Immunotics: A Revolutionary Way to Fight Infection, Beat Chronic Illness and Stay Wellby Carol Colman
Do you feel like you're locked in a battle with every cold, flu, sinus infection, or stomach virus that comes your way?
Does it take two or three antibiotics to treat an infection that used to be wiped out with ease?
Do you have young children
The first proven immune-boosting program for anyone who wants to stay well--or get well--safely and naturally.
Do you feel like you're locked in a battle with every cold, flu, sinus infection, or stomach virus that comes your way?
Does it take two or three antibiotics to treat an infection that used to be wiped out with ease?
Do you have young children who are plagued with runny noses, chronic ear infections, or sore throats?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then Immunotics is for you.
Immunotics is the term Dr. Robert Rountree has coined to describe the powerful, heretofore unknown nutraceuticals that dramatically increase immune function and effectively battle bacteria and viruses. Immunotics is far more than just echinacea and vitamin C: It is the 21st-century answer to--not a replacement for--antibiotics. Immunotics doesn't just treat an existing infection, it prevents illness in the first place, without side effects or antibiotic resistance, by supercharging the immune system--nature's most potent weapon against disease.
From the "general program" for everybody to advice for the aging immune system; from the stressed-out soul to the fellow who succumbs to every respiratory infection; from kiddie sniffles to those at risk for cancer, Immunotics has the prescription.
Robert Collins Rountree, M.D., a widely known integrative doctor and the cofounder of Boulder's, Colorado's Helios Health Center, regularly writes for Let's Live magazine. He is the author of two Avery Press books, Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child and A Parent's Guide to Medical Emergencies.
Carol Colman is one of the nation's leading health writers, and has cowritten numerous books, including Stop Depression Now, Natural Energy, and The Melatonin Miracle.
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The Immunotics Revolution
* Do you feel like you're locked in an endless battle with every cold, flu, sinus infection, and stomach bug that comes your way?
* Does it take two to three different antibiotics to treat common infections that were once cured with just one antibioticor even without antibiotics at all?
* Do you have school-aged children who are plagued with chronic ear infections or sore throats?
* Do you feel that no matter what you and your family do, you can't seem to get well or stay well?
* Do you work in an office where when one person gets sick, everybody gets sick? But somehow, you always wind up the sickest and stay sick the longest?
* Do you feel that with each passing year, you are succumbing faster and harder to common ailments that you were once able to shake off in a matter of days? Are you worried that if this downward spiral continues, you won't be able to fight off a more serious health threat, like cancer?
* Do you worry that your immune system isn't up to snuff, making you fear for the future?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, if you are worried that you are losing your resistance against disease, if you are sick of being sick, the Immunotics program is the answer. If you want to reclaim your health and the health of your family, if you want to fight infections, cure chronic illness, prevent disease, andstay well, you will find the answers you need within the pages of this book.
Immunotics is a term I have coined to describe a paradigm-changing approach to preventing and treating disease. Immunotics are to the twenty-first century what antibiotics were to the twentieth centurybut better. Unlike antibiotics, which we use to treat illness after it occurs, the Immunotics program is designed to treat infections and prevent illness in the first place. Unlike antibiotics, which can have serious side effects, the Immunotics program has virtually none. In short, Immunotics is for anyone who refuses to accept illness as an inevitable part of lifefor those who want to do everything within their power to get well and stay that way ... safely and naturally.
Immunotics can help people of all agesfrom the very young to the very oldand at all stages of life and health. It will be particularly helpful to parents of small children who are constantly exposed to colds and other illnesses at school and bring them home to other family members. Immunotics serves people in midlife who can't bounce back from colds and flus as quickly as they used to, and will be a true lifesaver for older adults who are particularly vulnerable to common infections that younger folks can easily shake off. But Immunotics goes far beyond preventing and treating infectious disease. This revolution in health care can fortify you against other major health risks, such as cancer, which can prey on us when we are most vulnerable.
