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Alternative medicine vs. the common cold and flu
Click to visit VeggieCooking.com I don't enjoy having a flu or cold. It's not only uncomfortable, but sometimes results in a work stoppage or slowdown. Like everyone else, I'm looking for a quick fix to help me get back on my feet and working as soon as possible.

Alternative or natural medicine has plenty to offer in the fight against colds and flus. Alternatives range from state-of-the-art electronic medicine to food-grade herbs used as medicines in various cultures for thousands of years. Thankfully, I rarely have to suffer long when a cold or flu strikes. Even when doctors say there's nothing they can do, alternative medicine is often able to get me back to work within the day. In this article, I'll list a few of the more common and effective alternatives, along with some of my own experiences when using them.

A special note on the 2016 flu
With the death of the musician Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson) and online reports that he'd been suffering from the flu for weeks prior, I think it's a good time to say a few words about the 2016 flu. I was staying in Fredericksburg, Virginia around that time, and saw the flu sweep through that town. Aside from knowing of a few people personally who were admitted to hospital ERs with the flu because they couldn't breathe, I went to the post office a couple of times and noticed that almost everyone standing in line had the same bad cough.

I caught the 2016 flu myself, and it's a bad one. People were telling me that it lasts two weeks this year and not just the usual one. My flu lasted longer than two weeks with bad upper respiratory symptoms and brief gastrointestinal symptoms a few days into it. I also noticed a bad headache and organ discomfort at the onset of the flu.

Personally, to fight it, I used the Clark zapper a few times, and was already taking a few supplements on a near-daily basis that may have helped -- calcium/magnesium tablets that contained zinc, flaxseed oil supplements, turmeric (which is reputed to have anti-parasitic properties), and a multi-vitamin capsule that had Vitamin C in it. Also at the onset of the flu, I was on the road when the initial bad symptoms hit, and wasn't feeling well at all. I went to an Arby's drive-through because I didn't have anything else with me that I could use, and bought a large order of potato cakes, then slathered them with horsey sauce which contains horse radish (usually good for respiratory infections), and a little red sauce which is reputed to contain garlic, onion, and pepper (good anti-microbial foods). That seemed to help for a portion of the day, at least enough time to finish my drive.

Otherwise I didn't get much extra sleep or drink more fluids, in fact other than using the zapper a few times over 3 days near the start of the flu, I didn't do much to fight it this year. And so I suffered, but at least I didn't need a trip to the hospital. But I wouldn't recommend doing so little to anyone else. I would have done more for myself if I could have, and would have preferred to use herbs that seem to work well for respiratory symptoms, for example goldenseal tincture and oregano oil. And I would have liked to zap more. I hope that my readers will try to help themselves more than I did for this year's flu.

For other examples of herbs and other alternative medicine options for the cold and flu, read on...

Hulda Clark's Zapper
Ever since I was a child, traveling occasionally made me ill -- I'd find myself with a sore throat or cold almost as soon as I hit the road. Perhaps this was caused by exposure to new germs in the area, or more likely I don't eat as well on the road, surviving on restaurant food. Whatever the cause, on a trip to Houston for a former job, I contracted a flu that made me feel very fatigued, too fatigued to work in fact. Of course I wouldn't have been in Houston if there hadn't been an urgent and critical matter. So I came prepared -- I'd packed my zapper. I slapped the hands-free model zapper on at work and continued working on my laptop, which of course elicited teasing by the boss. So I reminded him that I had no doctor in Houston, I'd have to spend the day at an emergency room to be seen at all, and might have to miss work for a day or two if they said it was "viral" and couldn't be treated. OR, I could use the zapper and keep working.

"I love that machine!" my boss proclaimed, and the day went as planned, no need for further medical care. Ironically, that particular employer made most of its income through contracting research scientists to the pharmaceutical industry -- a part of the medicine-for-profit industry in this country that lobbies to keep its patented chemical-based remedies as the medical treatment standard, rather than the zapper or other effective treatments coming from alternative medicine. Hulda Clark to the rescue yet again, ensuring that pharmaceutical contractors were paid on time and correctly.

