Tag Archives: common cold

How to Stop a Cold: The Nip-it Trick

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The flowers are extra, of course, but you might be able to enjoy them again if you have respiratory allergies.

The secret to never having another cold is to do this simple procedure as soon as you notice the first symptom.

You can be prepared by putting together a little “nip-it kit” in advance. No medications are needed. You will only need the following supplies:

One 3 oz. bottle
One fluid ounce of vodka (80 proof=40% alcohol)
Two ounces of filtered or distilled water
One plastic snack or sandwich bag
A dozen or so short cotton swabs

Fill the little bottle with the two liquids and put it in the plastic bag with a supply of Q-tips or other brand of swabs. This can be stored in a medicine cabinet, make-up drawer, glove box, purse, desk, gym bag or anywhere handy when needed.

Your first symptom of a cold might be sneezing, repeatedly clearing your throat or the sudden onset of sniffles. Take action immediately. Moisten a swab, gently run it up one nostril and sniff to coat the upper nostril and possibly get a hint of it in the back of the throat. There will not be enough liquid to allow inhaling it into the lungs. Then treat the other nostril.  Within minutes the symptoms will disappear.

Why not make extra kits for family and friends? You could mix a half-pint (one cup) of vodka with two cups of water and fill eight bottles. You could get creative and add a small drop of peppermint oil to the larger recipe to add a little scent and flavor.

Never substitute rubbing alcohol because it is made from propane.

A child-proof cap should be used, of course, if you have children.

The Nip-it Trick is also effective if you have respiratory allergies due to smoke, pollens or scents.  It can stop the reaction before you get congestion or a headache.

Enjoy!

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The Truth is in the Details–Stop Colds with Diluted Alcohol

You can stop a common cold as soon as you notice the first symptom.  This is the ultimate do-it-yourself project, because no one else can do it for you.  But first you must learn the details of how to do it, watch for minor symptoms, and be ready to take action as needed.

I am not a doctor or a scientist, so I can only tell you what works for me.  I rely on Google for background facts and invite you to do your own research if you want more supplemental information.  Since the method really does work for me, I would be remiss if I did not share this knowledge.

There is not a vaccine which can kill all 200 or more viruses which are at fault in causing what we call the common cold.  That is probably a good thing, because we have been inadvertently killing too many friendly microbes already, which causes other problems for our health.  There is no medication which can cure a cold either.  Medications attack symptoms not causes, and they can affect the whole body in negative ways.

Can drinking alcohol cure a cold?  No.  You cannot have enough alcohol in your bloodstream to kill a cold, without being dead.  That would sort of defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it?  Since colds do not live in the bloodstream, we can rule out any need to increase our blood alcohol level.

There have been some studies, however, which showed that moderate consumption of alcohol might reduce the incidence of colds.  A 1993 study at Carnegie Mellon found that moderate drinking reduced the frequency of colds, except for smokers, and a 2002 study in Spain found that red wine might be helpful, but other studies found no benefit.  There has been some speculation that perhaps the antioxidants in red wine might be more effective than the alcohol.  On the other hand, there is some evidence that alcohol aids the absorption of resveratrol.   But I think the positive results found in the two studies might have resulted from occasional coating of the throat with mild alcohol coincidentally at times when colds were just getting started.

Only ethyl alcohol (ethanol as in vodka and other alcoholic beverages) is safe for drinking.  I do not recommend drinking, but that is just my opinion.  Isopropyl alcohol, the rubbing alcohol which is used as a disinfectant, and methyl alcohol, which is used in antifreeze, should never be consumed.

Oddly enough, 70% ethanol is more effective at killing bacteria than 100% ethanol.  This has something to do with alcohol evaporating at room temperature and the higher concentration may evaporate too quickly to be effective.  That may also explain why rubbing alcohols are diluted to 70%.

The bacteria responsible for tetanus and botulism are said to be resistant to ethanol, while strep bacteria on a thermometer might be killed in as little as twenty seconds. But we have a lot to learn. Microbiologists say there are thousands of species of microbes which live in and on the human body, each with its own role in the overall scheme of things. Microbes are critical to our existence, so we must learn to get along.

Although bacteria and fungi can cause respiratory infections, the common cold is caused by viruses.  They are said to do little or no actual tissue damage.  The symptoms we experience result from an excessive response by our immune system.  Without knowing how to put a stop to colds, we have been fighting the symptoms with medications that affect the whole body.  Then our immune system may be weakened, allowing secondary infections like sinusitis or even pneumonia.

