How to Beat the Common Cold, Flu, and Other Viral Illnesses

Isolation and Quarantine

Nothing protects you from infection better than maintaining a considerable distance between you and an infectious organism.

Quarantine yourself when you are sick

When sick, you have two duties. The first is to get well. The second is to protect others from becoming exposed and infected by the pathogen infecting you. There is no better way to fulfill both duties than to isolate/quarantine yourself while you recover.

At the first signs and symptoms of a cold, flu, or flu-like illness (fever, tiredness, cough, runny-nose, sneezing, diarrhea, etc.), prepare for quarantine. Tell your work, inform your friends and family, organize your sick-care supplies, and prepare to support your immune system as it wars against the microbes invading your body.

There is no better place than home to ride out a cold or flu. At home you can focus on resting, sleeping, and conserving your body's energy reserves. Your immune system is the most powerful army in the world. It is waging war against microbial terrorists trying to infect and take over your cells. It needs all the energy it can get to raise your temperature, mobilize and multiply incredible armies of immune cells, and produce a broad range of specialized molecules designed to recognize, target, neutralize, and destroy your invaders.

Stay away from the infected/sick and recently vaccinated individuals

There is no better way to prevent becoming infected than to minimize or eliminate contact with those carrying the viral infection. Minimizing exposure and contact with infected individuals is obvious. However, not all infections are readily apparent. As a rule, I recommend minimizing contact with those recently vaccinated.

There are two big problems that people receiving vaccines can create.

  1. Live virus vaccines shed infectious virus particles that can transmit and cause infection in close contacts.
  2. Clinical research continues to demonstrate that vaccines alter the immune systems of the vaccinated in a way that makes them more prone to becoming infected and more likely to transmit the infection when they do. The flu vaccine has been shown to increase susceptibility of vaccinated individuals to infection by the many other viruses capable of causing flu-like illnesses. Additionally, once a vaccinated individual becomes infected, they also become more infectious. Clinical research has demonstrated that they cough, sneeze, breathe, and express 640% more infectious viral particles than similarly infected but unvaccinated individuals.

Contact Precautions

Understand the ways that viruses spread and avoid the ways they manage to invade your body.

Frequent Hand-washing

Washing hands with soap and warm water is the best and most effective way to remove viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens trying to hitch a ride on your hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth and other people.

I do not recommend the use of antibacterial soaps -- antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, find a non-toxic soap such as Everyone Hand Soap or Mrs. Meyer's Hand Soap and wash your hands thoroughly under warm water.

Except in cases where you have no other option, I do not recommend alcohol-based hand gels. As with the antibacterial soaps, they cause more harm than good.

Smash viral illnesses with the “ACD Hammer”

Vitamins A, C, and D are the keys to supporting and strengthening your immune system against microbial pathogens:

Vitamin A Hammer

  • Vitamin A: 200,000 IU per day (in divided doses) for older children and adults.

Shop here: Vitamin A capsules

The recommended regimen is 100,000 IU by mouth at the time of diagnosis for infants younger than 12 months of age, and 200,000 IU for older children and adults.

The rationale for vitamin A: Vitamin A is a necessary substrate for preserving epithelial cell integrity and in addition plays a role in immune modulation.

Multiple clinical investigations have demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of vitamin A in viral illnesses, including the measles. In fact, vitamin A treatment of children with measles in developing countries has been associated with significant reductions in morbidity (illness) and mortality (death) when administered during the acute phase of illness (within 5 days of the onset of rash).

The benefits of vitamin A supplementation are so well recognized that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) have issued a joint statement recommending that vitamin A be administered to all children diagnosed with measles in communities where vitamin A deficiency (serum vitamin A <10 µg/dL) is a recognized problem and where mortality related to measles is ≥1%.

In the presence of ophthalmologic signs of vitamin A deficiency, such as night blindness, Bitot's spots (grayish white deposits on the bulbar conjunctiva adjacent to the cornea) or xerophthalmia, the WHO recommends the dose be repeated in 24 hours, and again 4 weeks later.[]

Vitamin A is available in low-cost liquid formulations that can be easily administered to infants and young children.

The Vitamin C Hammer

  • Vitamin C: Begin with an initial (loading) dose of 3000 to 4000 mg. Then take 1000 mg per hour at least six times per day for 3 days.

Seek a high quality Vitamin C, preferably a balanced formula based on the acerola fruit. Acerola is rich in vitamin C, and also contains vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin.


