THROW AWAY THE PHARMACEUTICALS. HERE’S HOW TO WIN THE COLD WAR, CONQUER COUGHS, STOP STOMACH ACHES AND ERADICATE INFECTIONS NATURALLY. PATRICK HOLFORD EXAMINES THE ARSENAL OF NATURAL INFECTION FIGHTERS FROM CATS CLAW TO ZINC, AND GIVES YOU AN A-Z OF PROVEN REMEDIES.
Prevention is better than cure and, as Louis Pasteur said on his deathbed, the ‘host’ is more important than the ‘invader’. Increasingly, medical scientists are finding that we only succumb to bugs when run down. So, your best line of defence is to keep your immune system strong so it’s ready to attack when an invader comes along.
Invaders come in many shapes and sizes. There are bacteria, viruses and fungi (as well as parasites). It’s important to know which as each requires slightly different treatment. A cold, ‘flu, herpes or measles are viruses. Most ear infections, stomach aches, chest or sinus infections (usually a follow-on to a cold) are usually bacterial. Thrush or athlete’s foot, are fungal infections.
Judging by the results of research on vitamin C it’s not that immune-healthy people don’t get infections. They just have ‘pre-colds’ that are all over in 24 hours. Less healthy people end up horizontal for a week. So the aim is to boost your immune system, by giving it the right food and the right environment so that it can adapt quickly to attempted invasions.
While vitamin C’s main strength is against viruses, grapefruit seed extract, for example is anti-bacterial, or ‘antibiotic’. The chart below shows which natural remedies work best against different kinds of invaders. Two doses are given; one for general maintenance; and one for pulling out the plug when under attack. Once an invasion is over wait 48 hours before going onto the maintenance dose.
Get in Fast
The best form of defence is attack, and the quicker you get in there, the more chance you have of restoring health before an infection sets in. All invaders produce toxins as part of their weapons of war. If you wake up feeling more tired than usual, perhaps with bloodshot eyes, a slight headache, itchy throat, slightly blocked nose or foggy brain - and you haven’t been drinking the night before - you’re probably under attack! Like alcohol, these arc the signs of your body trying to eliminate an undesirable agent.
If the war is raging you turn up the heat. The immune system works better in a warm environment, which is why fevers occur. So keep yourself warm and get plenty of rest. One day taking it easy can make all the difference, especially if you boost your immune army with these natural remedies. A lack of sleep depletes your energy reserves. Also eliminate other ways we dissipate energy. Alcohol, smoky atmospheres, strong sunlight, overeating, stress, arguments, overexertion and sex all deplete vital energy. So too do antibiotic drugs. You can tilt the balance in your favour by reducing these energy robbers.
There’s an old wives tale that says ‘Starve a fever, feed a cold’. During an infection, listen to your body. It’s fine not to eat for a day, but if an infection goes on for a long time your immune system does need a number of nutrients, plus protein, to replenish the troops. It’s best to eat lightly - small meals made from high-energy natural foods, raw or lightly cooked. Most of all, listen to your body and drink lots of water. During an infection the body fights hard to eliminate the waste products of war. Drinking large amounts of water or herb teas helps your body detoxify. Avoid salt and mucus forming and fatty foods, such as meat, eggs and milk produce. These increase mucus production. Drinking lots of water, not tea and coffee, reduces mucus.
THE A to Z OF NATURAL INFECTION FIGHTERS
Vitamin A is one of the key immune-boosting nutrients. It helps to strengthen the skin, inside and out, and therefore acts as a first line of defence, keeping the lungs, digestive tract and skin intact. By strengthening cell walls it keep viruses out. Vitamin A has potential toxicity in large doses so levels above l0,000ius are recommended only on a short-term basis.
Maintenance: 7500ius a day
Fighting Infections: 10,000 to 25,000ius
(one week only and not if pregnant) a day
Aloe vera has immune-boosting, anti-viral and antiseptic properties, probably due to its high concentration on mucopolysaccharides. It’s a good all-round tonic, as well as a booster during any infection. Daily dose as instructed on the bottle.
Antioxidants are substances that detoxify ‘free radicals’. These include vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, zinc, selenium and mans’ other non-essential substances from silymarin (milk thistle), pycnogenol, CoQlO, lipoic acid, bioflavonoids, bilberry extract and so on. It’s best to take an all-round antioxidant supplement during any infection.
Artemisia is a natural antifungal, anti-parasitical and anti-bacterial agent, often used alongside caprylic acid for the treatment of candidiasis or thrush.
