Everyone dreads the misery of acute viral illnesses like colds, flu, bronchitis or viral pneumonia. Taking an antibiotic does nothing to help you feel better. Instead, the best antiviral strategy consists of natural precautions that boost your immune system’s ability to defeat these pathogenic invaders.
Regrettably, for years I treated patients who were sick from viruses with the standard remedies of pain relievers and, too often, antibiotics that were supposed to help people get well quick. (They didn’t.) Even though American doctors dole out antibiotics like candy when patients have viral illnesses, these medicines are powerless against viruses. They work only for bacterial infections.
Statistics from the well-researched article Death by Medicine reveal there are an estimated 20 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions for viral illnesses given to patients in the U.S. each year. This most often happens because sick patients insist their doctors proffer an antibiotic prescription to help them get well fast. Doctors, in turn, don’t want their customers to feel they wasted their time by coming to the office. The result: Another round of ineffective antibiotics.
The real solution to the viral illness excludes antibiotics.
Consider a typical viral scenario. You begin feeling a bit rundown and your throat becomes mildly sore. You think little of it because the symptoms are a nuisance but not serious. After a day of this, however, your nose is runny and stuffy and the sore throat worsens. But you have no fever, no nausea, no vomiting. The third day, a cough ensues and your throat pain evaporates. However, your stuffy nose has really become annoying. You have important matters to attend to. You don’t have time to postpone your business and stop to take care of yourself!
Your cough soon gets even worse through the night, along with your completely stopped-up nose. As a result, you now sleep poorly and fatigue shadows you during the day. You are miserable and rundown. So, you need a solution — fast!
Fact is, by this time, you’ve already missed the opportunity to effectively treat your illness. At this point, you can treat your discomforts, which are actually your body’s way of fighting the virus. You can go ahead and take a painkiller like ibuprofen if you feel you must. Get yourself to bed early. Drink lots of clear liquids. Consider some of the following immune-building natural approaches listed here, though they are much more effective on day one of your illness, not day five:
- Stay hydrated: Drink lots of lime water (alkalizing) and herbal teas. Try teas containing cat’s claw, ginseng or ginger root which are powerful tonics to fight viral infections. If they are too bitter, use liquid stevia to sweeten the taste. Use Capra Mineral Whey™, which is full of minerals you can easily absorb. These nutrients will restore your strength.
- Avoid refined sugar: Sugar suppresses immunity.1
- Get more than enough rest: Rest focuses your available energy on your immune system to fight the infection.
- Keep emotions high and thoughts confident, but peaceful: Positive emotional energy can fight illness and restore health. Use it to enhance your physical state.
- Wash your hands and contain your cough or sneeze: Viruses spread most often from contact with contaminated objects, like doorknobs, phones, shared computer keyboards and shaking hands. Viral particles can circulate for several minutes and float in the air like dust.
- High-dose vitamin C: Take 10,000 mg of vitamin C in three divided doses per 24-hour period. This has been shown to inhibit viral activity and boost your immune system.
- Garlic: Take four to eight times the dosing indicated on the bottle. Take garlic continually during the flu season as a preventive measure. A 2001 study in the U.K. reported that just one capsule daily of a garlic supplement containing allicin during the flu season2 can cut your risk of a cold by 63 percent. The researchers also found that garlic could shorten the duration of colds by almost four days. A number of other studies also demonstrate garlic’s effects on viruses.3
- Echinacea: This herb contains several stimulant compounds. The German government has approved echinacea for the treatment of influenza-like symptoms.
- Cimetidine (Tagamet®): At 800 mg daily, this drug has been shown to boost immune function. By reducing T-suppressor cells, it stimulates the immune system that is particularly effective against certain viruses,4 including viral warts and herpes.
- DHEA: Take a high dose of 200 mg in the mornings during a flu infection. It has been shown to boost immune response and protect against the cytokine storm that can occur with some viral infections. In one study, doses of 50 mg daily measurably increased seven different immune markers by 20 percent to 62 percent. A study of lab animals showed a metabolite of DHEA can boost T-helper cell activity and even possibly protect against a lethal influenza virus infection.5
- Melatonin: A dose of 20 to 30 mg has been shown in lab tests to boost the immune system.6 It is also known to activate several immune system functions in immunodeficiency illnesses and to fight against cancer.7
- Lactoferrin: Take this immune booster found naturally in mother’s milk. It has been shown to potentiate the immune system and inhibit viral attachment to cells.8 A dose of 1,200 mg daily can add further benefit during a flu illness.
In a subsequent report, I’ll explore why I have not had much success prescribing the anti-viral drugs Tamiflu® and Relenza® for patients.
To your wise path to health and longevity,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
Author, Easy Health Digest
3 Antiviral Res. 2004 Feb;61(2):125-8; Adv Ther. 2001 Jul-Aug;18(4):189-93; Nutr Cancer. 2000;38(1):98-105; Chin Med J (Engl). 1993 Feb;106(2):93-6; Planta Med. 1992 Oct;58(5):417-23; J Nutr. 2001 Mar;131(3s):1075S-9S.
8 Waarts BL, Aneke OJ, Smit JM, Kimata K, Bittman R, Meijer DK, Wilschut J.
Antiviral activity of human lactoferrin: inhibition of alphavirus interaction with heparan sulfate. Virology. 2005 Mar 15;333(2):284-92