Effectiveness of the zapper on colds and flus ranges from an instant cure to very little effect, depending on the illness itself. Some claim that the zapper only helps at the outset of a cold, but I find that theory to be false. At times the zapper is an instant cure without added help from herbs, at others the zapper only helps for a couple of hours after each use, and needs "backup" from herbs to get the job done.

The zapper is "experimental" electronic medicine, actually developed for more serious diseases like AIDS and cancer. It uses a type of electrical/radio frequency wave to kill viruses, bacteria, and parasites within the human body, while leaving the human tissue intact. It was invented by Hulda Clark, a brilliant modern-day research scientist who published books on cancer protocols she developed that helped cure even many advanced cases of "terminal" cancer. Originally Clark used a standard frequency generator to attack pathogens, like Royal Rife in the 1930s, but then she and her son discovered that by using a positive-offset wave, they could kill many types of microbes at once (see my page on the genetic fad for more detail on the Clark zapper and Rife). Although Clark published diagrams in her book The Cure for All Diseases on how to build a zapper from parts at Radio Shack, most people opt to buy a zapper online. I prefer to use DrClark.com, as her research association sells them on that particular site, and they're dedicated to using Clark's specifications. DrClark.com and many other zapper vendors offer hands-free models which are very convenient.

There are some cautions and side effects with the zapper. Clark avoids its use on three types of people, not because it would harm them, but because she hadn't tested it on those groups: people with pacemakers, people with metal implants such as titanium pins and rods after auto accidents, and pregnant women. (I've heard that people with metal implants are able to use the zapper, if the zapper is used on areas of the body away from the metal implants, but haven't been able to confirm this yet.) She discourages people within these groups from making themselves into test subjects when there are other (although slower) options available to them.

The most common side effect of the zapper is that sometimes people are fatigued on the day following the zapper's first use. Subsequent uses usually don't involve fatigue. In my personal experience among friends and relatives who try it, fatigue happens in about 50% of the zapper's first-time users. Also, the 50% who become very fatigued the next day were usually those who tried the zapper when very ill with a flu or other type of illness. I was one of that 50%, and I assume the fatigue comes from the huge mess of dead microbes that the immune system needs to "mop up" after the zapper's use.

One recommendation that most people make about zapper use is to drink extra water, in order to help the kidneys and immune system flush toxins out of the system after its use.

Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver enjoys immense popularity because of its versatility and effectiveness. It is a powerful anti-viral compound, and can be used topically as an antiseptic or internally to fight bacteria and viruses. Some people use it as a cleansing agent. Although theoretically "colloidal" means plant-derived, there are battery-powered devices which supposedly make the same compound from metallic silver. Many opt for the machine, as colloidal silver can be a little pricey at health food stores. Some people like to take the substance in large quantities, but I find that following the directions on the bottle, usually no more than a couple of eye droppers full 2 or 3 times a day, helps fight any cold I have.

Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract recently gained immense popularity, with some claiming it's a better anti-viral agent than colloidal silver. It often comes in strong syrup form, which is very caustic and has to be mixed with juice in order to take it internally. There are also other forms, such as capsules, or ear dropper bottles for ear infections. In my personal experience, it has been extremely effective against the flu when taken internally.

Goldenseal is an anti-bacterial herb that's often used as a tincture (alcohol extract), capsules, or herbal tea. Because it doesn't grow well as a cultivated plant, goldenseal is usually wild-crafted, i.e., obtained from wild woodlands, and at times heavy demand causes a shortage and therefore price increase of this limited herb. Although the herb is very effective against bacteria, some caution against using the herb for a prolonged period (weeks at a time), as it can interfere with the absorption of B vitamins.

I usually opt for the tincture form of goldenseal, although at the outset of colds I brew an herbal tea from one teabag of goldenseal (anti-bacterial) and one teabag of licorice (anti-viral). The licorice sweetens and largely covers the woody goldenseal flavor, and combining the two often defeats a cold or flu for me before many symptoms appear. My colds with a cough or sore throat respond well to goldenseal.

