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What Most Doctors Won't Tell You About Colds and Flus

The next time you experience a cold or the flu, remember this: rather than take conventional drugs to suppress uncomfortable symptoms, it's better for your health to allow the cold or flu to run its course while you get plenty of physical and emotional rest.

Conventional medicine and the pharmaceutical industry would have you believe that there is no "cure" for the common cold, that you should protect yourself against the flu with a vaccine that is laden with toxic chemicals, and that during the midst of a cold or flu, it is favorable to ease your discomfort with a variety of medications that can suppress your symptoms.

Unfortunately, all three of these positions indicate a lack of understanding of what colds and flus really are, and what they do for your body.

Colds and flus are caused by viruses. So to understand what colds and flus do at a cellular level, you have to understand what viruses do at a cellular level.

Do you remember learning about cellular division in grade seven science class? Each of your cells are called parent cells, and through processes of genetic duplication (mitosis) and cellular division (cytokinesis), each of your parent cells divides into two daughter cells. Each daughter cell is then considered a parent cell that will divide into two more daughter cells, and so on.

Viruses are different from your cells in that they cannot duplicate themselves through mitosis and cytokinesis. Viruses are nothing but microscopic particles of genetic material, each coated by a thin layer of protein.

Due to their design, viruses are not able to reproduce on their own. The only way that viruses can flourish in your body is by using the machinery and metabolism of your cells to produce multiple copies of themselves.

Once a virus has gained access into one of your cells, depending on the type of virus involved, one of two things can happen:

  1. The virus uses your cell's resources to replicate itself many times over and then breaks open (lyses) the cell so that the newly replicated viruses can leave in search of new cells to infect. Lysis effectively kills your cell.

  2. The virus incorporates itself into the DNA of your cell, which allows the virus to be passed on to each daughter cell that stems from this cell. Later on, the virus in each daughter cell can begin replicating itself as described above. Once multiple copies of the virus have been produced, the cell is lysed.

Both possibilities lead to the same result: eventually, the infected cell can die due to lysis.

Here is the key to understanding why colds and flus, when allowed to run their course while you rest, can be good for you:

By and large, the viruses that cause the common cold and the flu infect mainly your weakest cells; cells that are already burdened with excessive waste products and toxins are most likely to allow viruses to infect them. These are cells that you want to get rid of anyway, to be replaced by new, healthy cells.

So in the big scheme of things, a cold or flu is a natural event that can allow your body to purge itself of old and damaged cells that, in the absence of viral infection, would normally take much longer to identify, destroy, and eliminate.

Have you ever been amazed by how much mucous you could blow out of your nose while you had a cold or the flu? Embedded within all of that mucous are countless dead cells that your body is saying good bye to, largely due to the lytic effect of viruses.

So you see, there never needs to be a cure for the common cold, since the common cold is nature's way of keeping you healthy over the long term. And so long as you get plenty of rest and strive to stay hydrated and properly nourished during a cold or flu, there is no need to get vaccinated or to take medications that suppress congested sinuses, a fever, or coughing. All of these uncomfortable symptoms are actually ways in which your body works to eliminate waste products and/or help your body get through a cold or flu. It's fine to use over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen if your discomfort becomes intolerable or if such meds can help you get a good night's rest. But it's best to avoid medications that aim to suppress helpful processes such as fever, coughing, and a runny nose.

It's important to note that just because colds and flus can be helpful to your body doesn't mean that you need to experience them to be at your best. If you take good care of your health and immune system by getting plenty of rest and consistently making health-promoting dietary and lifestyle choices, your cells may stay strong enough to avoid getting infected by viruses that come knocking on their membranes. In this scenario, you won't have enough weak and extraneous cells to require a cold or the flu to work its way through your body to identify and lyse them.

Curious about how to differentiate the common cold and the flu? Here is an excellent summary of the differences from

A cold usually comes on gradually — over the course of a day or two. Generally, it leaves you feeling tired, sneezing, coughing and plagued by a running nose. You often don't have a fever, but when you do, it's only slightly higher than normal. Colds usually last three to four days, but can hang around for 10 days to two weeks.

Flu, on the other hand, comes on suddenly and hits hard. You will feel weak and tired and you could run a fever as high as 40 C. Your muscles and joints will probably ache, you will feel chilled and could have a severe headache and sore throat. Getting off the couch or out of bed will be a chore. The fever may last three to five days, but you could feel weak and tired for two to three weeks.

One final note on this topic: because the common cold and the flu are both caused by viruses, antibiotics are not necessary. People who take antibiotics while suffering with a cold or flu often feel slightly better because antibiotics have a mild anti-inflammatory effect. But this benefit is far outweighed by the negative impact that antibiotics have on friendly bacteria that live throughout your digestive tract. In this light, if you really need help with pain management during a cold or flu, it is usually better to take a small dose of acetaminophen than it is to take antibiotics.


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Did anyone notice that colds and flues are most of the time in a fall, winter and spring time?


I will use simple logic instead “professional” explanation. It is colder then compare to summer…right? Well the friendly bacteria on fruits and vegetables that can survived in temperature around 20 degree Celsius is in a very limited supply and without steady supply of the friendly bacteria the immune system gets weak and that’s why old people die and younger get cold and flu.

Drinking HOMEMADE kefir and yogurt is the simplest thing to make doctors unemployed and pharmaceutical industry bankrupt…Will you let this information get out? I doubt.

hi, in Newar community in Nepal we drink soup of cumin,garlic and ginger when we getdown with cold. no other medicine

Cumin (turmeric) is one of the best nutrients you can take. It's an anti-inflammatory also. Garlic and ginger as well. I think that's a great recipe for dealing with the cold.

