Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘colds’

It’s Cold and Flu Season!!!

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It’s cold and flu season, and the sounds of coughing, sneezing and runny noses can be heard in nearly every home, office and shopping mall across the country. But don’t run to the doctor and stock up on prescriptions just yet.

Colds, flus, most sore throats and acute bronchitis are caused by viruses, and antibiotics do not help fight viruses. Your prescription medication won’t fight the virus, make you feel better, yield a quicker recovery or keep others from getting sick. In fact, because of the potentially serious side effects, taking antibiotics to treat a virus can do more harm than good.

In addition to failing to solve your problem, taking unnecessary antibiotics can result in an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. This means the next time you really need an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, it may not work.

When the scratchy throat, sinus headache and sniffles get to be too much to handle this season, resist the urge to reach for the easy answer. Talk to your doctor about natural alternatives for treating your cold or flu.

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Fight Colds and Flu Naturally, Part Three

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In this article, we’re going to discuss some of the actual things you can do EASILY to fight colds and flu naturally.

In the last couple of articles (Part One, Part Two), we talked about the fact that antibiotics don’t kill viruses; and we also talked about how to differentiate between viral and bacterial infections. Taking antibiotics to fight a viral infection is like urinating in a fan to take a shower… it may feel like you’re helping, but you’re just making things worse!

I don’t have the exact stats in front of me, but I would venture to state that 90% of infections are resolved naturally by your body; often without you ever knowing it was there. Your ability to fight off infections is dictated primarily by the strength and health of your immune system. The immune system is a complex conglomeration and cooperation of cells, proteins, organs, and other items that are designed to recognize and destroy invading organisms. The proper way to fight off infections or illness naturally is to strengthen and boost this immune system in order that your body can do what it’s supposed to do. Here are some of the most important things you can do to boost your immune system:

  1. Take extra Vitamin C – If you’re healthy and not at risk, 500 mg is usually a good daily amount to shoot for. However, during flu season and/or if you’re at risk of exposure, you can bump this amount up to 2,000-3,000 mg per day. This vitamin increases the production of white cells and interferon, an antibody that stops viruses from entering cells.
  2. Eat garlic – Garlic is antibacterial, antiviral, antihelminic (anti-worm), antifungal, and anticancerous. It’s good… eat it regularly or take a quality supplement.
  3. Probiotics – These are the “friendly” bacteria that are normally present in the digestive tract. They serve multiple purposes including warding off invading bacteria and properly digesting your food for improved absorption of the nutrients you are eating.
  4. Drink lots of water – Water is the fluid of life. During an illness, there are tons of toxins and wastes that your body is trying to get rid of. Your body must have an ample supply of fresh water in order wash out these harmful substances and to carry good nutrients and immune cells to the sites of infection for battle. If you aren’t drinking enough water, it’s like flushing a toilet with the tank empty… you can’t get rid of the waste, and things just get more and more dirty.
  5. Stop eating sugar! – Not only will sugar feed the infection, but it reduces the effectiveness of white blood cells (your “killer” cells) for up to three hours after ingesting it. Double whammy negative.
  6. Zinc – This nutrient is essential to optimal operation of the immune system.
  7. At the first sign of infection, take Echinacea – This Native American herb has long been valued for its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Studies indicate that it can stimulate production of immune cells. To make sure you’ve got a good quality source, put some on your tongue and you should feel a slight numbing sensation. No tingle… no good.
  8. Get plenty of rest – Simply speaking, if you’re using all of your energy and fuel on daily activities or work, you have less energy that your immune system can use to fight off illness.
  9. Avoid dairy products and red meat – These can actually increase mucous production and worsen clogged sinuses.
  10. Avoid coffee, alcohol, and smoking – These are all well known to decrease immune function.
  11. Sip Ginger tea – This is a warming herb that soothes the throat, and aids circulation. It helps cleanse the body and increase perspiration which can help with fever.
  12. Humidity helps – Infections and viruses thrive in cold, dry environments. Stay warm and increase the humidity of your environment. Sleep in a closed room with a humidifier or vaporizer running. Take hot, steamy showers. If you’re feeling dizzy and don’t feel safe standing in the shower, close the bathroom and run the shower on hot while seated nearby… sit back, relax, and breathe the steam in through the nose if possible.
  13. Ease sore throat pain by drinking hot herbal teas – Ginger, peppermint, marshmallow (the herb, not the sugar puffs), or slippery elm all make good herbal teas when you’ve got congestion and/or a sore throat. One of my favorites is strong green tea sweetened with a little honey and one drop of organic peppermint oil.
  14. Eat something spicy – horseradish and cayenne are good for loosening the sinuses, increasing circulation, and increasing perspiration. Again… warming herbs.
  15. Eat warming foods that are easy to digest – Like chicken noodle soup or other broths. And you thought this was just Gramma’s solution. Turns out Grandma was a pretty smart old bird. Want to make them even better tasting and more effective? Season them with cayenne, garlic, or ginger.
  16. Wash, cleanse, clean – This seems like a no-brainer, but often we don’t take it far enough. Wash your hands regularly; especially if someone else in the house is sick. Change and wash the sheets on the bed and pillowcases. Disinfect the bathrooms and kitchen. Use a new toothbrush. Wash the throw blankets on the couch. Etc. Think about all of the different things you come in contact with that can harbor bacteria or viruses even for a short time (computer keyboard, mouse, telephone,… everything). Clean these things regularly to avoid re-infection.