The key to the Immunotics program lies in your body's most potent weapon against diseaseyour immune system. Immunotics strengthens the immune system, helping it the way a computer helps our brains. Just as no computer can replace the brain, no disease fighter could ever hope to match up to the immune system. Even better, Immunotics has been specifically designed by nature to help the immune system do what it does better than anything else. We can't just replace it with antibiotics. This is a realization that is long overdue.
AntibioticsA Squandered Gift
Antibiotics have saved and extended millions of livesthat is undisputable. There is no better way to treat bacterial pneumonia or a nasty strep infection. When I encounter a serious medical condition that should be treated with an antibiotic, I write out a prescription in a heartbeat. I believe that antibiotics are wonderful drugs when used appropriately. Many of us wouldn't even be here without them!
Before the discovery of antibiotics, death from infection was commonplace. Rare was the family that had not seen at least one member succumb. This is still the reality in many parts of the world; I have seen it firsthand. In 1994, I worked as a volunteer physician in Ghana, where I treated hundreds of patients in remote villages. I saw children become seriously ill from virulent infections such as measles, malaria, and cholerainfections that we have eradicated in the West, thanks to antibiotics and vaccines. Antibiotics can be true lifesavers.
However, there is a dark side to these wonder drugs. As a result of their being misused, new generations of disease strains resistant to antibiotic attack have emerged. If we are not careful, within a short time, we will find ourselves back in the days when even the simplest infection could turn lethal, when death from infections in childbirth was commonplace, when tuberculosis was rampant ... and there would be little we could do about it.
At the turn of the twentieth century, infection was the leading cause of death in the Western world, as it still is in the world at large. Thanks to the discovery of penicillin in 1928 and the introduction of other potent antibiotics in the years that followed, many infections that were usually lethalsuch as tuberculosis, pneumonia, and staphcould be cured by these "magic bullets." Antibiotics seemed so miraculous that physicians and patients alike came to view them as the cure for every condition, serious or not. Have a sore throat? Take penicillin. Does the baby have an ear infection? Give her amoxicillin. Have a nasty cough and cold? Take erythromycin. Patients grew so accustomed to taking antibiotics that they demanded them routinelywhether their condition would actually respond to antibiotic therapy or not. The old-fashioned cures for colds and virusesbed rest, warm drinks, good nutrition, and other tried and true home remedieswere considered passé. It did not matter that antibiotics are useless (and even harmful) against viruses. Patients begged for them, and doctors gave in. After all, these drugs were so great, what harm could they do? To meet this insatiable demand, pharmaceutical companies responded by flooding the market with new and stronger antibiotics.
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. We had won the war on infection. The bugs were driven into hidingso we thought. But they weren't defeated at all. Like a guerilla army that grows more fearsome after it is driven to the hills, the bugs started coming back. In isolated skirmishes they tested the antibiotics and found the weak points. The bugs developed new and more powerful weapons, and now it is we who are on the defensive.
Using antibiotics to treat low-grade infections is tantamount to using a nuclear warhead to quash the schoolyard bully. It is overkill to the nth degree, yet it doesn't get rid of the problem. Just like there's always another bully hiding around the corner, there's always another strain of bacteria ready to pounce when we least expect it. Antibiotics are not foolproofthey kill most but not all of the offending bacteria. The strongest of the bacteria survive and reproduce at exponential proportions, and soon, "smart" strains of bacteria immune to the antibiotic are flourishing. The stronger the antibiotic, the stronger the surviving bacteria. To make matters worse, countless numbers of Americans have misused antibiotics by not taking the full course, stopping their medication as soon as they feel better. In so doing, they have helped create new and more powerful superbugs. Americans also useor rather overuseantibacterial soaps and skin products, going so far as to put antibacterial additives in toys! We are ensuring that only the hardiest of the most lethal bacteria survive. Even if you only take them when necessary and never abuse them, you may consume antibiotics without even knowing it. Around 30 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are fed to livestock and find their way into the meat and dairy products we eat, as well as water and soil we depend on. Think about it: Every time you eat a piece of meat or drink a glass of milk, you could be ingesting antibiotic residue, albeit in minute quantities. A genetic engineering program designed to create the ultimate germ couldn't have done any better.
