All Posts tagged cold and flu

Garlic, From Heart Disease to the Common Cold

Garlic is good for more than just repelling people with your breath.  It’s actually one of the healthiest foods you can eat.  Its key medicinal ingredient is allicin, which is known to have wonderful anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties.  So here are just a few of the health benefits of garlic:

Acne – Garlic can be used in conjunction with other treatments for acne.  Because acne can be caused by numerous things including hormones, diet, and stress, garlic alone may not be as effective.  However, it has been known to help kill the bacteria that that causes acne so it is a good addition to any acne treatment protocol.

High Cholesterol – Studies have shown that taking 600-900 mg of garlic per day lowers cholesterol levels and reduces arterial plaque formation by 5-18%

Antioxidant – Allicin naturally increases antioxidant enzymes in your blood.  It can also help against the damaging effects of nicotine and slows the aging process of your liver.

Anti-Bacterial – Garlic has 1% of the potency of penicillin and can ward off a number of bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, Candida albican, and Staphylococcus.  In addition, bacteria don’t develop resistance to it like they do antibiotics.  This benefit was first realized back in the early 19th century when English priests caught infectious fevers, and the French priests who ate garlic didn’t.

High Blood Pressure – Clinical trials showed that blood pressure can be reduced by 1-5% after taking garlic supplements.  This may not sound a lot but this small reduction can reduce the chance of a stroke by 30-40% and heart disease by 20-25%.  Another clinical study showed that people with high blood pressure who took garlic capsules daily for up to two months lowered their blood pressure levels as effectively as patients taking prescription blood pressure drugs. A suggested dosage is 600-900mg capsules once daily.

Sore Throat/Cough – Garlic’s antibacterial properties make it a wonderful treatment for coughs and other throat irritations. It may also reduce the severity of upper respiratory tract infections.

Diabetes – Garlic is considered to regulate blood sugar levels by increasing the release of insulin in diabetics.  Therefore an effective remedy is to take one clove or one supplement every day.

Toothaches – Garlic’s antibacterial, analgesic, and anesthetizing properties can help cure toothaches. Simply put some garlic oil or a piece of crushed garlic clove directly onto the affected tooth and the gum for instant relief.

Warts – Garlic’s ability to fight infections and bacteria makes it an effective cure for warts and other skin problems.  Take a fresh clove and cut its tip off.  Rub the cut area of the clove directly onto the wart for a few seconds.  Repeat this each night before going to bed until the wart disappears.  If you feel any kind of irritation or strong burning sensation, simply rinse the area with water.

Make sure you join us back tomorrow for how to use garlic as part of your health care regime.


Ginger, Treating Cancer to Arthritis

Even though ginger has been used as a natural remedy for centuries, science is just now proving that it can treat everything from cancer to arthritis.  Historically, it has been very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress.  It is regarded as a good eliminator of intestinal gas and a substance that relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract.  Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.

Below are some of its research-proven health benefits:

Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Ginger may be powerful weapon in the treatment of ovarian cancer.  A study conducted at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center found that its powder induces cell death in all ovarian cancer cells to which it was applied.  Lab experiments by Dr Rebecca Liu showed that gingerols, the active phytonutrients in ginger, kill ovarian cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) and autophagocytosis (self-digestion).   Ginger extracts have been shown to have both antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects on cells.  Dr. Liu and her colleagues believe that it may be of special benefit for ovarian cancer patients because cancer cells exposed to ginger do not become resistant to its cancer-destroying effects like they do other chemotherapeutic agents.

Colon Cancer Prevention

Gingerols, the main active components in ginger, may also inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells.  Researchers from the University of Minnesota’s Hormel Institute found that gingerol prevented mice from developing colorectal carcinomas when compared to a control group.  According to the researcher for this study, “These results strongly suggest that ginger compounds may be effective chemo-preventive and/or chemotherapeutic agents for colorectal carcinomas.”

Morning Sickness

A review of several studies has concluded that ginger is just as effective as vitamin B6 in the treatment of morning sickness.  Its anti-vomiting action has been shown to be very useful in reducing the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, even the forms that require hospitalization.  A review of 6 double-blind controlled trials with a total of 675 participants confirmed that ginger is effective in relieving the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.  And unlike anti-vomiting drugs, which can cause severe birth defects, ginger is extremely safe, without significant side effects, and only a small dose is required.

Motion Sickness Remedy

Recent double-blind studies have demonstrated that ginger is very effective in preventing the symptoms of motion sickness, especially seasickness.  In fact, one study showed that it was superior to Dramamine, a commonly used drug for motion sickness.  Ginger reduces all symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating.

Reduces Pain and Inflammation

One study showed that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful natural painkiller.  The gingerols are very potent anti-inflammatory compounds.  These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. In two clinical studies involving patients who responded to conventional drugs and those who didn’t, physicians found that 75% of arthritis patients and 100% of patients with muscular discomfort experienced relief of pain and/or swelling.

Heartburn Relief

Ginger has long been used as a natural heartburn remedy. It is most often taken in the form of tea for this purpose.

Cold and Flu Prevention and Treatment

Ginger has long been used as a natural treatment for colds and the flu.  Many people also find it to be helpful in the case of stomach flus or food poisoning, which is not surprising given the positive effects it has upon the digestive tract.

