Alternative Therapies including natural foods and herbal remedies can effectively help boost immunity and prevent and treat Respiratory Illnesses both Viral and Bacterial in Nature
There are some natural foods and herbs that are effective against flu type viruses and some that should be avoided. These natural remedies and herbs are cost effective, readily available and may be used to prevent infection in healthy individuals. For those already infected, they may be life saving!
Certain nutrients such as Spirulina and Echinacea should be avoided because they can make the condition worse. Some respiratory viruses are actually immune to two different “cytokines” that the body of people and pets naturally produce. Specifically the two cytokines are referred to asTNF-a and IL-6. Cytokines are compounds naturally produced by the immune system of people and pets that attack and remove foreign bodies, which generally protect us from disease and infection. The problem is that when a foreign particle is immune to a certain cytokine, your body thinks that its immune response is not working properly and therefore tries even harder to remove the foreign particle. This response often leads to what is termed a “cytokine storm.”
Immunity and the Cykatine Storm
A Cytokine Storm occurs when the body becomes overwhelmed with these compounds, which ultimately overwhelm the body and lead to complete destruction of the person or pet, with a fatal outcome. Nutrients including Echinacea and Spirulina actually stimulate the production of these cytokines. Avoid these foods if you suspect you or your pet may have contracted a respiratory virus!
Many lives were lost in part due to cytokine storms causing overactive immune systems during Covid. Consuming foods that suppress the production of cytokines TNFa and IL-6 and enhance the production of those that are effective against Covid and help infected individuals recover naturally.
It is also a good idea to avoid eating foods, like dairy products and bananas that naturally stimulate mucus production in your airways and respiratory system. Mucous production which in most cases acts to protect us is detrimental to anyone infected with a viral type respiratory illness because mucus is a virus’s favorite place to breed and multiply. Overproduction of mucus makes breathing even more difficult for patients and adds to their discomfort, suffering and demise.
Natural Foods and Herbal Remedies Helpful to Treat and Prevent Respiratory illnesses: Bacterial and Viral in People and Pets
Certain alternative remedies can act as natural, effective antivirals. They boost your pets immune system, decrease the production of toxic cytokines TNFa and IL-6 and help not only to treat but also to prevent viral infections.
Garlic (allicin): Garlic is a very effective antiviral. It is most effective in its raw form and needs to be crushed. It must be consumed within 1 hour of crushing. The initial dose is 2 to 3 cloves daily, and this is gradually decreased until no body odor occurs. There are no toxic effects in people. Pets including dogs and cats should not use this as garlic fed continually leads to a decrease in red blood cell production which results in anemia. (Source: Pub med PMID 9049657)
Vitamin C: Vitamin C boosts the immune system and acts as antiviral by blocking the enzyme neuraminidase. Viruses need neuraminidase to reproduce. Vitamin C may also be effective by reducing the body’s natural production of two cytokines, TNF-a and IL-6. Another study also validated the effectiveness of taking Vitamin C when flu is suspected. In this report, a group of 470 people took 1000 milligrams of Vitamin C every hour for six hours in a row, and then took 1000 milligrams of Vitamin C 3 times a day. They experienced an 85% decrease in flu symptoms. (Source: Pub med PMID 10543583, 634178, 16169205, 12876306)
Green Tea may be used as an alternative to the current antiviral medications, Tamiflu and Relenza. Green tea catechins act as effective antivirals. They decrease the production of the cytokine TNF-a, inhibit neuraminidase and may have antiviral activity equivalent to other antivirals including Tamiflu. (Source: Pub med PMID 16137775)
St John’s Wort (Hypericum): St. John’s Wort is an effective antiviral. Hypericum, the active ingredient in St John’s Wort, decreases the production of cytokine IL-6. There have also been some promising results with this substance in research trials conducted in commercial flocks of birds infected with the H5N1 strain of the Bird Flu virus conducted in Vietnam. (Source: Pub med PMID 7857513, 11518071, 11362353, 7857513, 11518071)
Vitamin E: Vitamin E boosts the immune system and decreases the production of cytokine TNF-a.) Studies were conducted in mice and indicate that Vitamin E is very beneficial for people and pets with compromised immune systems, especially in older individuals. The beneficial effects of Vitamin E are enhanced further when it is taken along with Vitamin C. (Source: Pub med PMID 155882360, 10929076)
Apple Juice: Apple juice demonstrates anti-viral properties. Fresh apple juice along with the pulp and skin offers more antiviral protection than heated commercially available apple juice. More research is needed and its effectiveness toward H5N1 is unknown. (Source: Pub med PMID 32832, 12452634)
Resveratrol: Resveratrol has antiviral properties. In addition to inhibiting neuraminidase, Resveratrol also helps to block virus production in the body. Products that contain Resveratrol include red wine, peanuts, mulberries, Japanese Knotweed Root (richest source), raisins and red grapes. No grapes or raisins for dogs or cats! Resveratrol supplements are available commercially and are more stable than wine. Liquid forms allow immediate absorption orally. There are no reported toxic side effects in people. (Source: Pub med PMID 1583880, 12817628, 15985724)
Scutellaria (Skullcap): Skullcap is an herb used to make tea and has antiviral properties. It has no adverse side effects in people and also acts as a mild tranquilizer. Research suggests that Skullcap may act by inhibiting the enzyme neuraminidase, which is needed for the H5N1 strain of the Bird Flu virus to reproduce.
