Archive for the ‘Cough, Cold, Flu’ Category

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The Yearly Onslaught: Managing Colds & Flu

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

by Dr. Greg Eckel – Nature Cures Clinic director

Uh oh, it’s that time of year again… sniffles, coughs, fevers oh my…

Every year we get into the same discussions about whether one should get the flu shot, how to handle a fever, how to get through a cold. Well look no further, here is a resource for you. I’ll share what I do for my family and loved ones (that includes you!).

Shot or no shot? Join the discussion at Facebook.com/NatureCuresClinic

First of all, you have heard the virtues about vitamin D. In this case it helps activate natural killer cells. Natural killer cells are a major part of your innate immunity (you’ll have to ask me about one of my favorite super heroes….), which will help you overcome countless viruses. If you don’t know your blood level of Vitamin D, I highly encourage you to get it done at your next blood draw. You can then individualize your dose of Vitamin D. Ideally you want your blood level to between 50-80 ng/ml.

The next piece is always a shocker as it sounds so wrong…the wet sock treatment. In these PC times, it’s been renamed “warming sock treatment.” (By me!) You need a pair of cotton socks and a pair of wool socks. You take a hot foot bath before bed, put the cotton socks under the faucet water as cold as it’ll go, ring them out (so they are damp, not dripping), and put these on your very warm feet. Pull the wool socks over top of that and go directly to bed, do not pass go. This is home hydrotherapy.

At first signs of any upper respiratory illness (sore throat, nasal congestions, sneezes), do this technique for a few evenings to stimulate your immune response. It increases your blood flow at night, your feet will be dry in the morning, and your head will be more clear.

For those with perennial runny nose and congestion, I feel for you. Look no further than EHB (Echinacea, Hydrastis, and Berberine). I use EHB at the first signs of any type of ‘cold.’ This is a very drying formula, has a lot of immune system punch, including garlic and vitamin A among other ingredients. This is also my first go to when I’ve seen a lot of sneezing, coughing patients during the day. We sell it in the Nature Cures e-store — check it out there if you don’t have time to come in to the clinic.

Another component of your immune system function is your gut. Did you knowthat roughly 90% of your immune system surrounds your gut in the GALT (gutassociated lymphoid tissue)? Probiotics are a great addition to your home medicine cabinet. Every doctor has their favorite blend of beneficial bacteria…. of course we have our favorites at the clinic, high ORAC or super natent are two of my favorites.

I’m not impressed with the latest and greatest strands of human microflora. I find most of the time this gets into marketing hype on the most recent research article on so and so particular brand. We do our research so you don’t have to is what I’ll tell you. We see what works clinically and stick with that.

For the kiddos, we have a chewable vitamin C that goes down easy. No complaints coming from them in the morning, even requests for it, when mama or papa forgets. It’s always nice to not have to force anything on them.
Living in the hometown of Linus Pauling, one can’t write an article on immune system function without mentioning vitamin C.

I’m going to leave the discussion about the flu vaccine for those that are interested. If you are interested in that discussion, let’s carry that on our facebook page. Please post a question you have and I’ll be sure to get on there and answer.
Here’s to a healthy and happy new year to you!

-Dr. Eckel

 

 

 

Image Courtesy USACE Europe District

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Kick that cold with a few kitchen staples

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

‘Tis the season for runny noses, sore throats, headaches, coughing, and brain fog.  Yay!!

Before you race to Walgreens, peek in your kitchen for some traditional Chinese herbs, masquerading as common foods.  You’d be surprised by the number of “regular” foods and spices that are used in Chinese herbal medicine.  I had an adorable Chinese Nutrition teacher who taught me countless therapeutic uses for foods found in most American pantries.  Her recipes, though effective, made me giggle because the amount indicated for each ingredient was always “the proper amount”.  Apparently the ancient Chinese kept it loose.

The recipe I’ve used and recommended the most is a simple, 3 ingredient tea to help bolster your immune system and calm your cold symptoms.  I’ve added in what I consider to be the proper amounts, but feel free to play with it.  It goes as follow:

Cold-Kicker Tea
Ginger (root) – 1-2 tbsp
Garlic – 0.5-2 tbsp
Scallions/Green Onions – 1-2 tbsp

All fresh & finely chopped
Bring to a boil in a pan or steep in a cup to make tea

I’m rather lazy about it, and simply put everything into a cup and add boiling water, just  like I would for any old teabag.  Though the ingredients are all quite pungent, the tea is surprisingly soothing and mild.  It reminds me of a miso soup…warm-flavored and nourishing.  I promise, you will not have fiery dragon breath …unless you go bananas with the garlic.  I always re-steep the same ingredients once or twice, and then eat the chunks when I’ve finished the tea.  Mmmmm.  If chunks aren’t your thing, simply re-boil/re-steep them a time or two, to extract ALL of their medicinal properties before chucking them.

