Survive late winter viruses with cook’s secret

We are almost through the worst of winter. And the sun is getting higher in the sky.

But we’re not quite through cold and flu season yet. And sometimes, it’s the virus you get late in the season that you have the hardest time kicking. Fortunately, there’s a cook’s secret that may help you get over these late-in-the-season viruses much faster.

The fact is, except when they lead to pneumonia, winter viruses are self-limiting for anyone with a normal immune system. In other words, colds and flus are simply a fact of life for most people. The viruses run their course in about a week or two. And then you’re back to normal.

And as I have often reported, there is still no real “cure” for the common cold. You can only try to give your immune system a chance to get ahead of the virus. To do this, drink plenty of fluids, rest, and call your doctor in the morning. Well, maybe skip the doctor part. He or she might give you a prescription for a dangerous “anti-viral” drug as recommended by a ludicrous new direct-to-consumer marketing campaign.

If you expect a “cure” from the mainstream medical-drug industry or the natural products industry you will be disappointed. However, many natural remedies can reduce the severity and shorten the duration of viral infections. This is rational medicine at its best. It’s designed to reduce the extent of suffering.

Earlier this cold and flu season, I reported on a major study that demonstrates the effectiveness of Echinacea. By taking Echinacea, you can expect to get over your virus a little faster and not feel as knocked out. Maybe you won’t miss as many days from work or school.

Vitamin C seems to work the same way.

Now, you may have seen another study vitamin C study in the news recently. It found that excess vitamin C increases the risk of urinary stones. It has all the mainstream gurus warning about vitamin C again. But worry not. If you stick with physiologic doses and avoid mega-doses, as I always advise in my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, the benefits should outweigh any risks.

Moderation is the key.

The mainstream gurus go wrong by continuing to recommend “multi-vitamins” for your vitamin C intake. But most multi-vitamins are of poor quality and poorly formulated. And they’re often indigestible. In addition, they usually contain dosages not based on real science. On top of all this, many multi-vitamins contain iron or the wrong carotenoid. And this can actually harm your health!

In addition to Echinacea and vitamin C, you can add another natural remedy to your arsenal. This chef’s secret may also help reduce the severity and duration of your cold or flu virus.

Of course, I’m talking about garlic.

As you know, garlic is an herb used as a food and condiment. It goes very well with almost any meat or vegetable dish when cooked in butter or olive oil.

It also has a long history in Europe as a medicinal folk remedy for colds. For hundreds of years, Europeans treated colds and sore throats with fresh garlic cloves.

Plus, a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition may explain why this folk remedy has been around so long.

For the study, researchers divided 120 healthy individuals into two groups. One group received 2.56 grams of garlic daily. This is essentially the amount of garlic you’d get in a serving of homemade pasta sauce. The other group received a placebo.

After only 45 days, men and women who ate garlic showed significant increases in the production of immune cells, compared to the placebo group.

After 90 days, the number of men and women from both groups that came down with a cold or flu was about the same. However, among those who did get sick, the garlic group experienced a significant reduction in the severity and duration of symptoms. And they missed fewer days of school or work.

The study assessed garlic’s effects on “natural killer” T-cells. My colleague and friend Dr. Jerry Thornthwaite first discovered these cells. In the 1970s, researchers learned about their critical role in the immune system. Researchers also believe they play an important role in preventing cancer.

So cook with plenty of garlic–in olive oil and butter–this March. And all year long! It may just help you stave off another cold. It may also help your heart. In fact, garlic is widely used for the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

However, there are rare cases of bleeding associated with garlic use. These cases are very rare, when compared to drugs. But, use caution with garlic if you are at risk of bleeding. And it’s probably wise to stop taking garlic prior to surgical or dental procedures. As always, check with your doctor before beginning a new garlic regimen.

In the spring, you can also plant the garlic clove in your garden. This is the “bulb” of the flowering plant, after all. And you’ll enjoy a beautiful blossom all summer long.

1. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2011.11.019