Nature Vs Virus cover image

Nature vs. The Virus

Don’t Be Afraid Of A Cold Or The Flu.

There Is A Lot That You Can Do,

To Protect Yourself And Your Family Too!

Many of us feel helpless when confronted with a viral infection.

How do we recover from the common cold, bronchitis, a sore throat, a herpes outbreak?  The flu? Viral infections range from commonplace to lethal.

Can we protect ourselves from them? Sometimes. And, if we do become ill, how can we encourage or accelerate the healing process?

Many viruses are self-limiting, and the usual advice is to “wait it out”. This is bad advice. We can enhance our ability to fight back.

Just Look Inside And You Will Find

Effective Virus Fighters Of Every Kind….

Nature Vs Virus cover image


The pharmaceutical industry has moved very far from its original high purpose of discovering and producing useful new drugs. Now primarily a marketing machine to sell drugs of dubious benefit, this industry uses its wealth and power to co-opt every institution that might stand in its way, including the US Congress, the FDA, academic medical centers, and the medical profession itself.  

Marcia Angell, MD, first woman (and former) editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine

Nature vs. The Virus

Don’t Be Afraid Of A Cold Or The Flu.

There Is A Lot That You Can Do,

To Protect Yourself And Your Family Too!

Just Look Inside And You Will Find

Effective Virus Fighters Of Every Kind….

Many of us feel helpless when confronted with a viral infection. 

How do we recover from the common cold, bronchitis, a sore throat, a herpes outbreak?  The flu? Viral infections range from commonplace to lethal. Can we protect ourselves from them? Sometimes. And, if we do become ill, how can we encourage or accelerate the healing process?

Many viruses are self-limiting, and the usual advice is to “wait it out”. This is bad advice. We can enhance our ability to fight back. In this issue of Nutrition News, we discuss the nature of viral infections, including the 2009 H1N1 “pandemic”, and recommend some nutrients as well as several of the many herbs that can support the body in the fight against infections. In general, these herbs enhance the ability of the immune system to repel or withstand a viral attacks that cause common colds and the flu.

To date, no methods have been developed that universally protect everybody from colds and flu. What we can do is curtail the length and severity of infections.

The common cold is an upper respiratory infection (URT), an acute, self-limiting illness. Some 62 million cases are reported annually. Of these, over 80 percent million affect young persons of 17 and younger. Preschoolers have the highest rate of infection, each reporting 6-10 colds every year.

Because viruses are self-limiting, early stages of colds are often greeted with a “wait and see” attitude. This is a mistake. At your first suspicion, steps can be taken that will immediately limit or completely repel the infection. These steps include the use of certain vitamins, minerals, and herbs, and homeopathic remedies.

Before the symptoms arrive, the viruses are already incubating in our bodies. Incubation ranges from 1-5 days. Viral shedding will go on for up to two weeks, during which time we are contagious.

The usual cold virus is a rhino-virus (from Greek meaning “nose”). In 2009, officials warned of a new and more virulent strain, a virus type called adeno-virus, expected to cause more severe colds.

  Like the cold, the flu virus infects the respiratory tract and is also classified as a respiratory illness. However, in this case there will be fever. Flu outbreaks occur annually with varying severity, each year causing sickness in 5-20 percent of the population. A person is contagious from about 2 days before symptoms occur until about the fifth day of the illness.

Again, children are hardest hit, and are 2-3 times more likely than adults to get sick and spread the virus to others. At the other end of the age spectrum, influenza remains one of the top ten causes of death in people over 65. Further, people who are already ill are particularly vulnerable. Those with cancer, blood disorders, chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, kidney and liver disorders, neurological disorders, neuromuscular disorders (e.g., MS), and weakened immune systems (HIV/AIDS) are also susceptible to serious complications. For example, of the 36,000 people who die annually from flu-related causes, most have pre-existing illnesses.