This tea can be used to prevent illness when those around you are sniffling away, or brewed in the midst of a cold to alleviate symptoms and speed recovery.  I drink it throughout the cold season, and have been known to put down 5+ cups/day.  I’d recommend at least 2 cups/day if you suspect a cold coming on.   And to further entice you into brewing up some hot garlic lovin’, here are a few of the ingredients’  healing properties.

Ginger –  Strengthens the immune system, treat colds and flu, stops cough and moves phlegm from the lungs, warms the core, soothes upset stomach and treats vomiting, and reduces toxicity from food or ingested medicine

Garlic –  Antibacterial, antimicrobial, opens the sinuses, supports immune function, eases aches and pains, and stimulates digestion

Scallions –  Reduce sinus congestion, vent rashes, calm the stomach, and boost immune function

If you’re experiencing a sore throat, make sure to add in a warm salt water gargle every few hours.  This will break up the mucous that’s clinging to the back of your throat, and soothe the ache naturally.

And don’t forget that acupuncture has been proven invaluable when tackling cold and flu symptoms.  Getting a treatment at the first sign of a cold will often ward off the bug entirely, and acupuncture during a cold or flu will stimulate your body’s natural healing response and quell your symptoms.

 

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Colds & Flu from a naturopathic perspective: Nature Cures HealthChat Podcast

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

In this edition of the HealthChat Podcast, Dr. Greg Eckel discusses treatment and prevention of colds and flu with naturopathic and Chinese Medicine.

Listen to: HealthChat: Colds & Flu 2010

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Cold and Flu Season 2010: Are you ready for the onslaught?

Friday, October 15th, 2010

by Dr. Greg Eckel

Nature Cures Clinic physician

Well it’s that time of year again.  The marketing machine rolls on with the public health campaign that says the only protection you have against the deadly flu is to get your flu shot. We have been reporting on this since the avian flu scare of 2005 (see podcast here).  1108486420_dccf9d415d

We recently just produced a new flu vodcast/ podcast.  Dr. Nigh and I really try to have fun while (hopefully) giving you some sane (and entertaining) commentary on the current climate of information.

A few years ago, we were asked to write up what you can do for viral illness for the state of Oregon.  We wrote this while working with the Alliance Working for Antibiotic Resistance Education (AWARE), a group working towards educating the public and doctors about improper antibiotic prescriptions and how they lead to antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.  There is pressure at doctor’s offices to do something when their patients are sick.  The doctors in general will write a prescription for antibiotics, even though the majority of cases are viral in nature.  This improper prescribing of antibiotics in turn leads to the creation of super bugs, that are resistant to antibiotics.  The current medical system has very little to offer patients with viral illnesses.

The Centers of Disease Control, in the name of public health, has their 1,2, 3 list of what to do to increase your odds of not getting the flu this year:
1) Get a flu shot.
2) Stay away from those that are sick, wash your hands often.
3) Take anti-virals if you get the flu.

As far as public policy, this is lacking considerably.  Here I will once again reference our position paper linked above as another view of what you can do to increase your immune system’s vitality.

Let’s look at the research.  The conservative group the Cochrane Review, a consortium of scientists around the globe has done a great job in collecting the data on the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.  If we were to believe the propaganda machine of the mainstream media, you’d experience a 100% effective rate against getting the flu.  It is repeated by most of the medical societies so much so it must be true.  On review of the literature, we find, “Authors’ conclusions influenza vaccines have a modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost. There is no evidence that they affect complications, such as pneumonia, or transmission.
WARNING:
This review includes 15 out of 36 trials funded by industry (four had no funding declaration). An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found industry funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines. The review showed that reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin but there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies. The content and conclusions of this review should be interpreted in light of this finding.”

Last year during the swine flu (H1N1) hysteria, I got into several debates with conventional doctors, who continually referred to websites of their professional organizations, saying they were supporting the flu vaccine.  I kept asking for the research to support their conclusions. In reality, the data is very slim and suspect, as the Cochrane review suggests.

The second recommendation is actually not bad; washing your hands often is a very good hygienic practice.  I like to have our patients focus more on their own terrain, rather than being paranoid of others’ illnesses.  But I do agree with the CDC recommendation number 2.