The overuse of antibiotics over five decades has created a new breed of smarter and more virulent bacteria that are practically indestructible. For example, Streptococcus pneumoniaethe most common cause of bacterial ear infections in young childrenhas grown resistant to standard doses of amoxicillin, the first-line treatment. Drug-resistant staph infectionsonce easily cured with penicillinrun rampant throughout the nation's hospitals. Even more frightening is the recent discovery of staph bacteria that are resistant to vancomycin, the most powerful antibiotic on the planet! In 1941, a typical case of pneumonia could be cured with 40,000 units of penicillin a day for only four days. By 1992, pneumonia strains had grown so antibiotic resistant that a patient could receive 24 million units of penicillin a day and still die. As a recent report on antimicrobial resistance by the U. S. General Accounting Office notes, "Data indicate that resistant bacteria are emerging around the world, that more kinds of bacteria are becoming drug resistant, and that bacteria are becoming resistant to multiple drugs."
Moreover, as effective as antibiotics have been in fighting bacterial infections, bacterial infections are not the onlynor today even the greatestthreat to our health. Many infections-including those that are responsible for the common cold, AIDS, and even some forms of cancerare caused by viruses. Viruses, which are immune to conventional antibiotics, are exceptionally difficult to defeat because they mutate rapidly, and some, such as the virus that causes AIDS, can knock out the body's ability to fight them.
These new disease strains do not respect national borders. Air travel has made it possible for an infectious disease to spread across the globe in less than a day. Modern construction practices, such as the design of windowless buildings that rely on central ventilation systems, allow bugs to spread rapidly throughout office buildings and hotels.
We are all at risk of contracting serious infections. If you fly on airplanes, work in a modern "closed" building, take care of sick children or elderly relatives, or visit friends in the hospital, your risk is enhanced. From a physician's perspective, it is frightening to have to prescribe several antibiotics to treat an infection that not too long ago would have responded to one antibiotic. I can't help but wonder, what if there comes a time when these drugs simply stop working? Experts agree that if the situatíon is not controlled, antibiotics will no longer work when we really need them and when our lives depend on them. In 1998, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta urged physicians to start prescribing antibiotics "prudently," that is, only when absolutely necessary. In fact, according to the CDC, some 50 million unnecessary prescriptions are written for antibiotics each year. A particularly alarming study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that doctors were routinely prescribing antibiotics for colds, bronchitis, and upper respiratory infections even though 90 percent of the time the cause was viral. The situation is so serious that some lawmakers in my home state of Colorado have even proposed legislation to make overprescription of antibiotics a crime! And a British special commission studying the problem of antibiotic resistance recently warned that "there is a dire prospect of returning to the pre-antibiotic era."
In a sense, this has already happened. More than 1 million new cases of bacterial infection occur each day, according to the World Health Organization, and most of them are drug resistant. Every year, tuberculosis, cholera, and gastrointestinal diseases that are already antibiotic resistant kill millions. According to the U. S. General Accounting Office, in 1997, hospitals discharged 43,000 patients who had been diagnosed with and treated for infections from drug-resistant bacteria.
I'm not trying to scare you. The risk of being wiped out by a virulent infection is slight, and the chance that you'll die of an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria is slim. Nonetheless, there are subtle, insidious costs to the overuse of antibiotics that affect us all.
Have you ever noticed how you often relapse into illness immediately after taking an antibiotic? It's not your imagination. Antibiotics can actually weaken your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to the next bug that comes your way. Taking an antibiotic for common ailments that can heal on their own is particularly bad for children. What many parents may not realize is that the immune system learns through experience: Each encounter with a troublesome bacteria or virus teaches immune cells valuable lessons that will be used the next time they meet up with the same bug. Children given antibiotics for every sniffle may be robbed of their ability to effectively fight infection on their own. Yes, it may take a day or two longer for children to beat an infection without an antibiotic, but in the long run, it may be far better for the child.
