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Archive for the month “March, 2013”

Battling the Flu Season Part 2


When it comes to the flu,  rest is crucial. Most of the people I came across with who got the flu this season were bedridden for at least a week. Allowing the body to rest is one of the best ways to allow the body to conserve and utilize available energy for the most pressing issues effecting the body. For example women have to rest after giving birth and when someone has surgery they usually have to rest until the area of injury adequately heals. Rest is very important for recovery.

There is a interesting recommendation found in “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Natural Remedies,” it is called: Dr. Silbert’s cold, wet, sock treatment. He recommends that at the beginning of a a cold, flu or sinusitis, before going to sleep, put on a thin wet sock on your feet. Then put on two thick dry wool socks over the wet socks. If you wake up in the middle of the night and your socks are wet, take them off and dry your feet. The idea behind this is that the wet socks treatment activates the bodies immune system. This remedy can be used for the flu, earaches, cold symptoms and it can give you a better sleep overall. The good thing about this remedy that it is safe from the infants to the elderly; socks should be dry within four hours for infants and elderly. More on this can be found here.

Fasting is another way to help conserve available energy. Fasting is the act of taking in only water or tea(with no calories) and restricting the body of any form of food. This includes any fruit juices. The reason why you take in only calorie free water or herbal tea is because you do not want the digestive system to do any work. The digestive system consists of large organs that need energy to help facilitate the digestive process. Allowing the body a break from the digestive process frees up a significant amount of energy that can be used for healing.

There are two types of fasting: short-term and long-term fasting. Short-term fasting ranges from one to three days. According to Dr. Weil, fasting is good for relieving toxic conditions of all kinds, the flu, and infectious illnesses. He also claims that fasting influences both physiology and  consciousness of the body. Dr. Weil(2005), “Many people report that even after one day of fasting their senses are sharper, their heads clear, their bodies lighter and more energetic.” Some people enjoy fasting so much that they do it once a week.

Long-term fasting lasts longer than three days. This type of fasting should not be done without expert oversight. Long-term fasting is dangerous if it is not done correctly. On the other hand long-term fasting can completely relieve ailments if performed successfully. Dr. Weil(2005), states, “I have met people who have fasted for one to three months with good results, and I have seen long-term fasting produce complete remissions of diseases that resisted all other treatments: bronchial asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis.” Again only under expert supervision when participating in long-term fasting.

Certain measures should be taken when fasting:

  • Drink plenty of water.
    • Helps body release toxins.
  • Conserve energy.
    • Do not participate in normal activity, including exercising.
  • Stay warm.
    • When fasting body temperature decreases. To help stay warm, drink hot herbal tea, wear warm clothing and if possible indulge in warm baths.
  • In the end gradually introduce food.
    • In the end slowly take in fruit juice, then fruits and finally small amounts of plain foods.
  • Do not fast if you are diabetic.
  • I would not recommend fasting to lose weight.

Baths are a good way to help the body fight a cold or flu. In a hot(comfortable) bath add two cups epsom salt or sea salt. Then add a few drops of rosemary, eucalyptus and lemon oil.

The same oils can be used  in steam inhalation. Pour hot water in a bucket, bowel or container drop a few drops of these oils in the hot water and breath in the steam with a towel over your head. This will help relieve and moisten  the nasal passage ways, the throat and lungs.

Gargling is a good way to relive the tissues of the throat and it can help ear infections. The thought behind why gargling helps is because it allows the tissues of the throat to be in contact with healing solutions. There are many remedies for the gargling solution, one of the simplest is the warmest water that you can handle and one cup sea salt. You can make a solution of half water half hydrogen peroxide and gargle at least four times a day.

The flu season can be a beneficial excuse to take up habit of consuming vitamins and supplements regularly. There a couple of vitamins and minerals that should be taken during the flu season.

