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It’s That Time of Year Again: Prepping for Cold and Flu Season

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Hey there, ReadyNutrition Readers!  What could be more beneficial to you in the advent of the Common Cold/Flu  season than knowledge on how to treat and prevent them from occurring in the first place?  Except maybe some of JJ’s chicken soup (which is pretty darn good, by the way….I make it with rice and a ton of celery and carrots)?  Well, I can’t send all the soup, so this will have to suffice.  Take this info along with you as the weather cools and you’re spending more time camping and hiking in the cold weather.

The Cold Hard Facts on the Common Cold

The Common Cold is defined as an acute infection of any and all parts of the respiratory tract from the nasal mucosa to the nasal sinuses, throat, larynx, trachea, and bronchi.[1]  Most people come down with a cold at least once per year.  School-aged children are most susceptible due to the facts that their immune system is not as highly developed as and adults, and that they are in close proximity to a larger “pool” of sick little minnows.  Perhaps that is where the word “school” takes its true meaning!  Cigarette smokers also have a higher risk and longer recovery time for the cold.

In terms of etiology, more than 200 different viruses can cause the common cold.  Some examples are rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, and coronaviruses.  For this reason (size and diversity of the viral origin) it is very difficult to identify the exact cause of the organism.  The colds are never really cured; for the most part, the symptoms are addressed and an attempt is made to ameliorate the sufferer’s condition.  The common cold causes more lost work time and absence from school than any other ailment.[2]

On average, people in the U.S. spend more than $1 billion each year on nonprescription medicines and treatments for the common cold and its symptoms.[3] The symptoms include (but are not limited to):

  • the swelling of nasal mucosa, increased mucus production
  • cough
  • swelling of the throat lining
  • sinus pressure with or without watery eyes
  • lethargy
  • loss of sleep.

The symptoms can last anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks.  Should the cold run longer than 10 days, be accompanied by fever, or have systemic conditions, this may be an indication that something more serious is underlying.  In this case, contact your physician for an appointment immediately.

How to Get Better

The offending organism/virus may be present in nasal secretions for 1 week or even longer past the initial onset of the signs and symptoms.  It is important for this reason alone to dispose of all Kleenex and tissue paper used to expel mucous, and to control handkerchiefs so they have no contact with anyone else.  As mentioned earlier, patients treat the symptoms and suffer through the cold until it has run its course.  There are several over-the-counter (OTC) medications available to the cold-afflicted person.

Analgesics: painkillers for aches, pains, and muscular soreness; some are also fever-reducers; these include Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Aspirin, and Ibuprofen (Motrin).  Follow the instructions on the label. Generally they should be taken with food and water.

Antihistamines: these decrease the nasal secretions of mucous by blocking the actions of histamine. One example is Chlorpheniramine.

Cough Medicines: these fall into two general categories – 1. Expectorants: these increase the amount of phlegm and mucous production to make the cough more productive; the secretions gradually remove the organism. An example is Guaifenisin. 2. Antitussives: these reduce the coughing. Dextromethorphan is an example.

Decongestants: they shrink the blood vessels of the nasal passages and help to relieve edema (swelling) and the congestion.  An example is Pseudeoephedrine hydrochloride (Sudafed), of which now you have to show your driver’s license to buy it OTC: government approval to insure you’re not using it to make Methamphetamines.

There are also some natural aids that can help in your supportive care and may aid in your recovery.  Vitamin C is recommended by Dr. Balch to fight cold viruses, in amounts ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 mg daily.[4]  Although citrus fruits and juices are rich in Vitamin C, you’ll have to find a reliable supplement to provide the amounts listed in the above recommendation.

Eucalyptus oil can be found in your friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart and in your health food stores.  The oil is useful in combating congestion.  Place 5 drops in your bath, or 6 drops per cup of boiling water as a steam inhalant to loosen the congestion.  Read any instructions on the label from the manufacturer.

Tea Tree oil can also be found in the aforementioned sources.  The oil is helpful with sore throats.  Place 3-6 drops in warm water and gargle with it up to 3 times per day, and remember: do not drink it.  Spit it out.  Follow the instructions on the manufacturer’s label, as different brands have different concentrations.

