Monday, November 16, 2009

10 Keys to Avoiding the Cold and Flu (Or shortening your symptoms!)

Some people wear gloves on the T (public trains, for those of you not in the Boston area). Some people stick those weird Zicam swabs up their noses. Others cross their fingers and swallow extra vitamin C supplements every once in a while.

Are there better ways to avoid getting sick as the cold and flu season is upon us? I'd say, YES. I'd been planning this post for awhile, my inspiration coming from the many, many times I've told people I'm not getting the seasonal flu vaccine (never have) nor the H1N1 vaccine (never will). "But you're pregnant!" they gasp, as if I might as well count my baby as being born with only three fingers on each hand now, due to my insolence and irresponsibility. "Exactly!" is my usual response.

I am very cautious about vaccines. I understand that people have good reasons for getting them, and it's always in the best interest of their family. I've done a lot of research though, and from what I've heard and read, I believe it's in the best interest of my family, especially my growing, unborn baby, to not receive an untested vaccine for a virus that I don't believe has the power to harm me if I am living a right lifestyle. I have simply not seen any compelling evidence or scientific research that points to safe, clinical trials that point to the efficacy and safety of the vaccine. In 1976, at the onset of another Swine Flu "pandemic", the public was vaccinated with an untested vaccine and these were the results:

"Twenty five people died from severe pulmonary complications after receiving the swine flu vaccine, and about 500 cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome were reported after vaccination. Some 300 claims were later filed by families of Guillain-Barre Syndrome victims who died from the disease. The 1976 swine flu vaccine debacle ended up costing the US government $3.5 billion in damages to some 4,000 vaccine injured Americans -- a direct result of the CDC’s intensive vaccination campaign." (Dr. Mercola)

Truth be told though, I honestly didn't think I needed to worry about H1N1, because I didn't think I would come in close enough contact with anyone who had it. I know I have a strong immune system, practice good hygiene, and get a solid 8-9 hours of sleep every night. I've had one cold and one sore throat in the last three plus years  - which marks the time when I started eating "real food" - and both of those were treated naturally and disappeared quickly. So I didn't worry...until Mark was diagnosed with Swine Flu on Tuesday.

His doctor immediately prescribed TamiFlu for both Mark and me. I got a little nervous and looked it up on the internet, because I hadn't heard much about it. All I needed to see was this little blurb under their Safety and Side Effects tab:

"TAMIFLU is normally not recommended for use during pregnancy or nursing, as the effects on the unborn child or nursing infant are unknown. If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding while taking TAMIFLU, talk to your doctor before taking TAMIFLU."

I am not interested in being a guinea pig, so instead of taking TamiFlu, I chose to move out for the week. I lived with my aunt for several nights, and my mother for a few nights as well.  For whatever reason, whether it was my Thursday afternoon visit to Mark in the apartment, the hiatus I took with my cod liver oil and coconut oil supplementation due to my unconventional living arrangements, or a combination, I started to have a sore throat on Friday - the same symptom Mark started with. By Saturday morning, I had a low grade fever, and could barely swallow. In fact, on my drive from Boston to the South Shore, I had to spit out the window on the highway every few minutes, because my throat was so sore I couldn't swallow. This used to happen to me several times a year, and it often lasted for a week, and was accompanied by cold and flu-like symptoms.

But I was not defeated. I fought back, with the help of my loving mother. I began taking 4 monolaurin supplements a day, higher doses of cod liver oil supplementation, and ate just chicken broth, vegetables, and egg yolks. (I had been staying away from sugar anyway, knowing it's immune suppressing capabilities.) I drank echinacea tea infusions with lemon (great source of vitamin C) and raw honey for its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. I also made coconut carob treats with raw honey instead of agave, and ate those at regular intervals to boost my honey and coconut oil intake. (Coconut oil is also anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial.)

In addition to my "food medicine," I took beta-glucan supplements. Beta-glucans have immune system enhancing properties. I also gargled with salt water several times a day, used the neti pot to clear out my sinuses as a precautionary measure, though I had no symptoms of sinus blockage. Gargling with salt water twice a day even when you're healthy is an excellent practice to get into. It kills the germs that may be festering in your mouth, before they can turn into something more dangerous.

Saturday night I felt a little better, and my fever had stabilized at 99.1. I woke up with a bad headache on Sunday morning, though my fever was gone. I increased my fluid intake, continued to drink tea, and felt well enough to go shopping for several hours on Sunday afternoon. Though I was still tired, all other symptoms were gone by Sunday evening.