Click to visit VeggieCooking.com Elderberry Extract
Elderberries are a tasty fruit that many enjoy eating. Elderberry extract is a popular anti-viral agent, sometimes combined with zinc in capsules for fighting the flu. I've found that it seems to work well in colds with lung symptoms.

Echinacea is another name for the purple coneflower, a daisy-like flower with drooping purple petals and a dark cone-like center. It works by stimulating the immune system, and is most effective when taken at the outset of a cold. Often it is combined with zinc and sometimes Vitamin C in herbal cold remedy tablets. Although very popular in the 90s, it seems to be less popular today as it is replaced with more effective herbs.

Zinc stimulates the immune system, and is often taken in combination with herbal supplements at the outset of a cold or flu. Although zinc is an essential trace mineral, it is an oxidant, and shouldn't be taken in large quantities over an extended period. Zinc is also very important to eye health, and a zinc deficiency can cause vision problems, among other symptoms related to a weak immune system.

Ginger is a wonderful food-grade herb that's anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic. It's so good at settling upset stomachs that sailors use it for sea sickness, and others use it for motion sickness in cars. Some people are surprised by the taste of natural ginger -- it has a sort of chemical taste to it. Ginger can be taken in the form of capsules, herbal tea, candied ginger, cooked into dishes, or chopped into capsule-sized pieces and swallowed. Ginger is a hot herb though, and usually isn't found in large quantities in cooking. (My recipe for Yam Coconut Curry Soup, found on VeggieCooking.com, contains ginger.) I've found that flus with a gastrointestinal element (stomach aches or diarrhea) respond the best to ginger.

Garlic and Onion
Garlic and onion are in the same plant family, and both have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Garlic is also anti-fungal, and is stronger than onions for fighting microorganisms. I've had quite a few experiences using garlic to fight the flu, both cooked and raw. Usually I prefer to swallow the smaller, capsule-sized cloves (peeled, of course), whole and raw. Sometimes the flu is more powerful than that, and once I found myself cooking the larger cloves in oil and then eating it over pasta. Surprisingly, the cooked garlic completely killed the flu within the hour. This proved to me that garlic can be effective in its cooked form, too.

There are a few warnings that come with garlic. Namely, it's a blood thinner and should be used with caution (i.e. don't overdo it) if already on a blood-thinning drug. Its smell is also a concern -- often when large quantities are taken, a smell is exuded not only from the mouth, but the skin as well. And Hulda Clark cautions against all members of the onion family (garlic, onions, asparagus), because a certain type of parasite seen in cancer cases feeds on them within the intestinal tract. Otherwise, it's a wonderful food-grade herb that can sometimes cure the common cold.

Licorice is a powerful anti-viral herb, usually taken as herbal tea or capsules. However, it comes with warnings from Dr. James Duke's book The Green Pharmacy. Namely, more than 2 cups of licorice tea at a time may cause headaches, and extended use (over 2 weeks at a time) has been found in a study to raise blood pressure slightly in a small percentage of people. Licorice is a diuretic, and so it's also important to drink enough water to replace fluids. (It's also possible that the slight risk of higher blood pressure comes from simple dehydration, as dehydration can cause elevated blood pressure.) Otherwise it's a naturally sweet herb that's often used in herbal tea mixtures. The flavor of pure licorice tea is very sweet and mild.

The flavor of black licorice candy (which rarely contains real licorice today, unless you buy specialty candy like Panda brand red or black licorice candy from a health food store) actually comes from anise -- the herb licorice doesn't taste like anise at all. To me, real licorice tastes a lot like sugar. Some brands of licorice tea, for eaxmple Stash, add other herbs like cinnamon to give it more flavor.

Because of licorice's extreme sweetness, I like to use a tea bag of licorice with a tea bag of herbs that taste worse, for example goldenseal. (I'm sure goldenseal would be incorporated into teas and candy just like licorice -- if it tasted better!) One of my past chiropractors said that a patient described the flavor of goldenseal as the inside of a rotten log, and it does have an odd woody flavor like that. But bad flavor is tolerable when the herb helps to restore health.

