I was a young student at the local university. When flu season came along, I would always get sick with influenza, usually for a solid week. I was taking a heavy class load in chemical engineering, and, of all times, I did not want to get sick just before final exams. I also did not have the money to see a doctor, nor did I like going to the infirmary and sitting around with the other sick kids only to be told by the doctor, "There is nothing I can do for you. You just need a lot of rest until this passes." I did not have time to rest and I HATED BEING MISERABLE! I needed to find a way to get rid of the flu quickly.
In those days there was a lot of talk about vitamin C, and how it could help fight off the flu. I decided to look into it. I got some nutrition books by Adelle Davis and started reading. I found that vitamin C was necessary to make the antibody complement (among other things) and that the need for it skyrocketed during an illness. But that was only part of the story. Pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and magnesium were needed too. These nutrients were in especially high demand by the body during a viral illness.
I finally developed a protocol that I felt would help me recover from the flu. It went like this:
When sick with the flu, take the following, without fail, every four hours for about 24 hours:
1. Vitamin C, 1000-2000 mg
2. Pantothenic acid, 200-400 mg
3. Vitamin B6, 25 mg
4. Magnesium, 50-200 mg
5. Vitamin A palmitate (or vitamin A from fish oil) 10,000 I.U.
6. Stay somewhat uncomfortably warm. Avoid taking antipyretic drugs like aspirin unless the fever is getting really high (104 F)
7. If possible, eat something nutritious, even if it is only a bowl of vegetable soup.
8. Take a quality multivitamin a few times during the 24 hours.
This was the "bare bones" student version of the protocol. The dosages were approximately what I would take when I was already very sick with the flu. Milder cases did not require as much.
When I was utterly sick and miserable, the formula was hard to take. I knew missing a dose would be problematic. The need for vitamin C skyrockets to about 70 times normal during such an illness. And pantothenic acid is needed to form some thirty-odd adrenal hormones and for the production of antibodies and gamma globulins. If I missed a dose, I would quickly become deficient in these nutrients for which there was such an extreme demand. So I had to set an alarm clock to make sure I got up every four hours to take each dose.
I also learned how to fine tune the formula to my particular needs. If I took more vitamin C than my intestines could absorb, I would get temporary diarrhea (timed-release vitamin C seemed to mitigate this problem). If I took more than my body needed, it would act as a diuretic. And staying warm was not enough; I had to be slightly uncomfortably warm to get well. This little nuance seemed to make a big difference. Sometimes, due to circumstances, I would not have one of the ingredients, usually pantothenic acid or B6. I would not run a temperature or get well quickly until I supplied the missing ingredient.
The response to "the formula," as I called it, was very predictable. During the first 1-8 hours, absolutely nothing would happen. No improvement, no change . . . nothing. After about 8-12 hours I would see hints that I might be getting better, but I was still very sick. At about 12-16 hours I would feel that I was definitely getting better. After 16 hours I was sure the illness was coming under control rapidly. After 24 hours, and almost to the exact hour, I would be essentially over the "active disease" portion of the illness and into the "clean up" phase. I would be well enough to go back to school, or to work, but I would still be blowing my nose, maybe taking an occasional antihistamine, and massaging a few stiff muscles. And my need for the formula would continue, but at a much reduced level, for another two or three weeks.
Eventually I realized that I did not need to get sick first in order to get well. At the first sign of the flu I would take a scaled-down version of the formula. I would run a temperature for a few hours, but not get sick. Or I would feel inexplicably tired, but not get ill (or even run a temperature) when half the office was out with the flu. This realization seems silly now, looking back on it. But modern "healthcare" is really "sickness care" not "wellness care." We still suffer from the same misconceptions today!
Years later, I was working at an engineering job at an international company. We continually had people flying back and forth to the Far East. They would bring back every edition of the flu imaginable. And, it seemed that people in the office did not know anything about healthcare. They would sneeze openly into the room without covering their mouth. Or if they covered their mouth, they would not wash their hands. As they subsequently handled common objects like door knobs, microwave ovens, file cabinets, phones, paper cutters, staplers, etc., the flu would rapidly spread. I finally got tired of this. Maybe I should let my work mates know about my formulanow thirty years old.
I convinced one lady, a "cubemate" to try it. She said that it worked well and began calling it "the recipe". When her husband got sick, he tried it and it worked for him too. I wish I could have pursued this little experiment further, and had been able to test the various enhancements I developed over the years beyond the original student version. But the economy took a dive and we all got laid off. And that was the end of that.
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Note from Brian Fraser: The article above was written as a student paper for a healthcare class I was taking at Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. I am placing it on the Internet because this season (2004-2005) there is a shortage of flu shots and people may want to explore alternatives which have been very effective for some people.
Note that the above paper only deals with ordinary bouts of the flu. People who are extremely ill will likely be hospitalized and under the immediate care of a physician. In such a case I recommend that the equivalent of these nutrients be given by injection or in an IV. I have no experience with these situations however, nor have I received any reports of such.
There are several issues that I did not address in this short paper that are addressed below in the Addendum.
Control of vomiting
Control of diarrhea
Control of irregular heart beat
Control of sore throat
Maintaining a healthy fever
Possible remedies for sluggish immune system response
Control of vomiting: One problem I had to confront when using a nutritional treatment for the flu was how to take the formula if I were so nauseated I could not eat anything. My experience with this problem is limited, and my solution to it is only for the so-called "stomach flu." The remedy was simple. I reasoned that I felt like vomiting because my stomach wanted to get rid of something it did not like. I decided to just help it along on its natural course. I drank a large cup of water and then sat myself in front of the toilet. After about 10 minutes, I threw up rather forcefully. Then I drank more water. This time it stayed down for twenty minutes. I threw up again, but the fluid was much clearer. I drank more water, and after it had stayed down for about 30 minutes, I decided that my stomach was "rinsed out enough" to tolerate a little of my formula. I mashed all the pills with a spoon so if I vomited again, I would not be choking on a half-dissolved tablet. The procedure worked fine and I got well quickly.