  • Vitamin C.
    • Is an antioxidant.
    • At least 75mg/day.
    • WebMD recommendations found here.
    • Take with caution if you have low iron.
  • Vitamin E.
    • Is an antioxidant. Should be taken as a complex compound(look at label), consisting of tocopherols and tocotrienols. According to Dr. Weil, you want a capsule that contains about 80 milligrams of Vitamin E and at least 15 milligrams of the tocotriels. If you only find capsules that contain mixed tocopherols take 400 to 800 IU.
    • WebMD recommendations here.
    • Vitamin E should be taken with lunch or dinner; for absorption.
    • Avoid vitamin E that only consists of synthetic DL-alpha-tocopherol.
  • Vitamin D
    • Is steroid vitamin part of a group of prohormones.
      Necessary for the absorption of calcium.
    • Dr. Weil, recommends, at least 400 IU daily.
    • WebMD recommendations found here.
  • Selenium.
    • A trace element that is considered an antioxidant.
    • Dr. Weil, recommends  100-200 milligrams a day. 200 milligrams if you have increase cancer risk.
    • WebMD recommendations found here.

Many believe introducing medicinal mushrooms into the diet could really be  beneficial to ones health. Dr. Weil, recommends introducing maitake, shiitake and enoki to your diet, these have to be cooked. The mushrooms mentioned above can be found at health food store; more and more are found in supermarkets now. There are three other medicinal mushrooms that can be taken in tincture form cordyceps, reishi and astralagus. You can buy tinctures from an herbalist(recommended) or local health food store or on the internet.

Clinical Western Herbalist, Mr. Joshua Muscat, recommends, taking this tincture combination of mushrooms: maitake, reishi, and cordyceps(6-8 drops, three times a day), accompanied with 1,000 IU of vitamin D during the flu season.



Fiedler, Christle. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Natural Remedies. Alpha. 2009.

Weil, Andrew. Natural Health, Natural Medicine: The Complete Guide to Wellness and Self-Care for Optimal Health. 1995. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.print.

The information here is not intended to replace standard(allopathic) medicine, which has its benefit in the medical environment in diagnosing and treating diseases. Any persistent, severe, and or unusual symptoms should be evaluated by a registered physician. The natural remedies/habits suggested here, although safer than pharmaceutical drugs, can cause unexpected results, in different people. If a condition fails to respond to the remedies/habits presented here, you should consult a physician. The author of this information, disclaims responsibility for any adverse reactions resulting directly or indirectly from the information given here.

What Would You Fight For?

Below is a piece by Aric Visser,(2013), called,”My Friend Daramane is Volunteering for the War.”


This is a story about a man named Dramane – a story that has a beginning but no end – at least I don’t know how it is going to end…so let’s start at the beginning.

Dramane was my first friend that I made after my family arrived in Spain. In the second week of September the sun still screams at anyone who dares venture outside in Zaragoza, but the calendar calls all the kids to school anyway, so I took my daughter’s hand and walked her through the park and into the schoolyard of what would be her first real school.  I forced a big smile and said encouraging things, but my daughter just stared back at me with a look of “But dad, you never taught me any Spanish” on her face.  I gave her a hug, and took a big breath and swallowed hard as she walked in with her new classmates who would spend the next few months talking at her with no response.  When all the children were inside, the parents began filing out, chatting and catching up on news and gossip from the summer.  I just stood there for a moment and then started for the door, where I would see Dramane for the first time.  He wasn’t chatting and catching up.  He was just standing in the back and smiling, then darted out – satisfied grin in tow.

For a few days each morning was identical.  My daughter was brave and Dramane stood in the back and smiled after seeing his twin boys hop up the steps into the school. But then after about a week, Dramane came over, shook my hand and simply said “Hi.  I’m Dramane.”  I told him my name and stood there looking at his smile.  I don’t know that I had ever seen anyone smile that much.  As Americans, we often get made fun of for smiling all the time in public, which is fine, because it is absolutely true, but on that morning, and for mornings to come, Dramane made me look practically miserable in comparison.