In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that a pandemic of a new influenza virus (a mutation of H1N1) was afoot. Since WHO also chose to change the definition of pandemic, it took a while for us citizens to realize that we weren’t being attacked by a life-threatening virus. Rather, this virus appears to spread and to behave much the same way as the seasonal flu. Experts on the CDC site constantly        emphasize that “most people who have contracted H1N1 have had mild illness and have not needed medical care or antiviral drugs….”1

1 Two new antiviral agents have been indicated for the treatment of influenza: zanamivir and oseltamivir. These medicines prevent newly formed flu viruses from escaping their “mother” cell, thus interrupting the spread of the infection. Side effects are transient.

Know Your Enemy

Virus is Latin for poison, and viruses are the most common and frequent invaders of the body. Simply defined, a virus is a piece of genetic material (DNA or RNA) encapsulated in a coating of protein or fat. Viruses are so tiny that 5 billion can exist in a drop of blood. Paradoxically, these minuscule clumps of genetic material can deliver a mighty wallop. In 1918, the Spanish flu, a true pandemic, killed 22 million people worldwide.

In this newsletter, we are interested only in self-limiting virus infections (cold, flu, sore throats). However, as yet scientists haven’t resolved those infections that last a lifetime and can only be controlled, not eradicated. These include herpes, hepatitis, and HIV/AIDS. Other infections are extremely dangerous, such as SARS and hantavirus, while some are nearly always lethal, such as Ebola, which kills in 50-90 percent of cases.2 

2 During the SARS outbreak, WHO reported that 8,422 people worldwide became sick. Of these, 916 died. During the hantavirus outbreak, which struck primarily in the Four Corners region of the US in the 1990s, a 49 percent fatality rate was reported. Ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) is one of the most deadly viral diseases known, causing death in 50-90% of all cases.

Unlike bacteria, viruses are not living organisms.3 They are particles that attach at cell-specific receptor sites (e.g., the receptors for the hepatitis virus pre-exist on the liver). Once attached, they enter the cell and release their own genetic material, and then use the cell’s components to make more viruses. Eventually, the cell bursts and the newly formed viruses go on to infect other cells.

3 Bacteria are the smallest known organisms carrying their own metabolic structures.

Unfortunately, influenza viruses constantly change (mutate). This means that from one year to another, our immune systems may be confronted with identifying and then fighting a new virus. This describes the arrival the H1N1 type. While seasonal flu viruses attach to receptors in the nose, throat, and upper respiratory tract, the pandemic H1N1 not only binds to those same receptors, it can also bind (though more weakly) to receptors deeper inside the lungs. If the virus makes it to those deeper receptors, the individual may suffer a more severe lung infection.

However, not everybody gets the flu. Why is that? Recent research reveals that individual anatomy has a lot to do with it. Where and what type of viral receptors we have makes us susceptible or protected to certain strains. Regarding H1N1, some people have receptors located so far down in the respiratory tract that the virus doesn’t survive to reach them.

Nature vs. The Virus

Americans spend over one billion dollars annually on OTC treatments for coughs, colds, and flu. These products do not address the underlying conditions, nor do they support immunity or nutrition status. The one thing they do well is pour on the side effects: insomnia, hyper-excitability, dry mouth, constipation, drowsiness, and interactions with prescription meds.

On the other hand, more of us than ever are using natural solutions to maintain and restore our health. According to a recent CDC study, 55 percent of us are combining alternative and conventional approaches. In this section, we look at vitamins, minerals, glandulars, herbs, and homeopathic remedies. These substances provide support for repelling and resolving colds and flu. Their purpose is to improve our defenses before and during viral invasion. Their only side effect is better health.

Because vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients, we can’t enjoy optimal health without a sufficiency of them. Although vitamin-mineral formulas cannot contain the abundance and variety of nutrients and antioxidants found in fresh foods, they do provide us with the macro- and micro-nutrients. we need.

Multivitamin-mineral formula – Taking a daily multiple is the first act of prevention. Studies show that people over 65 taking such a formula have a reduced risk for colds and flu. We can safely extrapolate this information to other at risk groups: infants, children (to age 17), pregnant women, and those already suffering from disease.