Garlic (Allium sativum) is (as usual) the all-around wonder herb.  Garlic is effective in preventing the common cold, reducing recovery time, and reducing symptom duration.[5]  The herb is available in capsule or tablet form in the aforementioned establishments, and as a solid or aqueous extract in your health food concerns.  Daily dosage is 4 grams of fresh garlic per day.  A clove can be consumed 1-2 times per day, or up to 8 mg essential oil.[6]

Influenza

Influenza is another virus to worry about during the colder months. It has plagued man throughout the ages and is only now in the “infancy stages” of being understood, especially in function.  The disease (seasonal) is described as being an acute, contagious, respiratory infection with fever, headache, and cough, originating with a virus (influenza A, in 65% of cases, or influenza B, in 35% of cases). Incubation is usually 1-3 days with the illness running its course in about a week. There are more than 400 types of viruses.  Current antiviral medications include amantadine and rimantadine.

Over-the-counter medications are for treatment of symptoms while the body is fighting the infection and recovering.  Such medications are guaifenisin (an expectorant), acetaminophen (fever and pain), and robitussin (cough), among others.  We are all undoubtedly familiar with them.  So how do viruses work?  What are they?  Let us explore some basics to better understand them.

Treating the Influenza Virus

Influenza has plagued man throughout the ages and is only now in the “infancy stages” of being understood, especially in function.  The disease (seasonal) is described as being an acute, contagious, respiratory infection with fever, headache, and cough, originating with a virus (influenza A, in 65% of cases, or influenza B, in 35% of cases). Incubation is usually 1-3 days with the illness running its course in about a week.  Current antiviral medications include amantadine and rimantadine.

Over-the-counter medications are for treatment of symptoms while the body is fighting the infection and recovering.  Such medications are guaifenisin (an expectorant), acetaminophen (fever and pain), and robitussin (cough), among others.  We are all undoubtedly familiar with them.  So how do viruses work?  What are they?  Let us explore some basics to better understand them.

There are more than 400 types of viruses.  A virus is basically a pathogen with a protein coating containing nucleic acids.  They are broken down and classified by several methods pertaining to their physiology:  1.  Genome (RNA or DNA), 2. Host/target (bacteria, plant, or animal), 3. Reproduction mode, 4. Mode of transmission, and 5. Disease/illness effected.

The influenza virus is absorbed by its “victim,” or host (either respiration or ingestion usually), and then it attaches itself to the cell wall of one of the host’s cells.  The virus then injects its viral-DNA into the cell where it synthesizes with cellular DNA and proteins.  Such is its process of reproduction, and its unit is referred to as a phage.  The cell’s own machinery is utilized to reproduce more phages.  The cell becomes “overcrowded” with phages and the cell wall lyses (or ruptures) to release untold numbers of new individual phages to (each) begin the cycle again.

Sometimes the phages form small “buds” that break off and infect another cell.  One of the problems with viruses is that they can have antigens, which are protein markers normally recognizable to our body’s White Blood Cells (WBC’s); the antigens mutate frequently, and this is the problem.  The WBC’s cannot recognize the new, mutated antigen as the problem.  Immunoglobulins are antibodies, and these are confounded by the change/mutation that prevents them from working effectively against the new form of the virus.

Viruses are very small, requiring (in most cases) an electron microscope to be able to detect them.  The field of comparison could be likened in this manner: a bacterial cell can be likened to the size of a bus, and a virus would be likened to a marble on that bus.  Provided please find a list of definitions that will help you that you can refer to in the subsequent article:

Virulence – the relative power and degree of pathogenicity possessed by organisms.

Retroviruses – (Retroviridae); these viruses contain reverse transcriptase, an enzyme essential for reverse transcription, i.e., production of a DNA molecule from an RNA model.

Neuraminidase – an enzyme present on the surface of influenza virus particles; enables the virus to separate from the cell.

Cytokine – One of more than 100 distinct proteins produced by WBC’s.  Provide signals to stimulate specific immune response during inflammation/infection.

Incubation – The interval between exposure to infection and the appearance of the first symptom.

You may be wondering a few things, but mainly, why all this?  You needed a few basics and some notes to help you with your understanding of the mechanics of the virus and how it affects you.  In order to provide clear-cut, factual information without continually explaining terms, these basics have been provided.  “What about naturopathic cures for seasonal influenza?” may be your next question?  You already have heard of standard herbal and natural foods to help with influenza (seasonal), such as Echinacea or Elderberry.  Such foods as these, in the case of the Ebola virus, or even the (almost forgotten) H5N1 (Bird flu virus)…these herbs will be detrimental to you.  Please refer to my previously posted topics of Hemorrhagic Flu Viruses (HFV’s).

In the case of the “standard” seasonal flu, however, Echinacea and Elderberry are just fine.  Echinacea refers to the Purple Coneflower, primarily (Echinacea purpurea), and this is available in many different forms (capsule, liquid, and other forms).  Daily dosage is 900 mg of drug for a maximum duration of 8 weeks.

