Colds and flu are probably the most commonly seen conditions by physicians in general or family practice. In mainstream orthodox clinics, most physicians and clinic administrators have apoplexy at the thought of using vitamins or other alternative treatments. The treatment regimens they use for colds and flu are primarily decongestants, pain relievers (aspirin and acetaminophen), antibiotics, cough suppressants, throat lozenges, and other symptomatic medications. Although I have worked in many mainstream clinics, where I have suffered under the constraints of modern medicine, I prefer my own practice, where I have a great deal more leeway (as well as greater success) in the treatments I am able to recommend for colds and flu.
First, I give cold and flu patients the same advice grandma gives - plenty of rest, fluids (especially hot lemonade), salt water gargle, etc. The treatment recommendations vary a bit from patient to patient, depending on their symptoms. With these caveats in mind, here are some recommendations that I commonly use.
I always suggest Vitamin A, 150,000 IU daily for 5 days (unless the patient is pregnant or might be pregnant). For children under 15, I use only 25-50,000 IU. Vitamin A is virucidal (kills viruses), stimulates the immune system, and enhances mucus membrane integrity. If symptoms are still present, I repeat the dose for another 5 days. Although this would be a toxic dose if continued for long periods of time, I have found massive doses of Vitamin A frequently have a profound effect in aborting the severity and duration of colds and flu.
I also recommend high-dose Vitamin C, using a variation of Professor Linus Paulings regimen. I recommend two grams of vitamin C every hour until bowel tolerance is reached (i.e., gas, gastritis, diarrhea), with downward adjustment of the dose thereafter to just under the level of bowel tolerance.
In conjunction with Vitamin C, I use three to five grams daily of bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids act as natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory agents. I also may consider using an anti-inflammatory enzyme like Bromelain, or combination of enzymes as in VRPs new UniZyme™. These enzymes act as natural decongestants as well as help relieve the achiness of the flu.
Another substance that helps alleviate congestion is Licorice extract (glycyrrhizin), as contained in CortiTrophin™. It helps the most when there is an allergic component to the illness, or if the immune system has been compromised by excessive stress.
A recent addition to my program is Silvicidal ES, which I believe is highly effective against both bacteria and viruses. I recommend one tsp twice daily. If the throat is sore, gargle with the Silvicidal before swallowing. It can be even more effective for sore throats if mixed with a small amount of DMSO (dimethylsulfoxide). For those who have used topical DMSO, the thought of swallowing it seems strange, at first. However, it really isnt so strange when we realize that DMSO is completely absorbed into the body through the skin and many alternative physicians also administer it intravenously! DMSO enhances local penetration of Silvicidal - and also has antimicrobial effects of its own. For nasal and sinus infections, I use silver nasal formula, packaged specifically for use as a nose drop.
As a non-specific immune enhancer, Echinacea and/or Goldenseal seem to be quite effective. An alternative would be to use a combination of Astragalus, Cats Claw, and Echinacea, as in VRPs ImmunoMax. Garlic, either fresh or encapsulated garlic extract, also seems to shorten the course of most colds and flu.
Another powerful immune enhancer is Thymic Protein A, a protein extracted from calf thymus which increases T-cells. T-cells are types of white blood cells produced by the thymus gland which locate and destroy foreign invaders. The thymus gland, which is located behind the sternum (breast bone), shrinks as we age, resulting in a decline in immune function. Thymic Protein A has shown in numerous animal studies to dramatically improve immune function. Currently an IND (investigational new drug) process is being pursued for an injectable form of the protein. Thymic Protein A is safe and can even be used by children.
For those with a cough, bronchitis, or pneumonia, I add N-acetyl cysteine, in doses up to 1800-2400 mg daily. This dosage induces optimum levels of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase in the lungs.
For flu-related nausea or upset stomachs, nothing works better than ginger either as an encapsulated herbal extract or tea made from fresh ginger root.
A substance that I have just begun to use for colds and flu (as well as a number of other conditions) is gamma-hydroxy-butyric acid, or GHB (see my new book, which I co-authored with John Morgenthaler, GHB - The Natural Mood Enhancer). GHB has many interesting properties which make it a potentially valuable aid in treating colds and flu. First, when taken in very low doses, people feel happier and more alert (and thats an important consideration when youre feeling absolutely miserable). Second, GHB is the safest, most effective sleep inducing agent there is. It enhances all four phases of sleep, increasing the restorative powers of natural sleep. Third, it causes release of growth hormone, which enhances immunity. Finally, it lowers body temperature - almost like an animal going into hibernation - which may be beneficial in reducing uncomfortably elevated body temperature due to fever. Unfortunately, GHB has become difficult to obtain, even with a prescription, due to regulatory restraints.
Amantadine HCl (for influenza). Amantadine, 100 mg three times daily, has been demonstrated to shorten the duration and reduce the intensity of flu symptoms. Unfortunately, Amantadine requires a prescription.
Afrin (or generic) nasal spray for nasal congestion. This is especially effective when the nose is really plugged up (its hard to sleep when you cant breath), and is absolutely essential if you must fly when you are ill (when the nose and sinus passages are congested, it is sometimes impossible to clear the ears during pressure changes when landing. This can cause an extremely painful sinus squeeze or ear squeeze.). Another very effective way to clear out obstructed nasal and sinus passages is to eat a hefty dose of cayenne pepper, or hot Korean soup. The pepper really gets the mucus flowing freely. Those who have eaten Korean Kimchi know that it is really a pharmaceutical strength food.
An old preparation that really helps to loosen thick mucus and bronchial secretions is SSKI (saturated solution of potassium iodide). SSKI also requires a prescription. I recommend about 10-15 drops in a glass of water, taken several times per day.
Antibiotics may sometimes be used, if the infection is manifested by thick, yellow or brownish sputum or nasal discharge, which usually indicates a bacterial infection. An alternative to prescription antibiotics includes a combination of virucidal and bactericidal nutrients as are contained in VRPs new UniBiotic.
For what I call a nuclear (extremely sore) sore throat, something that I use (which also requires a prescription) is a combination of viscous lidocaine, benadryl, and Mylanta or Maalox, in a 1:1:1 ratio. This combination, used as a gargle, will make your throat absolutely numb, and you will forget that you even have a throat! The only problem is that it tastes terrible!
For some patients, I also sometimes use a daily intravenous combination of high-dose vitamin C, minerals, B vitamins, and adrenal cortical extract. This combination often rapidly eliminates the illness in days.
Unfortunately, no single treatment works for everyone, nor does the same treatment work every time. But Ive found that a selective combination of a number of the above substances usually gets people back on their feet in a matter of days. I would be interested in hearing from our readers with their favorite cures for colds and flu.