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Guard Against Cold & Flu
Written By : Mark Rosenberg, MD 
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One of my patients called me recently lamenting about his susceptibility to colds and flu at this time of year. Despite his generally healthy lifestyle, he consistently came down with at least one or two colds per year. "I simply don't have time to get sick," he told me.

If you're like this patient, your life is too busy to be waylaid by a nasty cold. With holidays approaching, you want to make sure that activities with friends and family aren't ruined by sickness. Here's the good news! Armed with the right information, you could very possibly get through the season with no sickness whatsoever. Even when a cold or virus does strike, you can help regain your health quickly without the use of prescription drugs.

Keep in mind the two most important habits that keep germs from entering your body in the first place: 1) wash hands frequently with soap and warm water, and 2) keep your hands away from your face.

Since it's impossible to completely avoid coming in contact with germs, you must also shore up your immune system, enabling it to fight off any germs you may encounter. One of the best ways to strengthen your immune system is through the use of nutritional supplements.

Supplements Offer Protection from Sickness

In addition to an overall healthy diet which includes lots of fruits and vegetables, certain supplements can provide extra protection from colds and flu.

  • Vitamin C. Take up to 3000 mg. daily to boost the immune system.
  • Vitamin E works best along with C to protect your body from free radical damage. Try 400 - 800 IU per day.
  • Echinacea, an ancient herbal remedy, may increase production of immune cells. Take it in tincture form. Use it for a week or two and then stop for a week before resuming.
  • Garlic kills viruses. Take four to six tablets a day to ward off colds. If you don't like the strong odor, take a deodorized version.
  • Other antiviral herbs you can safely take on a regular basis include: maitake mushroom (3 - 7 grams daily); olive leaf (1000 - 2000 mg. daily); elderberry extract (follow label instructions).

What to Do When You Catch a Cold or Flu

One of the worst things you can do is to suppress your body's natural healing process by taking cold medications. Cough suppressants, fever reducers, and other over-the-counter cold remedies hinder the body's natural immune responses. All the symptoms of a cold or the flu are simply methods your body uses to rid itself of the invading germ. Mucus production, for example, flushes the nasal passages of germs. When you've developed a productive cough, you should never try to suppress it. Instead allow your body to cleanse itself by encouraging the expulsion of mucus. Sneezing and coughing also help get the mucus out. Similarly, a fever causes you to perspire allowing your body to rid itself of toxins.

Instead of loading up on useless over-the-counter medicines, load up on the right supplements to further strengthen your immune system and hasten your body's recovery.

In addition to the supplements listed above, add the following to your regimen at the first sign of sickness.

  • Increase Vitamin C intake: 1000 - 2000 mg. 4 - 8 times daily.
  • Vitamin Apromotes healthy mucus membranes. Take 50,000 - 100,000 IU daily. Because vitamin A can build up in the liver and become toxic, don't exceed this dosage or take it for longer than 5 days.
  • Take 4 - 6 zinc lozenges (gluconate or acetate form) a day, then discontinue after 5 days.
  • Thymus extract stimulates the formation of virus-killing cells in your body. Consult your doctor before taking this supplement.
  • Goldenseal may strengthen the immune system and seems to fight sore throats especially well. Take 175 - 350 mg. 3 -4 times a day for 10 days to 2 weeks.

When the flu season strikes, try the following "cocktail" developed by Dr. Mark Stengler, naturopathic physician at the La Jolla Whole Health Medical Clinic in California:

To ½ cup of warm water, add 30 drops each of echinacea, astragalus, reishi and lomatium (all liquid extracts or tinctures), plus 10 drops of licorice root. Drink your cocktail twice a day, until the flu stops circulating in your area. If you're already infected, drink this mixture every 2 -3 hours while you're awake. Usually, you'll defeat the flu within 5 days.

Now that the cold and flu season has arrived, don't sit back thinking your fate is sealed. Add the right supplements to your busy and healthy lifestyle, and you may escape getting sick altogether.

Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Institute For Healthy Aging

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