I also step up the vitamin C, since it's an anti-oxidant in high doses. I've gotten rid of full blown sinus infections in 3 days with 10K Mgs of C per day (but that's caused by a fungus). Since using 3K mg's of C per day, I no longer have allergies I've had since 18 years of age (I'm 63)....

I agree with Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, who maintains that we get colds and flu in the winter because we are not in the sun, from which we can obtain vitamin D3 (which is actually a hormone, not a vitamin). It makes perfect sense to me.

Cumin is a seed-derived spice from the parsley family, usually used whole or ground in cooking, or taken powdered in a capsule. Its properties benefit digestion and increase the flow of saliva. It is also renowned for its antibacterial effects.

Turmeric is a root-derived spice from the ginger family; in the US it is generally sold as a powder and frequently used as a dye. (So long, Tupperware! You will now be yellow forever ...) The main phytochemical in turmeric is curcumin, so you can see why the two are often confused: cumin, curcumin. Turmeric itself does have antibiotic and antifungal properties, although not from curcumin; primarily an antinflammatory, curcumin possesses similar anticoagulant effects comparative to pharmaceutical drugs such as ibuprofen.

That`s really true too. I take turmeric and vit C and D.. I havent had a cold this winter and I work in an office where most are coughing and sneezing

Obviously the Health Ranger has not been to Hawaii, where there is no lack of sunshine in September, which is also the peak of the rhinovirus season. It does correlate to the start of the school season however. More kids in a small classroom, easier transmission of airborne viruses.

Thank you for the information, it was very useful.

In what proportions? Or strength? Do u have a recipe?

Dr. John Cannell, of has hypothesised that as people's vitamin D levels reduce during autumn, winter, and early spring, their immune system is affected adversely, making them more likely to contract viral infections. Since optimising my vitamin D levels, I have not had one cold, or 'flu in the last 5 years, and it is without vaccinations, (which Dr. Joseph Mercola, at advises actually impair the immune system) or using products like Tamiflu or Relenza.

I have read a lot about Vitamin D and have heard this supported before from more trustworthy sites. I would, however, caution anyone who visits to trust their intuition and check it against better known health / medical sources. A lot of the stuff on Mercola IS factual, fairly trustworthy, but Dr. Mercola sometimes slides in unsupported health / diet / medical opinions. Just don't believe everything he says.

I believe much of Dr Mercola's advice is quite new and 'alternative' and I agree with Timothy that it is a good idea to follow your intuition. On the other hand, I have just been told I have osteo arthritis by a mainstream specialist when clearly I haven't.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and you have to be careful about taking too much. I have been deficient for years so I take huge doses to boost my levels. But if your levels are normal, taking high doses of vitamin D can be harmful. vitamin C and your vitamin B's are water soluble which means you pee out the excess. Those two vitamins are great for your immune and for energy and you can take at liberty. No harm will come to you if you take large doses. With most things, moderation is recommended. If you're taking blood thinners or about to have surgery you will want to lay off the garlic, ginger and ginkgo. These three are natural blood thinners. Very good for you but not in all cases.

In general, during the warmer months of the year, we get much more direct sunlight in the form of UV-B radiation which converts much of our cholestrol in our skin to vitamin D3. Vit D3 is known to protect us in general from infections and flu. So it's a good idea I think to either supplement with vit D3 at about 2000 IU to 8000 IU per day or use an approved tanning bed at no more than 30 minutes per day to generate your own natural vit D3.

Hi there,

The reason isn't to do with the the virus and temperature but how we as humans act in Winter and colder times. We all stay in more, rather than be outside we stay inside where we have more contact with other humans and the virus, cold etc has a much higher chance to spread. Again common sense here.

Old wives tales tell you its because of the cold weather making you get a cold but that is scientifically impossible.

Well to me we will never really understand the interalated systems of the human body well enough and why should we need to when common sense has the answers

Just live your life the way we evolved to do for 1000s of years(exercise and no processed foods, chemicals etc).

I am a big believer in natural remedies for many things, but i despise this line of thinking. Not all modern medicine is driven by profit margins, and many medicines of today are made from the active invrediants of natural cures; you just have to do your research. Also, doing things the way past genrerations did just because they did things that way is an exercise in needless nostalgia, and ignore facts such as how common, say, pool and cholera were everywhere and how the average lifespan has increased.
Pr Cessednfood is also a scary buzzword; the real key Ian how is it processed? If all they do is vaccuum freeze to kill off parasites then I want it processed; I get enough exposure to them as part of my job outdoors. If, on the other hand, processed means add in corn syrup, then no thanks.

When it comes to flu prevention, the real reason it is wanted is not for you and me, who are healthy, but so that we are less likely to give it to our newborn children and frail elderly (not that all elderly are frail, but some are) whose immune systems do not properly work and do not have the same reserves of healthy cells that we do. Whether this is the best way this do that is another story that, but it's for those skae, not ours. That's the real secret.

Actually it is the generation that ate lots of processed foods and chemicals that is living longer than ever before...

Actually that is not true, my parents, and their parents cooked and baked with ingredients, rather than now days when folks buy frozen, or mixes or eat take out.

I have always figured everyone gets sick in the fall and winter mainly because school goes back and smaller children usually don't wash their hands as often or as thoroughly as they should, always touching each other, rarely cover their mouths to cough and sneeze, and are in each other faces talking. They are germ magnets! One child comes to school with a cold, before the end of the month every child in the school, the teachers and parents are sick too. Three weeks into the school year, my two school aged children have already been sick, my husband just got over a cold and now I think I am dying and have it worse than the rest!Last year, the first week of school everyone has strep throat.

not true, I have my 5 kids home all day during the summer and I run a daycare at home. all these kids together and not one cold all summer.

