Winning The Cold War

  • 5 Jan 2010
  • Reading time 8 mins
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If you succumb to a cold or flu there are five natural remedies that can speed up your recovery fast.

1. Take high dose vitamin C

Taking 1 or 2 gram of vitamin C a day every day does shorten the duration, and lessen the symptoms of a cold or flu.[1] But what really works is to dramatically increase your blood level of vitamin C, and keep it up until the cold or flu is gone. This means taking 2 grams immediately, then 1 gram an hour until the cold is gone (usually within 24 and often within 12 hours). You could take 2 grams every two hours, or even 3 grams every three hours (during the night, for example, this is more practical). The point is to keep drip feeding enough vitamin C into your bloodstream to keep the level consistently high. Vitamin C is in and out of the body in four to six hours.

The effectiveness of vitamin C is increased by taking with other antioxidants and immune boosting nutrients. For example, one study tested the effects of high dose vitamin C, together with other antioxidants and it actually worked better than conventional drugs, including Tamiflu. [2] It also has less side-effects.

The trick is to start taking vitamin C as soon as you get the first hints of the symptoms of a cold – maybe a sore throat or feeling blocked up. If you wait too long it is less effective. In a study of students those given 1 gram of vitamin C every hour for six hours during the first day of a cold, reported 85 per cent less cold symptoms than those taking decongestants and pain killers.[3]

Vitamin C, in high doses, has been well proven to be non-toxic in both adults and children even if taken over many years. However, you do get loose bowels. The best dose is the level just below ‘bowel tolerance’. Everyone is different in this respect to it’s best to just try it and find your own way. There is no harm in having high doses for a few days. When all symptoms are gone don’t suddenly cut it out completely. Have, for example, 4 grams spread out during the next day, then reduce to 2 grams a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Some vitamin C tablets contain other immune-friendly nutrients for extra effect. You can use effervescent vitamin C but this becomes expensive at high dose and many are full of sugar. You can also buy pure ascorbic acid powder and mix with water and a little juice for taste, then drink throughout the day. Better is to get an alkaline balance mixture of ascorbates, including zinc ascorbate.

2. Increase you intake of zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that most of us are relatively deficient in. It is found in the ‘seeds’ of things – from eggs to nuts, seeds and beans. It is also high in meat and fish. The ideal intake is about 15mg a day. Most people achieve half of this only from diet. Thus a good daily multivitamin and mineral supplement should provide an additional 10mg to help ensure an optimal intake every day.

Zinc, in much higher doses of 50–100mg a day, has also proved to be significantly anti-viral.[4] It is available in lozenges for coughs and colds, which help shorten a cold. Supplementing this amount of zinc has been shown to make the body’s T cells much more effective, hence boosting immunity. Some vitamin C supplements contain a small amount of zinc. For example, if one contains 1,000mg of vitamin C and 3mg of zinc, and you take 1 gram an hour, then you are going to be taking in close to 50mg over the 24 hours. This is effective.

3. Take black elderberry extract

Viruses get into body cells by puncturing their walls with tiny spikes made of a substance called haemagglutinin. According to research by virologist Madeleine Mumcuoglu, working with Dr Jean Linderman, who discovered interferon, an extract of elderberry disarms these spikes by binding to them and preventing them from penetrating the cell membrane. ‘This was the first discovery,’ said Mumcuoglu. ‘Later I found evidence that elderberry also fights flu virus in other ways.’ In a double-blind controlled trial [5] she tested the effects of the elderberry extract Sambucol on people diagnosed with any one of a number of strains of flu virus. The results showed a significant improvement in symptoms – fever, cough, muscle pain – in 20 per cent of patients within 24 hours, and in a further 73 per cent of patients within 48 hours. After three days, 90 per cent had complete relief of their symptoms compared to another group on a placebo, who took at least six days to recover. In another double-blind controlled trial [6], elderberry extract cut recovery time in those with influenza by four days.

4. Take Echinacea

This root of the plant Echinacea purpurea is probably the most widely used immune-boosting herb. It possesses interferon like properties and is an effective anti-viral agent against flu and herpes. It contains special kinds of polysaccharides, such as inulin, which increase macrophage production. One study [7] on a group of healthy men found that, after five days of taking 30 drops of Echinacea extract three times a day, their white blood cells had doubled their ‘phagocytic’ power, allowing them to better destroy viruses. Echinacea is best taken either as capsules of the powdered herb (2000mg a day), or as drops of a concentrated extract (usually 20 drops three times a day).

5. Up your vitamin D level

Keep your vitamin D level up, especially during the winter. Vitamin D is a very important immune boosting vitamin. You get some from foods such as oily fish and eggs, but it is primarily made in the skin in the presence of sunlight. If you don’t get outdoors, exposing your skin to direct sunlight to won&......

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