So, let’s wrap it up and recap. One more time… antibiotics don’t kill viruses. Stop demanding or rushing to antibiotics every time you feel a sniffle coming on. Most infections can be fought off naturally. It’s what your body’s immune system is designed to do. One of the best things about boosting your immune system and fighting colds and flu naturally is that your body develops antibodies that stay in your system to increase your immunity the next time you are exposed to a virus or bacteria. This means you are less likely to succumb to an infection or illness if you come in contact with it again.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to comment here or send me an email. Good luck, and stay healthy!

Dr. Gray

Posted in General Health, Nutrition | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Fight Colds and Flu Naturally, Part One

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, September 28, 2009

I am continually amazed at the number of medics who prescribe antibiotic medications for viral illness. Let’s just state this again so that we’re clear:

ANTIBIOTICS DON’T KILL VIRUSES!!!

Okay? You got it? If you are fighting a viral infection, taking antibiotics is like airing up the tires when your car is overheating. Think about it… airing up the tires has nothing to do with an overheating engine. However, when you stop and turn off the engine to air up the tires, it can take long enough that the temperature comes down. Therefore, some would argue that airing up the tires cooled off the engine. What a crock, right?

When you take antibiotics for a viral infection, you consciously admit that you are sick and are fighting an infection. In response, you drink more water, get more rest, limit intake of sugars and dairy, and eat a more bland or subdued diet with fiber and liquids. Within three to seven days, you start to feel better and… claim the antibiotics got you well??? Know what the average natural lifespan of a viral infection is?… Three to seven days. So, your body did what it was supposed to do. It produced more white blood cells, pulled the viruses into the lymphatic system (swollen lymph nodes?), killed them off, and is washing them out. The antibiotics had nothing to do with it.

Know what the antibiotics did do? They killed almost all of the normal, natural bacterial flora in your digestive tract. With fewer bacteria in the digestive tract, there is nothing to keep the fungus/yeast in check, therefore you are apt to develop a yeast infection. (Sound familiar, ladies?) With abnormal balance between bacteria and fungus in your intestines, you don’t digest and process your food optimally. (Diarrhea or constipation, anyone?) Now that you’re not getting nutrients from your food, you’re fatigued and your immune system is depressed. With a depressed immune system, it takes your body longer to fight off the viral infection for which you originally took the antibiotics.

Then what? Now you’re so down, your body succumbs to a true infection from bacteria that is present in your body all the time… but is usually kept under control naturally. Enough of the strongest little buggers survive the first round of antibiotics, therefore, only the strongest and most antibiotic resistant bacteria live on to cause new illness. How do we treat this? With more antibiotics, of course!

It’s no wonder we have growing fear about antibiotic resistant infections. We’re now stuck with a massive scare tactic where the vaccine is more dangerous than the illness… and people are fighting for the shot! Can you believe it? The doctors won’t give this vaccine to themselves or their family, but the media is set on convincing you it’s necessary. Why? As I’ve always told you… follow the money. Who are the biggest purchasers of advertising on TV and news programs? … That’s right… the pharmaceutical industry.

Enough ranting. I saw the preceding article originally posted in a 2007 To Your Health magazine and thought it was quite fitting for today’s article:

It’s cold and flu season, and the sounds of coughing, sneezing and runny noses can be heard in nearly every home, office and shopping mall across the country. But don’t run to the doctor and stock up on prescriptions just yet.

Colds, flus, most sore throats and acute bronchitis are caused by viruses, and antibiotics do not help fight viruses. Your prescription medication won’t fight the virus, make you feel better, yield a quicker recovery or keep others from getting sick. In fact, because of the potentially serious side effects, taking antibiotics to treat a virus can do more harm than good.

In addition to failing to solve your problem, taking unnecessary antibiotics can result in an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. This means the next time you really need an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, it may not work.

What Not To Do

  • Don’t demand antibiotics from your doctor. They won’t help treat your infection.
  • Don’t take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold, cough or the flu.
  • Never take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.

More on how to tell the difference between a viral and bacterial infection in the next article. Also, how to decide that you’ve tried natural remedies long enough and it’s time for some pharmaceutical help. Until next time, take care.

Article by: Dr. James Gray

Posted in General Health, Nutrition, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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