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Treating Colds and Flu

07/01/2009 1:11 PM

Home treatment of cold and flu viruses is everybody's business. The majority of us will not have access to antiviral drugs when we get the flu. For home care we're advised to observe good hygiene, stay hydrated, use OTC products to manage symptoms, and rest. We've all had colds and flu: we know there is no "cure": still, most of us have favourite recipes, family traditions, or other personal strategies for self care that go a little beyond the "clear liquid" diet recommendations of medical authorities.

The point of the declared "pandemic" is that a huge number of people are expected to come down with the H1N1 flu – far more than is usual for seasonal flu. Medical resources are expected to be overtaxed, and official pandemic plans are in place to handle this and to prioritize the rationing of scarce medical resources.

There's never been a better time to improve our standards of home care.

Searching "home treatment plan influenza" I found a variety of official or quasi-official documents that spell out a basic recommended home treatment plan. Except for instructions to see your doctor within 48 hours to find out if you are eligible for Tamiflu or Relenza, I found no recommendations concerning the natural products for which there is some science indicating antiviral activity against influenza A, even though a number of them are generally regarded as safe, or are foods.

For example, I find in the medical research literature, positive scientific findings of specific activity against influenza A in a number of common fruit juices, which are widely available in the pantry, the garden, or the supermarket. Anybody recognize a home favourite?

The fruitThe researchComment
Black currant juice

In vitro cells. Fraction assay.

arigato
Elderberry syrup/extract

In vitro (A) and flu B trial. Clinical trial.

Toda raba /Tusen takk
Pomegranate juice (ellagic acid)

Broad spectrum activity – includes flu A

thanks

Reviewers of natural products for influenza, however, are pretty much unanimous that despite promising results, larger samples, more rigorous studies, better methodology are required before a treatment can be recommended beyond reasonable doubt. The constraints on official or "FDA-approved" recommendation seems to leave the public in the dark about potentially useful home treatments, not to mention the confusion generated by snake-oil spam.

So we have a somewhat bizarre situation, where people who don't get antiviral drugs might follow the standard advice to "drink plenty of fluids" without realizing that the random choice of "fluids" could significantly affect the outcome. Also, since treatment of inflammation has a significant impact on antiviral effectiveness (Gwaltney, Kash,) this aspect of natural product research is also important. How exactly do you flavour your secret recipe for chicken soup, for example? That too, could make the difference.

I can't help thinking that the official medical recommendations which would have non-recipients of antiviral drugs stick to "clear liquid diet" or "oral rehydration solution" makes for a perfect "control group" for a post-pandemic statistical assessment of Tamiflu and Relenza, but falls short of the best chance of a favorable outcome without the drugs. This treatment plan is purely palliative.

Under the circumstances, where antiviral drugs are not available to all, do you think the FDA and other medical authorities should be more proactive about endorsing those unpatented, generic, and available natural products which are (a) already known or accepted as safe, and (b) experimentally antiviral against influenza A and/or anti-inflammatory?

Secondly, since the decision not to officially recommend (per literature linked above) is based on the inadequacy of the present published science, should public health agencies be proactive about collecting data on generic, unpatented natural health resources during this pandemic, to produce a better basis for recommendations in the future? Should antiviral research be restricted to patent medicine, or should it be done in the public interest?

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#1

Re: Common knowledge

07/01/2009 2:14 PM

...since the decision not to officially recommend (per literature linked above) is based on the inadequacy of the present published science...

B.S.! "Commission E, the German expert committee that judges the value of herbal medicines for the German government, has approved echinacea for the treatment of influenza-like symptoms." (The Green Pharmacy, J.A. Duke, PhD.)

Should antiviral research be restricted to patent medicine, or should it be done in the public interest?

There is no money for such research, and plenty of pharmaceutical lobbyists against any recognition of un-patentable medicine.

I might add from personal experience that goldenseal and echinacea works well with an over the counter antihistamine, but should not be used by diabetics due to rapid loss of blood sugar levels.

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#2

Re: Common knowledge

07/01/2009 2:36 PM

As soon as I feel like I've caught a bug I run home and make the spiciest soup possible. I use either chicken or seafood, cabbage, carrots, (all the standard stuff really with the exception of noodles, where sometimes I use a bit of wild rice). For the heat (which is what makes it work.... for me anyway), I use anything and everything spicy. I season it to the point that it's nearly not edible, and then add just a bit more heat.

Next is the fun part, eat/drink the bowl of fiery goodness. It's painful, but kind of addicting, and by the end of your third bowl, your clothes are practically soaked with sweat, and the tears are rolling down your cheeks. All that heat makes a person really want to drink something cool, so we do, a lot. This invokes the extreme intake of fluids, and makes the body process them at a heightened rate.

When I use this method, coupled with a massive dose of vitamins, it works every time.

Disclaimer: Keep Tums nearby, and do not attempt if you have any digestive health problems such as an ulcer.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Common knowledge

07/01/2009 7:54 PM

I make a similar stew, using corned beef, potatoes, cabbage, garlic and onions (If you're from West VA and they're in season, use ramps). Spices run toward cayenne pepper, Louisiana Hell-Fire sauce, ginger, and those little purple Brazilian peppers. You've got it just right when you eat a big spoonful and sweat breaks out on top of your head within 15 seconds.

Eat a huge bowl of this. It won't do a darn thing for the flu, but it'll make you drink a whole lotta liquid and that is good for you. Plus, two to three days later, you get a high colonic free of charge. And, you'll get the seat on the bus all to yourself for the best part of a week and staying away from people helps in flu season.

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#5
In reply to #2

Re: Common knowledge

07/02/2009 7:21 AM

I'm a big fan of the flaming hot soup myself - it's a great approach for just about any generic cold or flu. Hot and sour is our home favourite.

Maybe one of the advantages of spicy soup is that you inhale it as well as swallow it!

For influenza A, your seafood option should have an edge: shellfish have antiviral activity specifically against influenza.

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#4

Re: Treating Colds and Flu

07/02/2009 2:01 AM

The original post: <yawn>; but the replies were very entertaining!

I believe that, to keep a healthy immune system, you've got to get sick sometimes. It gives your immune system exercise.

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