Health Article: Cold & Flu Basics

Cold and Flu Basics, and...
Some Essential Must-Haves!

In this article:


This year alone, an estimated 50 million cases of the flu and another billion colds will affect people in the United States.

Due to recent FDA reports of the ineffectiveness, and even some risks, of over-the-counter medications, more and more consumers are turning to natural alternatives to remedy these ailments. The key however, is to build your immune system up before becoming ill. However, even if you've been neglecting your immune system until you've been felled by the cold or flu, we have some suggestions that can help to get you back to health.

Before we commence with recommendations for natural supplementation, a distinction should be made between the cold and flu viruses.

Cold and flu viruses are not the same. Though they can overlap in symptoms, the flu is much more dangerous, and is accompanied by fever, body aches and congestion. According to the Scientific American, though most people will “dismiss sniffles as ‘just a cold’…influenza is another story. The common cold eventually fizzles, but the flu can be deadly.”

The flu is a viral infection caused by the influenza virus, (a respiratory virus). The cold is also caused by a virus from either the adenovirus or coronavirus, both of which contain numerous subsets, with much variability, and this is why, there has never been a cure for the common cold.

Further complicating the attempt at differentiation between the cold and flu, is that both the adenovirus and coronavirus virus strains can lead to respiratory conditions ranging from: the common cold to bronchitis or pneumonia, to severe respiratory failure, some of which ‘come with’ a fever, body aches and congestion, as does the flu.

Generally, a cold lasts for a few days; whereas the flu can make you feel very ill for several days to weeks.

First, let’s look at an overview of the more common symptoms distinguishing cold from flu:

A cold usually starts with a sore throat that can last for a day or two. This is often followed by a runny nose and congestion, which in turn is followed by a cough around the forth to fifth day. A fever is rare in adults with a cold, but not in children. The common cold rarely comes with a fever that reaches past 101 degrees F.

With a cold the watery nasal secretions become thicker and darker after a few days. This does not necessarily mean that you have developed a bacterial infection.

Colds can last up to a week, but it is during the first three days of ‘catching’ a cold that you are contagious.

The standard flu season usually begins in the fall and into the spring of the following year. Like cold symptoms, flu symptoms come on quickly. Unlike the common cold however, flu symptoms will usually hit you all at once. These include: congestion, cough, headache, fever, body aches, sore throat, and in some cases, such as in the Swine flu, are accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea.
Recovery is gradual and averages several days. However, feeling run down can last for a week or more.

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At-Home Solutions :

  • Hand washing: Both the cold and flu virus enter your body through the mucous membranes of your eyes, mouth and nose. Whenever you touch your hands to any of these areas, you are potentially infecting, or re-infecting, yourself or others. Frequent hand washing during the cold and flu season is important.

According to Dr. Sydney Spiesel, a pediatrician and professor at Yale Medical School, more than 3.5 million children worldwide, under five years of age, die from diarrhea and acute respiratory tract infections each year. In the United States alone, hand washing with soap reduced incidents of upper respiratory tract infections in children by 12-15%. In third-world countries, hand washing alone reduced these incidents on average of 40% or more.

  • Tissue: Use tissue for runny noses and sneezes ONCE. Do not reuse. Keep a plastic or paper garbage bag close by, and dispose of tissues immediately. Again, keep those hands washed.
  • Humidifier: Humidifiers add moisture to the air, which will help ease coughing and congestion. Warm mist and cool mist humidifiers, are equally effective in humidifying the air. For safety reasons, always use cool-mist humidifiers for children.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you’ll want to clean and wipe down the humidifier daily to prevent the growth of bacteria and molds. Use a 10% bleach solution (i.e., nine parts water to one part bleach).

  • Neti Pots: Neti pots are designed for irrigating the nasal cavity, which helps relieve congestion. Consider picking one up at your local Walmart, Walgrens or RiteAid store. 

You can use the manufactured solution that usually comes with the neti pot, or you can make your own by adding ¼ teaspoon salt to eight (8) ounces of bottled or distilled water. Make sure the water is at room temperature or it can be slightly warmed (NOT hot or cold).

  • Fluids: Drinking plenty of fluids (water, juice and clear broth) or warm lemon water with honey (see below) will help to lessen congestion and prevent dehydration. Avoid caffeinated drinks which make dehydration worse.
  • Honey: In tea, or warm lemon water, adding honey is a time-honored way to soothe a sore throat. Additionally, according to the Mayo Clinic, in one study, children two and older, with upper respiratory tract infections were given two teaspoons of honey at bedtime. The results of the study showed that honey appeared to be as effective as a commonly found ingredient found in over-the-counter cough suppressants, called: dextromethorphan.

