You can boost your immunity. 'With the right preparation, quick intervention and a lineup of powerful, natural virus fighters, there's a good chance that you can enjoy fall and winter with out a cold or flu. This is especially important if we face a deadly avian flu pandemic.

Know Your Enemy

Colds and flu are both caused by viruses. They are spread through the air by coughs and sneezes and through contact with contaminated objects, such as a doorknob or a hand that has been used to cover a cough.

Flu viruses are much more powerful than typical cold viruses. Cold symptoms are mainly confined to the head, neck and chest. Flu causes more general symptoms-fever, body aches, nausea, cramping, vomiting and severe fatigue. Flu also can develop into bronchitis. In the worst cases, it can lead to pneumonia and other severe respiratory diseases that are sometimes fatal, especially in seniors or other people who have weakened immune systems.

Start With Prevention

Avoid spending time with people who already are sick, particularly if they are coughing or sneezing. If you live with someone who is sick, sleep in separate rooms. Wash your hands frequently during cold-and-flu season, and don't share towels-assign one towel to each family member or use paper towels. Keep your hands away from your face, especially your nose, mouth and eyes.

Take a multivitamin/mineral supplement that provides a base of nutrients to support a healthy immune system. A formula that I recommend in my practice as a preventive against viral infections is Wellness Formula by Source Naturals (to find a retailer near you, call 800-815- 2333 or go to contains vitamins A and C, which are involved in the formation of antibodies.,. The minerals zinc and selenium. . .and immune-supportive herbs, such as garlic, echinacea and astragalus, which increase the activity of virus-flighting white blood cells. The dosage used to prevent infection is two capsules daily during cold-and-flu season, along with your year-round multi supplement.

Reduce exposure to toxins. You are more vulnerable to a viral infection when your body is "distracted" by having to deal with toxins that can damage or suppress the immune system. Toxins aren't necessarily exotic-they include sugar and alcohol consumed to excess, fast food and other unhealthy food laced with artificial preservatives and/or pesticides. Toxins also include small but significant amounts of metals-mercury, arsenic and lead-that are present in food, water and air pollution.

It is even more vital to eat healthfully during cold-and-flu season. Go easy on holiday sweets and other treats, and you will be less likely to get sick.

Many people cut back their exercise regimens in the winter months-a big mistake because exercise strengthens your immune system. Also consider sitting in a dry sauna once or twice a week for 20 to 30 minutes. . .or a wet sauna for 10 to 15 minutes. Saunas increase sweating, which excretes toxins. Be sure to check with your doctor first if you have diabetes or heart disease.

Be positive. Toxic emotions can have a negative impact on your immune system. Anger, anxiety, resentment, loneliness and other chronic emotional difficulties trigger the release of hormones' that suppress immune function. Seek support to overcome these problems if they linger.

Rely On Nature's Virus Killers

If you start to come down with a cold or the flu, eat lightly so that your body can focus on healing. For the first 24 hours, consume filtered water, broths and soups with lots of garlic, onions and spices, such as turmeric and cayenne, which relieve congestion, promote circulation and have a natural anti-inflammatory effect. Herbal teas (especially ginger, cinnamon and peppermint) and steamed vegetables are also good choices. When you're feeling better, move toward a more normal diet.

I have found several supplements to be effective for treating colds and flu. Consider taking these when people around you are sick or when you first feel symptoms. You can use one or any combination until you feel better. These are safe for children when given in dosages of one-quarter to one-half of what I recommend for adults. The bigger the child, the higher the dose.

Lomatium dissectum is a plant once used by Native Americans to fight Spanish flu. preliminary research shows that lomatium has the ability to prevent viruses from replicating and to stimulate white blood cell activity. When used to treat colds and flu, I often see improvement within 24 hours. In my experience, the only side effect has been an allergic reaction in the form of a measles like rash in a small percentage of users. This rash disappears a few days after lomatium is discontinued.

Eclectic Institute makes a potent product called Lomatium- Osha (800-332-4372,, which soothes the respiratory tract. This product is 50% alcohol, so take only the dosage recommended on the label. For children, add one-quarter to one-half of the adult dosage to hot water and let it sit for five minutes so that the alcohol evaporates. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use lomatium.

Elderberry can stimulate the immune system, enhance white blood cell activity and inhibit viral replication. Flu patients have reported significant improvement within 48 hours of taking elderberry. It also helps combat colds. The elderberry used in research studies is Sambucol Black Elderberry Extract from Nature's Way (to find a retailer, call 800-283-3323 or go to Adults should take two teaspoons four times daily. . .children, one teaspoon four times daily.

Echinacea. Contrary to recent media reports, extracts from this plant can be effective for treating colds and flu. Echinacea makes the body's own immune cells more efficient in attacking viruses. The key is using a product that has been processed to contain a high level of active constituents. Two potent, well-researched products are Echinamide Alcohol-Free Liquid Extract, Natural Berry Flavor and Echinamide Anti-V Formula Softgels, both from Natural Factors (to find a retailer, call SOO-322-8704 or go to www.

If you feel a cold or flu coming on, take 20 drops of liquid extract or two capsules every two waking hours for 24 hours, then cut back to every three waking hours until the illness has passed.

The same company makes a liquid preparation called Anti-V Formula, which contains Echinamide, lomatium and other virus fighters' It is the most aggressive product for colds and flu from the Natural Factors line and can be used instead of the other supplements. Take 1.5 milliliters (ml) every two waking hours for the first 48 hours and then every three waking hours until the illness is gone.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC). This nutrient thins the mucus that accompanies colds and flu. In addition to making you feel better, NAC helps prevent sinus and more serious chest infections. It increases levels of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant in the body, which in turn, improves immune function. NAC is available at any health food store and many pharmacies. If you tend to get the flu every year, take 600 milligrams (mg) twice daily when you are around people who have the flu or if you start feeling sick yourself.

Vitamin C fights viral infections. Start with 5,000 mg daily in divided doses. If loose stools occur, cut back to 3,000 mg (or less).

Homeopathic Remedies

Homeopathy is based on the idea that "like cures like"-substances that cause certain symptoms in a healthy person can also cure those same symptoms in someone who is sick. For the flu, I recommend the following homeopathic treatments...

Homeopathic influenzinum. Made from active flu strains, this stimulates the body's own defense system to resist infection. It can be used for the prevention or treatment of flu and has no side effects.

Take two 3OC-potency pellets twice daily for two weeks at the beginning of flu season (in early November). Take two pellets four times daily when exposed to people who have the flu or if you start to have symptoms. It is available at health-food stores and some pharmacies.

Oscillococcinum is another great homeopathic remedy for flu, which is also available at health-food stores and pharmacies or by calling 800-672-4556 or visiting It can be taken at the first sign of flu.

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