Ginger can help promote healthy sweating, which is often helpful during colds and flu.  A good sweat may do a lot more than simply assist detoxification.  German researchers have recently found that sweat contains a potent germ-fighting agent that may help fight off infections which they named dermicidin.   Dermicidin is manufactured in the body’s sweat glands, secreted into the sweat, and transported to the skin’s surface where it provides protection against invading microorganisms, including bacteria such as E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, and fungi, including Candida albicans.

Prevention of Diabetic Nephropathy

A study done on diabetic rats found that those rats given ginger had a reduced incidence of diabetic nephropathy (kidney damage).

Ginger Usage

Ginger is so concentrated with active substances that you don’t have to use very much to receive its beneficial effects.  For nausea,  tea made by steeping one or two 1/2-inch slices (one 1/2-inch slice equals 2/3 of an ounce) of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water will likely be all you need to settle your stomach.  For arthritis, some people have found relief consuming as little as a 1/4-inch slice  cooked in food, although in the studies noted above, patients who consumed more ginger reported quicker and better relief.

How to Select and Store

Whenever possible, choose fresh ginger over the dried form of the spice since it contains higher levels of gingerol.  Fresh ginger root is sold in the produce section of markets.  When purchasing it fresh, make sure it is firm, smooth and free of mold.  Ginger is generally available in two forms, either young or mature.  The mature form has a tough skin that requires peeling while the young form, usually only available in Asian markets, does not need to be peeled.  Fresh ginger can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks if it is left unpeeled.  Stored unpeeled in the freezer, it will keep for up to six months.

Dried ginger powder should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place.  Alternatively, you can store it in the refrigerator where it will enjoy an extended shelf life of about one year.


Worried About Catching the Flu?

I glanced at our local newspaper this weekend and saw that there were 4 cases of medication-resistant H1N1 at our local Duke University Medical Center.  With people everywhere getting sick with some sort of cold or flu and more drug-resistant viruses and bacteria popping up, patients are asking me what natural things they can do to prevent getting sick.  Of course, by now everyone has been reminded to wash their hands regularly and cough/sneeze into their sleeves, but what else can be done?  Stress causes a weakened immune system so we need to put a concerted effort into not getting too stressed out over the holiday season.  Also, try to get an adequate amount of sleep.  Losing an extra hour of work in order to get a good night’s rest is better than losing a few days of work from being sick.  On top of that, make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals.  Vitamins A, E, and C are essential to a properly functioning immune system.  Vitamin A is the anti-infection vitamin.  If used properly and in moderate doses, vitamin A is rarely toxic and is very important in the body’s defense system.  Vitamin C may be the single most important vitamin for the immune system.  It is essential for the formation of adrenal hormones and the production of lymphocytes (a white blood cell).  It also has a direct effect on bacteria and viruses.  Vitamin E interacts with vitamins A and C and the mineral selenium, acting as a primary antioxidant and scavenger of free radicals.  Vitamin E activity is an integral part of the body’s defense system.  Zinc, which can be found in over-the-counter products such as Zicam and Coldeeze, is also very important for a strong immune system.  Zinc boosts the immune response and promotes the healing of wounds when used in appropriate doses (100 mg or less daily).  It also helps to protect the liver.  Doses over 100 mg/day may actually depress immune function.

For those of you who want to take herbs or other supplements, there are number that are good for boosting your immune system.  Echinacea is the most widely known herb for immunity.  Echinacea boosts the immune system and enhances lymphatic function.  People with immune-related conditions such as multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, and HIV should refrain from using Echinacea.  Also, those persons allergic to pollen of other members of the aster family, such as ragweed, may be allergic to Echinacea.  Goldenseal is another herb that strengthens the immune system, cleanses the body and has antibacterial properties.  Goldenseal should not be taken on a daily basis for more than one week at a time, and it should not be used if you are pregnant.  Goldenseal is also contraindicated if you are allergic to ragweed.  Garlic has also been known to stimulate the immune system and is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-viral.  You may want to watch how much of it you take though because its smell has been known to seep out of your pores when taken in large quantities.  I have one friend who will eat cloves of it at a time, claiming it can get rid of a sore throat in no time.  Seeing her eyes water while doing this, I have never been willing to give it a try.  I have also become a big fan of Airborne.  We regularly have a bottle of it around our office to take if we’ve had a day where a lot of patients have come in sick.  I truly believe that it has helped keep my staff and myself from getting sick these past 3 years that we’ve been using it.

Last, but by no means least, chiropractic care has been found to help boost the immune system.  During the 1917?18 influenza epidemic, which brought death and fear to many Americans, it has been estimated that 20 million people died throughout the world, including about 500,000 Americans. It was chiropractic’s success in caring for flu victims that led to the profession’s licensure in many states.

Researchers reported that in Davenport, Iowa, out of the 93,590 patients treated by medical doctors, there were 6,116 deaths ?? a loss of one patient out of every 15. Chiropractors at the Palmer School of Chiropractic adjusted 1,635 cases, with only one death. Outside Davenport, chiropractors in Iowa cared for 4,735 cases with only six deaths ?? one out of 866. During the same epidemic, in Oklahoma, out of 3,490 flu patients under chiropractic care, there were only seven deaths. Furthermore, chiropractors were called in 233 cases given up as lost after medical treatment, and reportedly saved all but 25. In another report covering 4,193 cases by 213 chiropractors 4,104 showed complete recovery.  If chiropractic helped in that influenza epidemic, it most certainly should help with the H1N1.

I hope this article helps you all have a healthier flu-season this year.  And remember to wash your hands!