I was not so fortunate with my second encounter with this problem years later. I was in a hotel and was very tired. I kept throwing up about every 45 minutes throughout the night. I would sleep and throw up, sleep a little more and throw up. . . After what seemed like a half-dozen cycles of this, I decided to use my Drastic Solution: I put two drops of tincture of iodine in a cup of water and drank it. The water tasted terrible, but I felt that whatever "bug" was causing me this problem was going to DIE! and the revenge tasted sweet. It worked, and I never threw up again that night.
Control of diarrhea: My remedy for diarrhea adopts the same reasoning: diarrhea is caused by the body wanting to rid itself of something it does not like. I just drink water and let it run its course, which is usually just a couple of hours. For a more persistent case, I drink a large glass of water with about a tablespoon of activated charcoal stirred into it. The charcoal will adsorb any toxins and nutrients that may remain in the intestine. Afterwards, I try to wait about 12 to 24 hours before eating any food, although I continue to drink water as desired.
Activated charcoal can be purchased at many drugstores, although some charge an outrageous price for it. It is available in dry powder form, which is often dusty and messy to use, or as a small bottle containing activated charcoal premixed with water (just shake and drink the whole thing). Note that the label must specifically say activated charcoal, not just "charcoal". Activated charcoal will soak up many types of organic poisons, but it will also combine just as easily with food and medicine. Use it only with water. Save the food and medicine for later. (Caution: persistent diarrhea could be serious and may require medical intervention. Also, glutamine, an amino acid, is believed to be useful for treating certain types of diarrhea.)
Control of irregular heart beat: Sometimes when I get a little sick, my heartbeat will get slightly irregular. This usually occurs either during flu season, or when I do something nutritionally stupid like eat half a can of cashew nuts all at once. I found that a large capsule of perilla oil (about a gram) will set my heart rhythm back to normal in about 20 minutes. For this particular purpose perilla oil seems to work better than fish oil, although in the long run, fish oil is probably better for the cardiovascular system. (If fish oil upsets your stomach or smells "fishy", it may be slightly rancid; try a different brand). Magnesium and taurine can also be helpful nutrients for an irregular heatbeat.
Control of sore throat: My experience with a sore throat is very limited. I hate getting sore throats so much that, at the first sign I am about to get one, I take 50,000 I.U. of Vitamin A (from fish oil or vitamin A palmitate) and 2,000 I.U. of vitamin D3. Then I wait an hour and see what happens. Typically, the symptoms will quickly subside, but then return several hours later. This usually means that I am about to get sick with the flu, and so I also start taking some vitamin C and pantothenic acid as well. But I never get a fully-developed "clinical" sore throat. As long as my potential sore throat seems to be a "simple" one that is associated with the flu season, I'll continue taking massive doses of vitamin A until I think the threat has passed (which is usually a day or two). After that, I'll drop back to lower doses. Also, most drug stores sell a "sore throat spray" containing 1.4% phenol that is helpful in controlling sore throat pain. (Caution: Sore throats can be serious and may require medical intervention; also, high doses of "preformed" vitamin A will increase the vitamin D requirement.)
Maintaining a healthy fever: In the above paper I mentioned that a person with the flu needs to stay "somewhat uncomfortably warm." This point needs some elaboration. Steven E. Langer, M.D., points out some experiments on how the body uses fever to fight an infection:
"Experiments by G. W. Duff and S. K. Durum showed that at two degrees centigrade of fever, certain immune system defendersT cells and antibodiesincreased by 2000 percent over their number at normal body temperature. Similar findings were reported by another research team. Antibody production in the spleen cells has been found to increase dramatically during a fever. Scientists have concluded that the hormone-like substances, called interleukin-1, set off body defense cells to fight infection and also send the brain signals to increase body temperature to provide an ideal climate for the multiplication of defense cells. Many physiologists believe that human beings are equipped with a temperature regulation system which puts a ceiling on fever at approximately 41.11 degrees centigrade (106 degrees Fahrenheit). In heat stroke and malignant hyperthermia, temperature breaks through to killing levels." (Solved: The Riddle of Illness, Stephen E. Langer, 1984, p. 37-38)
He also mentions the studies done on infected lizards. Lizards are cold blooded, meaning they cannot maintain their body heat independently of the environment. What does a lizard do when it gets sick? We find out in the studies of M. J. Kluger:
"Lizards do not have a built-in fever-generating system such as ours and must find fever-inducing sources on the outside. The Kluger team learned that sick lizards have an instinct which makes them seek hot environments in order to raise their body temperatures to fever level when they are sick. Infected fish, too, swim to warmer water to raise their temperatures and combat illness." (ibid., p.37-38)
Modern physiology text books also acknowledge this concept:
"Elevated body temperature due to fever offers powerful protection. Higher body temperature causes the liver and spleen to sequester iron, which reduces the level of iron in the blood. Since bacteria and fungi require more iron as temperature rises, their growth and reproduction in a fever-ridden body slow and may cease. Also, phagocytic cells attack more vigorously when the temperature rises. For these reasons, low-grade fever of short duration may be a desired response, not something to be treated aggressively with medications." (Hole's Essentials of Human Anatomy and Physiology, D. Shier, J. Butler, and R. Lewis, 8th ed., (2003) p. 374)
When I get sick, I know I am not going to get well until I start running a fever, or a least a temperature. If I get "the chills" and I am in a warm room, I know my body is trying to generate heat and that I am probably in the early stages of getting sick. I take the formula, and then promptly do something to get warm. Depending on the circumstances, it might be taking a hot shower, putting on more clothes and coats, turning up the thermostat, jumping into bed and piling on the blankets, or eating some hot soup. But being comfortably warm does not seem to be quite enough. Once, I got comfortably warm in bed, but then I turned on the electric blanket. After that, I felt hot, but I was still comfortable. I got the impression that my body needed a lot more heat than I thought it did. So in the early stages of fighting off the flu, I try to stay just a little bit uncomfortably warm.