Goldenseal is a great anti-bacterial herb, and licorice is a great anti-viral. A blend of the two have given me amazing results in the past. When one of my nieces was a very young child and my parents (her grandparents) were babysitting her, she developed a horrible fever. (I didn't think to ask my sister at the time whether this was a childhood vaccine reaction, but it may have been.) I happened to be there and my parents happened to have boxes of tea left over from flu season, and so I made my famous licorice/goldenseal tea right away. My father and I mixed the herbal tea with milk to make it taste better for a child, and my niece was willing to drink a decent portion of a cup. Although I'm sure results this good can't be expected all the time, her fever dropped immediately, which helped make the situation less of an emergency while her grandparents contacted my sister and prepared the girl for a visit to the doctor.

Click to visit VeggieCooking.com White Willow
Aspirin is the synthetic version of white willow. Willow blocks pain and reduces fever just like its synthetic form, and is often taken in capsule, tincture, or herbal tea form. I prefer to use white willow tincture rather than aspirin, because people do die from aspirin each year -- not many people, when you consider the huge number of people who take aspirin. But still, aspirin does have a slight risk to it, and so I prefer the natural form when I need the healing properties of white willow.

Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne works in a similar way to willow, utilizing the same type of chemicals to block stronger pain with weak pain signals. Cayenne can also reduce fever somewhat. Its active ingredient, capsaicin, has been incorporated into certain brands of pain-relief cream.

Horehound is a very bitter herb that works well as a natural expectorant. At least one brand of cough drops still uses horehound, although it doesn't taste very good even with all of the sugar used to make cough drops. I prefer to take horehound in capsule form when I need it.

Wild Cherry Root
I tried a tincture by a well-known herb company that blended wild cherry root bark with some other herbs. It was amazing at controlling my cough from the year 2000 flu. A decade later, I tried a different brand of wild cherry root bark tincture because it was on sale, and it worked just as well on a cold that I had in the 2010-11 season.

Lemons are a very concentrated citrus fruit with good anti-bacterial properties, and some prefer to squeeze a little into water not only when they have a cold, but every time they drink water. It's a refreshing healthy drink.

Click to visit VeggieCooking.com Oregano
Oregano oil and other forms of oregano can be very powerful against colds, influenza, and other microbial-based diseases. One of the most popular brands is Oreganol, and I've seen claims that because they use wild oregano and concentrate the product, that it's more effective than some other brands. That may be true -- I've found Oreganol to be very effective against many ailments, although I remember a cheaper bottle of simple oregano oil that I bought at a health food coop one year worked just as well. Other times, I've tried other brands that didn't work very well. And so for most wanting to try oregano oil, the decision is whether the good brand name is worth the extra money.

One form of Oreganol requires the consumer to put a few drops of the oil under the tongue, and Oreganol is HOT, just like concentrated oregano. Nevertheless, it's a heat I can live with, if it gets me back on my feet.

Oregano oil is also famous for helping conquer food poisoning very quickly. In fact, the Clark zapper doesn't work very well on food poisoning, and Hulda Clark explained in her books that's because the zapper isn't good at reaching deep into bowel contents. Bacteria can hide from the zapper in certain places, and that's one of them. Many people prefer to take a few drops of oregano in a capsule to attack food poisoning, and I've found that stronger varieties of oregano usually work very well on food poisoning. I've also tried oregano oil topically, and I will give this warning -- much like garlic, it has its own smell to it. Taking it internally doesn't manifest the smell as much as using it topically, but oregano can make you smell like a GIANT PEPPERONI!

SPECIAL NOTE: Although I like the convenience of Vitamin Shoppe's many locations and shop there several times a year, I need to give my readers a warning about buying Oreganol there. Vitamin Shoppe has its own brand of oregano oil, and for some reason when you ask for Oreganol (which is a brand name), they'll direct you to their house brand, which I personally thought tasted weaker and performed less effectively than the brand name. I had problems years ago with Vitamin Shoppe's brand of CoQ10, and so I stopped buying their house brands then. (I've also stopped buying house brands of supplements from other stores for various quality issues.) But when I was sick with food poisoning and the store's saleswoman handed me a small bottle that looked like Oreganol, I didn't think to check the fine print.

