It's not an apple a day, but there are ways to keep the doctor away this cold and flu season

12/27/12 Janelle Irwin
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Cold and Flu season is here. According to a Tampa Bay Times report, ER and doctor visits by people complaining about flu symptoms are up significantly from last year. I spoke with Dr. Cass Ingram who runs an Osteopathic general practice about ways to avoid getting sick this year and how to treat illnesses if that doesn’t work.

"The best thing you can do is pay attention to hygiene, you know, hand washing if you're touching things. Most sickness comes from inside or others or people who are sick. Devices and that on an object so just pay attention, don't touch your face when you're out. Wash your hands often."

What about things like hand sanitizers? That's become pretty popular. You see women with them attatched to their purses almost as accessories. Is that something that helps avoid catching any of these bugs that are going around?

"Hand washers may be somewhat helpful but there's danger there too because of drug resistant germs. It's not really the answer. Mechanical, careful washing of all the secretions and different germs you might be encountering. There's something naturally you can do, it's a health store product. There's a product called Germ a Cleanse which is completely safe. It doesn't allow for resistance. So if you had a little 2 oz bottle of Germ a Cleanse it's made from spices like clove and cinnamon and oregano. That would be perfect."

And then if, unfortunately, some of our listeners do come down with a cold or a flu and they're not feeling well, what are some things that they might be able to do to remedy their symptoms that they might just find around the house?

"If you know most of these things are not hospital things so we should go to the home cupboard, the cure is in the cupboard and check first. For example for a sore throat or laryngitis or bronchitis nothing better than a bit of cinnamon and clove in raw honey. You've got the sticks, you've got the clove buds, you just keep drinking that. You will see an improvement with that. If it's just a real bad head cold we might want something a bit more powerful that's when you go into thyme, the oregano, the cumin, the sage for head colds and flu. Add that to your tea. Is the kitchen spice going to be sufficient? In some cases it's so bad you may have to get the extract from the health food store. Oil of oregano, that's very effective for colds."

Are there any sort of myths out there about home remedies that maybe some people need to get some clarification on?

"There's a huge plethora of myths that they're not that effective and that it's an old wive's tale. Mustard plasters and garlic necklaces. It doesn't make any sense people, these things are antiseptics so they did them for a reason. If you put mustard on the bottom of your feet or on your chest it's going to give relief like a vaporub but it's natural. If you use garlic during a cold it's going to cut the incidence down or flu because it's a germicide. These are sensible things, don't feel funny. And then there's a big myth about honey, that honey can't be used. Raw honey actually is totally safe, opposite of what you'd think for an infant or a child. Listen to this, the journal of pediatrics in infants with diarrheah, infused honey. It wasn't even the raw kind, intravenously and it was more effective than pedialyte for stopping the diarrheah. Simultaneously in Pennsylvania they used buckwheat honey, raw honey, on a spoon for babies with sickness with cough, with congestion, it was more effective than the Robitussin and safer. They did that study because kids died from Robitussin about 4 years ago. So lots of, they shouldn't even be called old wive's tales just disinformation, misinformation, natural cures do have their role."

Can you tell our listeners when they should go ahead and seek medical treatment? Or medical type treatments for their illnesses?

"I think pretty much people know when there's a dire situation. If there's an elderly person that's dehydrated, losing fluids, a flu won't go away. Most of the time for the 20 to 55 or 60 year old crowd almost every flu or cold or congestion is a passing thing so use your common sense and if it's just standard junk go to the home cupboard also the health food store. The best thing you can do for colds and flu and bronchitis in addition to your doctors care is the oil of oregano. The P73, very famous down your way. It's a little bottle, you put it under the tongue. It's edible, you can use it often and then the other thing I would recommend highly is the honey. If I had to do two things I'd actually have both of them in the cupboard. A bottle of the oregano oil and a bottle of the raw honey."

Other doctors recommend getting a flu shot. Flu season in Florid peaks in January and February and can last into April.

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