Antibiotics weaken our immune system in another important way that affects both children and adults: These powerful drugs just don't kill the bad bacteria that make us sick, they also target the billions of friendly bacteria that keep us well. Without these friendly bacteria, we can't digest our food properly or keep our other systems running well. The side effects of antibiotics are not confined to a little indigestion. Antibiotics wipe out the good bacteria that keep us from getting overwhelmed by harmful E. coli infections, salmonella, and staph. Overuse of antibiotics has resulted in an epidemic of yeast infections in women. Many strains of yeast are now drug resistant, too.
Antibiotics are not bad drugsquite the oppositebut their overuse is bad. I am a conventionally trained physician who has prescribed antibiotics for more than 20 years. But I have always tried to do so cautiously. I have spent as much time explaining to patients the correct way to take antibiotics as I have had in trying to talk them out of taking them! From my earliest days in practice, I have tried to find natural, scientifically proven alternatives to antibiotics whenever possible, and this book is the culmination of that effort. Ten years ago, I was considered avant-garde, but today, most of my colleagues have come around to my way of thinking.
New Focus on the Immune System
The inability of antibiotics to wipe out disease entirelyand the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and superinfectionshas led many distinguished researchers and physicians to conclude that the answer to disease is not to create stronger medicines. Rather, we say, the solution lies in attacking disease from the inside out, by strengthening the body's own natural defense network: the immune system. When your immune system functions well, it can usually take care of little problems before they become big ones. Every sniffle does not turn into a cold, every cold does not turn into the flu, and every flu does not turn into bronchitis. When your immune system is strong, even serious problems get nipped in the bud. Cancer cells get wiped out before they do mischief, and a little food poisoning goes almost unnoticed.
Over the past decade, scientists have learned a great deal about this remarkable system, and they have discovered new and effective ways to enhance and safeguard it. Practicing physicians like myself have taken this knowledge and put it to work, perfecting treatments to get our patients better and keep them that way. Immunotics is the science of supporting and strengthening the immune system so that it can fend off disease quickly, battle chronic illness effectively, and keep you well indefinitely. It is what I do in my medical practice every day.
This book introduces you to my easy-to-follow Immunotics program. I will show you how to combine diet, lifestyle changes, and an amazing new generation of compounds to strengthen immune function and improve your overall health and resistance to disease.
Immunotics emerged from cutting-edge science performed at laboratories around the world and two decades of clinical experience with thousands of patients. Furthermore, although I have written this book primarily for laypeople, I feel it can also be of great value to physicians. This book can, I hope, spread the word. Many conventionally trained physicians are unaware that there are simple and safe measures they can turn to when antibiotics are not warranted. They are being urged to cut back on prescriptions for antibiotics, but no one is telling them what to do instead. Immunotics provides physicians with important information that can make a real difference in the quality of life for their patients. Physicians who are curious about the science behind Immunotics or who want to do more research on it can read the bibliography at the end of this book.
An Education by Convention, A Passion for Herbs
Before I tell you about the Immunotics program, let me tell you a bit more about my background.
I grew up in a conservative North Carolina environment where authority in general and doctors in particular were never questioned. Raised during the post-World War II baby boom when penicillin and other wonder drugs were dispensed for nearly every ailment, I, like so many others of my generation, was practically weaned on antibiotics. If you got sick, you took an antibiotic, no questions asked. Medicine meant prescribing something. It was as simple as that.
As a child, I never thought much about medicine. My passion was nature. I spent as much time as I could outdoors hiking and camping; for that matter, I still do. I learned to recognize many different plants, and I discovered the magic of the life processes.