  • Begin with an initial (loading) dose of 3000 to 4000 mg.
  • Then dose 1000 mg every 1-2 hours until you begin to experience bowel symptoms such as mild discomfort, increased flatulence (gas), and loose stools (mild diarrhea). This marks your level of “bowel tolerance” for vitamin C.
  • At the dose you begin to notice symptoms of exceeding your vitamin C “bowel tolerance,” back off your dosing slightly. For example, if you’ve been taking 1000 mg every hour, once you are near your bowel tolerance you would back off to 1000 mg every 2 hours, adjusting up or down as needed to stay just below bowel tolerance.
  • Ideally, aim for 1000 mg per hour at least six times per day for 3 days. Begin as soon as you recognize the initial symptoms. Continue taking vitamin C until you are over your cold and flu.
  • Consider continuing the protocol for 1-2 daysafter you are feeling betterto prevent a relapse.


For children, I typically recommend vitamin C chewables but powdered and liposomal forms are also good options. The amount of Vitamin C in most multivitamins does not come close to required dosing. At the first signs or even concern that your child may have a cold or flu, consider the following intervention:

Shop here: Vitamin C capsules, Liposomal Vitamin C, & Powdered Vitamin C

Vitamin D Hammer

  • Vitamin D: 10,000 IU 5 times per day. Continue for 3 days.

The Vitamin D Hammer

Do this at the first signs and symptoms of a cold or flu:


  • The results are dramatic, with complete resolution of symptoms in 48 to 72 hours. Vitamin D dosed at these and even higher levels has been used safely and shown to be safe.


  • The mothers of children young enough to breastfeed should protect themselves with the adult protocol. Boosting your immune system will boost your child’s immune system.
  • Breastfeed if at all possible. Children are protected by antibodies and all the other immune elements that are found in mother’s breast milk.
  • For children, many experts agree they need about 35 IU's of vitamin D per pound of body weight.

The cost of vitamin D is about a penny for 1000 IU, so this treatment costs less than a dollar.

Shop here:

Liposomal Vitamin D3

Liquid Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3


  • Mounting research suggests vitamin D deficiency may actually be a major cause of influenza. People with the lowest vitamin D levels reported having significantly more colds or cases of the flu
  • Scientific review confirms vitamin D optimization boosts immunity and cuts rates of cold and flu. Among people vitamin D blood levels below 10 ng/mL, taking a supplement cut risk of respiratory infection by 50 percent
  • To prevent influenza in one person, 40 people must receive the flu vaccine whereas one case of the flu can be prevented for every 33 people taking vitamin D.
  • If you’re severely vitamin D deficient, vitamin D supplementation is 10 times more effective than the flu vaccine.
  • Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, was one of the first to introduce the idea that vitamin D deficiency may actually be an underlying CAUSE of influenza.

Dr. Cannell’s hypothesis was initially published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection in 2006. It was subsequently followed up with another study published in the Virology Journal in 2008.

The following year, the largest nationally representative study of its kind to date discovered that people with the lowest vitamin D levels indeed reported having significantly more colds or cases of the flu. In conclusion, lead author Dr. Adit Ginde stated:

"The findings of our study support an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu. Individuals with common lung diseases, such as asthma or emphysema, may be particularly susceptible to respiratory infections from vitamin D deficiency."

Catching the cold and flu may be a symptom of vitamin D deficiency

Great advice from Dr. Mercola:

While colds and flus are caused by viral infections, compelling research suggests that your ability to "catch" these infections may actually be a symptom of an underlying vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a potent antimicrobial agent, producing 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. Suboptimal vitamin D levels will significantly impair your immune response, thereby making you far more susceptible to contracting colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections.

In the largest and most nationally representative study of its kind to date, involving about 19,000 Americans, people with the lowest vitamin D levels reported having significantly more recent colds or cases of the flu -- and the risk was even greater for those with chronic respiratory disorders like asthma. At least five additional studies also show an inverse association between lower respiratory tract infections and vitamin D levels.

The best source for vitamin D is direct sun exposure. While it may not be possible to get enough sun exposure during the winter, every effort should be made to attain vitamin D from UVB exposure as there are many additional benefits from this route other than vitamin D. The next best option to sunlight is the use of a safe indoor tanning device. As a last resort, if neither natural nor artificial sunlight is an option, you may take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. However, if you do, you need to be aware of the following:

  • Make sure you're taking the correct vitamin D supplement. You want D3, not D2, as the latter may end up doing more harm than good.
  • Based on the latest research from GrassrootsHealth, the average adult dose required to reach vitamin D levels of about 40 ng/ml is around 8,000 IU's of vitamin D3 per day.
  • For children, many experts agree they need about 35 IU's of vitamin D per pound of body weight.
  • Consider periodically checking your vitamin D serum level to make sure you're taking the appropriate dose and obtaining therapeutic vitamin D levels in the range of 50-80 ng/ml.

