I encourage people to increase their Vitamin C intake to 3-5,00 mg per day in divided doses. While Vitamin C is not as effective during an acute onset of a cold or flu, it offers one of the best protective mechanisms against toxemia of the internal environment. If the person is currently afflicted, increasing the dose will aid in the restorative process once the illness has passed. If too much Vitamin C is being taken, the person will experience increased gas and bloating and some diarrhea. Reducing the dose will eliminate these problems.
Couple the Vitamin C with extra beta carotene at 50-100,000 IU per day, also in divided doses, and the chances of developing a cold or flu becomes even less. Of course these must be accompanied by other preventive measures such as not overindulging in food or drink, lowering caffeine and alcohol consumption and eliminating cigarettes while getting plenty of rest, fresh air and fluids.
With an acute or sudden onset of cold or influenza, several measures taken immediately will often stop the condition from "taking hold" in the body or will decrease its severity and duration.
1.) Stopping or lowering your food intake will go a long way towards eliminating toxins from the internal environment. As mentioned previously, digestion of food requires energy and there are always waste products which must be eliminated, adding to the body's burden. As a general rule, if you are hungry, eat light foods such as vegetables and fruits which alkalinize the body and neutralize the acidic toxins.
2.) Increase fluids such as water, herbal teas, soups and organic fruit or vegetable juices. A tea of lemon, ginger and a little raw honey makes a soothing drink which promotes sweating and elimination. Chicken soup is high in minerals, something the body needs more of in times of illness. If delivered by "Dr. mom", chicken soup can be a powerful healer. Yarrow tea (Achillea) is probably the best of the herbal teas to use with a cold or flu. It promotes sweating and has antibacterial and anti viral properties which reduce the risk of opportunistic infection. It is important that the yarrow be as fresh as possible, loose leaf variety rather than prepackaged and of good quality.
3.) Raw garlic at 2 to 4 cloves per day finely chopped and swallowed with some water. Garlic is highly antibacterial and anti viral as well as having the ability to affect a number of body regulatory mechanisms. In my and many other physicians' experience, garlic capsules do not work as well as raw garlic requiring about 10 capsules to achieve the same results as a single clove. This has been verified in studies.
4.) Another medicine which I have found very effective in colds and flu's is Oscillococcinum, the homeopathic nosode. (It continues to be the leading selling cold and flu medicine in Europe.) This medicine greatly reduced the number of influenza cases we treated during the past winter, often aborting the disease within the first 24 hours. Oscillococcinum works well because it stimulates the body's own self defense mechanism to eliminate the sick or toxic internal environment. This is also achieved with other homeopathic medicines such as Gelsemium, Eupatorium perfolatum and Bryonia if the condition has progressed beyond the initial stages and fits the individual condition of the patient.
5.) Herbal medicines such as echinacea, goldenseal and yarrow to name a few, also help to decrease the severity and shorten the course of the illness. Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) in particular acts to strengthen the mucus membranes and promotes elimination. It is contraindicated in pregnancy, which should be taken into consideration when self dosing. Echinacea is clearly indicated for colds and flu's and has proven very effective in these conditions. It is important that good quality herbal preparations be obtained as I have seen incomplete and disappointing results with a number of products. This is due to improper cultivation, harvesting or storage.