After several hours, I just seem to know when I am "done" and the illness, what of it there was, has run its course. All the extra clothes and blankets start coming off. After that stage passes, I just try to stay normally warm and comfortable.
Enhancements to The Formula
I have been reluctant to write about enhancements to The Formula. Although I use some of the enhancements listed below, their efficacy is hard to prove because I just don't get sick anymore. Still, they are worth mentioning, and might even be crucial in some cases. Hence, I'll cite some of the literature references about nutrients that I think are useful in treating influenza and other diseases.
This inexpensive vitamin is apparently useful in treating or preventing influenza. Please read the following article in full, a quotation from which follows:
"Epidemic Influenza And Vitamin D", Dr. J. J. Cannell, 15 Sep 2006, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=51913
Although our paper discusses the possibility that physiological doses of vitamin D (5,000 units a day) may prevent colds and the flu, and that physicians might find pharmacological doses of vitamin D (2,000 units per kilogram of body weight per day for three days) useful in treating some of the one million people who die in the world every year from influenza, we remind readers that it is only a theory. Like all theories, our theory must withstand attempts to be disproved with dispassionately conducted and well-controlled scientific experiments.
However, as vitamin D deficiency has repeatedly been associated with many of the diseases of civilization, we point out that it is not too early for physicians to aggressively diagnose and adequately treat vitamin D deficiency. We recommend that enough vitamin D be taken daily to maintain 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels at levels normally achieved through summertime sun exposure (50 ng/ml). For many persons, such as African Americans and the elderly, this will require up to 5,000 units daily in the winter and less, or none, in the summer, depending on summertime sun exposure.
For a 150 pound man (68 kg) "2000 units per kilogram of body weight" equates to about 136,000 I.U. each day for three days (during the illness). The D3 form (colecalciferol) is the most effective.
Vitamin D is made by interaction of the suns ultraviolet light (UVB) with 7-dehydrocholesterol in the outer layers of the skin. Production is low in the winter time in the United States when the sun is lower in the sky, and people are wearing heavy coats, and staying in-doors more. During this time, the flu season is at its peak.
The pattern in the Topics is more seasonally diffuse, but tends to peak during the rainy season (another time of low sun exposure):
"Laboratory-based surveillance data showed a clear annual epidemic cycle of influenza, with a peak usually occurring in the rainy periods. In Fortaleza, flu infections occurred at a low level throughout the year but exhibit a marked seasonal increase during the rainy season." (Seasonality of Influenza in the Tropics: A Distinct Pattern in Northeastern Brazil, Fernanda E. A. Moura*, Anne C. B. Perdigćo, and Marilda M. Siqueira, http://www.ajtmh.org/cgi/content/abstract/81/1/180?ck=nck )
This lends credibility to the hypothesis that seasonal influenza epidemics may be primarily a vitamin D deficiency disease.
Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD offers another important observation:
Vitamin D regulates the expression of more than 1,000 genes throughout the body. They include ones in macrophages, cells in the immune system that, among other things, attack and destroy viruses. Vitamin D switches on genes in macrophages that make antimicrobial peptides, antibiotics the body produces. Like antibiotics, these peptides attack and destroy bacteria; but unlike antibiotics, they also attack and destroy viruses.
Vitamin D also expresses genes that stop macrophages from overreacting to an infection and releasing too many inflammatory agents cytokines that can damage infected tissue. . . .In the 191819 Spanish flu pandemic that killed 500,000 Americans, young healthy adults would wake up in the morning feeling well, start drowning in their own inflammation as the day wore on, and be dead by midnight. . . . Autopsies showed complete destruction of the epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract resulting, researchers now know, from a macrophage-induced severe inflammatory reaction to the virus. In a terribly misguided way, these victims own immune system attacked and killed them, not the virus, something in future pandemics vitamin D, in appropriate doses, can prevent. (Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD, http://www.lewrockwell.com/miller/miller27.html# )
Other articles about Vitamin D:
"The Antibiotic Vitamin: Deficiency in vitamin D may predispose people to infection", Janet Raloff, Science News, http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20061111/bob9.asp
"Epidemic influenza and vitamin D", http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=469543
"The Miracle Vitamin: New evidence shows that getting enough D may be the most important thing you can do for your health", Reader's Digest, Sept, 2006, Paula Dranov, p. 163+ http://www.rd.com/content/openContent.do?contentId=28654&trkid=rdmagkw_0609
"Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy: an ongoing epidemic", Bruce W Hollis and Carol L Wagner, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 84, No. 2, 273, August 2006, http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/84/2/273
"Sunlight may cut MS risk by itself", Science News, Nathan Seppa, April 24, 2010, p. 9 (" "We concluded that UV light is doing something beyond" making vitamin D")
"High doses of Vitamin D help tuberculosis patients recover more quickly" (2012) http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-09-high-doses-vitamin-d-tuberculosis.html
Articles about Pandemic Influenza and H5N1 Bird Flu:
"Why Pandemic Influenza Is So Frightening: A Look Back at 1918 in the Hope of Inspiring Informed Concern for the Present and Future", Howard Markel, MD, PhD, Posted 11/16/2006, http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/546865?src=mp
"Key Facts About Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) and Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Virus" http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/gen-info/facts.htm
b 1,3-Glucan (from baker's yeast)
While doing a source material search for an article on anthrax and terrorism, I came across an article about b 1,3-glucan. ("Pilot Study: Orally-Administered Yeast b1,3-glucan Prophylactically Protects Against Anthrax Infection and Cancer in Mice", Vaclav Vetvicka, PhD, Kiyomi Terayama, MD, Rosemonde Mandeville, MD, PhD, Pauline Brousseau, PhD, Bill Kournikakis, PhD, Gary Ostroff, PhD, The Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association, Vol. 5, No. 2, Spring 2002 ( www.biotherapharma.com/pdf/glucan-reprint5-2.pdf )
In their study, Vetvicka et al. used oral ā1,3-glucan (ImucellTM WGP Beta Glucan) from a yeast source in mice infected with Bacillus anthracis. With the high incidence of complications associated with anthrax vaccines, an alternative approach is badly needed in this era of bioterrorism threat. Dr. Ken Alibek, a top-ranking scientist at the Russian bioweapons labs, stated that because of the number of possible bioweapon agents available, something other than mass inoculations would be needed. He suggested non-specific immune stimulation. The most effective form of nonspecific immune stimulation is macrophage activation.