Fighting Infections: 100mg to 10000mg a day
Astragulus is a Chinese herb renowned for all-round boosting immunity, high in beneficial nicopolysaccharides.
Maintenance: 200mg a day
Fighting Infections: 1 to 3 grams a day
Beta-carotene is the vegetable source of vitamin A and an antioxidant in its own right. It also has the advantage of being non-toxic, although it is prone to oxygen damage and is often unstable in supplements. Red, orange, yellow foods and fresh vegetables are the best sources. Carrot or watermelon juice is a great way to drink this all-round infection fighter.
Maintenance: 7,500iu a day
Fighting Infections: 10,000 to 25,000iu a day
Bee pollen is a natural antibiotic. It’s probably best as a general tonic than a specific treatment. Quality varies considerably as does contamination with lead. Unfortunately, bees arc polluted too. So pick your source carefully and watch out for very cheap supplies. You may get what you pay for. Be careful if you’re pollen sensitive or allergic to bee stings (Bee propolis is the bees’ natural antibiotic Take as instructed on the bottle.)
Maintenance: 1 teaspoon a day
Fighting Infections: 1 to 2 dessertspoons a day
Vitamin C is an incredible anti-viral agent. In fact, no virus yet researched has survived the onslaught of high dose vitamin C treatment, from the common cold to HIY. In the test-tube the HIV virus is eradicated within 4 days in a vitamin C rich environment. In a review of research studies using 1 to 6 grams of vitamin C daily, Drs Hemila and Herman found consistent evidence of shorter colds with fewer symptoms. During a viral infection the trick is to ‘saturate’ the bloodstream. Viruses cannot survive in such a vitamin C rich environment. To achieve this you need to take 3 grams of vitamin C immediately and then two grams every four hours. Alternatively, mix 6 to 10 grams of vitamin C powder in fruit juice diluted with water and drink throughout the day. Vitamin C is non-toxic. Too much can cause loose bowels. Decrease the dose is this becomes excessive.
Maintenance: 1 (1,000mg) to 3 grams a day
Fighting Infections: 6 to 10 grams a day.
Caprylic acid from coconuts is a specific anti-fungal agent, primarily used for eliminating the ‘candida albicans’ organism responsible for thrush. You have to be a bit careful with the dose because as candida dies it produces toxins, so if you eliminate this problem too rapidly you can get worse before you get better. Anti-candida programmes are best done under the supervision of a qualified nutrition consultant.
Fighting Infections 1 to 3 grams a day
Cats Claw is a powerful anti-viral, antioxidant and immune boosting agent from the Peruvian rainforest plant, Uncaria tomentosa. It contains alkaloids, one of which is isopteridin, which has been proven to boost immune function. It is available as a tea or in supplements. As a tea it tastes good with added blackcurrant & apple concentrate.
Maintenance: 2 grams a day.
Fighting Infections: 2 to 6 grams a day.
Vitamin E is the most important fat-soluble antioxidant, so it protects essential fats on nuts and seeds from going rancid. While you’ll find it in nuts, seeds, wheat germ and their cold-pressed oil make sure they are fresh. Vitamin E is best supplemented every day with extra during an infection.
Maintenance: 250iu a day
Fighting Infections: 500 to 1000iu a day
Echinacea is a great ‘all-rounder’ with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. It’s the original Red Indian ‘snakeroot’ from which later became known as snake oil. The active ingredients are thought to be specific mucopolysaccharides. It comes in capsules and in extracts, taken as drops.
Maintenance: 1gram a day
Fighting infections: 2 to 3 grams a day
Garlic contains allicin, which is anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. It also acts as an antioxidant, being rich in sulphur-containing amino acids. There’s no doubt its an important ally in fighting infections, and a wise inc1uiou in one’s diet as garlic eaters have the lowest incidence of cancer. Consider clove or capsule equivalent for an easy guide to your daily dose.
Maintenance: A clove a day
Fighting Infections: 2 to 6 cloves a day
Ginger is particularly good for sore throat and stomach upsets. Put six slices on fresh ginger in a thermos with a stick of cinnamon. Five minutes later you have a delicious and throat—soothing ginger and cinnamon tea. You can add a little lemon and honey for taste. A quarter teaspoon of powdered ginger helps sickness and nausea.
Glutathione & Cysteine are both powerful antioxidant amino acids. You’ll find them in many all-round antioxidant supplements. During a prolonged viral infection they get depleted and may be worthy of extra supplementation. The most usable forms are reduced glutathione or N-Acetyl-Cysteine. Maintenance: 1 gram a day
Fighting Infections: 2 to 3 grams a day
Goldenseal is a natural anti-bacterial agent due to specific alkaloids, particularly helpful for mucus membranes and can used in douches, or gargled as an antiseptic and take internally for health of the digestive system.