If you want to try the brand name Oreganol, either check the fine print or don't shop at stores with their own knockoff versions. I was out $20, woke up with continued symptoms of food poisoning (although the VS brand did help somewhat with the immediate emergency -- oregano oil is oregano oil), and had to spend more money to get the real thing.

My worst flu ever
The worst flu I recall having was the 2004 flu, which landed many in the hospital and killed a few people. My zapper not only made little noticeable difference, but I added 4 of the strongest supplements possible before the flu was under control with almost no symptoms. They were colloidal silver, grapefruit seed extract, elderberry extract, and goldenseal tincture. You'd think that only one of these supplements would be effective, but I found that I needed all of them or my symptoms would return. In the end, I was glad to know enough about alternative medicine to avoid the hospital and any major discomfort.

The hit-and-miss nature of herbal medicine
Herbal medicine's effectiveness seems to vary from flu to flu. Some years, garlic is enough to knock everything out, other years the flu only responds to ginger. It seems the only way to find an effective herb is to move onto the next when the first one fails. Conventional medicine often requires the same "medication adjustment" or offers no help at all. At least with a little work, the cold or flu can often be cured or controlled. I think the extra effort is worth the trouble; others may want to just go to bed and suffer through the week. It's a personal choice, something for each individual to decide on his or her own.

Observations/experience on the 2011 flu
I had to spend a lot of time in public places in 2011, and so I caught a cold early in the season. That year's cold started as a headache and then proceeded to what seemed like a head cold with a strong bronchial element to it. Whatever I had, I thought I'd pass along what worked for me, because every year's cold and flu season is different. The 2011 cold responded somewhat to the Clark zapper, licorice tea, and a strong oregano blend supplement, but not much. The "supplements" (actually spices) that really helped me this year, oddly enough, were horseradish and curry powder. In fact, both of them worked so well that the cold, which started out strong in its first couple of days, was reduced to almost nothing for the rest of the week. I did eat a decent portion (more than a tablespoon) of each of those items, and at separate times, but both seemed to work just as well as the other -- within an hour or two, the cold was nearly gone and the symptoms built up a little but never went back to their original strength.

How do you take more than a tablespoon of horseradish or curry powder in one sitting? It's called a big helping of soup with the spice stirred in, or a big helping of chips and dip with a heaping tablespoon of horseradish in the dip. I have delicious recipes in my cookbook that use good portions of each spice (although not at the same time, of course), but honestly I was sick and didn't feel like cooking -- I just used canned soup, and the dip was really simple to make.

These spices may or may not be helpful with later years' strains, but I think it's good to note the possibility.

Notes on the 2013-14 flu
I was exposed to a lot of people in 2013, and may have caught the 2013-14 flu early in the season, although it was hard to know what I had because it responded so well to the zapper. There was some fatigue, and an occasional slight fever, but little else in the way of symptoms when I zapped every day and occasionally used oregano oil.

With certain news outlets claiming that the flu is "bad" this year, some may find it odd that a strain hyped so much could be easily defeated with common items from alternative medicine. Actually, I find it more surprising when a flu doesn't respond to the zapper or oregano oil, because they're some of the most powerful tools that alternative medicine has to offer.

As always, strains and results can vary from person to person, and so people should take responsibility for their own health plans and assess results for themselves.

Other health and nutrition articles from pamrotella.com
Today's medical fad: The Genetic Myth
Essential Fatty Acids, the "healthy fats" we all need
Copper: What aneurysms, white hair, and wrinkles have in common
Dr. Lawrence Broxmeyer's BACTERIAL Mad Cow Disease theory
Mad Cow and Mark Purdey's Organophosphate theory
Multiple Sclerosis: The mercury/parasites model
Hulda Clark: A cure for cancer and AIDS?
Vegans and the B-12 deficiency myth
Aspartame, MSG, and other excitotoxins
Sickle Cell Anemia: Dr. Agbai and B-12 deficiency
Jake Beason on children and boredom

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[Posted 30 May 2004, Last updated 24 April 2016]
© 2004, 2011, 2014 by Pam Rotella.

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