. . . . b1,3-glucan also stimulates phagocytosis of neutrophils. In one study, the killing efficiency of neutrophils was increased 20- to 50-fold. . . . b1,3-glucan has been shown to increase lymphocyte production, NK cell activation, and activation of macrophages. "
Beta 1,3-glucan can also boost the innate immune response to the swine flu virus:
Scientists exposed two groups of newborn pigs to the swine flu virus. . . . In this important experiment, one group of piglets received beta-glucan for three days before being infected with swine flu, while the other group received only a placebo for three days before infection with live virus. Objective evidence of swine flu infection in the lungs of piglets that had been infected, but not given beta-glucan, was significantly more severe than in the infected animals that had been pre-treated with beta-glucan.11
Furthermore, pigs that had been pre-treated with beta-glucan had significantly higher concentrations of natural disease-fighting substances, including interferon-gamma, in fluid obtained from the lungs within a week of infection. The researchers concluded that beta-glucan reduced signs of lung disease and the viral replication rate in the test subjects. These findings support the potential application of beta-glucan to prevent or treat influenza virus infection.11 http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2004/apr2004_aas_01.htm
In short, b1,3-glucan administered orally in humans enhances the immune systems response to various threats, including influenza. A potential worry however, is that it could work too well in the case of H1N1 flu virus. Will it cause the inflammatory cytokine storm (mentioned above in section on vitamin D) that was lethal to people who contracted the 1918 Swine Flu? Medical opinion seems to be somewhat unsettled at this point. Dr. Russell Blaylock quotes studies that indicate highly purified b1,3-glucan derived from baker's yeast will not produce this kind of excessive inflammatory response. See http://healthandknowledge.com/betaglucanblog/?tag=cytokine-storm Until more studies are done, I would suggest using Vitamin D (and A) to suppress inflammation (especially in young people), and proceeding with caution if administering b1,3-glucan. (However, see N-Acetyl cysteine, and Herxheimer reaction below)
Quality b 1,3-glucan is available commercially and is used as a dietary supplement. I have had especially good results with Beta-1,3D Glucan (500 mg) by Beta Force.
Caution: A Herxheimer ("die off" or "immune cascade") reaction might occur upon initial use of b1,3-glucan.
See also http://www.beta-glucan-info.com/test_results_immune_support_1.htm
"Reishi Mushroom" (effects similar to Beta Glucan) http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/reishi-mushroom
I have not found anything in the medical literature pertaining to the use of iodine/iodide in the treatment of influenza specifically. However, David Brownstein, M.D. states: "I have come to the conclusion that iodine deficiency sets up the immune system to malfunction which can lead to many . . . disorders developing." http://www.optimox.com/pics/Iodine/IOD-09/IOD_09.htm A sampling of sundry articles and authors shows that oral iodine has been used to treat fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome, autoimmune disorders, fibrocystic breast disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, various cancers, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, goiter, obesity, diabetes, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, urinary tract infections, lead and mercury poisoning, syphilis ("this disease yields in the most rapid and unmistakable fashion to iodides" circa 1911), Lyme disease, aneurysm, arteriosclerosis, angina pectoris, hypertension, cataracts, cardiac arrhythmias, gout, hemophilia, Bright's disease (nephritis), asthma, bronchitis, and odd skin disturbances. It is sufficient to say that a dietary iodine/iodide deficiency is not a good thing to have!
Circa 1920 iodide was added to table salt for the public prevention of goiter, a disorder of the thyroid gland. Subsequently, the incidence of goiter markedly decreased. In the early1960s potassium iodate was used as a dough conditioner for bread, and so back then one slice of bread would satisfy the RDA of 150 µg. for iodine. But nowadays dietary iodine is becoming marginal, even deficient. The iodine in dough conditioner was replaced with bromine (a chemical relative), effectively removing bread from being a source of iodine. And people are nowadays trying to avoid their main source of iodine, namely table salt, because of its association with high blood pressure. Additionally, the amount of iodine required to prevent disease is much less than that required to promote health (health requires about 60 times the amount of iodine used to prevent goiter). The result is widespread iodine/iodide deficiencies in the American diet. Says Guy E. Abraham, M.D.: "the human body needs at least 100 times the RDA" ( http://www.optimox.com/pics/Iodine/IOD-08/IOD_08.htm ) That is about 15 milligrams (not micrograms) of iodine/iodide per day.
Women have especially high iodine requirements. The breasts, thyroid, and ovaries are avid concentrators of iodine:
Human breast tissue and breast milk contain higher concentrations of iodine than the thyroid gland itself, which contains just 30% of the bodys iodine stores. Breast tissue is rich in the same iodine-transporting proteins used by the thyroid gland to take up iodine from the blood. The evolutionary reasons for this are clear: iodine is essential to the developing newborn brain, so the mothers body must have a direct means of supplying iodine to the nursing infant. ( The Silent Epidemic of Iodine Deficiency, Nancy Piccone, www.lef.org/magazine/mag2011/oct2011_The-Silent-Epidemic-of-Iodine-Deficiency_01.htm
Correcting a long-standing iodine deficiency requires weeks to months of supplementation with an iodine/iodide mixture. Supplemental iodine is thus not a short term treatment for acute influenza. Adequate dietary iodine/iodide simply helps to normalize immune system function, and could make subsequent infections easier to treat (as well as helping to avoid various degenerative diseases).