Alcohol cannot kill viruses because viruses are not alive—but it can inactivate them, some more easily than others.  Viruses can also be inactivated with bleach, acids and heat.

Some viruses such as polio can infect the gut because they are able to withstand acid and higher body temperature.  Cold-causing viruses live in the respiratory system where more moderate conditions exist. They thrive in thickened mucus, without which they cannot do their dirty deeds.  This is a big clue–get rid of congestion, and let your body’s natural secretions wash away the unfriendly microbes.

Viruses on skin or other surfaces can also be inactivated with alcohol, but those which stay inside nerves are believed not to expose themselves to this possibility.  I believe I discovered an exception to this, however, when I devised my remedy for stopping cold sores before they break out.

It is generally agreed that consumption of alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body, which might make it more difficult to avoid colds or other respiratory infections.  However, I have found that topical applications of diluted alcohol do not seem to have a dehydrating effect on the mucus membranes of the throat, but serve more as a cleaning and wetting agent.

So let’s consider one of the first symptoms of a beginning cold–a sore throat. You can put a stop to it quickly by gargling with a mouthwash containing 14% alcohol.  Since mouthwashes contain other ingredients for fighting dental problems, along with artificial colors and flavors, and they even recommend calling a poison control center in the event you should swallow any, you might want to mix your own gargling solution.  Since the only active ingredient needed for stopping a sore throat is 14% ethyl alcohol, you can mix one part of 80-proof vodka with two parts of filtered water and you are good to go.

If you don’t like to gargle, you can use a little cotton swab and treat just the spots that are sore, while trying not to gag.  In this case you might want to store some diluted alcohol in a 3 oz. bottle for convenience. Or you can take the wimpy way out and use a little spray bottle to apply it.  The goal is not to sterilize your throat, but to inactivate the harmful viruses just enough to let your body stay in control.

This simple procedure has stopped every threatening sore throat for me since 2004.  I don’t know if the diluted alcohol simply inactivates enough viruses to stop their progress or if it is stopping the body’s histamine reaction, or both.  But for whatever reason, it has been 100% effective.

Although this is a reliable method for stopping a sore throat, the cold virus may decide to move into your nose, sinuses, ears,  or lungs anyway.  My book describes simple methods for quickly taking care of each of those contingencies.

Every time I am able to stop a cold before it gets started, I remember how I used to think that colds were inevitable, along with the required tissues, medications, secondary infections, expense, sick days and misery. I am also blessed to be free of headaches and allergies which I had since childhood.

Did someone say, “This is nothing new.  We have gargled with mouthwash to treat a sore throat for years—but it doesn’t work?”  As the old expression goes—the devil is in the details.  As a child, when being treated for a cold, the doctor would swab my sore throat with something.  I don’t know what it was, but it was brown, strong and nasty; and it seemed to help.  Then I got a chest cold or bronchitis or whatever anyway and would get a penicillin shot to help clear it up. As a teenager I was occasionally able to ward off a sore throat by swabbing it with strong mouthwash, but usually the congestion would settle in my head or lungs anyway. I had no confidence in the use of mouthwash.

The detail that is different here is that the first symptom of a cold must be treated immediately.  There is no time to get a doctor’s appointment or look for supplies after work. You can’t let bad guys move into your home and worry about how to get rid of them next week.

I never wash my hands unless they are dirty, but I don’t allow congestion to set in. I suspect that even if I did, I could probably stop a full-blown cold by using every tip in my book.  But it is so easy to stop the first sniffling, sneezing, coughing, sinus drip, earache, or raw feeling in the head or chest that I don’t want to let it develop into something worse.

I don’t think a drop of diluted alcohol on a swab is particularly dangerous, but I have no way of knowing if you are allergic to alcohol or if a cotton swab could be contaminated in some way. You are responsible for your own health and I expect you to use your own judgment.

Some people are successful in stopping colds by putting 3% hydrogen peroxide in each ear, or by using a neti pot for nasal irrigation.  I don’t enjoy nasal irrigation, so  I would only use that as a last resort.

I think we have the potential to stop allowing the common cold to be the reason for up to 40% of all doctor appointments.  We can free doctors to do more of the important work for which they were trained.