Individual Nutrients

Vitamin C – The protective white blood cells use 4-6 times more vitamin C during an active infection, just one demonstration of its usefulness to the immune system. In one study, participants ingesting 1gm or more of vitamin C daily reported an overall 40 percent reduction in the symptoms and severity of colds. Two meta-analyses involving a total of 37 controlled studies showed that vitamin C decreased the symptoms and

severity of the common cold. 

• Take at least 1 gram (1000 mg) daily.

Vitamins A, E, & D – Studies have long shown that a deficiency of vitamin A impinges on immune system function.

One reason is that A is necessary to the integrity of skin and mucous surfaces, both part of the body’s first line of defense. Plus, a lack inhibits the ability of antibodies (protectors) to attach to antigens (invaders). Thus, when there is not enough vitamin A, it is easier for viruses to attach to the mucous membrane cells of the respiratory system. 

• Take at least 10,000 IU/d during illness.

Low levels of vitamin E have also been associated with poor immune response. With enough vitamin E, there is a reduction in the occurrence of the common cold in those over 65. 

•Take at least 400 IU daily.

“Vitamin” D is actually a hormone. As such, it signals the genes to make hundreds of enzymes and proteins crucial to maintaining health and fighting disease. Vitamin researchers speculate that all degenerative disease may be related to vitamin D deficiency. It follows that the vitamin is important to immune system function.

• Take at least 1000 IU/d of vitamin D – unless you get out in the sun for a minimum of 15 minutes each day.

Zinc – Zinc products work best when used at the first sign of a viral infection – the first throat tickle, sneeze, or cough. Zinc sprays and lozenges work by preventing cold viruses from adhering to the tissues of the nose and throat and multiplying there. The rapid reduction in cold symptoms when taking zinc lozenges is probably due to the inhibition of viral-induced inflammatory processes.  

Zinc is also has a role in maturing T-killer cells in the thymus, an important gland in the immune system. Not enough zinc, and the thymus can’t do its job.

• Follow the label instructions on the zinc product you purchase.

Thymus Gland Extract – The thymus gland is one of the most important components of the immune system. Mature T cells from the thymus gland enter the circulatory system. Glandular extracts contain small amounts of the thymic immune components, and can enhance and support immune function. The extracts are reported to be useful in chronic viral infections, in autoimmune disease, and in supporting immune function against colds and flu.

• Follow the label instructions. 

Herbal Heroes

Herbs are the heroes when it comes to supporting the body against viral infections. The scientific study of herbs has shown that scores of them have disease-preventing qualities as well as powerful antioxidant effects. Together, these properties help the immune system destroy invading bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Again, we have listed the herbs in an effort to reflect their effectiveness.

Elderberry – An extract of black elderberries (Sambucus nigra) inhibits flu virus by keeping it from entering the host cell. It does this in two ways: coating the piercing spikes of the virus and weakening the enzyme the virus uses to pass through the cell wall. The end result is that elderberry makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the virus to reproduce. 

The discovery of the great viral inhibiting properties of elderberries came out of Israel nearly 20 years ago. The product was tested in a commune during a flu outbreak. In this classic double blind study, 90 percent of those given the elderberry product recovered completely in 3 days! Meanwhile, those given the placebo took twice as long, at least 6 days, to get out of the woods.

In the details, 20 percent of the elderberry group showed dramatic improvement in fever, muscle pain, and respiratory symptoms within 24 hours. Only 8 percent of the placebo group had begun to recover. By the second day 75 percent had improved, and 16 percent among those on the placebo.

• Take 1t of elderberry extract every 3-4 hours at the first sign of the flu. Continue for 10 days.

Astragalus – Considered by the Chinese to provide “deep defense”, astragalus is esteemed by some herbalists as “one of the best herbs in the world for enhancing the protective effects of the immune system”. Like ginseng, astragalus is an adaptogen which improves the body’s response to stress by giving adrenal support. 

