements. The nasal wash is important because it washes away many of the viruses which have been multiplying the previous 72 or so hours, and the water and rest are essential for optimal immune system function, which is necessary to kill the remaining viruses which you can’t wash away. Elderberry, vitamin C and garlic further support and enhance the immune system. Note: a nasal wash may not be appropriate for everyone. Children and seniors may have difficulty following the regimen. For those, a nasal spray may work.

First, get plenty of rest. Sleep is one of the most powerful immune system stimulants. Drink lots of fluids. Many 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.

Remember to cover your face when you sneeze, and have something to sneeze into, such as a handkerchief; use your shirt sleeve if you have to. Wash your hands afterward.

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, in severe cases, 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 (caffeine can also cause a spike in blood-sugar levels). 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 or two 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 on store shelves in the US).

Elderberry extract is a potent anti-viral (see previous section).

Selenium & Probiotics are both valuable in supporting and enhancing immune function (see previous section).

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 (with no other treatment) 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! However it is more effective to use garlic combined with nasal irrigation and an elderberry extract. And this combined approach requires far less garlic. Deodorized garlic tablets are ineffective (see note about garlic in the section above).

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 (sea 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. The best treatment for a runny nose is to use a xylitol nasal wash in a neti pot. If you don’t have a neti pot, you can use it in a nasal spray, or sniff up a xylitol wash (or salt water). 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 and other outlets, 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 wash will wash away the viruses from their habitat in your sinuses, thus reducing the burden on your immune system. That is key to a rapid recovery.

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. Those studies suggesting vitamin C is ineffective against colds and flu are flawed (usually because too small a dose was used). 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 (assuming your bowels aren’t loose due to diarrhea, of course). Take up to that amount, then back off slightly. This is called the “bowel intolerance test.” 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.

Dr. 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.

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.

[* 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.]
Take Vitamin D3 supplements, and increase your sun exposure. Vitamin D is an under-appreciated nutrient. It plays an active role in a strong immune system response, is known to help prevent at least 22 types of cancer, protects against heart disease, regulates blood sugar levels, regulates nerve function (and useful in treating depression), can protect children from type 1 diabetes, increases muscle strength in older adults, protects against rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, maintains healthy calcium and phosphorus levels for strong bones, and more.

Ultraviolet light from sunshine (not tanning beds) on our skin turns cholesterol into vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). The greater the amount of skin exposed to the sun, the more vitamin D is produced. However the darker one’s pigmentation, either genetically or by tanning, or the older a person is, the less efficiently one produces vitamin D from sun exposure. Using sunscreen or wearing clothing virtually eliminates all vitamin D production in the covered areas. Cold and flu season (and seasonal affective disorder, aka SAD) usually begins as the weather starts to cool and cloudiness increases, or at the same time as our sun exposure (and therefore vitamin D production) dramatically decreases. Vitamin D supplementation is recommended for darker skinned people, the elderly, people with minimal sun exposure, or for everyone not living in the tropics beginning in the autumn.

The US recommended daily allowance (RDA) is too low. Canada has established 2,000 IU/day as the recommended dose, and the Canadians are considering raising that to between 4,000-6,000 IU/day. Up to 10,000 IU/day is considered safe. The lowest dose that any form of vitamin D toxicity has ever been observed is 40,000 IU/day, which can cause hypocalcemia. Supplementing with D2 (calciferol, aka ergocalciferol) is only 20-40% as effective as supplementing with D3 (cholecalciferol).

A note on sun exposure and skin cancer: Most skin cancers which have been associated with sun exposure are benign cosmetic cancers. Melanoma, a dangerous and highly malignant skin cancer, doesn’t tend to occur on the most commonly sun-exposed skin (i.e. face, arms, and legs), but rather on less commonly exposed body trunk areas. Furthermore, occupational exposure to sunlight has been shown to reduce the risk of melanoma, and vitamin D has been shown to inhibit melanoma in cultured tissue samples. Interestingly, five out of ten studies indicated that people who used sunscreen were more likely than nonusers to develop melanoma; three of those studies found no connection with sun exposure; only two suggested sunscreen might confer some cancer protection. It seems a reasonable conclusion that, for caucasians who begin developing a natural, gradual tan in the milder spring sun, or for those with genetically darker pigmentation, unprotected sun exposure is completely safe and beneficial, whereas abrupt, intense summer sun exposure leading to sunburning is unwise, risky behavior. Only in the latter case does sunscreen seem beneficial, to prevent burning, and to promote the gradual tan which should have been acquired earlier in the season, when the natural sunlight was less intense; the SPF would have to be very low, around SPF 2-4, to emulate the spring sun; possibly as high as SPF 6-8 if a fair-skinned individual expected to be out in the hot summer sun most of the day, or on water, with reflected sunlight. A person with freckles is the exception as they are incapable of tanning evenly; regulated sun exposure, or a low SPF sunscreen, may be indicated during extended summer sun, or in tropical regions.

