Saturday, March 7, 2020

Colds & Flu: A Strong Offense Is Your Best Defense

As they say in football, "A strong offense is your best defense." I feel the same holds true for colds and flu.  The coronavirus is not an influenza virus.  There are many different types of viruses.  The herpes virus, which is similar to the chicken pox virus is another example of a non-influenza virus.  But for just about any disease condition, building your immune system with vitamins and herbs while getting good nutrition and steering clear of junk foods is a great way to protect yourself. 

One thing is for certain, we do need good nutrition to build strong and healthy bodies.  Our bodies rebuild themselves every day.  All of our cells, our bones, our skin, our muscle cells are all being replaced constantly and we literally create ourselves anew from what we eat.  So it is important to choose carefully.  A wide variety of fruits and vegetables, consumed as the majority of one's diet, provide the basis for the good nutrition that we need. 
And during the cold and flu season, preparing your foods at home avoids the dangers of having others accidentally cough or sneeze on your food or eating utensils.  Good clean nutrition is a great place to start when growing a strong immune system.  And being sure to drink lots of water, and get plenty of good quality sleep, builds on that strong foundation as well.

That being said, I'd like to also share with you the various tools that I use to boost my immunity.  (Please see my disclaimer below.)  These tools help me to successfully keep myself healthy and strong all year long, especially during the cold and flu seasons.

Everyone is different and I don't do all of these immune boosting suggestions at once.  I always listen within to see what is going to serve me best and then I do that.  You can do the same.  Let your eyes or your fingers run over the list and see what resonates with you.  But, do pay special attention to this first one.  It is perhaps the most important for keeping ourselves healthy.  It can also be the most difficult because herein lies the problem of addiction.  

#1.  Avoid all refined sugars and junk foods.  Sugar dips the immune system, dramatically, for several hours, after even one bite.  So, don't do it.  If there is anything to say, "No!" to, it is sugar.  And too often, it is hiding in everything: sauces, snack foods, most of your processed or pre-prepared foods, including restaurant cuisine and breads.  Refined grain products, like flours, along with artificial sweeteners are a close second and third.  These denuded or fake foods not only dip your immune system, they also fill you up with empty calories so you don't get your much needed nutrition.  The same holds true for caffeinated beverages and soda pops or fizzy drinks, etc.  So, just say, "No."  These are all aptly named, "Junk Foods," because they really aren't foods at all.

#2.  "Garlic is as good as good as ten mothers."  And so is ginger.  I often take two cloves of garlic in the morning in the blender with a banana and two tablespoons of good quality olive oil, a cup of just squeezed orange juice (not frozen, pasteurized or store bought) and an inch of ginger.  This is a great liver cleanse and it will help your liver to clean itself out so it can process the toxins of the day while boosting your immunity.  Raw garlic helps to kill many types of viruses and bacteria.  I always choose organic because I don't like to put poisons in when I'm busy trying to get them out.  I also like to take 'Milk Thistle Seed' for liver support.  Gaia herbs is my favorite.  I get the 650 mg. capsules and take them as needed.

#3.  Vitamin C.  Organic citrus fruits will do the trick, but when I really want to power down the Vitamin C, I use NutriBiotic's 'Ascorbic Acid with Bioflavonoids.'  It is a food based supplement made from lemons.  I'll take one teaspoon, which is equivalent to five grams, and put it in a jar of filtered water and shake it well and then sip it all day.  You may want to take a little less than that.  You will know when you have too much as your stools will become very loose.

#4.  Echinacea, Astragalus and Golden Seal.  For my equinacea, again, I like Gaia Organics, 'Echinacea Supreme.'  It is very strong and should be diluted in water or some other beverage.  (It will make your swallow reflexes really go to town if taken full strength and this can be uncomfortable or even scary for some, but it can also be helpful in very small amounts for cases of people with swallowing difficulties.)  Echinacea engages the immune system.  Astragalus builds it.  I take them for alternating weeks during the cold and flu season.  Two weeks of one, then switch and take the other for two weeks.  To use a war metaphor, you want to build up the number of your troops first, (with the astragalus,) then you send them out to do battle, (with the echinacea.)  I make my astragalus at home using the dried shredded root covered in strong brandy for two weeks, then I decant off the liquid for medicine.  But you can purchase astragalus extract at your healthy food store, ready-made.  Golden Seal is another excellent herb for boosting immunity and healing the body.  I always keep it on hand and use it whenever I feel the need.

