Friday, December 01, 2006

Care for Colds and Flu

Very good detailed information about colds and flu. Hope it helps people around you and yourself.

Colds and the flu or influenza are similar in many ways, yet the flu can sometimes lead to more serious problems, such as pneumonia. Colds and flu are the most common and communicable and spread easily between people. They are more likely to strike when a person's immune system is low. The common cold is an acute (short-term) viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.

Symptoms of a cold include runny or congested nose, sneezing, fatigue, headache, body aches, cough and general feeling of malaise. A sore throat is sometimes a (differential) symptom of a more serious condition distinct from the common cold (such as strep throat) that may require medical diagnosis and treatment. A cough can be further differentiated by the sound of the cough and the ability to expel or not to expel the phlegm. The color of the phlegm is also looked at. (See Traditional Chinese Medicine).

The flu typically affects 20%-50% of the U.S. population each winter. It's a highly contagious disease, spreading mostly by direct person-to-person contact and coughing is the most effective method of transmission. The flu virus can linger in the air for as long as three hours. In close quarters, conditions are ripe for the spread of the virus.

Symptoms of a flu are very similar to that of a cold, but the signs of a flu can be much more severe, especially at the oneset. A fever, characteristicly high (102-104 F); that lasts 3-4 days, a severe cough that gets worse, with chest discomfort or pain can be signs of pneumonia. Severe body aches and fever/chills are side effects of the body doing its job of trying to fight off an infection.

Colds can be spread through the air, such as when a person sneezes, or by contact with contaminated objects.

Those most at risk are children in 5 to 14 year range, who spend much of their time in school, in close contact with their classmates. More serious complications occur in elderly adults and those with compromised immune systems.

The remedies for a cold or flu are sleeping, resting, plenty of clear fluids, and avoiding sugar, which will assist your immune system to recuperate. There is no proven cure for colds or flu, but time.

Managing Your Cold

1. Stay home and rest, especially while you have a fever.

2. Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke, which can make cold symptoms worse.

3. Drink plenty of fluids like water, fruit juices and clear soups. Fluids help loosen mucus. Fluids are also important if you have a fever because fever can dry up your body's fluids, which can lead to dehydration.

4. Don't drink alcohol.

5. Gargle with warm salt water a few times a day to relieve a sore throat. Throat sprays or lozenges may also help relieve the pain.

6. Use saline (salt water) nose drops to help loosen mucus and moisten the tender skin in your nose.

7. Consider supplements such as Vitamin C, 2,000 to 4,000 mg in divided doses (based on bowel tolerence). Vitamin E compliments C, 400 IU. Echinecea, Goldenseal, Garlic and Licorice root all help in fighting viruses and strengthening immunity.

8. Chicken soup has been shown to have healing properties. Enjoy this great old remedy.

9. Keep washing your hands, cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze and cough in order not to spread the virus to others in your household.

10. Pay attention to good hygiene and skin care. Eat a proper diet.

Tips For Avoiding A Cold

1. Wash your hands often. This is the number one preventative measure you can take. You can pick up cold germs easily, even when shaking someone's hand or touching doorknobs or handrails. 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. Drying your hands, studies have shown, is also an important step in removing germs.

2. Keep your immune system strong. Get good quality sleep, eat nutritious food and stay strong with moderate exercise.

3. Limit airborn risks by keeping your nose clear and hydrated. Usually, we infect ourselves by placing our own virus contaminated hands to our faces. Less frequently, we can catch them from airborne sources.

4. Sneeze or cough into a tissue and then throw the tissue away.

5. Clean surfaces you touch with a germ-killing disinfectant.

6. Don't touch your nose, eyes, or mouth. Germs can enter your body easily by these paths.

7. Any season is cold and flu season but the most prevelant time tends to be in the fall and winter, when people are together in close surroundings.

8. Avoid large crowds in enclosed areas as much as possible, especially during cold and flu season.

9. Keep your feet and neck warm. Cold feet and a chilled neck cannot cause a viral infection. When the feet or neck are cold, cold contracts, that includes the mucous membranes in the nose. When mucous membranes contract, they dry out and cause the glands to stop
functioning. This easily allows dust and bacteria in, as the nose stops it's filtering function, making your entire system more vulnerable.

