Patients with severe cold and flu symptoms often flock to their doctors, demanding antibiotics. However, these are viral infections, which do not respond to antibiotics. The mainline medical arsenal of antiviral drugs is much smaller than the multitude of bacteria-busters at you doctor’s disposal. Besides cold and flu strains, other viruses include the family of herpes viruses, the polio virus, Eubola, and the dreaded HIV which is decimating populations world-wide. Alternative treatments for infections, both bacterial and viral, have been around for a long time, but their efficacy and safety is still hotly contested.
Garlic is well-known not only for its cholesterol-lowering powers, but also as an anti-viral. For many, this is the herb of choice to prevent and cure colds. Odorless capsules can help you avoid offending your family and friends. However, it may upset your stomach. It is important to note that garlic is a blood thinner which may be hazardous if used in conjunction with other blood thinners. Giseng and echinachea are popular cold remedies which many find effective, but which may elevate blood pressure.
Essential oils are popular alternatives to mainline remedies. The anti-infection qualities of oil of oregano are well known, and some people see it as a universal cure for almost anything. Other essential oils can be ingested, rubbed on the skin, or used for aromatherapy.
Homeopathic medicine is based on the proposition that “like cures like.” The patient is given highly diluted quantities of substances that would normally be toxic. This, in theory, stimulates the immune system to promote healing. The use of homeopathic remedies is increasing, and many people swear by them. Critics attribute their healing powers to the placebo effect.
Ultra-violet irradiation of blood is making a comeback. It was developed in the 30s to combat the polio virus. Blood is removed from the patient, treated with UV rays, and then re-injected into the patient. This is supposed to stimulate self-healing activity.
Colloidal silver consists of microscopic particles of silver suspended in a colloidal base. It was used by doctors until the 70s, when it fell out of favor because of serious side-effects with long-term use. It is still available in health food stores. Use at your own risk!
If you are suffering from a cold virus, the old advice about “drink plenty of fluids and get some rest” is probably the best. Fluids will thin the mucus and make it easier to expel. Rest gives your immune system a chance to fight back. Tender loving care and a little chicken soup might help too!
If your virus is something more serious, proceed with caution. Some alternative treatments have limited usefulness, and others can be downright harmful.
Sources and resources:
http://www.healthatoz.com/healthatoz/Atoz/common/standard/transform.jsp?requestURI=/healthatoz/Atoz/dc/caz/infc/bact/bacinf.jsp a cautious article citing garlic as an antiviral
http://www.thenhf.com/articles/articles_594/articles_594.htm comprehensive overview of alternative treatments for infection
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=50645 homeopathic medicine
Quackwatch article re. colloidal silver
ultra-violet radiation of blood equipment promotion