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Home > Topics > EMS Training
March 04, 2008
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Health, Fitness & EMS
by Jennifer Milus

Alternatives During the Cold and Flu Season

By Jennifer Milus

EMS personnel are constantly exposed to all sorts of germs and ill folks. With the cold and flu season becoming more pervasive, people are getting sick multiple times in one season. While mainstream society touts the latest over-the-counter medications, there are several natural alternatives that are not widely known. I will discuss some of the different ways I and my patients have strengthened our immune systems in order to ward off all the bugs flying around this time of year.

Organic Lemon Echinacea Throat Coat Tea*:

Make this brand of hot tea with the squeezed juice of half a lemon and a tablespoon of raw honey from a local manufacturer. Local bees collect nectar from local flowers to make their honey, thus using their honey aligns your immune system to the local environment for better functionality. It also soothes the throat. The lemon juice cuts the mucous and frees breathing, and the Echinacea stimulates the immune system. Carry this in your thermos all day, every day.

*Organic Lemon Echinacea Throat Coat Tea is made by Traditional Medicinals and is available at Whole Foods Market and most health food stores.

Vitamin C:

Many people take Vitamin C supplements as an immune system booster. The jury is still out on its effectiveness. Here’s a study I found interesting:

"Vitamin C probably can't help the sedentary man in the street very much, but almost all of the 'good' (randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind) research looking at the effects of Vitamin C on the incidence of colds has shown C to be extremely effective during periods of increased physical activity. For example, in a study carried out with 279 school-age children attending a strenuous ski camp in the Swiss Alps, 22 percent of the youngsters taking placebo developed colds during a one-week period while just 12 percent of the children taking in 1000 mg of daily C fell ill. Cold risk was cut almost in half and the difference was statistically significant."
Ascorbic Acid and the Common Cold, Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 235, p. 1108, 1976.

Other studies show that long-term mega dosing of Vitamin C can cause cellular neoplasia. For that reason, I use Vitamin C very carefully and take the RDA amount daily, unless there is a real need for large doses.

Echinacea, Elderberry and Golden Seal:

Research shows that these herbs promote a stronger immune system. While I don’t personally take these, I have heard dozens of my patients over the years tell me how well they work.

Homeopathic Remedies:

Homeopathic remedies, a serial dilution of ground solids, have long been used by naturopaths, nutritionists, chiropractors, homoeopathists and Chinese medicine doctors as an alternative way to treat countless maladies.

However, this isn’t without controversy. Homeopathic remedies have been debated by physicians due to a lack of concrete scientific support, and the belief that users experience a placebo effect. In my experience, some seem like they work, while some do not. I have found two that I think are especially good: Influenzium and Oscillococcinum They can be found at almost any health food store.

Influenzium by Boiron:

These BB-sized pellets can be used all winter long. Some people even use this as a flu vaccine of sorts. They take two pellets every day from December through March. In my, and dozens of my patients’ experiences, it appears to help ward off cold and flu viruses.

Oscillococcinum by Boiron:

I have been sharing information about this remedy with my patients, players and friends for over 10 years. Oscillococcinum is the best-selling cold and flu remedy in Europe and there’s a reason why: it works. Oscillococcinum’s main active ingredient is duck liver extract. While there have been circulating rumors of cases where Oscillococcinum caused bird flu, my research has not yielded any findings.

Whenever I first introduce this homeopathic remedy, individuals are skeptical at first. However, soon after, every single one of them calls me to thank me for telling them about it. When taken as directed, it has greatly reduced the length of recovery time in flu patients.

*Note: I do not have any financial interest in the Boiron Corporation. My only interest is in getting people well, and keeping people well.

Cold and Flu Broth:

Now, what can be a more natural immune-boosting remedy than a nutrient-rich soup? Here is my recipe for the EMS Immunity Soup.

The EMS Immunity Soup

  • 4 cups purified water
  • 2 cloves organic garlic/chopped
  • 1/2 organic zucchini/cubed
  • 3 medium organic mushrooms/cubed
  • 1 cube organic vegetarian vegetable bouillon
  • 12-15 fresh organic green beans/cut in half
  • Cayenne pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat.

Drink the soup throughout the day when you have the flu or a cold. It should be taken each day that you are ill. This recipe will stimulate your immune system, as well as clear your sinuses and open your throat. The soup can be refrigerated for a few days, but make sure it doesn't sit too long.

Flu Shots:

Getting an annual flu shot has been widely advocated in recent years and is propelled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While I would never try to dissuade someone from getting a flu shot, I personally have never had one and hope to never have to. It is my opinion, as a doctor in the field of alternative medicine, that I should avoid medicine as much as possible and use natural and herbal means to strengthen my immune system. Flu shots may be necessary for certain individuals with weak immune systems or the elderly, but the secret is prevention — not to get to the point of needing them.

Antibiotics:

Antibiotics are a very important part of saving lives — when used correctly. But they are too often handed out like candy. The main problem is that they are often used for common colds and flu. Antibiotics are intended to fight bacterial infections, not viral ones. When over-used, antibiotics begin to squelch the immune system by killing bad and good bacteria – such as ones found in the digestive tract. The digestive tract is the main mode of transportation of bugs into our system. While current practices are limiting the prescription of antibiotics, they are necessary and any concerns should be discussed with your physician. I have not taken antibiotics since 1990. The stronger my natural defenses become, the less often I get sick.

I hope your flu season ends smoothly!

About the author


Dr. Jennifer Milus, DC, has been in sports performance enhancement and injury rehab since 1985 and in private practice for over 12 years. A Palmer College of Chiropractic alumnus, Dr. Milus is dedicated to helping athletes perform at peak levels, as well as prevent and treat sports-related injuries.

Now Dr. Milus has turned her attention to empowering paramedics, EMTs and other first responders, as well as helping firefighters prepare for the CPAT. EMS personnel are not only athletes; they are athletes who need to be able to perform at peak levels whenever duty calls. She is also an active sports coach and participates in triathlons and a range of competitive sports. For more information, visit www.fireagility.com. Have a health-related question or possible column topic for Dr. Milus? Email her at jennifer.milus@ems1.com.

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