#5.  'Super tonic.'  I learned this recipe from our great contemporary herbologist Dr. Richard Schulze.  This wonderful tonic is available through his American Botanical Pharmacy at  Or you can make it yourself.  Using entirely fresh, raw, organic ingredients, and blending them in about one or two cups of 'Bragg's Raw Apple Cider Vinegar,' (add more vinegar, if needed, to make it move in the blender,) take one big-double-handful of each, coarsely chopped: horseradish root, really hot chili peppers, peeled garlic and hot white onion, also peeled.   This is like a really hot salsa and is fine to enjoy as such.  But for your Super tonic, let the concoction sit, in a big glass jar, covered, for a few days in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.  Then strain it through some cheese cloth.  Save the liquid.  That is your Super tonic.  (You can also save the plant material to dehydrate until nice and dry, then grind it into powder to make a kickingly hot immune building spice mix, which you can add to other dishes.) To the 'Super tonic' liquid, you can add a few ounces of good strong echinacea extract.  Store this in a dark glass bottle, in a cool dark place, like a kitchen cupboard.  For use, during cold and flu season, I take a few ounces of 'Super tonic' and add one cup of orange juice, again fresh raw, just squeezed, and three cups of water.  Sip on it all day.  This is the recipe that has saved many a college student in our neighborhood when finals week comes around coupled with the first symptoms of an on-coming cold or flu.  That, plus stopping all sugar, usually kicks it right away.  (I'm sure that I don't even need to mention avoiding cigarettes or alcohol. Almost nothing is worse for our health than smoking.  And alcohol seriously depletes our bodies store of nutrients.)

#6.  Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Iodine, Selenium and Zinc.  These are old standards for helping to prevent or speed the healing from a flu.  I like Nature's Life, 'Drop of Sunshine' for my Vitamin D-3.  I take five drops for 5,000 IU.  Most any Vitamin E will do.  'Iodoral' is my favorite for iodine.  Selenium deficiency increases one's chances of contracting the flu.  I'll usually take 200mcg. daily during flu season.  And then there is zinc; I like 'zinc picolinate' at 30mg.  It is not a bad idea to have your blood levels checked to be sure you are not deficient in these nutrients before flu season gets underway.

#7.  We have a book in our library titled, Alkalize or Die.  It is a somewhat dramatic title, but the point is a good one.  Almost no disease condition can exist in an alkalized system.  Baking soda, or bicarbonate of soda, is a strong alkalizer and taking 1/2 teaspoon in a glass of cool water daily, is known to help prevent colds and flus.  To shorten the duration of a cold or flu, increase the dosage to several times a day.  Raw apple cider vinegar is another good pH balancer.  One teaspoon in a glass of water is an old standard for helping to alkalize the body and clear up a myriad of health problems.  We also alkalize our systems when we eat lots and lots and lots of fresh, raw, organic fruits and vegetables.

#8.  Magnesium chloride has a long history of being used to combat bacteria and viruses.  It was used with success against polio and diphtheria.  A few grams of magnesium chloride, taken two or three times a day is reported to clear most flus within a couple of days.    

#9.  Heat is very effective at knocking back the numbers of problematic viruses in a body.  That is why, when we get sick, we produce a temperature, to kill off rising populations of viruses.  Allowing a carefully monitored fever to rise, taking frequent long hot baths or using Far Infrared devices, like a Biomat, can all be helpful in this regard.

#10.  One of my favorite, 'go to herbs' for any exposure is Dr. Shen's Chinese herbal preparation known as 'Gan Mao Ling.'  Two of these per person can protect a whole room full of folks who have been exposed to something quite virulent.  Commonly, one tablet morning and night will fend off most microbes.  And if one does contract something, then Dr. Shen's Zong Gan Ling can help to shorten the duration, allowing healing to progress more quickly.