Traditionally, a few drops a day of Lugol's solution was used to prevent iodine deficiencies. It contains elemental iodine, potassium iodide, and water. Today, Iodoral® , a solid tablet equivalent of liquid Lugol's, is regarded as a more convenient supplement. Some people even use tincture of iodine, %2 as a supplement; it is very similar to Lugol's in that it contains both forms of iodine (check the labeling) but with a bit of alcohol because it is a "tincture". It is the form I prefer (a few drops in a cup of water, perhaps with soluble fiber) because it is cheap and readily available. Of course, the label says "Poison, for external use only" and so you must decide for yourself whether you want to use it this way.
N-Acetyl cysteine (NAC)
N-Acetyl cysteine is known mostly for its use in treating acetaminophen toxicity accompanied by acute liver failure, and also for treating Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder. But it has several other uses such as in treatment of stomach ulcers, Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, cancer, doxorubicin toxicity, insulin resistance, heavy metal detoxification, hangovers, carbon monoxide poisioning, immunological reconstitution from HIV infection, and lately, influenza infections:
H5N1 influenza, or bird flu, is a lethal and potentially pandemic infection that produces the massive release of inflammatory mediators aptly called the "cytokine storm". Other more common forms of influenza also act by triggering massive cytokine releases that inflame vulnerable lung tissue. In early 2010, it was discovered that NAC offers dual protection against bird flu. It inhibits both virus replication and expression of pro-inflammatory molecules in cells infected with H5N1 virus, holding out the promise of effective protection in the event of a global avian flu pandemic. . . .
Influenza is a complex disease with multiple targets, most notably inflicting damage to lung tissue through extreme oxidative stress and inducing genes for a large variety of inflammatory mediators. At the microscopic level the destruction is vivid. The influenza virus causes such intracellular turmoil that the term "cell boiling" has been used to describe the devastation. But pretreatment of cells with NAC significantly offsets these effects, reducing the oxidative and inflammatory burden within lung tissue through multiple mechanisms. (Life Extension Magazine, "The Overlooked Compound that Saves Lives", Julius Goepp, MD, May 2010, p. 67)
Effective dosage appears to be about 600 to 1,800 mg per day. Medical theorist Mark F. McCarty suggests that NAC at doses of 600 mg twice daily may significantly reduce the risk of a devastating bout of influenza. (ibid. p.69)
Incidentally, milk thistle extract is another substance that is used to treat toxin induced liver damage. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/milk-thistle-000266.htm ; http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/milkthistle/Patient/page2 . Curcumin is also useful: "Curcumin ramps up liver detoxifying enzymes." (sidebar) http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2012/aug2012_Safely-Manage-Joint-Inflammation_02.htm
Monolaurin (and BHA, BHT)
Monolaurin (glyceryl laurate, monolaurylglycerin) is a mono-glyceride (an ester of lauric acid and glycerin). As a dietary supplement it is of interest for its anti-viral and anti-microbial activity.
You have probably heard of tri-glycerides (from blood tests), and mon- and di- glycerides (from food labels) These are all esters of fatty acids and glycerin. Glycerin can bind with a maximum three fatty acids per molecule. Monolaurin is a combination of one lauric acid molecule and one glycerin molecule and so it is a "mono-glyceride". It has greater antiviral activity than lauric acid alone. Lauric acid is a medium length, 12-carbon atom fatty acid. It occurs naturally coconut oil, human breast milk, butter and heavy cream. Commercially, it is used in foods and cosmetics.
Monolaurin disrupts the envelope functions of many lipid-coated ("enveloped") viruses and the membranes of Gram positive bacteria. Some of the viruses include the following: HIV-1, HIV+, measles, Herpes simplex-1, Herpes simplex-2, Herpes viridae (all), Hepatitus B, C, Human lymphotropic viruses (type 1),Vesicular stomatitis virus, Visna virus Cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr (EBV), influenza, Pneumonovirus, Sarcoma virus, Syncytial virus (RSV), respiratory tract viruses, SARS type virus, Rubeola, Newcastle's, and Coronavirus.
Monolaurin is not effective against "naked" viruses such as polio, encephalitis virus, coxsachie, pox, rhino, and rota viruses.
Monolaurin is also effective at disrupting membrane functions of bacteria that stain Gram-positive. This is important because:
"Most pathogens in humans are Gram-positive organisms. In the classical sense, six Gram-positive genera are typically pathogenic in humans. Two of these, Streptococcus and Staphylococcus, are cocci (sphere-shaped bacteria). The remaining organisms are bacilli (rod-shaped bacteria) and can be subdivided based on their ability to form spores. The non-spore formers are Corynebacterium and Listeria (a coccobacillus), whereas Bacillus and Clostridium produce spores." http://laboratory-testing.org/gram-positive-bacteria/
"A number of fungi, yeast, and protozoa are also inactivated or killed by monolaurin. The fungi include several species of ringworm (Isaacs et al 1991). The yeast reported to be affected is Candida albicans (Isaacs et al 1991) The protozoan parasite Giardia lamblia is killed by monoglycerides from hydrolyzed human milk (Hemell et al 1986, Reiner et al 1986, Crouch et al 1991, Isaacs et al 1991). Chlamydia trachomatis is inactivated by monolaurin (Bergsson et al 1998). Hydrogels containing monocaprin/monolaurin are potent in vitro inactivators of sexually transmitted viruses such as HSV-2 and HIV-1 and bacteria such as Neisserian gonorrhea (Thormar 1999)." ("A Review of Monolaurin and Lauric Acid - Natural Virucidal and Bactericidal Agents", Shari Lieberman, Ph.D., C.N.S., F.A.C.N., Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., C.N.S., M.A.C.N., and Harry G. Preuss, M.D., C.N.S., M.A.C.N. Alternative & Complementary TherapiesDecember 2006 (310- 314) ) http://www.easihealth.co.za/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2011/02/trials/Monolaurin.pdf
The same reference also lists monolaurin's effectivity against the following:
Others if used concurrently with a chelator
Yeasts, Fungi and Molds
Candida utilis and C. albicans
Several species of Ringworm
Monolaurin is also effective against gonorrhea, MRSA, and reduces toxicity of Bacillus anthracis.