If one of them actually had got it, they all would have. You too.

I have 2 kids in school. We rarely get colds or flus. This year my 11 yr old had sniffles a few days over Christmas. My 15 yr had a 24 hr stomach bug just before March break. My husband and I have not had either. We are highly concious of the food we eat and limit processed foods. My kids and I never get the flu and don't get flu shots. My husband got the flu shot 2 years in a row and was sick both years. Since he stopped getting the shot he hasn't had it.

I believe it happens more in the fall/winter because we have holidays really close together and have a higher sugar intake and we run down our systems with sugars

This is so very interesting! I had a very bad infection in January,(either bronchitis or walking pneumonia--which I was told that it was). I would not go to a doctor, as I knew I would be given antibiotics, which I feel do more harm than good. I did receive three treatments with Rife lights. What amazed me most was the amount of mucus that came out of my head and chest (which is explained in this article). When my husband was alive he always took the flu shot (which I refused to do) and he had the flu seven years in a row and I only got it once, while taking care of him each time. I will be 70 this year and I seem to be in comparatively good health. I do not take prescriptions, as I think that they do more harm than good. It is my opinion that chemicals are a detriment to our health. I really enjoy your articles and always get information that is helpful.

It was good to read Patty Smith's note. I like to hear from 'kindred spirits' who won't take pharmaceuticals because they know they are poison to our bodies. The most far-reaching problem is that they are "poison" to the health care in this country. Their existance and the politics involved make maintaining health an uphill battle, because the truth of what is truly "health care" and finding it is so obscured. What can we do about their effect on our health care, our insurance and our bodies? If only health care would go back to the Natural Hygiene of before the 20th century.

Yeah, we should go back to life before antibiotics, like the early 20th century when life expectancy at birth was 31 yrs! (just google life expectancy). LOL.

The reason life expectancy was lower back then had much more to do with sanitation, not antibiotics. Clean water, sewers, etc. were the answer, not some chemical that's never been found in the human body. Another thing was infant mortality. Your number (31 yrs) is just an average. Many people lived to be over 100 back then too (Google that...).

I agree with Patty Smith's note. I don't take anything, but all natural home Remedies.I don't get sick very often. I am a "kindred spirit" also.

Hi Patty,

Well done on recognizing the drug company scams. I just wish that we could keep them away from children. Something needs to be done to reign in these corporations. And it's time to do the same to companies that hurt our health like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc. selling nutrient-free sugar water.

Some people get sicker than others because they have different immune systems. You can have two people who each take antibiotics or flu shots and both get sick different numbers of times.

Antibiotics work. How many people would have died if they didn't have access to antibiotics? Also, why suffer for weeks when you can stop it dead in its tracks in 2 days after taking an antibiotic.

Really, just fighting it yourself is plain stupid. Measles, mumps, polio, small pox. All diseases gone because of vaccinations. It's mind boggling to think you would try to fight these things naturally.

If it is for religious reasons that you don't take these preventions and cures, let me give you an analogy: Jesus went to the dessert and was tempted by the devil. The devil said to Jesus "throw yourself from this mountain and angels will save you." Jesus said "It is written,'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'"

So if you know something works to "protect" you and you don't take it you are throwing yourself off the mountain to let the angels save you.

I could not agree more. Being microbiologist n lupus sufferer, I get the insight of the whole scenario. People should be thankful for antibiotic and vaccines discoveries, for they have no idea how muvh hard work being put on them. These health advancement tools help to prolong lives and improve the quality of living we have today. Yes, some vaccines does contain ingredients that may POSSIBILY impair one's health but the occurence of negative effect is very very rare and the advantages and benefits of employing vaccines n antibiotic outweight these.
Imagine if vaccines n antibiotic never existed. How are people who born with no immune system, immunosupressed patients ( like myself) or even those who are immunocompromised (diabetes pts, congenital pts etc) going to counter infection? Just because some people are try making money out of it, doesnt mean that we all shud avoid antibiotics n vaccines. Opportunist are in every area of life.

I totally agree. I was raised by a physician and have a lot of insight into pharmaceuticals. The present generation pharmaceutical industry is flawed and that is something that I have gained insight into also. The wisdom is this: medicine is good when it helps you, while you are sick, to overcome illness and get well. The "bad" medicine is those controversial medicines, like statins, which are nothing other than a type of calcium that is potentially harmful, which people are advised to take for the rest of their lives, to combat "cholesterol", something which is vital to human health and brain function.

Antibiotics however cure deadly, destructive diseases like Lyme, and infections like Strep. If a person does not take antibiotics with Strep, or Lyme, these will continue to invade and permanently damage the body - organs and function- beyond repair. Strep often manifests as a kind of flu. Cold medicines are again temporary. They help the body to fight by reducing inflammation, and opening up passages for fluids to come out, and reduce painful coughs. Patients get better faster when they take cold medicine, because it gives them a boost to repair themselves.

I want to make it clear that both my physician parent and I are dead set against the pharmaceutical scams being perpetrated today. I have been cheered on for refusing medicine from other doctors on two occasions. Natural is the way to go and I applaud this article for pointing out the good of colds and flu. However antibiotics and cold medicines are among the examples of positive advances in medicine that "does harm to no one" as the creed says and these are not the medicines to be shunned.

Doctor's daughter here too and I agree.
I take virtually no pharmaceuticals ever. However obviously there were a serious problem and I needed them I would. It is the constant taking of things which is the big problem.

I try by the way every April to October to lie outside for 20 mins a day without suncream to get Vit D - much better than from pills and in fact took myself off somewhere warm in January for a week to get more.

