Avoiding and Addressing Infections without Antibiotics

Published: September 9, 2012

Many people do not realize how many things they can do before resorting to using an antibiotic to clear an infection. There is much you can do to prevent infections. In addition, there is a trick you can do to eliminate most respiratory infections in 1 day if you act quickly! If you feel you are coming down with a respiratory infection such as a cold or the flu, I recommend that you try the following:

  • Take natural thymic hormone. This is available as a product called thymic protein, which is a VERY effective immune stimulant. I RECOMMEND THAT IT BE IN EVERYONE'S MEDICINE CABINET! Taken at the first sign of a respiratory infection, it usually nips the infection in the bud, eliminating it in 12-36 hours. Dissolve the contents of one packet under your tongue three times a day and let it absorb there (any that is swallowed is destroyed). A recent study in CFIDS patients with markedly elevated Epstein-Barr antibody levels showed a dramatic drop in the antibody levels after 12 weeks of therapy with thymic hormone. Many physicians are finding that thymic hormone has been very helpful for CFIDS/FMS patients with persistent viral, yeast, bowel, or other infections. I have found that using it for 1-3 days at the onset of an infection can shorten the length of the infection dramatically, and most often stops it on the first day.
  • Take 1,000 milligrams of olive leaf extract three times a day for three to seven days. Although not as effective as thymic hormone, olive leaf extract seems to be helpful against viral respiratory infections and, perhaps, yeast infections. It seems most helpful in fighting the common cold. In my experience, it has been very helpful for about half the people who try it—the cold is gone in twenty-four to thirty-six hours. If it causes nausea, cut the dose in half. It can be taken with the thymic protein.
  • Take 1,000 milligrams of echinacea a day. This is an herbal immune stimulant that can enhance your body's defenses. Use a standardized extract.
  • Take 1,000 to 8,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day—enough to get diarrhea, then cut back to comfortable level.
  • Suck on a zinc lozenge five to eight times a day. Make sure that the lozenges have at least 10 to 20 milligrams of zinc per lozenge. Less than this will not be effective. Zinc lozenges have been known to speed the time it takes to recover from a sore throat by about 40 percent. General Nutrition Centers sells a very good one.
  • Drink plenty of water and hot caffeine-free tea (or hot water with lemon) and rest! Hot liquids loosen the mucus and make it easier to cough up. When you spit it out, that represents many billions of bacteria or viruses your body no longer has to kill in hand to hand combat!
  • Take Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic remedy available at most health food stores and some supermarkets, if you have flu-like symptoms such as chills, fever, achiness and/or malaise. It speeds healing and eases discomfort. It is best taken early in the infection—as soon as you have any symptoms.
  • If you have a sinus infection, try nasal rinses. Dissolve ¼ teaspoon of salt in a cup of lukewarm water. Inhale some of the solution about one inch up into your nose, one nostril at a time. Do this either by using a baby nose bulb or an eyedropper while lying down, or by sniffing the solution out of the palm of your hand while standing by a sink. Then gently blow your nose, being careful not to hurt your ears. Repeat the same process with the other nostril. Continue to repeat with each nostril until the nose is clear. Rinse your nasal passages at least twice a day until the infection improves. Each rinsing will wash away about 90% of the infection and make it much easier for your body to heal.
  • Take herbals such as willow bark, Boswellia (also known as Frankincense) and cherry (all 3 are in an herbal supplement that provides relief for muscle pain) as needed for muscle aches and fever (only use in adults). Use Cepacol or Chloraseptic mouthwash as a gargle for a sore throat. Gargling with salt water, mixed as described above for the nasal rinse, also helps a sore throat. If you use acetaminophen frequently, you should also take 500 milligrams of supplemental N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) each day so you don't deplete your glutathione levels.
  • Try using a humidifier or vaporizer in your bedroom. You can also make a steam room by running a hot shower in your bathroom and then breathing in the steam. Or try using a steam inhaler.
  • For chronic sinusitis, addressing the yeast overgrowth and using a special prescription nose spray will usually eliminate it. Using antibiotics may sometimes help in the short term (though not better than placebo in controlled studies) and worsens the sinusitis in the long run. How to eliminate Chronic Sinusitis (and the underlying Candida that causes it) is discussed at length in my book From Fatigued to Fantastic!.
  • Be sure to get at least 8 hours sleep a night, as this markedly increases immune function. Also, take at least 500 milligrams of vitamin C a day for prevention.

If, despite these measures, nasal and lung mucus is yellow after seven to fourteen days, or if you are feeling worse after three to four days, you may have to consider taking a course of antibiotics. If you do, you should take an herbal supplement that helps maintain healthy gut flora while on the antibiotic and probiotics such as probiotic pearls after the antibiotic is done. Erythromycin antibiotics such as azithromycin (Zithromax) and clarithromycin (Biaxin) are usually preferable to penicillin antibiotics. Interestingly, my patients have sometimes found that all their CFIDS symptoms (not just the cold) improve while they are taking an erythromycin or tetracycline antibiotic. If that happens, I recommend a twelve-week course of 500 milligrams of Biaxin or 100 milligrams of doxycycline twice a day. If you feel better on the antibiotic (take the thymic hormone, echinacea, and a gut-support supplement in conjunction with it), keep repeating six-week courses until the symptoms stay gone. I would also check for Lyme disease using a blood or urine test. And for most of my patients who repeatedly get respiratory infections that take forever to go away, I consider an empiric trial of prescription hydrocortisone (Cortef) at a dosage of 7 1/2 milligrams in the morning and 5 milligrams at noon for two to three months.

As a preventive for respiratory infections, the flu vaccine is a double-edged sword for people with CFIDS/FMS. In some CFIDS/FMS patients, it can cause mild flu-like symptoms for a few days. In rare cases, it can cause a severe flare-up of symptoms. Still, unless you are one of the 10 percent of CFIDS/FMS patients who feel worse after the flu shot or other vaccinations, I would get a flu shot. Better yet, the Flu Mist nasal spray may be even safer in those with CFS/FMS. For most people, the benefits of the flu vaccine can significantly outweigh the risk. Interestingly, a recent Scandinavian study showed that having frequent vaccinations against Staphylococcus bacteria significantly improved symptoms in fibromyalgia patients. The researchers felt that it helped by stimulating the immune system.

Taking at least 500 milligrams of vitamin C a day is also a very good idea. And dress warmly. A cold breeze blowing across your muscles or neck can make fibromyalgia symptoms flare up.

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. His newest book (June 10, 2024) is You Can Heal From Long COVID. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

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