By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 12/12/2018
Posted: 10/27/2009
Topics/Keywords: #NaturalMedicine #VitaminC #Echinacea #Colds #Flu Page Views: 1280
How to avoid the flu, or treat it if you get it anyway!

It's that time of year again, when my friends start noticing that I don't have the flu and they do. The only reason they don't beat me up is that they are too miserable to move. The main reason they want to beat me up, isn't that I don't have the flu but that I have been telling them for years how they can avoid getting it, too. But they don't listen, and then I spend the entire duration of their illness telling them, "I told you so! But you never listen!"

So…take a hint, and listen!

Colds and flu are caused by tiny life forms called viruses. Surely you know that your body is composed of possibly ten trillion cells. A cell is a factory that produces various proteins and other compounds used by the body, as well as containing all the equipment needed to make a perfect copy of itself, for when it wears out. A virus is a lot smaller than a cell and contains only the instructions for making a copy. It has no other purpose than to reproduce (sort of like the Octomom). But a virus is so simple, it can't actually make those copies. It has the blueprints but no contractors.

That's where your body's cells come in. When a virus invades your body (through the nose, for example), it finds a cell with a weak cell wall and breaks in. Once inside, it forces its instructions into the cell's reproductive factory, forcing the cell to make copies of the virus instead of whatever the cell would normally be doing. When the cell has filled with those copies, it literally explodes, dying in the process (without making a replacement) and sending those replicate viruses into the bloodstream to invade more cells and repeat the process.

Fortunately, not every cell gets infected or we would die. Our immune systems mount a multi-pronged defense against these attackers:

  • Send army cells looking for viruses; if they find them, they kill them before they can invade a cell.
  • Toughen the walls of body cells so viruses can't penetrate them.
  • If the number of viruses roaming the body gets out of hand, cause the body's temperature to rise briefly—that's called a fever—to kill the viruses, which are more sensitive to heat, without damaging the cells of the body.

This system works perfectly, provided:

  • You get adequate sleep (you sleep until you wake, without an alarm).
  • You get plenty of fresh water (coffee, Diet Coke and Scotch are not, sadly, substitutes).
  • You take in at least a gram of natural Vitamin C each day, as indigenous peoples do from their traditional diets.

This is the part, of course, that my sick friends don't take seriously. It seems there's always some reason to wake up early, drink anything but water, and isn't the vitamin C in their One-A-Day enough?

Well, no, no, and no!

I can't help with the sleep or water, but let me talk a bit about Vitamin C (and you notice I capitalized it this time, to distinguish from the synthetic form).

Vitamin C occurs in nature, in varying amounts in most vegetables and nearly all fruits. It is also made in the bodies of almost all animals, primates being the most notable exception. Apparently, some 50 or 100 million years ago, one of our fruit-eating ancestors was born with a mutation that made it impossible for him to produce his own Vitamin C. Since he lived on fruit, however, he got plenty of Vitamin C that way and so there was no harm done. He was the ancestor of all primates (monkeys and apes and humans) and so we have inherited this condition.

This is why a human who eats no fruits or vegetables can get scurvy, but his dog won't. (Cooking Vitamin C destroys it, which is why we can't get it from meat…or pasteurized orange juice.)

Back in 1912, when scientists were investigating the phenomenon we now call vitamins, they isolated the one chemical compound that could cure the most obvious of Vitamin C deficiency diseases, scurvy. That compound was ascorbic acid, and thus the vitamin industry was born. Ascorbic acid is cheap and easy to make, so it was packaged as "vitamin C" and people did, indeed, ward off scurvy with it.

But the synthetic vitamin C molecule is nothing like the natural form (same ingredients, different shape) and has little effect on the common cold, though it is, indeed, better than no Vitamin C at all.

Subsequent studies were vague and therefore useless as to the dosages given ("high" and "low" are not very scientific measurements) and the source of the vitamin. The problem was, Western medicine has always been reductionist; it wants to isolate one specific molecule and draw all kinds of conclusions from it.

In nature, the Vitamin C molecule never exists in isolation. It is part of a whole host of compounds that have come to be known as the "Vitamin C Complex". The parts of this complex that aren't ascorbic acid are often known as bioflavanoids, or sometimes identified by their source, such as acerola cherries or rose hips. The term Vitamin P is also used as a collective term for bioflavanoids.

By themselves, bioflavanoids don't do much; that's why the reductionist researchers in 1912 ignored them. Neither does ascorbic acid unless you are treating scurvy. But—put them together! And immune system magic occurs.