Vitamin D should Always be Paired with Vitamin K2

  • If you're taking high dose vitamin D supplements you also need to take vitamin K2—not K1 that is typically in vegetables as it will not work synergize with vitamin D.

Essential Nutrients for Immune System Support

Elderberry Syrup - 15 mL, four times a day for 5 days

  • Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections.
  • In Norway, elderberry syrup was investigated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of elderberry syrup. Symptoms were relieved an average of FOUR DAYS EARLIER than placebo. Which is at least 3.5 days better than Tamiflu and without Tamiflu’s adverse events risk (nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, and suicidal behavior).
    1. Sixty patients (aged 18-54 years) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 h or less were enrolled in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study during the influenza season of 1999-2000 in Norway.
    2. Patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale.
    3. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier.
    4. The use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo.
    5. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza
  • Studies showing the efficacy of elderberry syrup
    1. Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses.
    2. Anti-influenza virus effects of elderberry juice and its fractions.
    3. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.
    4. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak...
    5. The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines.
    6. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro.
    7. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.


Garlic has long been hailed for its healing powers, especially against infectious diseases like cold and flu.

This is likely due to its immune boosting effects. Fresh garlic is also a potent antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent. But its therapeutic effects may go much further than that.

The featured article in Medical News Today1 contains an impressive list of garlic's historical use as a natural medicine, and modern research to back up the wisdom of such antiquated claims. Green Med Info has also assembled a list of studies demonstrating more than 150 beneficial health effects of garlic! For example, studies show that regular consumption of (primarily raw) garlic:

  • May be effective against drug-resistant bacteria
  • Reduces risk for heart disease,2 including heart attack3 and stroke
  • Helps normalize your cholesterol4 and blood pressure
  • Protects against cancer,5, 6 including brain,7 lung,8 and prostate9 cancer
  • Reduces risk of osteoarthritis10

It's thought that much of garlic's therapeutic effect comes from its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin (Allicillin™ softgels), which are also what give it its characteristic smell. Other health-promoting compounds include oligosaccharides, arginine-rich proteins, selenium and flavonoids.11

Research12 has revealed that as allicin digests in your body it produces sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts with dangerous free radicals faster than any other known compound.

This is one of the reasons why I named garlic as one of the top seven anti-aging foods you can consume. Garlic is also a triple threat against infections, offering antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.

Not only is it effective at killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including MRSA, but it also fights yeast infections, viruses and parasites. Garlic must be fresh to give you optimal health benefits though.

The fresh clove must be crushed or chopped in order to stimulate the release of an enzyme called alliinase, which in turn catalyzes the formation of allicin.13 Allicin in turn rapidly breaks down to form a number of different organosulfur compounds. So to "activate" garlic's medicinal properties, compress a fresh clove with a spoon prior to swallowing it, or put it through your juicer to add to your vegetable juice.

A single medium size clove or two is usually sufficient, and is well-tolerated by most people. The active ingredient, allicin, is destroyed within one hour of smashing the garlic, so garlic pills are virtually worthless.

You also won't reap all the health benefits garlic has to offer if you use jarred, powdered or dried versions. Worse yet, at least two supermarket-brands containing garlic powder imported from China have been found to be contaminated with high levels of lead, arsenic and added sulfites, according to a recent article by

If you develop a socially offensive odor, just decrease the amount of garlic you're consuming until there is no odor present. If garlic makes you feel ill, this is probably your body's way of letting you know you should avoid it.

Garlic versus Tamiflu

I strongly recommend against the use of Tamiflu. It has been shown to be largely ineffective. More concerning, the drug is associated with a high prevalence of adverse events, including psychosis and suicidality.

Garlic may be particularly useful in preparation for the cold and flu season, as it contains compounds capable of killing a wide variety of organisms, including viruses and bacteria that can cause earaches, colds and influenza. The respected research organization Cochrane Database—which has repeatedly reported that the science does not support the use of flu vaccine as a first-line defense—has also reviewed studies on the alternatives, such as the use of garlic.15

They found that those who took garlic daily for three months had fewer colds than those who took a placebo, and, when they did come down with a cold, the duration of illness was shorter—an average of 4.5 days compared to 5.5 days for the placebo group.