#11.  In addition, when I've gotten a scare and am really trying to prevent a cold or flu, like when someone has just given me a big hug and then told me how terribly sick they are, I'll come right home and take one or all of these supplements:  'Adrographis extract' 400mg, 'Monolaurin' 500mg, 'SuperLysine' by Quantum Health, 'Mushrooms and Herbs' by Gaia Herbs or any reputable mushroom supplement like Host Defense, 'DefensePlus' by Nutribiotic and 'Propolis 1000' by Y.S. Eco Bee Farms.  I'll also take these after being near someone who has been coughing, even if they swear that they are all better now and absolutely not contagious.  This is because viruses and bacteria travel in the little tiny, nearly invisible droplets of spittle that can be released even when someone is just talking, but especially when they are coughing.  And a person who has recently overcome a bacteria or virus, has a microbe that is desperately seeking to find a new host, and I don't want it to be me.  So, I boost my immunity with these supplements, just to be sure.  I'll also take them before and after a day of travel.  As one last precaution, that night, while in bed, just before drifting off to sleep, I'll place two capsules of 'Healthy Trinity' by Natren in my cheeks and let them sit there all night, slowly dissolving, keeping a steady stream of healthy and balanced probiotics minutely flowing down my throat.  This keeps my mucus membranes bathed and balanced and more able to combat any microbes that are trying to set up housekeeping near my tonsils or in the folds of my voice box.

#12.  Whenever I need to attend to a loved one or someone who is really ill, I take all precautions.  I use one quarter ounce of good quality lavender essential oil diluted in 1-2 cups of water as a spray  for door handles and to clear the air that I will be breathing in the sick room.  Or I'll burn a dried smudge of sage as the essential oil, which is released in the smoke, will also help to clear the air.  In addition, I really like Dr. Richard Schulze's 'Air Detox,' for this same reason.  It will completely freshen up a sick room, which is very helpful for the person who is ill, as well.  This is because the essential oils help to knock back the microbial populations residing in their lungs. 
The Essential Oil recipe, known as Thieves Oil, got it's name because it protected people who were robbing the bodies of the dead during the Great Plague of London in the mid-seventeenth century.  It is made with drops of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils diluted in a base of a carrier oil like a good quality olive oil.  This can also be very helpful for prevention by placing a drop or two under the nose to breathe and to use for sterilizing the hands.  But for a more seriously contagious patient, in the sick room, I would want to fully suit up, like health care professionals are currently doing.  But right now, protective clothing and equipment are in short supply and need to be saved for our first responders.  The one change I would make to what they are currently wearing is that I would probably prefer to use a vapor cartridge respirator instead of a mask, with goggles along with a full set of disposable coveralls, gloves, booties, etc.

#13.  Also, as we've been advised of late, whenever attending the sick or being out and about in public places, where people are likely to be carrying communicable diseases, it is essential to practice good hygiene by washing your hands regularly and very thoroughly.  It is also a really good idea to avoid touching your mucus membranes like your nose, eyes or mouth unless your hands are nice and freshly cleaned.  I also keep a little pump spray bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide in the car, during the cold and flu season, to use on the steering wheel and other places where my hands touch regularly, just for a little extra precaution.  And, if someone is feeling unwell, it's best if they stay home and don't get near other people.  Staying clear of others with self isolation helps to prevent the spread of disease.  And if a person is coughing, I like for them to do more than just cover their cough with an elbow or their hand, I ask them to use a good sized cloth, like twenty inches square, and really catch that cough, using their whole hand, with fingers spread widely, over that cloth and over their mouth, to catch as many of those minute and mostly invisible spittle droplets as is possible.  Those little air-borne drops are all carrying microbes that are busy looking for a new host.

#14.  Additionally, I carry in my purse, the glove box of the car and have on my bedside table, a little pump spray of an herbal immune booster, again, I like the one made by the great Dr. Richard Schulze's American Botanical Pharmacy called, 'Throat and Tonsil.'  A few squirts of this, from time to time, aimed at the back of the throat, can stop most any little tickle before it gets started.  A few similar products that will also help are 'Kick-it Immune Activator' by Wishgarden, 'Propolis & Herbs' by
Y.S. Eco Bee Farms, and 'Immune Season' by Herb Pharm. These and many similar immune boosters should be widely available at your local healthy food store.  Dr. Schulze also has an excellent one ounce herbal preparation called, 'Cold and Flu Shot.' This can be taken orally, like an herbal shot, and it can help to prevent something before it gets started, or knock it back sooner once symptoms have presented.

