The Yearly Onslaught: Managing Colds & Flu

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

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

Kick that cold with a few kitchen staples

‘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.


The Burden of Recurring Sinusitis and Bronchitis

In a survey conducted of 606 self-identified sufferers of recurring sinusitis and bronchitis, nearly half of them had missed at least one day of work due to one of these illnesses, and a quarter of them had missed three or more days of work. In addition to over $6 billion being spent annually to treat sinusitis, additional billions are lost through work absence.

The medical doctors who conducted this survey note that it is important to treat these conditions appropriately, and that antibiotics should only be used to treat sinusitis or bronchitis that is caused by bacteria, not viruses. However, there is another option for treatment, one that offers much greater benefits than antibiotics. Continue reading “The Burden of Recurring Sinusitis and Bronchitis”