Now have my first cold for 9 months. Will try lots of rest.

In general if we can be natural, move, don't eat junk food, be outside etc we are healthy. I never even took the contraceptive pill and not surprisingly I am rarely ill. Only been to a doctor twice in 15 years and one of those was a ski accident. I don't eat processed foods but thought I would try to buy a soup today in a shop. Every brand except one had sugar in! Appalling and quite typical. No wonder I just eat whole normal foods and no processed food.

How rare it is does not matter to the ones it happen to. I have chronic Bell's Palsy, the doc said it only happens to less than 5% of BP cases so I shouldn't be so sad...

My youth was still pretty much ruined, and to this day I struggle with severe personality disorders because I cannot face anyone without having them stare at me or often make insensitive comments.

The doc saying I am a rare case gives less than zero comfort.

Viruses insert their genetic material into a human cell's DNA in order to reproduce. Antibiotics cannot kill viruses because bacteria and viruses have different mechanisms and machinery to survive and replicate. The antibiotic has no “target” to attack in a virus.

Antibiotics don`t work for virus`s. It`s better if you can optimize your immune system and let it fight virus`s.I haven`t had a cold for ages and ages and I work in an office where most of them cough and splutter all winter.

Antibiotics don't work when one has the cold or flu.

I loved your scriptural analogy. Antibiotics are not the only things that work. They are just the only things that could be patented and profited from. God created man with the intrinsic ability to heal and natural substances to help him. Man created pharmaceuticals for the sole purpose of profit. You need to do your homework on vaccinations, the supposed disappearance of polio, why the CDC wants babies who do not have fully developed immune systems to have vaccinations in the hospital at birth, 2 months, 6 months etc. The lack of immune system renders the vaccine a very harmful exercise in futility, talk to mothers who's children were normal until they had a vaccine, meet the 20 or so physicians I worked with who refused the flu shot because it made them sick, study the BIG PHARMA tactics, follow the money and who funds the research, understand that vaccines do not under go any of the clinical studies that other pharmaceuticals have, research the 32,000 or so lawsuits settled each year under the wire by the pharmaceutical companies, and last but not least talk to me who gets sick for at least 8 weeks following a vaccination. Best of luck!

Antibiotics don't kill viruses. Antibiotics are medicines used to treat infections or diseases caused by bacteria. Antibiotics do not work against viruses. Many common respiratory tract infections (RTIs) — such as colds and flu — are caused by viruses, so antibiotics are of no use.

I usually get bronchitis a few times a year. I have asthma among other things and except for two years in highschool (I went to a boarding school and it was mandatory) I never get the flu shot. When I get any bronchial complaints, I will take a cough syrup with an expectorant and sit near one of those mini garbage cans so i can spit the stuff out. Any cough syrup that has an expectorant is OK in this case. I strongly recommend against taking a cough suppressant if you are sick with chest congestion especially if you have asthma. You can have an asthma attack and never know until you are blue in the face(literally from lack of oxygen) and have to go to the hospital because no emergency puffer is gonna help you there. 80% oxygen is not a fun thing to deal with. Trying to stand up feels impossible. Try walking more than a few steps!!

The missing piece in this article is that most if not all colds and especially the Flu occur mainly in the Winter Months and NOT during the Summer months. Reason: lack of sunlight on the skin and therefore lack of production of Vitamin D3 within the body. You will find that supplemental use of Vitamin D3 during the winter months ( at an adequate dosage) will prevent or curtail these diseases completely.

Thx Chris B. for Vit. D comment. Living in the NW, winters can be short on sun. We supplement with Vit. D, probiotics/L. acidophilus, Omega-3's + multi vits, healthy diet. We stay healthy. Prior to our supplements routines, the last flu shot I had, within days I came down with a winter cold which took 3 mos. to shake. With Vit. D,et al., health is good!

In reply to the comment that lack of sunlight and vitamin D3, is the cause for colds and flu may not be quite correct. I live in South Africa, we have 360 days of glorious sunlight a year, even in winter days...and we still get colds and flu 'epidemics' during our cold (0 to 15 degrees) winter causes must be something else !
Perhpas a high dosage of vitamin D3 helps, but this high dosage can never be derived from sunlight anyway.

I'd like to add to the VitD information: Researchers have found that the body is very capable of making WHAT RESEARCHERS consider to be "high doses" of VitD from sunlight. In 20 minutes the body is capable of making 40,000IU from sunlight and much more in a longer period of time. Researchers are all in a tizzy about whether upping the RDA of VitD to 1,000IU is safe or not. Obviously, if our body will make its own 40K amount, recommending 1K is not worrisome. VitD toxicity doesn't begin to occur in the body until the level is around 100,000IU. There is a lot we do not know yet about VitD except that it does seem to be correlated with numerous illnesses when insufficient amounts are present and has a hormonal protective effect. (A hormone is made in one part of the body and acts on another part of the body.)

Colder weather means the sun is further away, which means it would take longer for your body to make vit D from the sun, hence lowered levels in the body. Also, if it's cold people are going to be spending time indoors.

Actually we are closer to the sun during the northern hemispheres winter.
It's the tilting of the earth that causes the cooler temps. Isn't God

Another reason flus and colds happen more in the winter is that viruses multiply faster in temperatures slightly cooler than body temperature - which often occurs in your nose/neck etc during winter. This is also another reason your body creates a fever.... to slow down the replication of viruses - they replicate more slowly at higher body temperatures - and give your immune system a better chance of fighting it. So a fever is a good thing to help your body fight viruses, so long as it doesn't get too too high. Old Grandma's advice about keeping wrapped up warmly when you go outside is not so silly after all ... if you have a virus lurking in you it will have a better chance if you get chilled.
This is what I was taught in cell biology 101 years ago.