Cranberry Juice: Studies indicate that cranberry juice shows antiviral activity. Cranberry juice may act by reducing the virus’s ability to invade the body and/or multiply. (Source: Pub med PMID15781126)
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa): Cat’s Claw decreases the production of the cytokine TNF-a. It also boosts the immune system. In one study, in which water bark was used, there was an increase in the number of white blood cells, but no toxicity was noted. [Link to www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov] The leaves, bark, vine, and roots contain the active ingredient which is Uncaria tomentosa. Children and pregnant women should not ingest Cats Claw because it may have a harmful genetic effect, adversely affecting the DNA, in the developing cells of young children and unborn babies. Since this is also a source of aspirin, pets including dogs and cats should not be given Cats Claw. In cats, aspirin cannot be metabolized or broken down and therefore is toxic and may be fatal. In dogs, aspirin can lead to bleeding ulcers of the stomach and intestines.
Curcumin (Turmeric): Tumeric is the active ingredient in Curcumin. Curcumin is the yellow colored spice used to make curry. Turmeric decreases the production of the cytokine TNF-a. Research indicates that this may help to prevent cytokine storms.
Tumeric should be taken with food in order to prevent irritation of the lining of the stomach, called gastritis and/or the development of ulcers in the stomach which are referred to as peptic ulcers. Pregnant and nursing mothers should not take Tumeric. Since curcumin is metabolized very quickly by the liver, it is best to take this along with a substance called “Piperine”, which is found in black pepper. Various health food stores carry Turmeric, already combined with Piperine. The product is available commercially in tablets, liquids and capsules already combined with Piperine. Human dosage is 500mg to 4000mg a day.
Astragalus root (Astragali Radix): Astragalus root boosts the immune system. (Source: Pub med PMID15588652)
Tea Tree Steam Inhalation: This reduces the cytokine TNF-a and has been said to help relieve congestion and combat infection.
Recipe for Tea Tree Steam Inhalation: add 2 drops of tea tree oil to a bowl of steaming water. Cover your head with a towel and inhale for 5 to 10 minutes. Dogs may also safely enjoy the benefits this offers. For canines: place the steaming bowl in your shower or bathroom and enjoy the vapors, along with your dog for 5-10 minutes together. Tea Tree substances including tea tree oil can be toxic to cats and therefore should not be used. (Source: Pub med PMID 11131302)
Natural Remedies and Herbs to Avoid with Respiratory Illnesses
Elderberry Juice (Sambucol): Elderberry juice increases production of cytokines TNFa and IL-6. This substance is very effective against the common flu and other viruses. It increases the production of toxic cytokines which could trigger a fatal cytokine storm. (Source: Isr Med Journal2002 Nov; 4:944-6)
Micro Algae: Chlorella and Spirulina: Both of these micro-algae act to increase the body’s natural production of the toxic cytokine TNF-a. (Source: Pub med PMID 11731916)
Honey: Honey increases production of toxic cytokines TNFa and IL-6. (Source: Pub med PMID12824009)
Chocolate: Chocolate increases production of both toxic cytokines TNFa and IL-6. Chocolate contains Theobromine which is toxic to dogs and cats. (Source: Pub med PMID 12885154, PMID 10917928)
Echinacea: Echinacea increases production of cytokines TNFa and IL-6. Although this is often beneficial to boost immunity with the common cold and certain strains of flu, research indicates that Echinacea should not be taken during this Flu pandemic because it may increase the risk of cytokine storms. (Source: Pub med PMID 15556647, 9568541)
Kimchi: Kimchi increases production of both toxic cytokines TNFa and IL-6 and therefore should not be taken. (Source: Pub med PMID15630182)
Dairy Products and Bananas: Both dairy products and bananas naturally increase mucus production in the airways and respiratory system and as a result should not be taken.
Dr. Carol Osborne is an author and world-renowned integrative veterinarian of twenty-plus years. After graduating from the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Carol completed a prestigious internship at the Columbus Zoo. Shortly afterward, she launched a very successful private practice and became the founder and director of the non-profit organization, the American Pet Institute. Dr. Carol offers traditional veterinary care for dogs and cats with a softer, natural touch. Her approach highlights the importance of nutrition and utilizing holistic avenues in combination with traditional treatments. Currently, she offers holistic therapies and traditional veterinary medical care for dogs and cats with dementia at the Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Call our Office Today at (866) 372-2765 or complete this Form to Email our Office.