A Herxheimer ("die off" or "immune cascade") reaction might occur upon initial use of monolaurin, especially in chronically unhealthy people:
"The treatment of many bacterial infections provokes a Herxheimer reaction. Herxing was originally observed in patients with acute infections such as syphilis who received mercury treatment (a weak antibiotic). The immune system response to acute infection is sometimes referred to as the immune cascade. For example, in the infamous anthrax attacks people died because by the time they got to hospital the anthrax organisms had multiplied to the point where killing them also killed the patient.
. . . As the immune system tries to clear up this cellular debris, it releases a host of inflammatory molecules which, along with the toxins released by the bacteria as they die, cause a rise in symptoms in the area in which the bacteria are being killed. . . . The intensity of the reaction is thought to be dependent on many factors; location of the inflammation, appropriateness of the antibiotic/s, the antibiotic dosage, the presence of immunosuppressants, the level of 25 hydroxyvitamin-D and the prophylactic dosing schedule of Benicar used to interrupt the inflammatory cascade." https://chronicillnessrecovery.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=161
A therapeutic dose of monolaurin is generally 1800 mg to 2400 mg per day, and is usually taken as the need arises. It is generally free of side-effects, does not kill beneficial intestinal bacteria, nor increase resistance of organisms to antibiotics. For some types of infections, it must be taken long-term. I have had good results with Ultimate Monolaurin and Lauricidin® .
Also, monolaurin is sometimes popularly used with olive leaf extract and oil of oregano.
"Monolaurin A Natural Immune Boosting Powerhouse", Byron J. Richards (October 2008) http://www.wellnessresources.com/tips/articles/monolaurin_a_natural_immune_boosting_powerhouse/
"Many of the types of viruses monolaurin helps are those that can be chronic low grade infections that deplete energy on a regular basis and flare up when you are stressed or down. If you have ever had a bad bug and never really got your energy back then monolaurin may help your immune system clean up the problem even years later. Many find it useful for recurring mouth sores that are herpes-based problems."
"In vitro Effects of Monolaurin Compounds on Enveloped RNA and DNA Viruses", John C. Hierholzer, Jon J. Kabara (1982) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1745-4565.1982.tb00429.x/abstract
"Monolaurin alone and monolaurin with tert-butylhydroxyanisole (BHA), methylparaben, or sorbic acid were tested for in vitro virucidal activity against 14 human RNA and DNA enveloped viruses in cell culture. At concentrations of 1% additive in the reaction mixture for 1 h at 23°C, all viruses were reduced in infectivity by >99.9%. Monolaurin with BHA was the most effective virucidal agent in that it removed all measurable infectivity from all of the viruses tested. The compounds acted similarly on all the viruses and reduced infectivity by disintegrating the virus envelope."
Note that this was an "in glass" (test tube) study. BHA (and BHT, butylated hydroxytoluene) are commonly used commercial antioxidants. They are typically added to food or the packaging material. They also have industrial uses.
"Butylated hydroxyanisoles for the treatment of retroviral diseases" (1991) http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4992475.pdf
"Food grade chemicals for use in designing food preservative systems", http://triscience.com/Acid/food-grade-chemicals-for-use-in-designing-food-preservative-systems/doculite_view
"Although monolaurin (Lauricidin) is a Generally Recognized As Safe chemical, its use as part of a preservative system is new. Comparisons of its germicidal activity by investigators have shown it to be more effective than proprionates, benzoates and even sorbic acid. The common antioxidants, tert-butylhydroxytoluene (Bht) or tert-butylhydroxyanisole (Bha), have been shown since 1967 to affect a number of different microorganisms, including viruses. The chelator ethylenediamineacetate (Edta) has weak biocidal activity on its own but can potentiate the effect of the first 2 biocidal agents, particularly against gram-negative bacteria. The 3 common food chemicals therefore become part of a preservative system."
"New Antiviral Agents" (1990) http://www.freepatentsonline.com/EP0482071.pdf
"Coconut oil in Health and Disease: Its and monolaurin's Potential as Cure for HIV/AIDS", Dr. Conrado S. Dayrit (2000) http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/article10526.pdf
"In a series of papers published in the 70s, Jon J Kabara et al (6-10) and other workers studied the anti-microbial activity of various fatty acids. They found that the medium chain fatty acids (MCF A) with 6 to 12 carbons, possessed significant activity against gram positive bacteria, but not against gram negatives; they were also active against lipid coated viruses as well as fungi and protozoa. Saturated fatty acids, longer than 14 carbons long had no such activity. And of the MCFA, lauric acid (CI2:0) was most potent, particularly in its monoglyceride form (monolaurin); . . .
This initial trial confirmed the anecdotal reports that coconut oil does have an anti-viral effect and can beneficially reduce the viral load of HIV patients. The positive anti-viral action was seen not only with the monoglyceride of lauric acid but with coconut oil itself. This indicates that coconut oil is metabolized to monoglyceride forms of C-8, C-IO, C- 12 to which it must owe its antipathogenic activity.
More and longer therapies using monolaurin will have to be designed and done before the defmitive [sic] role of such coco products can be determined. With such products, the outlook for more efficacious and cheaper anti HIV therapy is improved."
Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf extract is another natural compound that is effective against a broad spectrum of bad bacteria and viruses (including influenza). Note that it comes from the leaf, which is not usually eaten, instead of the olive itself. The references below were derived from a list pertaining to treatment of HIV/AIDS. Caution: A Herxheimer ("die off" or "immune cascade") reaction might occur upon initial use of Olive Leaf Extract.