Astragalus increases the levels of certain immune cells that fight viruses and other microbial pathogens, plus it activates natural killer cells. Astragalus also stimulates the secretion of interferon, a powerful antiviral chemical that prevents viruses from replicating. In addition, astragalus supports bone marrow, the site of important immune cell production. Further, astragalus boosts antibody levels. Antibodies signal the immune system to destroy the most common invaders: bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes.

Finally, studies have reported that astragalus promotes regeneration of cells in the lungs following a viral infection. Potentially, this property could help with the lingering phase of bronchial weakness suffered by some individuals when they recover from colds and influenza.

• Take 1000 – 2000 mg of astragalus daily or 1 – 4 droppers of extract for acute situations. Otherwise, take 2/500 mg caps daily or 2 droppers of extract.

Echinacea – The Great Plains is the only place on earth where the purple cone flower grows in the wild. It is fitting that this American native is the most widely used medicinal herb in the country. We don’t discuss it first because taken continually, it loses its edge. Instead, echinacea should be taken at the first sign of an infection, when it temporarily stimulates the immune system. Research shows that it increases the body’s ability to ward off viral invasions and fight infections when they occur.

The known effects of the herb follow: stimulates white blood cells to help fight infection; enhances the body’s ability to dispose of bacteria, infected and damaged cells, and harmful chemicals; stimulates the growth of healthy new tissue; has an anti-inflammatory effect; activates increased production of substances which prevent viral and other infections; promotes general cellular immunity; stimulates killer T cells; inhibits tumor growth; fights candida overgrowth; and fights viruses. It protects hyaluronic acid, the gel-like substance in the spaces between the cells, from viral attack. In turn, the viruses are inhibited from entering the cells.

In Chinese medicine, echinacea is preferred for “surface conditions”. These are conditions, such as colds or flu, which come and go. Two things to watch for when purchasing echinacea: 1) look for standardized contents; 2) the active ingredients of the plant are not soluble in alcohol. Therefore, look for extracts in a non-alcoholic base.

• Use for acute conditions, take 1000 mg or 2 droppers every 2 hours for a total of 4 doses for 14 days.

Other effective herbs include olive leaf, St. John’s wort, and larch. Don’t forget medicinal mushrooms. These can be taken daily to maintain a powerful immune system. They can be taken immediately and every few hours for acute conditions. (See Nutrition News, “Mushrooms: Magic, Myth, and Medicine”.) And, finally, always keep homeopathic flu and cold & flu remedies on hand as your first move against illness. (See Nutrition News, “Homeopathy”.)

Incidentally, if you want to know what I think about vaccines and vaccinating, check me out on  HYPERLINK “”

According to the Cooper Institute of Aerobic Research,

being out of shape is akin to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.


Cleanliness Is Next To …  Healthiness

Regarding cold and flu protection, the following pertinent information comes from an Indian physician.*

It is almost impossible to avoid contact with seasonal flu or H1N1. The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/throat. The challenge is to limit proliferation. 

The doctor writes, “While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps, not fully highlighted in most official communications, can be practiced.”

1. Frequent hand-washing (appears in all official communications).   

2. “Hands-off-the-face”. Resist any temptations to touch the face, except while washing it.     

3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (or a germ-fighting mouthwash). Simple gargling prevents proliferation. “In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don’t under estimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful    preventative method.”

4. Clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. A neti pot can be used, or blow the nose and then swab both nostrils cotton swabs dipped in warm salt water.   

5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C. If you supplement with vitamin C, also take zinc tablets to boost absorption.

6. Drink an abundance of warm liquids (herb teas, tea, coffee, etc.). Drinking warm liquids has an effect similar to gargling, but rather than expectorating the viruses, they are washed from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive.

* Many thanks to my dear friend Nancy Chandler, founder of “The Right C” for forwarding this info to me and to Doctor Vinay Goyal, MBBS, DRM, DNB, an “intensivist and thyroid specialist” whose common sense flu prevention steps are all over the internet.