10. Sometimes even when we do our best to avoid these situations, they occur regardless. Just being aware is half the battle.

Nutritional Advise

Water is essential in any healing process. Distilled water is the best. 6-8 eight ounces glasses per day.

In addition to eight glasses of water, clear juice, tea, and other mostly clear liquids are advised. This will replace important fluids lost during a cold and help flush out impurities that may be preying on your system.

Sip chicken soup. A long-time folk remedy is now a proven fact. A cup of hot chicken soup can help unclog your nasal passages. Researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach found that hot chicken soup, either because of its aroma or its taste, "appears to possess
an additional substance for increasing the flow of nasal mucus." These secretions—what comes out when you blow your nose or sneeze—serve a first line of defense in removing germs from your system, the researchers say.

Zinc lozenges can cut colds short, to an average of four days. Zinc can also dramatically reduce symptoms such as a dry, irritated throat.

At first onset, do a dropperful of Goldenseal and/or Echinacea directly in the mouth three to four times a day. **Do not take Goldenseal for more than seven days.***

The very fact that you have a cold in the first place may point to your eating "too congesting a diet" that puts a strain on your body's metabolism. Counteract it by eating fewer fatty foods, meat and milk products, and more fresh fruit and vegetables.

What You Should Avoid:

Limit foods that have little or no fiber such as ice cream, cheese, meat, snacks like chips and pizza, and processed foods such as instant mashed potatoes or already-prepared frozen dinners. Too much white flour and refined sugar.

What you don't eat may be even more important than what you do eat. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar, because they tend to worsen the situation.

Reduce Processed and Refined Foods:

Avoid fried foods, white pasta, white rice, full fat dairy, white potatoes, white bread (baguettes, bagels, pita).

Processed food can rob your food of nutrients and vitamins that your body needs to fight off stress and promote good health. Try to buy whole foods, unprocessed foods and try and stay away from "instant" foods, preservatives, artificial flavors, saturated fats, refined foods, hydrogenated food and MSG.

Reduce Sugar Intake:

Too much sugar can rob our body of essential nutrients. Simple carbohydrates from baked goods, pastries, most crackers and cookies must be limited to a very small portion or completely removed from the diet.


Alpha Lipoic Acid is a unique antioxidant that is both water and fat soluble, which allows it to enter all parts of the cell to neutralize free radicals. Alpha Lipoic Acid contributes to and is important for the production of energy inside the cell by utilizing sugar to produce energy contributing to mental and physical stamina, reducing muscle fatigue and neutralizes free radicals. Alpha Lipoic Acid recycles and enhances the effects of both Vitamin C.

Lysine an amino acid, can have a general antiviral, tonifying effect that fortifies the immune system. Take 1,000mg daily in divided doses.

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.

Omega-3 : This fish oil has been shown in many studies, to reduce your bad cholesterol levels and reduce plaque buildup in your blood. By reducing your bad cholesterol, you are helping your body to fight off stress and relieve anxiety, tension and even prevent heart disease! Fish that are high in Omega-3 are excellent ways to help your blood stream.

Vitamin C acts primarily in cellular fluid. Vitamin C scavenges free radicals and cleans up waste products. In addition to its anti-oxidative activities, vitamin C benefits many other body functions. Vitamin C is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, which is an important component in the structural make up of blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone. Vitamin C also plays an important role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters and norepinephrine.
Neurotransmitters are critical to brain function and are known to affect mood. Vitamin C, even in small amounts, can protect molecules in the body, such as proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) from damage by free radicals. Vitamin C helps in the fight against free-radical formation caused by pollution and cigarette smoke and also helps return vitamin E to its active form.

Vitamins B6,12 Foods rich in the B vitamins, which help regulate metabolism, are also beneficial, as diets high in sugar tend to burn these vitamins at a faster rate. These foods include wheat germ, yogurt, and liver.

Herbal Remedies

Adaptogens: which include Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng), Asian ginseng, Astragalus, and Schizandra, are thought to help keep various body systems—including the immune system—functioning optimally. Take Siberian ginseng in tincture, herbal granules or in capsules. Capsule doses of 500mg three times a day. Another immune stimulant, Boneset, helps fight off minor viral infections, such as the common cold.