"Olive Leaf Extract is a potent antimicrobial agent which has been reported very effective in reducing the total body viral load in HIV/AIDS patents. In anecdotal literature it has even improved patients to the point of being HIV negative! This supplement is most important and should be utilized by every HIV positive person. An excellent book on the subject is Olive Leaf Extract by Dr. Morton Walker, published by Kensington Books." http://www.rxalternativemedicine.com/articles/aids_hiv.html
"Olive Leaf is used for the treatment of conditions associated with viruses, retroviruses, bacteria, or protozoa including influenza, the common cold, meningitis, Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), encephalitis, herpes I and II, human herpes virus 6 and 7, shingles, HIV/AIDS, chronic fatigue and hepatitis B. It is also used for pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, malaria, dengue, bacteraemia, severe diarrhoea, blood poisoning and dental, ear, urinary tract and surgical infections. Other uses include hypertension, diabetes, allergic rhinitis, improving renal and digestive function and as a diuretic and antipyretic.
In animal experiments Olive Leaf preparations demonstrate multiple properties including antispasmodic, hypotensive, antiarrhythmic and hypoglycemic, bronchodilator, coronary dilator, antipyretic and diuretic properties. The active constituent oleuropein has bacteriostatic and antioxidant activity.
Olive Leaf may be beneficial in fungus and yeast infections, frequent colds, asthma, vaginal yeast infections, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, bacterial infections, herpes, AIDS, chronic fatigue, antioxidant, flu and colds." http://www.xtend-life.com/popup/ingredients/Olive_Leaf.aspx
"Anti-HIV activity of olive leaf extract and synergism with HAART", Lee-Huang S, Huang P, Huang P; International Conference on AIDS (15th: 2004: Bangkok, Thailand). Int Conf AIDS. 2004 Jul 11-16; 15: abstract no. WePeA5651 http://www.iasociety.org/Abstracts/A2167252.aspx
I am including the following little snippets, even though they are not relevant to influenza treatment, because some readers may be interested in additional aspects of treatments for HIV/AIDS. Far more complete coverage is available on the Internet and from local support groups.
Sulfur-containing amino acids:"Improvement of immune functions in HIV infection by sulfur supplementation: Two randomized trials" , Raoul Breitkreutz · Nicole Pittack, Carl Thomas Nebe · Dieter Schuster · Jürgen Brust, Matthias Beichert · Volker Hack · Volker Daniel, Lutz Edler · Wulf Dröge (1999) http://w.aliveandwellsf.org/articles/breitkreutz_NAC_sulfur_supplementation.pdf
"Massive Loss of Sulfur in HIV Infection", Raoul Breitkreutz, Stefanie Holm, Nicole Pittack, Matthias Beichert, Alexander Babylon, Juni Yodoi, and Wulf Droge http://aliveandwellsf.org/articles/breitkreutz_sulfur_loss_2000.pdf
"N-Acetyl L-Cysteine", http://www.xtend-life.com/popup/ingredients/N-Acetyl_L-Cysteine.aspx
Bitter melon powder or extracts:
"According to a study published in British Journal of Pharmacology, bitter melon may offer alternative dietary strategies to decrease opportunistic infections and improve quality of life in People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).
The study is titled Lipid lowering effects of Momordica charantia (Bitter Melon) in HIV-1-protease inhibitor-treated human hepatoma cells, HepG2.
HIV-1 protease (HIV PR) is a retroviral aspartyl protease that is essential for the life-cycle of HIV, the retrovirus that causes AIDS. HIV PR cleaves newly synthesized poly-proteins at the appropriate places to create the mature protein components of an infectious HIV virion.
Without effective HIV PR, HIV virions remain un-infectious. Thus, mutation of HIV PRs active site or inhibition of its activity disrupts HIVs ability to replicate and infect additional cells, making HIV PR inhibition the subject of much pharmaceutical research.Hep G2 is a human liver carcinoma cell line." http://www.yorubareligion.org/_con/_rubric/detail.php?nr=1693&rubric=healing&PHPSESSID=gctr2lp5skkp7in629us5akvv0
"One of the most important discoveries ever about Bitter Melon is that it may be able to help with treating infections caused by retrovirus. This has lead to several research projects into the possibility that the fruit juices contained in Bitter Melon may be able to slow down or even stop the HIV virus in the human body." http://crazyhorsesghost.hubpages.com/hub/Natural-Home-Remedies-Bitter-Melon
"Synthesized compound flushes out latent HIV", Max McClure (2012) http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-07-compound-flushes-latent-hiv.html
"Method for producing extract of olive leaves", Leslie Nachman (1998) http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5714150.pdf
Possible remedies for sluggish immune system response
In my youth The Formula worked quite well and quickly. I could be very sick, yet get well in almost exactly 24 hours. Nowadays, I hardly ever get sick with an influenza-like illness. But there was one exception that was noteworthy. Around the time of the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong and Toronto, I became very ill with something. I assumed it was the flu, and I used a version of The Formula to fight it. The whole episode lasted only six hours, but its intensity, misery, and speed were frightening. Months later, I described my symptoms to a friend. He said he apparently had the same thing, and ended up in the hospital for two days. His doctor thought he had SARS. That was also what I thought I had (but naw, not THAT, not in my town). The "lesson learned" was that I could still become rapidly ill with a disease, particularly if my body had not been exposed to it previously. I work at a hospital, and despite all the precautions and vaccinations, first time exposure to all kinds of nasty microbes is an ever present possibility. The Formula gives good immune system support for treatment of influenza, but one more thing seems to be needed: a knowledge of what can undermine or slow down immune system response.
Factors that blunt immune system response are well-known: nutritional deficiencies, age, chronic stress, inadequate sleep, depression, lack of exercise, physical injury, immunosupressant drugs, HIV, chemotherapy, etc. These are generally beyond the scope of this article. So here I'll try to address the more ordinary, common, easily correctable causes of a sluggish immune system response.