#15.  I have a dentist friend who sees children regularly and they are often sick with various colds and flus. 
Upon coming home every evening, even before saying hello to his wife, he changes his clothes and uses a neti pot.  This keeps him healthy and he doesn't risk infecting his family either.  I sometimes do this, but I don't usually bother with the neti pot.  I take a handful of warm salt water, using my good Celtic Sea Salt, (non-iodized) from the healthy food store, one half teaspoon dissolved in a cup of filtered water.  I place my nose down in the water, in my hand, over the sink and while pinching one nostril, with one finger, I snort it up my nose into my sinus and repeat several times until the salty water comes out of my mouth and nose.  Then I blow my nose in a nice soft tea towel and switch sides, repeating the process, on both sides, several times.  Some like to add a little baking soda into the water.  Some like to boil the salt water to sterilize it.  This treatment is sort of like what happens when you go swimming in the ocean and get salt water up your nose.  It gives your sinuses a good cleaning out and most microbes dry right up and die in the presence of salt.
#16.  Sipping on liquids all day long, like hot tea, (my favorite is 'Throat Coat' by Traditional Medicinals,) or even plain water, can really help to prevent most infections by regularly rinsing your throat.  This prevents microbes from settling in and growing little populations in those warm moist conditions.  Most of them can not survive in the harsh environment of your stomach acids.  So, wash them down. 

#17.  Prevention is always best.  But paying close attention and going after something aggressively, at the first thought or hint of an imbalance in your sense of wellness, can go a long way to keeping you and your family healthy and strong during any cold and flu season.  If you are feeling tired, excuse yourself to take a nap.  If you are feeling chilled, go and find a way to get really warm.  If someone has been sick around you, go take some of your preventatives and get to bed early that night.  Noticing how you are doing, and acting accordingly is a really good idea.  

#18.  If you are feeling good, get some exercise.  Movement is life.  We keep ourselves happy and healthy by moving.  So, put on a record and dance.  Get out into your garden and plant some vegetables.  Take a walk with the dog.  It feels great and that's how we want to feel.

#19.  Watch out for stress.  Just as good healthy foods and herbs can boost our immune systems, stress can wear it down.  So, try to take it easy.  As they say, "Don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff."  I consciously work on my internal climate by making a practice of choosing love in my thoughts, words and actions.  My mother used to say, "If you can't think of something nice to say, don't say anything at all."  Similarily, if I find myself thinking negative thoughts, I change my mental habit and think of some good ones instead.  We really do reduce our stress levels by, looking for the bright side in every situation.  Some of the nations and families that are in quarantine from the coronavirus right now are finding that the quieter pace of life is actually quite nice.  One friend of mine was sharing with me over the phone yesterday that she and her family are really enjoying spending more time together.  They are playing games and visiting a lot more than usual.  My husband has been reading some of the news to me of late and the other day he read to me an article about how the quarantined residents of Italy were serenading each other from their balconies and apartment windows on their instruments and also applauding and expressing their appreciation for their health care workers, doctors and nurses who are all working so hard to help overcome this pandemic.  Isn't that great.

#20.  And remember, if and when the going gets really tough, like in times of natural disasters, we humans tend to help each other.  We band together.  Yesterday, two of our young college-aged neighbors were going around to all of the homes where older folks live in our neighborhood.  They stood a respectful distance away from the door and asked if we needed anything.  They wanted to see if they could be of any help.  Did we need our dog walked?  Would we like them to pick up any groceries for us?  When times get tough, we let go of our usual boundaries to lend a hand and in the process, we find the very best in being human. 

© Josephine Laing 2020 
Please be advised that I am not a doctor.  Nor am I licensed in any healing modality.  However, I have had years of experience in alternative and complementary health and healing.  All healing programs, including standard western medical protocols in addition to natural therapies, can cause harm rather than the benefit that you may be searching for.  After all some people can have a strong reaction to something as seemingly innocent as peanuts or strawberries.  Therefore, anything that I may recommend in these blogs could be dangerous for you to try.  So, it is important that you Ask Your Doctor First before trying any natural healing protocol.  However, because most medical professionals have very little experience regarding natural healing programs that involve foods and herbal medicine, please be understanding if your doctor is unfamiliar with these ideas.