Nonetheless, I was still a teenager with much to learn, and some lessons came harder than others. One particularly important lesson has shaped the way I practice medicine today. When I was a senior in high school, I began to suffer from terrible respiratory symptoms, including a chronic, wheezing cough. Amazingly, I did not attribute these symptoms to the fact that I smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, but what was even more amazing was neither did the allergist I consulted! His advice was to eliminate 30 common foods from my diet and to get weekly allergy injections. Skeptical of his diagnosis, I spotted a pack of cigarettes in the doctor's pocket, and it suddenly dawned on me that maybe my problems had more to do with the two packs of cigarettes daily I was inhaling directly into my lungs than food allergies. I stopped smoking and started reading books about health. I made some modest changes in my diet to include more fruits and vegetables and less junk food. I began taking vitamins. Within a few months, the cough had vanished and my chest was clear. I had found the "cure" simply by giving my body the tools it needed to repair itself. After this experience, safeguarding my own health became second nature to me. It is a lesson I have tried to pass on to the thousands of patients who have been in my care.
At the University of North Carolina, I continued my study of the life sciences and would have become a biologist had I not stumbled on a book that was to change the direction of my life: Herbs: The Magic Healers, by Paul Twitchell. That review of herbal medicine as it was practiced around the world included many of the same plants I had identified in the North Carolina woods as a boy! Intrigued by the book, I ventured into a local herb shop. Today, herbs are sold in pristine bottles and blister packs in mainstream drugstores, pharmacies, and health food stores. Back then, herbs were only sold in bulk out of huge wooden barrels under primitive conditions. You really didn't know what you were buying, much less how to use them. The only references were old-fashioned herbals (some written hundreds of years ago) that contained much folklore and anecdotes but little science. I learned that echinacea had been used for centuries to treat colds and flus, but no one knew that it worked by boosting the immune system. I read that goldenseal was a natural antibiotic, but few agreed on how to use it. I found myself fascinated by the healing power of the natural world, and I decided to explore it. But I was already a scientist (in a sense I always had been) and I needed to better understand how herbs and other natural healing agents worked.
I attended medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and did my residency in family medicine at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I surprised my teachers and peers by choosing to pursue a general family practice as opposed to a more "prestigious" specialty, but I had never doubted that I would be a family practitioner. It was the only specialty that allowed me to treat the entire patient, not one small part of the body. It introduced me to entire families, from the youngest infants to the oldest of the old and everyone in between, and provided the ideal environment to develop my brand of integrative medicine: the merging of natural medicine with good science.
After my residency, I became a family practice physician in Boulder, where I cofounded Helios Health Center in 1993. Now, I'm proud to say, the center is thriving. We are the primary physicians for thousands of patients and treat every kind of medical problem imaginable. In practice, I've continued my love and study of the natural world and its healing powers, and over the years I've developed an impressive arsenal of alternative methods to treat common ailments safely and effectively. My Immunotics program is based on this experience and passion of a lifetime.
The Immunotics Program
The Immunotics program mounts a four-pronged attack against disease:
* The Immunotics Pharmacy
* The Immunotics Food Plan
* Your Mind: A Powerful Immunotic
* Creating An Immune-Friendly Environment
The Immunotics Pharmacy
This book will introduce you to tried and true "immunotics"supplements to bolster immune function and treat disease. In chapter 4, I review the 30 extraordinary immunotics that form the foundation of the program. Everything that I recommend is available over the counter at neighborhood health food stores, pharmacies, discount stores, and even supermarkets. Here are some highlights.
Colostrum: Why do breast-fed infants get sick less often than bottle-fed infants? Breast milk contains powerful immune-bolstering proteins that help keep infants well throughout their first months of life. A protein derived from the first milk produced by a nursing mother, colostrum is a rich source of these immune-stimulating compounds. For the rest of us, bovine colostrum, available in powder and capsules, is an excellent general immune booster, especially for people with chronic infections. It is as safe as mother's milk!