I went skiing once with my father and uncle when I had the flu. The sweating part I think helped me get over the flu. I felt awful but by end of the day I felt pretty and 2 days afterwards the flu was gone.

Who says we need flu shots? I haven't had the flu in a long time, I can't even remember the last time I had one. I did have a cold in 2002 or 2003 but that's even a long time. No need for flu shots at all.

Not to say, what you say is untrue, but I suspect there is more to it than just that. I live in the Mohave Desert. Here, it is the summers that you stay in (because of the intense heat), and the winters that you go out. Regardless, people here get sick with colds and flues at the same time of year as the rest of the country.

Excellent article, Dr. Kim. I'd never known how that works before. Recently after most of our town came down with the flu, I succumbed to it much to my surprise, as I never seem to catch it when it's going around. After a few days of heavy nose blowing, I recovered without taking any drugs, except for my favorite raw vinegar and garlic. My daughter, on the other hand was sick for about 3 weeks. She ached in every bone. She did not take antibiotics which everyone else seemed to be on but instead took the vinegar and garlic also.We used a couple of drops of 3% peroxide in her ears a couple of times a day and that really helped. She had not been well for some time so I think as you explained, she had weak cells that were able to be overcome and that's why she got so much sicker.I shall pass this article on as I think the info contained in it is great.God bless,Carol

Hello Carol, like you I was most impressed with Dr Kim's article on colds and flu, particularly as I am struggling at the moment with the first ever attack of flu, I really have been feeling so ill and have refrained from all medication apart from a paracetamol when the headache or limb ache gets to be unbearable. I was most interested to read your comment about " raw vinegar and garlic" and would be most grateful if you could tell me more about this remedy. eg. quantities, is it cider vinegar or pure white etc. The combination sounds very healthy and I would also like to know if it is for a particular symptom of flu or just an all over remedy to help combat his debilitating infection.

Thanks in anticipaton and look forward to hearing from you really soon.

Kind regards


Mandy and everyone else.
I want to share our families cold and flu fighter. Apple Cider Vinegar and raw honey. Although this is not a silver bullet, it seems to have drastically reduced the number of colds in our family.
We mix a teaspoon of raw (uncooked/heated- so as not to destroy enzymes) honey with a very small amount of water, to get it to dissolve. When it is all liquid, we add about two teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar. We use Braggs, but any will do fine. Make sure that the vinegar has the cloudy substance in it. That is called the "mother."

I don't know exactly how it works, but I have read that it produces H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide). I'm sure Doc Kim could go into great detail about this, if he hasn't allready.

Good luck

I read recently that ACV does the same thing in your gut as probiotics and that our health is directly related to a healthy gut.

Dr. Kim,

Thank you for your educated information on colds and viruses. It is a good analogical reminder of how forest fires - set by nature (lightning, dry brush, etc.) - cleanse the forest floor and "flush out" and expose any inbalances that may exist.

Aside from an extra dose of deliberate rest, I'll think twice now about medicating myself when I feel a cold or virus coming on.

Am obliged -

Leslie O.

Boy, that is a great article, which nicely and perfectly sums up what the flu is really all about, ie, keeping us strong in the long run! (And the same can be said of all "infectious" [actually self-starting] conditions). I will refer people I know to this article.

Great article. We too do not like taking medications, especially antibiotics. One trick we learned when I had my baby in Switzerland is that a chopped raw onion in your bedroom at night can really ease the blocked nose which is often the cause of an uncomfortabe nights sleep.
Just take an onion and chop it (the more it makes you cry when you chop it the better). When my son was a baby we used to tie it in a cloth and hang it from his crib. Now I put it on a plate under or beside his bed. Works great for adults too. The whole house smells like onions the next day, but you feel much better.
wishing you good health

I disagree with taking acetaminophen. It is a chemical compound foreign to the body and the body thus handles it like a poison which it really is. You can get white willow bark powder in capsule form (or combination white willow/fever few) which is natural source (much like taking natural source vitamin C sold on this website) and is much more complimentary to your natural chemistry, it does not excite the immune system or lymphnodes or destroy healthy bacteria in the digestive tract like acetaminphen does. Acetaminophen is a hormone disruptor. The only reason I keep it around my home is because it is combined with oxycontin (an even more dangerous drug) for extreme emergency such as the kind of pain one might experience breaking a bone or other trauma. There are many good herbal remedies such as comfrey, nettle, chamomile, devils claw, valerion root that are excellent pain relievers and sleep enhancers and even then as always, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". If you stop poisoning your body, you cut off the main source of most diseases. The virus theory is not proven either. Virus's are genomes, genomes are dead matter from dead cells, when your body does not eliminate them fast enough it becomes overwhelmed with them and you get ill, basically, you have too much death in you so you feel and experience near death symptoms. Solution? Eat more life than death (more raw than cooked) and live.

I eat mostly raw, the only cooked food or starch foods I eat are at dinner time 3 days a week. I don't eat fully raw because I was told my a nutritionist that it could be dangerous to jump in head first, because you can bring up all that dead waste matter too fast, then it doesn't have enough time to exit the body and will back up. So I have been taking it step by step.
Recently I have been catching colds and flu's a lot, I don't seem to go an entire week without having one, this has been going on for 2 months. and even when I'm sick i stay focused on making sure I eat properly and at the right times of the day. I will not change the way that I eat, I get the right nutrients for my body from the raw fruits and veggies that I eat everyday, I also eat fish 3 times a week, I drink fresh fruit and veggie juices and I still eat some starches. A large part of my diet is raw but I still manage to get colds and flu's a lot, maybe it's because I'm suppose to, maybe my body is detoxing, I'm not exactly sure why.