Fighting Infections: 200 to 500mg a day
Grapefruit Seed Extract, also called Citricidal, is a powerful antibiotic, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent. The great advantage, however, is that it doesn’t have much effect on the beneficial gut bacteria. It comes in drops and can be swallowed, gargled with or used as nose drops or ear drops, depending on the site of infection.
Maintenance: 5 drops a day
Fighting infections: 20 to 30 drops a day
Hopi candles, available in many health food stores, are a natural Red Indian remedy for cleansing the ear canal. The hollow candle, once lit, is placed over the ear with the bottom end inside the ear opening and, as the candle burns it sucks out wax or mucus in the car canal. By opening up the candle you can see what’s come out. It’s as effective syringing and much less painful, especially if you’ve got an infection.
Lysine is an amino acid that helps get rid off the herpes virus. During an infection its best to limit arginine-rich foods such as beans, lentils, nuts and chocolate.
Maintenance: 1 gram a day
Fighting Infections: 1 to 3 grams a day
Mushrooms such as shiitake, maiitake, reishi or ganodenna, traditionally believed by Chinese Taoist to confer ‘immortality’, have all been shown to contain immune-boosting polysaccharides. You’ll find them added to some immune-boosting supplements and tonics, or you buy shiitake fresh in the supermarket or dried in health food stores.
Probotics, as opposed to antibiotics, are beneficial bacteria that promote health. They are best used to restore balance in the digestive tract, for example, during a stomach hug. It’s best to supplement extra during bacterial infection. Specific strains found in the human digestive tract, called ‘human strain bacteria’, are now available. Watch out for ABC Dophilus combination of three strains beneficial for infants and children. These have been shown to halve the recovery time from a bout of diarrheoa. Lactobacillus salivarius is a good strain for adults. Also see ‘recovery from antibiotics’. Follow dosage instructions on the supplement you choose.
Recovery from antiobiotics is essential as these drugs can wipe out important beneficial bacteria for months. Biocare do an excellent supplement called Replete, which provides an intensive 7 day recovery course of probiotics, once you’re off antibiotic drugs. Follow dosage instructions on the packet. Also take a yeast-free 11 complex supplement whilst on antibiotics.
Selenium is an immune enhancing mineral that also acts as an antioxidant. It’s rich in any food beginning with ‘SE’ including seafood and seeds, especially sesame. You’ll find it included in most antioxidant supplements.
Maintenance: 100mg a day
Fighting’ Infections: 200 to 300mg a day
Silver is an old antibiotic remedy with anti-viral property and available as colloidal silver, suspended in water. This is a fine spray worth a try for sore throats and other bacterial infections. As instructed on the bottle, available from Higher Nature.
St John’s Wort (hypericum) is particularily good for anything that penetrates the skin, such as a wound or skin infection. It’s a good general tonic for the immune system.
Fighting Infections: 50mg to 500mg a day
Oil is an Australian remedy with antiseptic properties. Great for rubbing on the chest, in the bath, or steam inhaling, and also helps keep mosquitoes away. Take as instructed on the bottle.
Zinc is the most important immune-boosting mineral, well worth upping during an infection. There’s no question it helps fight infections. Zinc lozenges are also available for sore throats. You’ll also find it included in most antioxidant supplements.
Maintenance: 15mg a day
Fighting Infections. 25 to 50mg a day
Anti-Viral, Anti-Bacterial or Anti-fungal? This chart tells you which:
NUTRIENTS ANTI-OXIDANTS IMMUNE BOOSTERS
Vitamin A x x x
Beta Carotene x x x x
Vitamin C x x x
Vitamin E x x
Selenium x x
Zinc x x x
Iron x x
B Vitamins x
L Cysteine x
NA Cysteine x
Aloe Vera x x x
Astralagus x x
'Power' Mushrooms x
St John's Wart x x
Garlic x x x
Grapefruit Seed x x
Silver x x
Tea Tree x
Bee Pollen x
Cat's Claw x
Immune-boosting nutrients are good all year round, and especially if you’re run down or exposed to people with infections. During an infection both the invader and our own immune army produce ‘free radicals’ to destroy each other. We can mine-weep these dangerous chemicals with antioxidant nutrients. These are good for everybody at all times. Anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents are best increased when dealing with a specific invader.