I woke up today feeling 100% better. I have no traces of a sore throat, my headache is completely gone, and my fever is normal. Here are the top ten things I believe helped me defeat this virus so quickly:

1. Prayer and positive thinking. The more I started to get anxious about being sick, the sicker I felt. Instead, I continually redirected my thoughts to Jesus, and played His words over and over in my mind from Psalm 103: 1 - 5:

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
       all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
  Praise the LORD, O my soul,
       and forget not all his benefits-
  who forgives all your sins
       and heals all your diseases,
  who redeems your life from the pit
       and crowns you with love and compassion,
  who satisfies your desires with good things
       so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

2. Monolaurin: This is a medium chain fatty acid found in mother's breast milk and coconut oil. It is an immune system enhancer. I eat several tablespoons of coconut oil in a day, in the form of coconut oil treats or candies, or stirred into tea, or used to fry an egg. (And it's my daily moisturizer and hair conditioner!) When I'm healthy, I feel this is all I need. However, though I don't normally advocate for pills, if you do get sick, research shows you will benefit much more from taking a supplement of monolaurin, because only a small portion of the lauric acid from coconut oil is converted to monolaurin. You should take 4x the recommended dosage at the onset of symptoms. I like the Ecological Formulas brand.

3. Raw honey: Oh, how I love my honey.  It's a lifesaver for any sore throat or upper respritory infection. I could eat Crystal's All Natural straight from the 5 pound jar. It costs $25 for a 5 pounds, and is unrefined, unfiltered, so it contains enzymes, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties, and minerals and vitamins. It's definitely better for you than regular ol' sugar, as it is full of its own enzymes and doesn't call on the body to produce the enzymes lacking in refined sugar. Honey doesn't call on the body's nutrients to metabolize, so those nutrients are able to be used to metabolize fat and cholesterol, which means less fat on your body! It's also a great remedy for sore throats, or beating any kind of respiratory illness. Just add cayenne pepper, ginger, honey, and raw apple cider vinegar and sip or gargle.

4. Beta-glucan: This was a new supplement for me, but my mom recommended it after reading about its immune boosting abilities. Basically, beta-glucans are polyssacharides that activate the immune system without over-stimulating it, which can lead to problems. It's an all-natural food-derived supplement. It modulates our white blood cells, putting them at alert for any immune system threats. I bought a brand that I found at my local health food store, but this site seems to have a reputable, effective product.

5. Rest. This should probably be number two, but usually when people are sick, it's easier to rest becaues it's so hard to do many other things! I've read from countless sources that our bodies repair themselves from 10pm to 2am. I don't know how anyone can figure this out, but I do know that when I am in bed by 10pm, I feel well and well-rested by 6am. I believe this was the key to Mark getting sick. The week prior to his diagnosis, he worked until 10pm, and stayed up much later than that, and was waking up at 5am! Over the weekend, he went out on both Friday and Saturday evening, and probably didn't fall asleep until 2am. By Monday evening, his body seemed to have given up.

Other important keys -
6. Gargling with salt water
7. Echinacea tea
8. Citrus fruits  - grapefruits, lemons, oranges
9. Homemade stock
10. PROPER HYGIENE!! I wash my hands about twelve times a day - just about every hour I'm out and about. I won't eat anything if I haven't washed my hands first, as germs enter our body through our noses and mouths. Just another reason to stop that nose-picking habit...

I hope this post gave you some tools to help you live well this season. Mark and I are living under the same roof again, and we both feel great. Mark says he is going to be more diligent about washing his hands, will be going to bed much earlier, and might even wear gloves on the T from now on...

Please feel free to ask questions or for more information. If you'd like to leave a comment and do not have a google account, just choose "Anonymous" in the drop down menu, and make sure to type in the proper letters once you've clicked on submit.


  1. This is so helpful to me, as I was recently diagnosed with a serious health condition, but do not have the time to research well about where to start with supplements. I just caught a cold that was going through the family, and wished I'd been taking some of the cod liver oil I give to my tube-fed daughter! So can you please tell me, do you take CLO just as the oil, or do you take capsules? Is there a particular brand(s) of monolaurin & betaglucan supplement you take? I particularly loved the scripture you shared that you reminded yourself of while healing. I think I will print it out for myself to have in the coming months.

  2. Hi Connie!
    I'm glad this helped. I have never taken CLO capsules. I know some people do, but I believe it gets into the blood stream faster and more effectively if it is in liquid form, though people debate that. If you do get the oil, definitely get a flavor - I like cinnamon. They ran out last time I ordered, so I figured plain couldn't be that bad, but it is. =)
    The brand I like for monolaurin and betaglucan is Ecological Formulas. I included it in the above post. Blessings!