It's not the germs that cause the problems, it's the topography they live in, (Louis Pasteur) so doing regular detoxes will help. You might even consider some good colon cleanses and liver flushes to get it accomplished. When those organs are all cleaned out, your lymphatic system will clean out automatically as will your blood and tissues. It worked for me.
Raw garlic is great to kill all pathogens with. Chop up a clove, let it sit for 20 minutes to activate the allicin, then swallow it with a little oil on it and with some juice. Works great for healing as well as prevention.

If only I had known. I suppressed a bad cough with aspirin and codeine, and ended up with fluid in the lung, and then spent a week in hospital on oxygen. Thank you for the article.

The bad cough could've been caused by fluid in your lung which exacerbated due to improper treatment. It really has nothing to do with the medications you've taken. You were just taking the wrong approach at treating your condition.

Over-the-counter medications only help if you have a cold or a flu virus. They don't help of you have pulmonary hypertension, pneumonia, fluid accumulation, etc.

Thank you, again your words are plain and clear. It could be retitled "Cold & Flu for Dummies." I'm kidding about the name. I love your articles because I can understand what you're talking about. Thank you.

As a child I rarely had a cold or flu when I ate kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage). When I didn't eat kimchi, I would catch a cold or the flu.

Whenever we come down with colds in our household, we are usually too worn down to cook, so we find it great to call in an order to our local Korean restaurant, for an order of yook-gae-jahng. It is spicy and clears the head and chest. I alway feel warmed and better after eating it. I've come up with a quick recipe for making at home, but it's not nearly as good as our local Korean Mama.


Hi Scott
Could yo sed me a recipe for both?

Makes sense. I grew up in New Mexico and whenever we were starting to feel a cold developing, we would eat a bunch of red or green chili with similar effect. Something about natural spicy food seems to be good for clearing out the sinuses.

There is also one helpful traditional practice during cold & flue season:
In a tray of burning charcoal,put some dry red chilies & smoke all rooms.This used to be believed to ward off cold & flue.

I read recently that Kimchi has the same effect on your gut as probiotics and ACV.. thats why it`s so good for you

My mother in law has an old rememdy.
1/4 c. raw apple cider vinegar
1 Tbl honey
3 tbl orang juice
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper (70,000 BTU+)
Mix well. Take a hot shower and then drink by the tablespoon the above and go to bed.

Should you "sweat a fever out" by piling on layers of clothing and blankets to make your body really hot?

It has always worked for me!

Dear Dr. Kim:

I am so happy that you posted this article today. I am scheduled to get a flu shot on Monday morning. I have been uncertain about receiving it,and now I am assured that my first fears where correct.

I enjoy your articles so much, and find them easy to understand and very imformative.

Thanks again.....

Phyllis G

Dr. Kim,
Thanks for informing all of us! I've been particularly vulnerable to colds and flu all my life except in the past 1 1/2 years - during which I (and many friends) have not had a Cold or Flu. Why? We've been taking a nutritional supplement called XPC Green that is the best immune balancer by far that I've ever used. The medical folks call the human form EpiCor but the XPC Green is an organic livestock supplement and the human storiy about its serendipity is quite intriguing. When I feel something "coming on" I just double and triple my 2 tbs per day dosage and within a couple days, whatever it may have been is no longer there. Why is XPC Green (organic) so good? 12 minerals, 12 vitamins, 12 amino acids + an good fats, good carbs, and good energy components (see that eminate from a fermentation process. We ask our feed store here in Asheville to order the 50 lb. bag for us. For the 2 of us using an average of 3 tbs per day each, one bag lasts about a year.....Bon Chance

I really appreciate your approach to taking care of ourselves by natural means. I have said for countless years that our bodies know what to do better than most physicians. Of course there are certain situations needing medical intervention. Everyone is freaked out by this new H1N1 virus. The gov't has got everyone running scared to the nearest health dept for this vaccine, and now schools too. If the gov't is SO CONCERNED about protecting us, why don't they start with our food supply & skin care products. Ban unhealthy additives ( or whatever they are calling them today). If I could work for the FDA, I bet I wouldn't last very long. I don't always buy the "healthy" foods on a consistant basis, but do feel that my choices are way better than most people. I could really go on and on.... The more you mess with mother nature, the more trouble you will find. Your body knows EXACTLY what to do when you get sick, so let the illness run it's course. Myself and my family use high quality nutritional supplements and herbs and cell salts for ailments. I won't say that we never get sick, but we don't usually get it as bad as everyone else. Unfortunately my husband smokes, so I really give hims lots of extra antioxidents and such. Keep up the great work, people are actually starting to realize that they need to be accountable for their choices. Numerous years of an unhealthy lifestyle WILL come back to haunt you. An ounce of prevention IS worth a pound of cure!


I am sorry, but I do not agree that one should just let a cold or flu run its course.

Personally, I have great success by the immediate use of elderberry and zinc at the first signs of a cold or flu. With 35,000 deaths a year from flu, it seems foolhardy to do nothing to help the body. Furthermore, being weakened by the flu will allow pneumonia an opportunity to attack.

Vitamin C aids in the production of mucous and is itself a detoxifying agent.

When my nose is stuffed, I can not sleep, which damages both my body and my mood. A decongestant is preferable to lack of sleep, at least for me.

It seems to me that the reason colds and flu hit during the transition from summer to winter is partly due to lack of sunlight. This affects our hormonal balance and reduces the amount of Vitamin D in our body.

If it were simply a case of viruses attacking weaker cells, the flu would not be seasonal. This season effect shows up all over the world as the season changes. If it were not affected by seasonality, the flu would hit everywhere at one (more or less) instead of waiting for the season to change south of the equator. As such, taking extra vitamin D3 will have preventative effects (5,000 IU a day), possibly even healing effects.