In that form, the Vitamin C is able to toughen the walls of the cells so that, like bullets fired at Superman, viruses bounce off them. The immune system's scavengers, then, can make a leisurely pass through the body, scoop up the original invading viruses, and dispose of them.

But if you don't get enough Vitamin C, and lack of sleep and/or water has weakened your immune system's scavengers, then the invaders' attack is successful and you get a cold or the flu, which is what we call the symptoms resulting from the attack or, more specifically, from the result of viruses usurping cells to replicate them until they explode.

The pieces from those exploded cells gather in the joints and lymph nodes until the body can clean them away. The immune system's first reaction to this debris in a place where it doesn't belong, is to produce proteins calledhistamines. The histamines basically signal the area to become inflamed, which will bring the scavengers. That inflammation is why we hurt and are stiff and sore during a cold or flu. To keep the inflammation from getting out of hand, and to provide a place for the debris to go, we react to the histamines by producing phlegm and mucous, which get loaded with the yellowish debris and come out our noses and mouths when we cough. (Some living viruses also come out this way, which is how we infect other people.)

The immune system also adjusts the body's temperature to try and kill large numbers of the replicated viruses. Have you ever noticed that a person with a fever feels cold, and when they sweat they feel hot but their temperature drops to normal? That's how the immune system gets the person to assist in their own healing. If you feel cold you will do something to warm up: Get closer to the fire, or wrap your sleeping furs more closely around you. The body wants you to heat up, to kill the viruses! But it doesn't want up to stay hot, because that would damage your own cells. So after a burst of heat, you then feel hot and try to cool yourself.

Western medicine, which treats symptoms and not the cause of disease, recommends aspirin or ibuprofen to lessen the aches and pains of inflammation. These medicines also prevent fever. But, ironically, both of these effects cause your cold or flu symptoms to last longer because they block your body's efforts to destroy the virus.

What you can do is take an herb called Echinacea. It is often paired with other herbs like Goldenseal for additional effect. Echinacea acts as an immune system kick start. If you haven't followed my advice regarding sleep or water and gotten flu symptoms anyway, Echinacea can get your immune system up to speed faster so it can get a head start scavenging viruses and exploded cell parts. (Do not take Echinacea as a preventative; it only works well as a booster.)

You'll also need to add extra zinc to your treatment plan. Zinc is used to repair body parts, especially ones damaged by inflammation. Chewable zinc tablets have proven very effective in reducing the recovery time from colds and flu.

If you're sick with the flu, or feel it coming on, or even have been exposed to it, it's time to up your game. Take the Echinacea according to the label; chew a zinc tablet two or three times a day, and increase your daily dosage of Vitamin C Complex to at least 5 grams. More is good but unless you are used to large dosages of vitamin C, taking more will probably result in stomach upset or diarrhea.

If you are feverish, help your immune system by listening to your body. If you get fever chills, take a hot bath. Soak in it. Soon your chills will morph to feeling hot, so pour cold water into the bath until it feels comfortable. When you get chilled again, add hot water and so on. Plan on staying in the bath for an hour or two (seriously). Once outside the bath, use blankets when cold, remove when hot. Your body knows what it's doing. If you help your body, the fever stage will pass quickly. (Besides, once the vitamin C toughens your cell membranes, you'll have less of a fever anyway.)

If you have nasal congestion, make some thyme tea by simmering thyme from the grocery store in water for an hour or two. Drink it with honey if you like. It will clear that congestion right up.

If you have diarrhea or vomiting, be sure and replace the lost fluid with Gatorade G2, which has no sugar but lots of minerals. Again, pay attention to your body: If it craves the G2, drink that; if water sounds better to you, drink water.

Don't go to work. I hate to be the one to tell you, but you aren't that indispensable. Instead of infecting your co-workers, stay home and get some sleep. If you have kids you have to care for, get someone to help with that if at all possible. And make sure they are all getting enough Vitamin C Complex so that they don't catch the flu from you.

You can buy Sustained-Release Vitamin C with Bioflavanoids from any grocery or drug store or even Wal-Mart; just check the label carefully. I buy mine from Hi-Health. It costs a little more there but I'm more confident in the quality. The same goes for Echinacea, and the chewable zinc. (If the zinc comes with Vitamin C, or even synthetic vitamin C, that's okay; ascorbic acid won't hurt you; it just doesn't help much.)

People who are rested and hydrated and get plenty of vitamin C rarely catch anything. But if you do catch something, you can get over it quickly.

No one has to be sick with the flu!

This advice works if you have little time to react to exposure to the flu. But my best advice is to make yourself invulnerable to disease by following the H2O2 therapy described here.