Good News about the Common Cold

This information can make you feel better in more ways than one.  I am finding it difficult to spread the word, however, because no one believes it can be true.  But I am determined to share the story that has changed my life.

Sorry, Guys--we are wise to your shenanigans and just won’t put up with it anymore!

Sorry, Guys–we are wise to your shenanigans and just won’t put up with it anymore!

Please tell everybody–we don’t need a cure for the common cold, because it can be stopped before it starts. I have been doing this successfully for more than eight years and I believe you can too. How?

1. Stop the triggers–any first symptom that you might be getting a cold.

2. Don’t allow congestion to set in, because it is the host for cold-causing microbes.

The first step is to gargle as soon as you get a sore throat. A mouthwash with about 14% alcohol can stop it quickly. You may agree with this but found, as I did, that the germs usually move into your nose, sinuses, ears or lungs anyway.

At that point we might turn to the usual cough drops, cough syrups, medications or various home remedies. Then when all else fails, we treat the resulting complications with antibiotics. This is all wrong.

Some people are successful at stopping colds and allergies with daily nasal irrigation. That is said to be effective, but I don’t find it to be an acceptable step to add to my daily routine.

“The Nip-it Trick” is a phrase I have coined for an effective cold-prevention technique that can be used when you notice the first symptom of a cold, such as sneezing, coughing, nasal congestion or sinus drip. You can actually make the symptoms disappear before they develop into a cold or a lingering allergy.

For full details on this simple and very inexpensive method for staying well, see How to Stop Colds, Allergies & More by Carole S. Ramke.

Myths about the Common Cold

Let’s examine some of the current advice about colds.

1. Wash hands and everything in sight—frequently.  I am sure this myth will die hard because we literally have been turned into germophobes by well-meaning health advisers.  The best thing about this one is that you can’t go wrong, unless you suffer from chapped hands or get reprimanded for hogging the soap and facilities. But the fact is that this is not a necessary ritual for avoiding colds.

Will the beneficial bacteria please step forward?

Will the beneficial bacteria please step forward?

2.  Take medicine—antihistamines, decongestants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and then the inevitable antibiotics if nothing else works.  But too many medications cause liver damage and can make us feel worse, not better.  To my knowledge, none of them have ever cured a cold.  The side effects of antihistamines include dry mouth, nausea, drowsiness, difficult urination and even blurred vision.  The adverse effects of NSAIDs can include gastrointestinal problems. Antibiotics are creating super bugs, not to mention killing off the beneficial bacteria that support 70% or more of our immune system. We would be better served by concentrating on probiotics and fermented vegetables.

3. Vitamins cannot prevent colds. This is certainly true if you follow the government guidelines of  90 mg of vitamin C per day for a grown man. The average 150 pound animal which makes its own vitamin C, however, produces an average of 4,000 mg per day when well–and many times more than that if needed.  Vitamin D3 presents a similar scenario, with small amounts being recommended by authorities.  But taking 5,000 IU per day (one small softgel) can boost our immunity substantially.  Getting adequate sunshine exposure is an alternative which should be considered, because almost everything we were taught about vitamin D in the past has been proven wrong. Vitamin D3 is now recognized as being the most common deficiency worldwide. See my Resources page for more information.

4. Treat colds with various hot drinks like a hot toddy, tea with lemon and honey, lemon juice with honey and cayenne, chicken broth, bone broth, etc.  There are many healthy choices, some of which may be soothing or even boost immunity, but you won’t need any of these to stop a sore throat or congestion if you prevent them from developing in the first place. The same applies to breathing steam with a towel over your head or taking a hot shower just to breathe the vapor.

5. There is no cure for the common cold.  This one is a little tricky, because it is true. But on the other hand, no cure is needed!

A Truth About the Common Cold

How do we know which germs to kill, when they look so much alike?

How do we know which germs to kill, when they look so much alike?

Before you hurry on by, here is the bottom line: The viruses that cause the common cold do not cause any real tissue damage.  They can only lodge and multiply in congestion that is caused by your body’s panicked reaction to their presence. If congestion is prevented or removed, they will be swept away by natural mucus secretions. What we perceive as an illness–known as the common cold–is caused by unnecessary congestion, sometimes to the extent that secondary infections are allowed to set in. Then damage might really begin.