Simply put, weakened cells did not get that way for no reason. Furthermore, the body is a "system", with considerable repair ability. If you take measures to give your body the material it needs there is no reason for cells to die before their time.

Finally, fever is one way the body fights back. Properly used, hot baths and saunas aid in virus destruction. Heat therapy is even used to help kill cancer cells. In any case, why not aid the body in it's fight, rather than letting things "run it's course"?


I think Dr. Kim means, instead of using conventional medicine which is already a well known fact that is causing bad side effects and other illness in our body, we let cold and flu runs its course while of course, using the natural healthy way to keep yourself healthy by taking in lots of fruits and vegetables which are rich in vitamins and minerals which will keep your immune system strong so our body can fight cold and flu the natural way while not endangering our health. I think it is just common sense.

Thanks Dr. Kim for sharing yet another wisdom that seems to have been lost in our Pharmaceutical controled world. Even fevers are a positive way our wonderous bodies respond to threats and should be allowed (within reason) to do the "work" our bodies need them to do. We have experienced so much ridicule from our family and friends over our belief in natural healing. To the extent that even our medical doctor has accused me of not thinking about "what's best for my children". Sad that his education has been directed in a manner that makes the use of drugs and supression of symptoms a number one priority.
Thank you so much for your posts, your insight and for sharing.

Thank you for the good information. I rarely get sick. I cannot even remember the last time. It has been years. However, I recently did a group guided meditation with a group of mothers and their babies and some of them had colds and the following day, I was sicker then I have ever been in my life which is how I found this article. I was really congested and having a very hard time breathing and coughed so much, my abs hurt now just breathing.

My intuition told me to get Manuka Honey . . which is an antibacterial honey made only in New Zealand. It is a bit expensive, but really worth it. I have added it to Juice as well as to a heated organic vegetable broth with a little cayenne and my lungs felt better within 20 minutes. I am going to try the Apple Cider Vinegar combo next.

I recently found out about this honey a month ago while shopping in Chinatown. I work with spirit guides (we all have them but I am really dialed into them and help others do the same) and I think they knew in advance that I was about to go down for the count.

I am actually breathing normally now after just one tablespoon raw and one cup of broth with cayenne and a teaspoon of honey.

About the first person's question:
Research has shown that the influenza virus actually becomes MORE active and transmits far better in very cold temperatures. So the temperature literally has to do with the flu season.
Other things to keep in mind are that cold weather will make your immune system weaker in general, (being cold isn't good for you lol).
Finally, you are more likely to be huddled up with other people and so there is more contact with other people- but this is really iffy, I get sick in winter seasons and if anything I meet others LESS not more.

The naturopathic explanation of colds and flu is interesting and possibly true. But with me it almost invariably turns into bronchitis, terrible coughing, sleeping in a chair for two weeks, and (if untreated by anti-biotics) pneumonia. I've tried to ride it out several times and never got over it without help from my m.d.

DONT FORGET THE COLLOIDAL SILVER, antiviral antifungal, antimicrobial, antibacterial.
and OLIVE LEAF EXTRACT antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial


FOR A FLU, 1000mg (or 1g) of COD LIVER OIL EVERY 2 HOURS
FOR A COLD 1000mg (or 1g or a capsule) EVERY 4 HOURS


I kept having a recurrent cold this past fall/winter season. It would appear to go away then come back a week or two later. Finally, I decided I would not take any drugs, except to sleep at night. But during the day I just suffered through the runny stuffy nose and the cough. Took lots of vitamin C and drank green tea. Lo and behold, it was over in 3 days and didn't come back! I think all the symptom-suppressing drugs I was taking previously were doing just that - suppressing the cold, and not letting my body really get rid of it.

I have heard natural health folks say for years that colds and the flu were nature's way of getting rid of the weakest cells. I admit that it has an appeal to common sense. We know that predators always attack the weakest members of the herd, for example. But is there any scientific evidence whatever that viruses have an easier time getting into weakened cells? My infant grandson (3 weeks old) caught a cold from his toddler little sister and he certainly didn't have a lot of weakened, full of toxins, cells. He was breast-fed in a healthy environment. What actual mechanism would be in effect to allow a healthy cell to refuse a virus entrance, that would be unavailable to a worn-out cell?

This may be helpful to answer your skepticism re: why your grandson was susceptible to infection in the manner Dr. Kim describes, since you see your grandchild as not having many defective cells yet. In reality, anyone who has lived for any length of time has old cells with toxins in them; remember, cells are in the trillions (c. 50 trillion) and they are constantly aging and dying, otherwise your grandson would not grow and you would not change in appearance. These concepts are among those such as our inability to really conceive of infinity - it is truly amazing that a person grows from a c. 7 lb being to c. 100, up to even some really large persons of 750 lbs or more, and we can't see the process, unless we do time lapse photography!.

Most imp. to the situation with children re: infection, they have an immature immune system, which requires exposure to pathogens to develop. And because of the immaturity, these immune cells are vulnerable (weaker) cells as well. A brief on this:

I like what you said about colds and flu viruses cleaning out weak cells, that makes a lot of basic common sense. But the part about antibiotics? No doctor I've ever been to in the last 20 years has ever given me antibiotics for anything other than a secondary infection that lasted beyond the viral cold/flu. For example, after the virus is done doing its thing... the staph in my nose could give me a sinus infection, or I might have a touch of pneumonia from a really bad case of flu. That's not just an "anti-inflamatory" effect, now is it? I think it's still important to go to the doctor and have them check on you after 7 days to see if any lasting effects need some help on the way out. It would've been good to mention also the temperature at which a fever is considered dangerous enough to require an ice bath or hospitalization. I think it's weird that many articles on cold and flu don't mention that 104 deg F is considered the limit of when you should go from "home care" to aggressive care. When I was a child I had very high fevers due to a failing internal organ that went undiagnosed for a while and I remember the "wrapped in cold sheets" and ice baths. Awful, but it was better than brain damage.