One of these is high blood sugar:
"Numerous research studies have shown that increased sugar intake dramatically decreases your immune response. Short-term hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) negatively affects all major components of your immunity. . . .Your white cells (leukocytes) are the primary mediators of the immune response. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that is a first line of defense that swallows up (phagocytosis) foreign cells or bugs. High sugar loads in the body turn off the neutrophils radar for several hours, depending on the amount of sugar ingested. High glucose levels increase the risk of infections from Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus aureus and E coli. In diabetics, high glucose levels increase the risk of Klebsiella pneumoniae. In healthy adults, eating simple carbohydrates like: glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey and orange juice significantly decreased the ability of the neutrophil to engulf bacteria. The greatest effect was one to two hours after the sugar consumption, but lasted for up to five hours before the fasting control values of normal white cell function returned to normal." ("Sugar: Your Immune System and Heart Disease", Royce K. Bailey, M.D, http://www.parkridgecardiology.com/index.php/health-facts/health-nuggets/123-sugar-your-immune-system-and-heart-disease ; http://www.ajcn.org/content/26/11/1180.abstract
In another article about improving American health care, I have commented about how to use soluble fiber, green coffee bean extract, and benfotiamine, milk thistle, and herbals to control blood sugar spikes. High blood sugar has several detrimental effects. Please consult that article.
Another factor in slow immune system response is hypothyroidism: This is often a tricky disorder to diagnose. It causes such a wide variety of symptoms and problems that it usually gets diagnosed as something else, even though the underlying cause is actually hypothyroidism. It is easily treated but is not quickly correctable: prescription thyroid hormones (a natural combination of T3 and T4 thyroid hormones) usually take about 6 weeks to begin working in a perceptible way. The following two books are highly recommended introductions to this perplexing but common disorder:
Hypothyroidism: the Unsuspected Illness (Broda Barnes, 1976)
Solved: The Riddle of Illness (Stephen Langer and James Scheer, 2006)
These books include lists of the many symptoms of hypothyroidism which are most useful in diagnosis.
Also, blood tests on the T3, T4, and TSH thyroid hormones can be definitive in diagnosing hypothyroidism, but more often, they are ambiguous and next to useless. The best indicator on a blood test is actually high fasting total cholesterol.
The High Cholesterol Thyroid Connection Undiagnosed Thyroid Disease May Be the Reason for Your High Cholesterol, Mary Shomon ( 2009), http://thyroid.about.com/cs/symptomsproblems/a/cholesterol.htm
"Hypothyroidism - Diagnosis", http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/how_serious_hypothyroidism_000038_6.htm
"Studies Show That TSH Is Unreliable in the Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism According to Article Contributed by Kent Holtorf, M.D. in Clinical Geriatrics" (2012), http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/studies-show-that-tsh-is-unreliable...
"High Cholesterol: New Strategy for an old Battle", Silas Hoffman, Life Extension magazine, November 12, 2012, p. 87-93; http://www.lef.org/lefcms/aspx/Zmags.aspx?pid=4f7a816d&source=CVK200E p.89-95
If you have ANY kind of health problem, reading up on hypothyroidism might be a good investment of your time.
Another factor that can blunt immune system response is mitochondrial dysfunction that comes with age:
"The consensus among researchers is that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a central role in the development of virtually all age-related diseases. . . . While compounds like coenzyme Q10,2-6 carnitine,7-9 and lipoic acid10-14 support mitochondrial function, it is critical that new mitochondria are generated if we are to protect against age-related decline." http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2011/feb2011_Our-Aging-Mitochondria_01.htm
"Based upon the current research there is no question that it plays a critical role in mammalian nutrition.1,4 When PQQ is omitted from chemically defined diets it leads to growth impairment, compromised immune status, and abnormal reproductive function.5 . . . Like essential nutrients, the immune system seems particularly sensitive to low levels of PQQ. With PQQ deprivation there are multiple defects in immune function and loss of B- and T-cell sensitivity.1 ( "Pyrroloquinoline Quinone - A newly discovered vitamin-like compound" , http://www.bioclinicnaturals.com/ca/en/articles/4/conditions-and-diseases/. . . )
New mitochondria can be generated through the use of a supplement called PQQ:
"In 2010, researchers at the University of California at Davis released a peer-reviewed publication showing that a natural compound called PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone) promotes the formation of new mitochondria within cells.18
For the first time, humans are empowered with a natural agent to reverse the deadly decline in functional mitochondria that underlies degenerative disease and premature aging." http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2011/feb2011_Our-Aging-Mitochondria_01.htm , http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2011/feb2011_Generate-Fresh-Mitochondria-with-PQQ_01.htm
"According to Japanese research PQQ plays a crucial role in immune system functioning and fertility. As in the case of other vitamins PQQ is not naturally produced in the body, it must be supplied by the diet. The best sources of PQQ are parsley, green peppers and kiwi fruit." http://www.kateandthekitchen.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10&Itemid=2
Every system in the body is dependent on an adequate supply of energy for proper functioning. The cells generate that energy in their mitochondria (tiny cellular components with their own DNA). In the elderly, this supply of energy gradually becomes sparse, and health becomes fragile. Stressors like an illness or surgery can deplete the available levels below that required for life, resulting in death a few months or a year or two later. Generating new mitochondria with supplements might be a way to forestall this eventuality.
Two supplements that appear useful for this purpose are from the Life Extension Foundation:
PQQ Caps with BioPQQ, 10 mg, 30 capsules, product # 01500
Mitochondrial Energy Optimizer with BioPQQ, product #01568
PQQ seems to work best with CoQ10, and possibly acetyl-L-carnitine and R-alpha lipoic acid. The intended application here is, of course, support for normal immune response in the elderly. But very little is known about the particulars at this point, so proceed cautiously.
"Epidemic of Immunosenescence", Maegen Rawlls http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2012/ss2012_Epidemic-Immunosenescence_01.htm
"How Reishi Combats Aging", Emily Steiner http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2013/feb2013_how-reishi-combats-aging_02.htm
For some other interesting ideas about common health problems see: "How to improve American Healthcare" http://scripturalphysics.org/etc/NosocomialInfections.html#ImproveHealthcare
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