However, due to the risk of infant botulism, a rare but serious form of food poisoning, you should never give honey to a child younger than one.

  • Dairy Products: According to James E. Steckelberg, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Internist, “Although drinking milk may make phlegm thicker and more irritating to your throat than it would normally be, milk doesn't cause your body to make more phlegm. In fact, frozen dairy products can soothe a sore throat and provide calories when you otherwise may not eat.”
  • Chicken Soup: In 2000, scientists confirmed what grandmothers have known for centuries…

Chicken soup is good for colds! Dr. Stephen Rennard, and colleagues at the University of Nebraska Medical center found that chicken soup, made with healthful ingredients (such as: onions, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery and parsley) helped stopped the movement of neutrophilis. Neutrophil activity can stimulate the release of mucous, which may be the cause of coughs and a stuffy nose observed in upper respiratory infections, such as the cold.

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Keeping your immune system healthy and strong is important all year long. Many factors, such as: stress, smoking and/or poor diet can chip away at your resistance. This is why it is important for you and your doctor to implement a strategy that focuses on strengthening your immune system before you come under attack.

Let’s look at some specific supplement suggestions that are targeted at year-round immune system strengthening, but are particularly important in helping you to shore up some defenses – during cold and flu season.


N-Acetyl-l-Cysteine (NAC) Click Here for our Top NAC Sellers

In unanimous scientific speak, the verdict is in, and has been for some years…

The antioxidant N-Acetyl-l-Cysteine (NAC). has been shown to inhibit influenza virus replication and to diminish the release of inflammatory symptoms during virus infection.

In the cold-supplement ‘scheme of things’ NAC isn’t one that gets a lot of attention among the more spot lighted supplements like vitamin C, echinacea, or even Mom’s old fashioned, homemade chicken soup. Nonetheless, it is our number one supplement of choice, so we’ll begin there.

A powerful free radical scavenger, NAC has the ability to raise the glutathione levels in the body. Why is this important - because glutathione is one of our body’s most important antioxidants.

Additionally, NAC has a high affinity for lung tissue, which it supports through mucolytic and antioxidant action. By disrupting disulfide bonds, NAC thins mucus. NAC is especially important for smokers, those exposed to secondhand smoke, and allergy & asthmas sufferers. Longer-time smokers that tend to struggle with repeated bouts of bronchitis, as well as some of the more dangerous upper respiratory tract infections would do well to keep a year long supply of this supplement on hand.

Double-blind research has found that N-Acetyl Cysteine supplements improved symptoms of bronchitis and prevented recurrences in people with chronic bronchitis. N-Acetyl Cysteine at a dosage of 1,200 mg per day helps to prevent Influenza infection, and reduces the symptoms of existing Influenza infection and reduces the duration of Influenza infections.

NAC Dosage: Year-around/seasonal recommendations range between 250-1,500 daily. Take per manufacturer’s instructions, unless otherwise directed by your healthcare professional.

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NAC Special Notes:

  • It is recommended that you consume plenty of vitamin C with NAC at each dosing. This is due to the prolonged presence of the oxidized form of L-Cysteine. Vitamin C also helps keep the glutathione that is produced from the Cysteine in its reduced form so that it can continue acting as an antioxidant.
  • NAC removes heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic from the body. It also increases the excretion of zinc and other essential minerals, if taken continuously. Therefore, supplementing with zinc, copper and other trace minerals, while taking NAC is also recommended. This can be achieved bu supplementing with a good-quality multisupplement.
  • If pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs, consult your healthcare practitioner prior to use.

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Garlic Click Here for our Top Garlic Sellers

All folklore aside, garlic really does fend off some very nasty beasts, such as: bacteria, parasites, and yes, dreaded viral infections. Garlic goes by lots of different nick names, including: “poor man’s antibiotic” and “Russian penicillin.” In fact, garlic was used during World War I to treat intestinal infections in soldiers.

In addition to its antibiotic benefits, garlic is also an antiviral. In fact, in all of modern pharmacology, there has never been an effective antiviral drug. However, thanks to centuries of application, as well as to the countless research clinical studies conducted, we know that garlic has the broadest spectrum of any antimicrobial substance that we know of — it is antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiprotozoan and antiviral.

Garlic or its constituents will directly kill influenza, herpes, vaccinia (cowpox), vesicular stomatitis virus (responsible for cold sores), and human cytomegalovirus (a common source of secondary infection in AIDS.) Garlic will also cure or improve the symptoms of a variety of viral diseases in humans or animals. In one animal study, researchers first fed a garlic extract to mice. They then introduced the flu virus into the nasal passages of the animals. Those animals that had received the garlic were protected from the flu, while the untreated animals all got sick. The researchers postulated that garlic’s effect was due in part to direct antiviral effects of garlic, and in part to stimulation of the immune system (Adetumbi and Lau, 1983).