For the next two weeks it was always the same, a firm hand shake, a “how are you” and an enormous smile.  We became friends, at least I considered him my friend, and I hoped he thought the same of me.  We told each other about our home towns – mine in the United States, his in Mali – and we talked about the school.  We shared our “immigrant experiences,” and I ridiculously imagined that we had so much in common.

One morning he took me for coffee and showed me his business – one of those storefronts where you can get on the internet, make copies, use a phone or send a moneygram to a loved one back home.  He ran the place with his brother.  That day he told me more about his family. He told me about his wife and how the paperwork to get her to Spain was impossible.  He told me that he had a two-year-old son, also in Mali. He told me about driving back and forth to bring his family things, describing a car trip that would make a coast-to-coast U.S. road trip look like a lap around the block.

I never went to his shop again, but we always shook hands and said hello without fail.  I found what I thought was a link between us, an immigrant experience that we shared, and knew that no one else in the schoolyard quite understood us.  We were different, and although eventually I started talking to the Spanish parents, Dramane never did.  He just stood in the back and smiled like he always did.


Now the weather has turned colder and the schoolyard chats have been shorter.  Up until this week I hadn’t seen Dramane in a while and wondered where he had gone.  I no longer think that we share a common immigrant experience, and realize that it was a fantasy to think that we ever did, and never did that become more clear than when I saw Dramane last Friday and shook his hand for the first time in a while.

“Hey Dramane, how are you?”

“Aric, I’m good, How are you.”

“Good.  I’m good.  Hey what ever happened with your wife’s papers?”

“Oh, she is here now.  I don’t know, maybe you have seen her?”

“Wow! Great news. And your son?”

“We had to leave him in Mali.  His papers did not go through.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“It’s o.k.  I am leaving soon anyway.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to Mali.  I am volunteering to fight in the war.”

“You’re doing what?”

“I’m going to fight.  They are taking volunteers.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Aric, you need to understand, this is no way to live.  I can’t stay here, and I can’t just go back and live in the sand.  What am I going to do, live in a village in the middle of the desert?  I can’t do this anymore, so I will go home and fight.”

I didn’t know what to say.  I just stood there looking for words and Dramane just stood there smiling and shaking my hand.  He probably noticed that I didn’t know what to say, so he just said, “ I will be fine.  It’s no big deal.”

But of course it is a big deal, but all I could come up with at that moment was “good luck.  I really don’t want this to be the last time I see you.  Be careful.”

He assured me that he would, turned and walked away…

I walked home thinking about Dramane.  He was going to fight, and I didn’t even know what side he was on, hell, I didn’t even know what the sides were.  I went home and looked it up.  It’s complicated.  Why does it always have to be so complicated in West Africa?  It’s about religion, or not, because it is really about cultural differences from hundreds of years ago, or not.  It’s about al-Qaida.  It’s about money. It is about oil.  It is about colonialism.  It is about the French.  It is about poverty.  It always seems to be about poverty.  It’s about the Tuareg, a nomadic North African people who impossibly have a Volkswagen named after them.  Do we name cars after ethnic groups?  Is that actually something that we, as privileged westerners get to do? You can read for yourself what it is about here. It is about all of those things and none of those things, but whatever it is, it is enough to make Dramane want to fight, and perhaps kill other human beings.

There is no moral to this story without an end. Only that we live in a big world, where sometimes people leave to go fight, and when that happens, the lucky ones stay home. I don’t know what Dramane believes in, or if he will actually take up arms against his countrymen, but if he does, I hope that he is safe.  I will think of him when he is gone, and perhaps while he is away I will embrace my big fat American smile and start shaking some more hands.


I wanted to start with this story, with the hope of humanizing the the situation in North Africa. Because to so many it is something that is so distant that we do not really feel a connection to the people who are living a very different reality. Right, for example if Mr. Visser never met Daramane, like the other parents in that school would he have put out his feelings in this piece?



Visser, Aric. “My Friend Daramane is Volunteering for the War.” Aricvisser.wordpress.wordpress, LLC. 21 Jan. 2013

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