Thanks for pointing out that colds and flus don't all need the "panic care" that they get nowadays, but knowing when to shift to aggressive mode is still good knowledge.

Wonderful article. Thank you for getting this information out. People need to know these things. BTW, Guafinesin causes constipation. Duh.

Dr. Kim, that was very informative! I haven't taken medicine for a cold in years. When I was 17 a pharmacist friend of mine told me that, over time, people who take medicine for, say,alleriges (I think--this conversation happened 16 years ago)end up having much worse allergies than if they didn't take medicine at all. I decided to apply that to colds as well. When I feel a cold start to come on, I take it easy. I'm already very good about taking care of myself, meditating, eating healthy and getting to bed between 9-10 pm, after having the lights dimmed and all that. I'm up at 11 pm tonight because I let someone royally aggravate me because I allowed myself to be bothered by some really awful things they said. Lesson learned, I will not engage in conversation with them again. But as I was saying, when I feel a cold start I simply take it easy. I rest as much as I can for the first day. I also visualize how amazing my body is, how perfect my cells are, and how perfect all the atoms that make my cells are. I don't take any medicine and I'm always better in 3-4 days. It's fantastic.

Thank you, wonderful!

Hi Dr Kim

Great article airing a much neglected perspective on both differentiating between cold and flu as well as the importance of colds in developing and maintaining a healthy immune system. However, I feel that some of the information is not quite correct.

Firstly, onset of symptoms is not a good way to differentiate between the two, as this has more to do with a person's susceptibility to disease including genetic inheritance, and state of health when coming into contact with the pathogen. For example, when a cold is the result of exposure to cold winds or sudden change in weather, onset can be rapid ie each person has a unique response to stress.

Secondly, in relation to treatment, whilst I agree that it is never a good idea to suppress symptoms (particularly when dealing with acute self-limiting disease) through the use of medications such as cough preparations or antibiotics, and assisting the body to "heal itself" is by far the better option, there are many ways that we can help our bodies help themselves. One of these methods, as you know and write about so eloquently is through our food, however sometimes, the body needs a little more help in ridding itself of "dis-ease", and one form of medicine that can both facilitate the body to make the most of the healing properties found in food and reduce severity and duration is homeopathy.

There are many homeopathic medicines that have proven efficacy in this area eg Aconite for sudden on-set colds brought on by exposure to cold winds, Ferr Phos for early stages with sore throats, flushed face, tiredness and mild fever, Allium Cepa when there is profuse watery discharge that runs like a tap, with a bland discharge coming from the eyes but a burning discharge from the nose and lips etc etc. Regarding flus, clinical trials have shown oscillococcinum to be the most effective treatment for both reducing the severity of symptoms, and potentially reducing the chance of developing the characteristic symptoms after exposure, gelsemium can assist with flus that present with heaviness, trembling, lethargy and chills up the spine whilst eupatorium has proved useful when the patient feels like their bones are broken, especially in the back, wrists and ankles, there is deep seated pain in the eyeballs and the patient is restless, chilly and feels nauseated etc etc etc.

I hope that you and your readers find this information useful and once again, thank you for producing such an invaluable and accessible resource.

Yours in health

Camilla Gold BHSc(Hom)

I have read that some people's cancers go into remission after a boot of flu

As a new employee with Los Angeles Unified School District, I was getting a flu vaccine before the upcoming flu season as I work with many children. I have spent countless hours researching everything about the flu, (or so I thought) but never found the information provided above until now, which was purely by chance (I was researching sore throat). I cannot believe this info is not being widely shared! Well, I can believe it and the implications behind the reasoning (Big Pharma, anyone?) is something I won't go into here. Anyway, thank you so much in sharing this! I will send it to all my family and friends. Oh, and sufficed to say, I will not be getting the flu vaccine! Again, thank you.

Thanks for this interesting blog! One question:
Is there any evidence on how use of common painkillers and antiinflammatory drugs (aspirin, iboprophen, paracetamol, etc.) effects the overall longterm resilience against colds?
Put differently: if I have a common cold, and I suppress the symptoms with aspirin, I feel better. But these drugs also inhibit the production of antibodies, so that my body is kept from learning to respond to these viruses and hence, the next virus that I get in contact with will much more likely to cause a cold, again? SO, would it be better to see a cold through without any medication in order to improve the overall state of immunity?
I would appreciate any comments on this question.

Hello - there is no evidence on this one way or another as far as I know, but I have not done an exhaustive search on this topic. My general suggestion is to follow your instincts, and where you feel that taking an anti-inflammatory or analgesic will improve your quality of rest, as long as you don't have any other health issues (stomach and liver are most common) that contraindicate taking such medication, it is probably helpful to use as needed.

Your science on viruses makes good sense, however, experience makes even more sense. I religiously took the flu vaccine for many years. One year I decided not to. That particular year I not only got the flu once I got it twice. Another year I received the flu vaccine but ended up getting pneumonia following a mild case of the flu. As a rule my body cannot let things run its course for if I do the illness is more grave than the beginning. I usually give myself 3 days To improve and if I'm still running a fever I will see a doctor for medication which then clears it up and prevents me from getting seriously ill. Your theory does not work for everyone and people are dying from the flu still.Also, I eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of rest.