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Garlic Special Notes:

  • If pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs, especially blood thinners, consult your healthcare practitioner prior to use.

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Vitamin C (aka: ascorbic acid) Click Here for our Top Vitamin C Sellers

Vitamin C is best known for its ability to strengthen the immune system. When the body harbors a virus, there is oftentimes an unlimited capacity for vitamin C. And because humans are one of the few animals unable to make their own vitamin C, supplementation is especially important.

Linus Pauling, the winner of two Nobel Prizes and recipient of numerous awards for his medical research was referred to by a fellow Nobel Prize winner as “god-like, superhuman.” Even so, the medical community branded Pauling a “quack and a charlatan” after he published a book on vitamin C and the common cold. In spite of this, Pauling, the chemist who pioneered the idea of quantum mechanics to chemistry, continued to take three grams of vitamin C each day (one gram with each of three meals) and was heartened by the results: no colds - ever.

According to the Linus Pauling Institute of Research at Oregon State University, “Neutrophils, (a white blood cell) which attacks foreign bacteria and viruses, seem to be the primary cell type stimulated by vitamin C.”

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Vitamin C Special Notes:

  • If pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs, especially blood thinners, consult your healthcare practitioner prior to use.

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Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) Click Here for our Top EFA Sellers

The link between fish oil and the prevention of inflammation has been confirmed for years.

Fish oil contains omega-3 essential fatty acids that not only fight inflammation, but boost the immune system. In a 1995 Patras University study published in Cancer Detection and Prevention, cancer patients who took 18 grams of fish oil daily for 40 days had a significant drop in a type of cell that works to suppress the immune system. This is one supplement you’ll want to add to your daily regimen before the cold and flu season starts.

If you wait until after a cold sets in, take it anyway. Why? According to exercise physiologists @ Indiana University, fish oil relieves tight, constricted breathing passages just as effectively as a nose spray.

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EFA Special Notes:

  • If pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs, especially blood thinners, consult your healthcare practitioner prior to use.

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Daily Multivitamin
And finally, a good, high-quality multisupplement should be taken all year around.

Our #1 Choice is Ultra Preventive X by Douglas Laboratories Pricing: 120 count | 240 count

Ultra Preventive X is our number one seller, day after day, year after year. Ultra Preventive X offers essential nutrition for optimal health in a vegetable/fruit food base

Ultra Preventive X's herbal green food base also includes important phytonutrients. Glutenfree grasses and several varieties of microalgae supply chlorophyll, carotenes, B-vitamins, and trace elements. Cruciferous vegetables, broccoli and cauliflower, offer protective sulforophane compounds known for their ability to induce protective phase 2 detoxifying enzymes.

Ultra Preventive X: Four – eight tablets per day, unless otherwise directed by your healthcare professional.

Ultra Preventive X Special Notes:

  • If pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs, consult your healthcare practitioner prior to use.

As with all of the supplement recommendations we make above, the most important thing to remember, during cold and flu season is to be consistent in:

  • practicing good hygiene habits,
  • consuming nutritious meals, and
  • to remember that Required Daily Allowance (RDA) refers to the minimum amount of a vitamin or mineral needed daily to prevent certain conditions.

FDA REQUIRED STATEMENT: Statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug dministration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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Lite, J. (2008) What’s the difference between cold and flu? Retrieved November 9, 2011 from Scientific American Web site:
Adenovirus (2010 update) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases with references Retrieved November 9, 2011 from CDC Web site:
Mata, M, Morcillo, E, Gimeno, C, Cortijio, J N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) inhibit mucin synthesis and pro-inflammatory mediators in alveolar type II epithelial cells infected with influenza virus A and B and with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) Retrieved November 9, 2011 from NCBI Web site:
NPR (2006) Interview Research Reinforces Importance of Washing Hands Retrieved November 10, 2011 from NPR Web site:
Bergner, P (1996) The Healing Power of Garlic Retrieved November 9, 2011 Published by Prima Publishing
Bergner, P (1995) Allium sativum: Antibiotic and Immune Properties Retrieved November 9, 2011 Medical Herbalism Journal for the Clinical Practitioner Web site: – Health > Diet & Fitness (2000) Chicken Soup is medicine, U.S. Scientists confirm Retrieved November 17, 2011 Web site:
Hoecker, J M.D. (2011) Mayo Clinic Common Cold Cold Retrieved November 17, 2011 Web site:
Lynda Liu (2005) Supplementing Your Cold Defenses Retrieved November 17, 2011 Web site:

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