Echinacea: Patients primarily use echinacea to prevent and treat the common cold. The alkylamide, alkaloid, and polyacetylene fractions are thought responsible for stimulating leukocytes and increasing the release of TNF and interleukin 1. A double-blind, randomized studies for the treatment of the common cold suggest that, if initiated within 24 hours of onset, echinacea may shorten the duration of colds, but may not reduce the severity of symptoms. More research is needed. Fresh pressed juice of the flowers of Echinacea (E. purpurea) preserved with alcohol and tinctures of root of echinacea (E. pallida) have been shown to reduce symptoms of the common cold. Echinacea (E. angustifolia) root tinctures has been shown to reduce symptoms of the common cold. The minimum effective amount of
Echinacea tincture or juice that is necessary to take is 3 ml three times per day. More (3–5 ml every two hours) is generally better and is safe, even for children. Encapsulated herbs may also be effective, generally 300–600 mg capsules three times per day are used. Recent
studies indicate that regular use of Echinacea to prevent colds does not work. Therefore, it is currently recommended to limit use of echinacea to the onset of a cold and to use it for only 7 to 10 days consecutively.

Elderberry: is derived from the dark purple berry or from the white to light-yellow flowers of the black or common elder tree. 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.

Horseradish has antibiotic properties, which may account for its easing of throat and upper respiratory tract infections.

Goldenseal: In traditional herbal medicine, Goldenseal root is often taken with Echinacea. The pharmacological action of goldenseal is attributed to both hydrastine and berberine. Berberine has been shown to have anti-microbial activity against certain pathogens such
enterotoxigenic E. coli and V. cholera. However, due to small amounts in the root, it is unlikely that these effects would occur.

Goldenseal soothes irritated mucous membranes in the throat, making it useful for those experiencing a sore throat with their cold. Goldenseal root extract, capsules, or tablets are typically taken in amounts of 4–6 grams three times per day. Using Goldenseal powder as
a tea or tincture may soothe a sore throat. Caution: Goldenseal root should only be used for short periods of time, up to 7 consecutive days.

Garlic: The intact cells of garlic contain an odorless, sulfur-containing amino acid derivative known as alliin. When the cells are crushed, alliin comes into contact with the enzyme alliinase located in neighboring cells and is converted to allicin. Allicin is a potent antibiotic, but it is highly odoriferous and unstable. The ajoenes are apparently responsible for the antithrombotic properties of garlic. Allicin is described as possessing antiplatelet, antibiotic,
and antihyperlipidemic activity.

Ginger: An anti-inflammatory. Ginger has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory. Taking 6–50 grams of fresh or powdered ginger per day indicated that ginger might be helpful. Suggested Dosage: 0.5 to 1 mg of powdered ginger daily

Licorice Root is anti viral, anti-inflammatory, soothes gastric mucous membranes. The root cleanses the colon, increases fluidity of mucous in the lungs and bronchial tubes. Licorice is used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine for a variety of conditions and ailments. Almost all clinical studies on licorice have been performed in combination with other herbs. Alone, licorice is used primarily to manage gastric complaints. A number of active chemicals are thought to account for its biologic activity. Due to the adverse reaction profile of licorice, many studies have been performed using the deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) extract, which is free of glycyrrhizin and has had no significant reported adverse effects.

Mucilage herbs, such as Slippery Elm and Marshmallow, are often helpful for symptomatic relief of coughs and irritated throats. Mullein has expectorant and demulcent properties, which accounts for this herb's historical use as a remedy for the respiratory tract,
particularly in cases of irritating coughs with bronchial congestion.

Red Raspberry, Blackberry and Blueberry leaves contain astringent tannins that are helpful for soothing sore throats.

Sage tea can be gargled to soothe a sore throat.

Yarrow has been used for sore throats. All of these remedies are not supported by modern research at this time, but are traditionally used.

Wild Indigo also stimulates the immune system, which might account for its role against the common cold and flu.

Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac.
Therapies for healing mind, body, spirit

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