While this may not seem overly impressive, it's still better than the results achieved by the much-advertised flu drug Tamiflu. If taken within 48 hours of onset of illness, Tamiflu might reduce the duration of flu symptoms by about a day to a day and a half. That's the extent of what this $100-plus treatment will get you. It's virtually identical to just taking garlic on a regular basis!

However, some patients with influenza are at increased risk for secondary bacterial infections when on Tamiflu—a risk you won't take by eating garlic... Other adverse events of Tamiflu include pediatric deaths, serious skin reactions, and neuropsychiatric events, including suicide committed while delirious.

Oregano oil - 3 times per day

Zinc - 25 mg, 3 times per day

Zinc Lozenges May Shorten the Duration of Colds: A Systematic Review

Conclusions: This study shows strong evidence that the zinc lozenge effect on common cold duration is heterogeneous so that benefit is observed with high doses of zinc but not with low doses.

The results showed that when administering either syrup or lozenges within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, healthy people taking zinc suffered colds of a shorter duration and of lesser severity.

This confirms what many people have long thought about Zinc, that it helps fight the common cold when taken at the onset of symptoms. The review stopped short of recommending any specific dose of zinc, citing the need for further studies to establish optimal formulations and durations of treatment.

Zinc is not recommended for anyone with an underlying health condition, like lowered immune function, asthma or chronic illness.

How zinc fights the common cold

There are usually around 200 distinct viruses circulating each year that make up "the common cold" and while it's not certain how the zinc curbs a cold, it appears to have antiviral properties that prevent the cold virus from replicating or attaching to your nasal membranes.

Research also indicates zinc may have immune boosting properties, allowing your body to mount a stronger first response at the onset of cold symptoms. While many strains of the cold virus have an incubation period of a day or two, pinpointing exactly when the onset of symptoms begins can be tricky.

Zinc should be taken early in the infection

But the research is clear on two points -- the initial dose of zinc must be taken within 24 hours of the initial symptoms, and people taking zinc are less likely to have their cold symptoms last more than seven days while supplementing with zinc lozenges or syrup.

Too much zinc may be detrimental to health

The Food and Drug Administration warned consumers to stop using Zicam nasal sprays and swabs, which contain zinc, after numerous reports that some users lost their sense of smell after using the product.

Taking too much zinc can interfere with your body's ability to absorb other minerals, including and especially iron, magnesium and copper. Your body needs a small amount of all the trace minerals for optimal health. Trace mineral needs are found naturally in fresh, organic protein foods, including beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, salmon. Trace minerals are also found in organic fruits and vegetables.

Zinc is an important mineral, especially when you are trying to naturally manage a cold. But you don't need massive doses. The studies reviewed showed the beneficial qualities of zinc in fighting the common cold used between 50 and 65 mg a day.

Keep in mind that any time you isolate one mineral and ingest it independently of the others, the potential exists for imbalance, or in the worst case, overdose.

I wouldn't currently recommend taking more than 50 mg a day, and I wouldn't suggest taking even those supplemental levels on a daily basis to help ward off colds in the first place as you could easily develop a copper imbalance.

It's best to get your zinc from a well balanced diet.

Zinc dosing for different age groups

For adults, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc is about 11 milligrams per day for adult men and 8 milligrams for women. Lactating or pregnant women need about 14 mg.

For children, infants only need about 3 mg, 4-8 year olds need about 5mg, and 9-13 year olds need 8mg.

Dietary sources of zinc

Besides protein rich foods like meats and fish, other good dietary sources of zinc include raw milk, raw cheese, beans, and yogurt or kefir made from raw milk.

If you are healthy and you eat a well-balanced diet, you will rarely need supplements to complete your body's zinc needs. And then again you likely won't ever catch a cold in the first place and require supplemental zinc.


  • Beta glucans and proteoglycans are the primary biologically active compounds in the mushroom fruit body and mycelia that support your immune system.


  • Tea made from a combination of elderflower, yarrow, boneset, linden, peppermint and ginger; drink it hot and often for combating a cold or flu.
  • Among other benefits, this combination causes you to sweat, which is helpful for eradicating a virus from your system.

