By Tom Cowan, M.D.
As we are in the midst of the annual cold and flu season, I want to share the basic plan I use to support my patients during this time. It includes three supplements I use for people of all ages when they feel an acute illness coming on.
First, it is important to remember that even though it is common to blame all acute illnesses on microbes, fundamentally, viruses and bacteria are scavengers in nature. Bacteria digest debris in nature, and viruses are intracellular parasites that “infect” cells that demonstrate some type of weakness. In other words, the infectious nature of acute illness is only one side of the story; the other side is the “terrain,” or the condition of the person who gets sick. The three supplements I predominantly use for most acute illnesses address both sides of this equation.
Liposomal Vitamin C
Liposomal vitamin C is the form of vitamin C in which the ascorbic acid has been put into little fat “bubbles,” which greatly facilitates absorption through the GI tract. With the liposomal form of vitamin C, one can obtain blood levels similar to those obtained with intravenous use. Humans are one of two mammals that have lost the ability to produce vitamin C in our adrenal glands (guinea pigs being the other). Vitamin C in our tissues has many functions, the most prominent being the building of collagen or connective tissue. In the absence of orally ingested vitamin C, we get scurvy, which is primarily a weakness of the collagen. Because collagen is the ground substance of our gums and internal organs, they get weak, and, in extreme cases, death ensues.
Another major function of vitamin C in our tissues is that it converts to hydrogen peroxide, an anti-microbial substance that functions as a kind of internal antiseptic. Vitamin C also supports the function of our white blood cells, thus supporting this crucial immune function. As such, it addresses the two sides of an acute illness. Vitamin C kills pathogens while supporting our internal terrain. I use the liposomal form at a dose of 1/8 to two teaspoons every hour while awake at the first sign of an acute illness, depending on the age and size of the person. Once the illness abates, one can reduce the dose to two to three times a day.
Another way to use liposomal vitamin C, one that I have found very effective in helping reduce inflammation in a variety of conditions, is to have the person do a water-only fast. After fasting for 16 hours, they take 25-50 grams of liposomal vitamin C during the next two hours. When we fast, the cells begin to actively seek glucose. Vitamin C is chemically very similar to glucose, so if no glucose is available (because of the fast), the cells will take up the vitamin C readily. This strategy seems to result in a reduction in inflammation, no matter what the cause. Another effect of this high-dose vitamin C approach is to increase the level of peroxide in the tissues, which is the basis of its use in high-dose IV vitamin C for a variety of conditions. Some people do this twice a week, always with a liberal water intake.
The next member of our acute-illness support group is Elderberry-Thyme Syrup from True Botanica. Elderberries have been shown in many studies to be an effective support for those suffering from a wide variety of viral illnesses. Again, like many natural medicines, elderberries not only kill the viruses themselves but also support white-blood cell activity, thus supporting our own immune response. True Botanica is a company started by three anthroposophical doctors to bring innovative natural medicines inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner into the market. The Elderberry-Thyme Syrup combines organically grown elderberries with extracts of thyme oil and ash. Thyme is a well-known herb that also has anti-microbial activity and is particularly active in the respiratory system. The dose is one to three teaspoons every two to four hours, again, depending on the age and size of the person.
The final component of our immune support-acute illness group is Immunity Matrix from Raw Revelations. This product is a mixture of nine medicinal mushrooms, botanical sources of the vitamin C complex, spirulina and tonic Ayurvedic herbs. The mushrooms are the primary ingredients in this formula, as they are well known for their immune-supportive functions. Mushrooms function as scavengers in nature. A tree that falls to the forest floor will soon be degraded and recycled by the mushrooms residing in the forest soil. When we consume medical mushrooms, it is likely we are also recycling our own dead cells that otherwise become the breeding ground for pathogenic organisms. Plant-based vitamin C provides the other components that support the ascorbic acid in our tissues, and spirulina provides chlorophyll, which helps with detoxification. The dose I use acutely is one-half to two tablespoons in water four times a day until improvement, then twice a day as a follow-up.
With the support of such products, we should be able to be back on our feet quickly and have the confidence that — as humans have found for millennia — the natural world provides abundant support for us as we go through our yearly “clean out” process of acute illness.