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 others (but not everyone). This must be administered at the first sign of a cold to be effective! Note: If you feel nauseous, discontinue use as this is a sign of zinc toxicity.

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 nasal wash, on the other hand, works synergistically with your body to mechanically flush out viruses and prevent them from re-establishing a foothold. It also provides 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 (e.g. with 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. You may use either 100% hydrogen peroxide, or dilute it down to a 50-50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. (Actually, since a typical bottle drug store “hydrogen peroxide” is a 3% solution, a 50-50 mixture would be a 1.5% solution.)

Crushed eucalyptus leaves or oil and water in a potpourri pot, or eucalyptus oil in a vaporizer, often makes the sinuses feel better.

Avoid using alcohol and tobacco. The exception is a glass or two of red wine.

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 most useful as a prophylaxis, or for anyone who might have difficulties using a wash (e.g. children and seniors). A nasal wash will more aggressively fight an infection and treat symptoms. A neti pot is the best way to administer a nasal wash, although you can sniff it up if you don’t have a neti pot.

Nasal Spray/Wash Formula
Ingredient Quantity
US Measure Metric
Water 1 cup (8 fl. oz.) 237 ml
Salt ¼ – ½ level teaspoon † 1.25 – 2.5 ml †
Xylitol 1 level tablespoon (3 tsp.) 15 ml
GSE 4 drops NutriBiotic®
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Baking soda A pinch or two (optional)

Instructions: First, wash your hands with soap and water. Mix ingredients using warm (not hot) water. This helps to dissolve ingredients and, when used as a wash, is comforting. Stir mixture occasionally until the ingredients dissolve completely. Water should be non-chlorinated, filtered or distilled.

Salt is both soothing and therapeutic (in the proper concentration). Too little or too much salt will cause the water to “burn” or irritate your nasal passages and sinuses. Pickling salt, which is usually pure salt, is preferable to regular table salt. Table salt usually has undesirable additives (e.g. iodine and flow enhancers). And additives make it more dilute (per volume) thus throwing off the saline concentration of the formula. Do not use a salt substitute! You want real salt (i.e. sodium chloride, NaCl). Be sure your pickling salt is pure salt and does not contain “alum” or aluminum! Morton Canning & Pickling Salt is pure salt.

†: For a 0.9% isotonic saline solution, the amount normally found in bodily fluids, use 1/3 teaspoon (approx. ¼ heaping teaspoon, or 1.85 ml) of salt. Anything less than this is hypotonic, anything greater is hypertonic. Some research suggests a hypertonic solution may be best when combating a runny nose (as it would have a drying effect), so you might want to go to the higher end of the salt range. You may also want to add a pinch or two of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to help buffer the solution. A hypotonic solution, however, would tend to be moisturizing (i.e. the lower end of the salt range), and may be what you want in a nasal spray for general prophylactic use. Any amount of salt within the range indicated shouldn’t be irritating to the nasal passages/sinuses of most people.

Note: “Neti pot salt” (or “aromatic salt”) is just a marketing gimmick to sell salt at a higher price. It usually has some essential oils added, which might have some therapeutic value, or which some people may find pleasing. However it should be viewed as a luxury at a premium price, with relatively little practical value. Use it if you wish, but pickling salt is usually just as pure and free of additives, is widely available, and generally inexpensive.

Xylitol. While the xylitol is optional, it helps to wash away germs and pollutants in your sinuses, and makes it difficult for germs to colonize or re-establish themselves.

GSE. The GSE is useful to attack germs and acts as a preservative. Without GSE, use formula within a few days or discard. If mixing for immediate use in a neti pot, the GSE may be omitted without much consequence; its primary purpose is as a preservative for a nasal spray. 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. Too much GSE will “burn” or irritate your nasal passages and sinuses.