Echinacea refers to the Purple Coneflower, primarily (Echinacea purpurea), and this is available in many different forms (capsule, liquid, and other forms).  Daily dosage is 900 mg of drug for a maximum duration of 8 weeks.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) can shorten the duration and severity of the flu.  The daily dosage is 10 – 15 grams.  With it and with Echinacea, check the label to see the proper dosage, as each can be found in varying strengths and concentrations as per the manufacturer.

Here are some other suggestions in creating a Natural Flu Fighting Arsenal

Please keep in mind that all of the aforementioned naturopathic aids are supportive in nature and are an adjunct, not a substitute for a doctor’s care.  Consult with your friendly and happy family physician prior to taking any actions regarding any information provided in this article.  Be well.

 

Sources:

[1] Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary

[2] Ibid., p 431.

[3] Prescription for Nutritional Healing.

[4] Ibid., p 209.

[5] PDR for Herbal Medicines

[6] Ibid., p 346.

 

Disclaimer: The information presented in this article covers the ailment of the Common Cold and Flu, its causes, as well as suggesting some methods to help.  The information does not, nor does it intend to diagnose, treat, or prescribe medication.  The article is for informational purposes only.  Consult with your licensed, certified, trained family physician should you have any of the conditions outlined within this presentation.

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published September 23rd, 2015
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  • Dimitri Dontspamme

    It’s cold and flu season because the mindless masses have run out to get themselves infected by accepting vaccinations and then spreading their newly acquired viruses to anybody in their vicinity. Period.

  • Jack

    No mention of the American Sugar and Slop diet that goes full steam when Halloween crap-candy is consumed for weeks on end, then followed by the glutinous Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years’ ‘goodies’ as treats, cookies, boxed fake chocolates, sausage gift baskets and whatever else is consumed ad-nauseum. Amazing how this immune-crushing behavior coincides with flu ‘season’. People today can’t even handle a ”cold’ and believe in the health-destroying Flu STAB before taking any personal responsibility.

    • There was also no mention of the constant swilling of carbonated water which acidifies the entire body, opening it up to most diseases.

  • abinico

    By getting full body sunlight year round I have not had a cold, let alone the sniffles, for over ten years. Has to do with keeping up vitamin D levels in your blood. Note, never found oral vitamin D supplementation was effective – you really need sunlight produced sub-dermal vitamin D.

    • It is very dermal, not sub- at all.

      • abinico

        It is sub-dermal; vitamin D is formed just under the top layer of skin – that makes it sub-dermal. If vitamin D was created on top of the skin, then it would be dermal. However, some vitamin D does make it to the dermal layer, though that is not its origin.

      • The top layer of the skin is the epidermis, the dermis is just under the epidermis, placing it just under the top layer of the skin. All of the layers of the skin are dermal, by definition.

  • It is so much easier to make sure that your immune system is capable of dealing with whatever comes against it than to deal with the symptoms inflicted when it isn’t.

  • americuh

    Last year I was repeatedly exposed to multitudes of sick people, yet did not catch any colds nor flus. Perhaps it was luck, caution and cleanliness, exercise, vitamins, or maybe the daily dose of cayenne laced scrambled eggs and sausage that warded off the germs.

    • Americuh, I am going to use your health regimen this year. I hate getting sick! I’d like to see how my kids do at eating cayenne laced eggs. I’m not sure it would go over well, but I can sneak it in other food items. 🙂

  • John Mercer

    They just discovered that the flu virus replicates in the soft pallet so nasal colloidal silver is VERY effective in thwarting the growth of the virus. I’m an ER RN who didn’t get the flu shot last year and didn’t get the flu either. 20 sprays over the course of the day, (2 in each nostril 5-6x a day worked for me as well as probiotics and about 5-6 gms of vitamin C a day). Also when I got the flu 2 years ago was only sick for 4 days only very sick for 2, but I believe that the body has these reactions for a reason… don’t lower your temp with tylenol, the increased temp stops the virus from reproducing. Cold calm and ossilococcinum are naturopath adjunctive remedies that don’t stop any of the bodies processes but helps the immune system fight the viruses. And don’t forget fluids, fluid, fluids… 16oz of water an hour plus soup. Good handwashing, vampire cough, (into your elbow) and get rid of the snotrag… use kleenex. Although I usually agree with the author, I don’t agree with the over the counter symptom supprssion it just makes the disease linger.

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