Chicken soup

  • Chicken contains a natural amino acid called cysteine, which can thin the mucus in your lungs and make it less sticky so you can expel it more easily.
  • Furthermore, a well made chicken soup is loaded with essential nutrients the body needs to not only fight the acute infection, but to support optimal health.
  • Make sure the soup is made with clean, organic, GMO-free ingredients and chicken that isn’t “grown” in an industrial chicken farm.
  • Chicken soup from a tin can does not count and is not recommended. You are better off making the good/real stuff.
  • The more spices the better.

Hot soup

  • Garlic, onions, ginger, root vegetables.
  • The more spices the better.


  • A bee resin and one of the most broad-spectrum antimicrobial compounds in the world; propolis is also the richest source of caffeic acid and apigenin, two very important compounds that aid in immune response.

Olive leaf extract

  • Ancient Egyptians and Mediterranean cultures used it for a variety of health-promoting uses and it is widely known as a natural, non-toxic immune system builder.

Regular Supplementation Supports the Immune System

Don’t wait until you are sick. Support your immune system with daily supplementation. I recommend the following supplements regular (daily) supplementation in adults; for children reduce these in proportion to body weight:

  • Vitamin C: 3,000 milligrams (or more) daily, in divided doses.
  • Vitamin D with vitamin K2: 2,000 International Units daily. Start with 5,000 IU/day for two weeks, then reduce to 2,000. Check your blood levels using laboratory testing. Increase your dosing until you find a daily dose that maintains your serum vitamin D levels between 60 and 90 ng/dL.
  • Magnesium glycinate: 400 mg twice daily
  • Magnesium threonate: 100-300 mg in the morning.
    Magnesium threonate can cross the blood-brain barrier and improve brain levels of magnesium.
  • Zinc: 20-25 mg daily
  • Selenium: 100 mcg (micrograms) daily


1. Vitamin C:

2. Vitamin D:

3. Magnesium:

4. Zinc:

5. Selenium:

Other Essentials

Avoiding influenza and flu-like illness during the flu season or any season doesn't require a flu vaccine. By following the simple guidelines below, you can help keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you're far less likely to get sick or, if you do get sick, you are better prepared to move through it without complications. For more details, follow the hyperlinks provided.

Avoid Sugar, Fructose and Processed Foods

  • Sugar impairs the function of your immune system almost immediately. A healthy immune system is one of the most important keys to fighting off viruses and other illnesses. Be aware that sugar is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice.
  • Sugar is a toxin; at least it is at the levels commonly found in processed foods and drinks today. Sugar inflames the body and weakens the immune system. Minimizing “sweets” and eliminating sugar-loaded foods and drinks filled with sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is critical to health.

Get Enough Rest

  • Good quality sleep is essential to health and especially important to recovering from injury or illness.
  • Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you're tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu.

    View Dr. Meehan's Sleep Improvement Techniques and Information

Have Effective Tools to Address Stress

  • We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illnesses.
  • If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an energy psychology tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique, which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma.


  • When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads.

Take a Good Source of Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats

  • Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also crucial to avoid excessive and/or oxidized omega-6 fatty acids, as well as trans fatty acids commonly found in processed foods, as they will seriously damage your immune response.

Shop here: Omega 3

Use Natural Antibiotics

  • Examples include colloidal silver, oil of oregano, and garlic. These work like broad-spectrum antibiotics against bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in your body. And unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, they do not appear to lead to resistance.

Avoid Hospitals

  • I'd recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you're having an emergency and need expert medical care, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infectious microorganisms of all kinds, including pathogens that have mutated to become resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics. The best place to get plenty of rest and recover from a non-life-threatening illness is your own home, not a hospital crawling with antibiotic resistant pathogens.

Taken together, these strategies lay the groundwork for a robust immune system that can stand up to all kinds of viral and bacterial assaults. However, there are also a number of all-natural therapies that can help you combat colds and flu's on a more short-term basis.

Peptide Therapy for Viral Illnesses


TA-1 0.5 mL once daily

TA-1 potentiates T cells which mediate the cellular response to viral infection.

TA-1 also shows benefit in viruses :

“enhances immune responsiveness and augments specific lymphocyte functions, including lymphoproliferative responses to mitogens, maturation of T-cells, antibody production, and T-cell-mediated cytotoxicity” TA-1 increases MHC production to counteract the immune system-cloaking techniques of viruses like this one.


Start LL-37 at the first sign of any infection, 0.2-0.3 mL twice daily for 7-10 days, or 3 days past any symptoms.


1mL IM twice a week (usually only requires x1-2) plus TA-1 0.5 mL qd SC with other viral URIs.

Dr. Meehan’s top supplement recommendations for boosting your immune system:

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