If we can accept this knowledge and learn to block unnecessary histamine reactions, we can stop having colds for as long as we are able to perform routine hygiene tasks when needed. We can stop our obsession with germs. Germs don’t matter.  In fact, we need to be more concerned about protecting and hosting the many beneficial microbes that are critical to our survival.

I have easily stopped every cold that has tried to catch me since November of 2004.  Judging by the number of colds I managed to survive before that date and the number I have fended off since that time, I could actually be one of the world’s leading experts on how to stop the common cold.  I am joking, of course, but this is no joke.  Please go ahead and smile, however, because better times are on the horizon if you have been a slave to unnecessary misery and you are ready to take a new approach.

Looks Like an Apple, Tastes Like an Apple?

I received this photo today from my friend, Jerica:

“So I peeled this apple at lunch today but didn’t eat it. I peeled it because it was conventional and I didn’t want to eat the petroleum wax coating. I forgot about the second half, which sat on the counter all day until 8:00 this evening. When I picked it up, I was quite surprised to find that, except in a few bruised places, it had NOT TURNED BROWN AT ALL. And they say irradiated food is ok to eat? It’s totally dead and without enzymes!”

This brought back memories of childhood, when I had negative feelings about a fruit than tended to turn brown before you finished eating it. I thought it was trying to rot before my eyes. Only now do I appreciate the science behind it and the importance of raw foods for the nourishment of our bodies. I always peeled apples, despite being told that the skins contained a large percentage of the nutrients. But now we are told that apples may have as many as 27 different pesticides and other chemicals, many of which are systemic and cannot be peeled off.

Apples are one of the super foods in the American diet. They are filled with antioxidants and have a reputation for fighting asthma, cancer, heart disease and type II diabetes. On the other hand, they also compete for top position on recent lists of the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables–along with peaches, celery and strawberries–because of the toxic chemicals used to grow conventional produce.

Can it still be true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away? In my opinion it is possible only if you can find a source of fresh, organic apples. I can’t imagine that members of the dirty dozen would boost immunity to the common cold, allergies or any of the usual maladies that cause most of our visits to the family doctor.

Thank goodness we can rely on plain vitamin C powder to supplement our diet rather than relying solely on fresh fruits and vegetables to get enough vitamin C.

Since we live in the South, our apples are shipped in, and we are usually limited to enjoying them in season, which is best for health anyway. Fuji and Red Delicious apples are reported to have the highest phenolic and flavonoid content. We used to get some beauties from our local discount club, but not any more. I suspect there is a growing demand for organic produce as more people learn the advantages of it.

A new way to think about respiratory allergies

My expertise on the subject of allergies comes from over fifty years of putting up with reactions to smoke of all kinds, dust, perfume (no matter how expensive), musty paper (no matter how interesting) and many pollens which shall remain unidentified.  I experienced headaches, nausea, congestion, sinusitis, chronic cough, sneezing, earache, various secondary infections, and feeling under the weather for a good chunk of my life.

I tried various over-the-counter and prescription medications, to no avail. They are more likely to cause liver damage than to cure an allergy.  Why use a whole-body treatment for a very small, localized problem?

Secondary infections would usually result in the use of antibiotics, which are now known to affect the balance of thousands of species of microbes which inhabit our bodies–more of which are beneficial than bad.

The remaining professional advice was usually about avoiding the irritants—never mind that pollens can travel hundreds of miles and exposure to most of the other culprits was often beyond my control.

Now I know it was all for no good reason.  No one is really allergic to any of those substances!  Some human bodies just think they are. How unfortunate.

One day in November of 2004, I read an article written by a chemist, explaining how to avoid the common cold.  He said his very inexpensive method would stop the histamine reaction caused by cold viruses.  Just stopping the reaction and preventing congestion would make the cold go away.  It turned out that his technique is also effective against the excessive histamine reactions of the body caused by false alarms about harmless irritants.

The rest is history.  I can honestly say I have not had a cold, a headache or any repercussions from allergies since that time.  If I notice that my nose doesn’t like something, I can help it relax and go about its ordinary business.  No more fake allergic reactions are permitted.

Yes, I know.  If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is–or is that an old wives tale in this instance?

I have no experience with food intolerance, extreme reactions to insect stings or contact allergies that can cause severe inflammatory responses. But if you share fake allergies to substances which are not really harmful, I recommend that you investigate this further.