Natural Ways to Beat the Flu

Lifestyle Notes

Volume CIII, No. 11November, 2003

Dr. Diane Gioia-Bargonetti

We all know about SARS, but that is only the latest in a long list of viral-based diseases that have affected the human race. Others include the common cold, flu, warts, measles, bronchitis, chickenpox, mononucleosis, mumps, shingles, sore throat, hepatitis, herpes, smallpox and AIDS.

Unlike bacterial infections, which are usually treated effectively with antibiotics, viral-based conditions are often unresponsive to modern medical treatment.

Here are some common sense habits to foster in your life:

  • Get rid of the handkerchief in favor of disposable tissues. Wipe or blow your nose and then toss it.
  • If you are playing in a pit orchestra with someone who is obviously sick, cover your mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze. Conversely, if you are the sick one, protect others from becoming infected by covering your nose and mouth. Wash your hands frequently.
  • Be mindful of excessive alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking – both impair your resistance. (As I’ve written before, studies in Europe show the herb stevia is successful with both alcohol and cigarette cravings. Put a few drops on your tongue when addictions beckon.)


Let me be emphatic: A balanced, alkaline system is the single most important flu preventative. The body is largely made up of water, a medium that is biologically useful in allowing nutrients, oxygen and biochemicals to be transported from place to place. This water-based medium can have either acid or alkaline properties, which are measured by a graduated scale called pH (potential hydrogen). (A naturopath can easily test your body’s pH level.) Research confirms that viruses that cause colds or flu – or even SARS – require only mild acidity for maximum infectivity. Proper diet and eliminations promote alkalinity and decrease acidity. Here are some other suggestions:

  • Take my apple cider vinegar formula at least once a day. (Mix 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar and 1-2 teaspoons unheated honey in about 6 ounces of water.) This keeps the body alkaline and is also an anti-aging elixir.
  • Have a raw salad or fresh juice each day that includes lettuce, carrots and celery as the main ingredients.
  • Avoid acidic foods like dairy, refined foods and sugar, which increase production of thick mucous.
  • Consume plenty of liquids like fresh juices, herbal teas, soups and quality water. (Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to soups to break up mucous congestion.)


Here are important vitamins and supplements to consider in your quest to beat the flu this season.

Vitamin C (in 1000 mg doses) is well known for its success in treating colds. You can increase this dosage when you are in the acute stages of a cold but if you develop diarrhea, your bowel tolerance for vitamin C has reached its limit and you need to cut back on the dosage. Bioflavanoids (apricots, blackberries, the peel and pulp of citrus fruits, green peppers) assist vitamin C absorption, so look for a supplement that contains both.

Vitamin A (5,000-25,000 IU) is great for the immune system, the heart, vision and fighting cancer, as well as protecting against viruses and bacteria. Vitamin A can be toxic – supplements generally contain too much retinol (often listed as vitamin A acetate or palmitate). Make sure your multi states the vitamin A source comes from beta carotene (which is virtually nontoxic). Better yet, eat whole foods rich in beta carotene: carrot juice, kale, parsley, spinach and cantaloupe.

Vitamin E (400 IU), found in nuts and whole grains, is an antioxidant and anticarcinogen. Anyone with high blood pressure or on anticoagulants needs to consult their doctor before taking vitamin E.

Garlic is also beneficial, especially in the beginning stages of a cold. It warms the body and has antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Zinc lozenges soothe sore throats and help fend off a cold before it takes hold. Continual usage of zinc, however, throws off the delicate balance of minerals in your body so never use on a long-term basis.

At the first sign of infection, try colloidal silver. Colloidal silver is safe and effective against over 650 pathogens (bacteria and fungi), including antibiotic resistant bacteria. Just add a 0.5 dropper to juice or water. You can also put it directly on warts and cuts; I find it particularly effective with pneumonia, shingles and herpes. (Back in the days of wagon trains, they would put a silver dollar in milk to preserve its freshness.)


Symptoms of influenza begin much like a cold: headaches, fatigue and body aches. In some cases, fever develops with a dry throat and cough. There are many homeopathic remedies for symptoms and the following are just a few of your choices. For more options, consult a healthcare professional. As always, use dosages of 30c (or 30x) and below.

Allium cepa (onion) covers more symptoms of the common cold than any other single remedy and I suggest you keep this in your travel bag or medicine cabinet at home. It is used for colds, hay fever, runny nose, sneezing, red, burning eyes, a dull headache and a dry, hacking cough.

Aconitum napellus (aconite) is for the first stages of colds and flu that come on suddenly. There is fever, cough, sore throat and stuffed-up nose. The patient is restless and fears going out. Usually follows exposure to chill.

Bryonia alba (wild hops) is for bronchitis – chest colds with a dry cough, and tough mucous that is hard to cough up. Patients complain of dry mouth and exhibit excessive thirst for cold drinks. They are irritable, easily angered and morose. Any type of motion makes the symptoms worse.


Boost your immune system by adding 10-15 drops of echinacea to herbal teas at the first sign of symptoms.

Elderberry shows great promise as a preventative for colds and flu. To date, research confirms its success against seven strains of flu.


Is your cough productive or nonproductive? If you cough up phlegm, it is a productive cough and you do not want to suppress it completely. Your body is trying to get rid of toxins from your lungs. If, on the other hand, your cough is nonproductive (no elimination), then it is a good time to take a cough medicine. There are many good ones at your local health food store. (In a pinch, swallow a bit of honey.) And, please, if you smoke, stop – at least during your illness.

I hope these suggestions keep you healthy during the upcoming flu season. Remember, besides worrying about getting sick, you want to take care of your mental outlook. Get some full-spectrum light bulbs to brighten your home and keep the blues away.

One last message: A few weeks ago, our alert editor informed me that my one-year anniversary writing “Lifestyle Notes” for Allegro was fast approaching. I wondered what I could do for the Local 802 constituency to mark this event. I thought testing your pH level and giving you a list of acid and alkaline foods would be the most practical and useful gift I could give to thank you for your participation and support this past year.

If you would be interested in having me check your pH, please e-mail me. It only takes a few minutes and could give you a barometer of whether you are susceptible to colds and flu…and I would enjoy meeting more of you!

–Dr. Di