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Baking soda is optional. It may be useful as a buffering agent when using a hypertonic saline solution.

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.

As a wash. There are several ways to administer a nasal wash. Some recommend using a bulb syringe or plastic bottle, however a neti pot is by far the easiest. But if you don’t have a neti pot, here is how to “sniff it up”: First, blow your nose and wash your hands with soap and water. Then, over the bathroom sink, put one or two teaspoons of nasal wash mixture in the cupped palm of your hand, close off one nostril with a finger and put the other nostril in the water, then 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.

Neti pot. First, blow your nose and wash your hands with soap and water. There are two ways to use a neti pot. The standard way (Jala Neti Stage 1) is to tilt your head and insert it into the upper nostril and pour, letting it drain out of the lower nostril. However this method may not be sufficient to attack an active cold or flu infection as it primarily washes only the lower sinuses. My method to more aggressively wash the (upper) sinuses is to lean over a sink and, with the forehead tilted slightly forward, plug one nostril with a finger, insert the neti pot spout into the other, and gently inhale, then remove the neti pot and allow the liquid to drain back down my nostril and into the sink. Anyone who has tried the “sniff up” method described in the paragraph above will find the neti pot draws the nasal wash up with far less effort and in much greater volume (thus doing a better job of washing the sinuses). This technique is similar to “stage two” neti and takes a little practice to master. The key is to proceed slowly when learning how to do this. Sometimes a little fluid goes down the back of the throat. Although not harmful (and actually the goal of stage two neti), for our purposes here it is a sign to stop inhaling, and to not inhale quite so much the next time. We can adequately flush out the viruses by allowing the fluid to drain out our nostrils, and this is less difficult than learning how to master stage two neti technique. None of this should be painful nor induce coughing, nor should you be inhaling so hard as to draw fluid into your lungs! Warning: Inhaling fluid into the lungs can lead to pneumonia!

Once the sinuses have been irrigated with a neti pot, particularly if the more aggressive technique is used to irrigate the upper sinuses, it is normal for the sinuses to retain some of the nasal wash. Ideally, one wants to expel all the wash, but this is not always possible. I sometimes find the nasal wash formula draining, usually in small amounts, hours or even days later. Usually this occurs after leaning forward. Standard practice after using a neti pot is to make a series of short, forceful exhales (without blocking either nostril). I do this to clear out the lower sinuses, then (to drain the upper sinuses) add some forward bends (holding them for 10 or so seconds), and come back to an upright position, then add some side bends and back bends, and repeating as necessary. This helps to minimize drainage later on. Here is a more complete and detailed procedure from The JALA NETI Booklet:

Drying The Nose
Drying the nose properly is a very important part of the practice. Never neglect to do this part properly. People with high blood pressure should be careful of this part. If dizziness results when draining the nose, drying should only be done standing upright.
1. First bend forwards from the waist and hang the head upside down with the nose pointing towards the floor, letting any residual water drain from the nose. Then point the nose towards the knees. In each position, gently breathe in the mouth and out the nose about 10 times. A few droplets of water may run down.

2. Then stand up to do some rapid breathing through the nostrils. First, do 10 breaths through both nostrils together, sniffing in and out moderately with a bit more emphasis on the exhalation. Then close off the right nostril with one finger and do 10 rapid sniffing breaths through the left nostril only. Then do 10 sniffing breaths through the right nostril only. Finally, do 10 breaths again through both nostrils together.

This should clear and dry the nose. If it feels as if there is still some water in there, repeat the whole drying process again. Failure to dry the nose properly may manifest the symptoms of a cold for several hours, or leaving dirty water in the sinus passages or eustachian tubes may result in infection.

About the wash. 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. In theory, it should help eliminate or prevent sinus infections.

Important note: Once you start feeling better it is vitally important to continue drinking plenty of water, getting good nutrition & and plenty of 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. Remember your body is still fighting an infection, even though your symptoms have abated.

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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john said...

Really, it's great tips for recovering from colds and flus.

Neti Pot

Midlife Army Wife said...

This is a great list! We use most of these at the smallest hint of a cold, flu or sinus infection around here. GSE is one of my favorite all time remedies! The neti pot works wonders too. It took me ages to ever try it, but once I did, I was convinced. So many awesome tips! Thanks for sharing :)