Olive leaf extract: Many of you know that olive oil is good for your health, but what you may not know is that an extract derived from the leaf of the olive is a potent natural antibiotic and antiviral. It also gives the immune system a much-needed boost. It is a terrific treatment for acute infections, such as sore throats and bad colds. When my patients beg for an antibiotic (and I know it won't help them) I prescribe olive leaf extract. It helps them beat the infection fasterwith no side effects.
NAC: Long used in hospitals to treat acetaminophen overdose and cystic fibrosis, NAC is now sold over the counter. My first-line treatment for upper-respiratory infections, it is particularly good at clearing up a congested nose.
Garlic: Garlic has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine as an effective treatment for stomach bugs. Garlic can be eaten raw (I explain how in chapter 4) or taken in capsule form.
Western larch: I prescribe this herb, available in a powder form that can be mixed in juice, for nasty ear infections or bad colds in children. It is a safe, inexpensive, and easy-to-use immune booster that gives the body added ammunition to fight off infection.
Chapter 6 provides a basic Immunotics supplement program designed to enhance overall immune function. In addition to the Basic Immunotics Program, this chapter contains modified programs for readers with special risk factors and vulnerabilities. For example, if you seem to catch every cold that comes your way, follow the program designed to fortify your immune system against respiratory problems. If you tend to come down with stomach bugs, I'll show you how to protect yourself against digestive disorders. Il' you are at high risk of developing cancer, try the program designed to boost your cancer-fighting immune cells.
But under the best of circumstances, even the healthiest people get sick. In chapter 7, I will show you how to use immunotics to relieve symptoms and speed recovery from common illnesses such as low-grade infections, sore throats, ear infections, respiratory ailments, and others. I will also tell you how immunotics can be useful as an adjuvant treatment for more serious problems such as cancer, AIDS, and hepatitis.
The Immunotics Food Plan
As good as immunotics supplements may be, they are meant to work in synergy with food, not as a substitute for good nutrition. Food is a wonderful source of natural immunotics, but unfortunately, few people take advantage of nature's food pharmacy. In fact, as you will learn in chapter 3"Are You at Risk?"an inadequate diet is the number one cause of poor immune function! Simply put, most of us are eating too much of the wrong foods and too little of the right ones. However, by making modest changes in your diet, you can make a huge difference in your ability to maintain optimal immune health. If you find yourself sick all too often, I strongly urge you to pay close attention to the Immunotics food plan.
Outlined in chapter 8, the Immunotics food plan shows you how easy it is to eat foods that work with your body to fight disease and strengthen immune function. To make things really simple, I list superfoods that you should eat every day. Even if you do nothing else than incorporate at least some of these foods into your daily diet, I guarantee you'll see a positive result.
Your Mind: A Powerful Immunotic
Caring for your body by taking the immunotics supplements, eating wisely, and getting enough exercise is important, but it does not do the whole job of achieving optimal immune health. Clinical studies have proven that your mindwhat you think and feelhas a powerful effect on your immune system. Learning how to harness that power not only can help keep you well but also will help you heal more quickly if you're not. It is every bit as important a component of the Immunotics program as supplements, nutrition, and a healthy environment. In fact, there are times when I believe that our feelings about illness and our visions of the future may be THE determining factor in whether we succumb or survive. In chapter 9, I discuss the techniques you can use to tap the power of the forgotten immunotic: the mind.
Creating an Immune-friendly Environment
Chapter 10 provides specific tips on how to create an immune-friendly lifestyle that minimizes the risk of getting sick. Simple changes in your everyday habits can demonstrably enhance immune function. In particular, this chapter will help people living in high-risk situations, such as those who work in poorly ventilated office buildings or hospitals, parents of school-aged children who are always getting sick, and frequent travelers.
A Word to Readers
The underlying philosophy of my medical practice is that physicians first and foremost should be educators. As a physician, I am privileged to have access to information that most patients do not. It is my obligation to share that information. Twenty years of practice have taught me that my patients are intelligent and that given the right information they will make the right choices. I have written this book to share my knowledge with you so that you too can make the right choices for yourself and your family.
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