Let’s look at the third recommendation.  Take anti-virals if you get sick.  This seems to be more of a sanctioned ad for the pharmaceutical industry.  The research shows these anti-virals produce at best one day less of illness.  This is hardly enough for a national public health policy.  (Here is the citation that goes with this information: Antiviral medications are adjunctive agents for the prevention of influenza. They also are used early in the course of uncomplicated influenza infection to reduce the duration of illness by approximately 1 day. 12 12. Gubareva LV, Kaiser L, Hayden FG. Influenza virus neuraminidase inhibitors. Lancet. 2000;355:827-835. )

We have talked a lot through the years about the issue of terrain versus the bug.  Unfortunately, Louis Pasteur won the debate on germ theory and we are currently stuck with the outlook that the bug is the issue.  His contemporary at the time was Beauchamp, who argues that we are all exposed to the bug, why do only some of us get sick.  His point was that is the terrain that matters.

In practice of course it is both of these theories.  Our public policy only views the bug, holistically we consider both of them.  In recent times there is more and more research to support Vitamin D’s usefulness for immune system response.  We encourage all of our patients to have their vitamin D level checked at least once per year.  This gives you an opportunity to make sure you are in the ideal range for vitamin D’s effectiveness.

If you are interested in optimizing your immune system this cold and flu season, please call the office and schedule an appointment.  For more information be sure to watch or listen to our current vod/podcast here.

Here’s to a healthy and happy fall!

In health and sanity,  Dr. Eckel

photo courtesy: Trumanlo

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The Naturopathic Approach to Colds and Flu Podcast

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Listen to: The Naturopathic Approach to Colds and Flu Podcast

In this podcast, Dr. Eckel and Dr. Nigh focus on issues surrounding the cold and flu season.  Should you be running to your doctor to get a prescription that will only suppress your symptoms, or should you not do anything at all?  They will answer questions like these, as well as explain to you what the naturopathic approach to treating these illnesses would look like, citing specific ways you can implement them at home.

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The Naturopathic Approach to the Swine Flu,H1N1 Virus

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Listen to  The Naturopathic Approach to the Swine Flu and H1N1 Virus Podcast

Dr. Eckel and Dr. Nigh explain the dangers of allowing you to be injected with a live virus that has only been tested on monkeys.  Instead of taking this risk, they will educate you on some naturopathic and alternative approaches that will protect your body from getting viral infections, needles not included.  They’ll give you tips about nutrition and specific antiviral supplements that should be part of your diet to keep your body strong and decrease your susceptibility to these illnesses.

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The Naturopathic Approach to the Swine Flu

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Listen to the Swine Flu Podcast

In this podcast, Dr. Eckel and Dr. Nigh share with you their thoughts on the swine flu.  Are your chances of dying from the Swine flu any higher than the regular seasonal flu?  As naturopathic doctors, they believe that the public should not be put into a state of fear, but that each person should be encouraged to put their body in a state of preparation to fight off infections like the swine flu.  They will give share with you some information on how to boost your immune system, as well as common sense preventative measures that will protect your body from these viruses.

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Naturopathic Views on the HPV Vaccination

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Listen to Naturopathic Views on the HPV Vaccination

In this podcast, Portland naturopathic doctors, Dr. Greg Eckel and Dr. Greg Nigh discuss the issues surrounding the HPV vaccine.  They’ll explain to you the politics that lay behind the scenes of this vaccine, as well as the dangers involved in receiving the vaccination.  They’ll arm you with information for what you can do yourself to protect your body from being susceptible to this virus.

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Naturopathic Views on the Flu Vaccination

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Listen to Flu Vaccinations

In this podcast, Portland naturopathic doctors, Dr. Greg Eckel and Dr. Greg Nigh discuss the flu vaccine, what the risk versus benefit is, and whether it is even effective.  They also arm you, of course, with some naturopathic ways that you can protect yourself from getting the flu in the first place.

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Naturopathic Views on Vaccinations

Friday, February 8th, 2008

Listen to Naturopathic Views on Vaccinations

In this podcast, Portland naturopathic doctors, Dr. Greg Eckel and Dr. Greg Nigh educate you on the issues that surround vaccinations that you probably don’t hear about.  The amount of vaccines that kids are getting injected with is astounding, especially when things like mercury, preservatives, MSG, and many others things are being included in these injections.  Find out the things they think you should consider before making the decision to vaccinate.

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Naturopathic Views on the Flu and Avian Flu

Friday, November 18th, 2005

Listen to Flu and Avian Flu Podcast

In this podcast,Nature Cures Clinic founder, Dr. Greg Eckel and colleagues discuss the seasonal flu, as well as the Avian flu.  Should you get vaccinated?  Does the benefit outweigh the risk, or is it even effective?  They’ll discuss those questions, as well as give you some ways that you can help your body to stay healthy enough to not be susceptible to the flu.

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