Fighting the Flu (Pt. 2):

Sweat It Out



I don't know about you ... but I'm pretty sure I've noticed that in my own world the flu tends to strike, not when I'm stressed, but right afterwards, as soon as the stress eases.

Years ago a naturopathically-oriented friend of mine planted a seed in my mind: the idea that colds and flus are the brush fires of the body. That flu viruses bear the same relationship to our cells that wolves have to a deer herd: they seek out and destroy the weakest cells, so they can be replaced more easily.

This only makes sense if one understands that healthy bodies undergo a constant process of identifying weak cells and tissues, destroying them (low-grade inflammatory processes do the work) and then rebuilding new cells to replace them.

Stress hormones slow or stop this process. When the body's stressed, it decides that it has more important things to do than stay young (for example, staying hyper-alert and ready to spring into action.) That's why people who go through periods of intense stress can age so rapidly. And if these ideas are correct, it might just explain why flus tend to hit, not when we're stressed ... but just as soon as the stress eases up. There's more worn out cells to be broken down, more debris to be eliminated ... and maybe sometimes our bodies can use a a little help (and the flu viruses know it! So to speak.)

So what, therefore, is there to be done?

Well ... one thing we can do is understand that, if indeed the flu is our friend, we can help those viruses do their jobs, clean up and go home. Understood in this way, the flu becomes a kind of detoxification ... and if we can speed up the rate at which our bodies eliminate the worn-out cellular debris we're otherwise coughing up and blowing out ... we'll get through the flu faster.

In other words ... sweat it out.

Go buy a bag or box of Epsom Salt (the big one, not the little one.) Clean out your bathtub and start filling it with hot water. Grab all your old bath and beach towels, pull back your comforter or blankets, and lay a set of towels down in the bed where they'll absorb your sweat when you lie on them. Lay another set down next to where you'll be lying, and make sure the comforter or blankets are nearby.

Pour about 2-3 cups of Epsom Salt into the tub, and block the overflow drainpipe if necessary to be sure you can immerse yourself completely (a wadded up washcloth does the job just fine.) Then ... when the tub is almost full ... get in. (By the way, if you're over 50 or you have any kind of heart condition, you probably shouldn't do this without clearing it with your doc first. Getting overheated could be bad for you. And it's pbly not a good idea to do this if you're running a high fever, say ... over 101.)

After soaking 5-10 minutes, your body will tell you it's time to get out. Count to 100 slowly and prepare yourself. The next few moments will be crucial.

Leap out of the tub. Towel yourself off as fast as you can; don't worry about getting every last drop because you're going to be wet again soon enough. Dash into bed, get on the first set of towels, pull the second set over you, then cover yourself with the blanket or comforter. Be sure your head is wrapped up too. The whole key here is to get all covered up before you get cooled off.

Soon you will begin to sweat. The longer you go, the better you'll feel afterwards. Twenty minutes minimum. When I sweat, I try to go for 45 mins to one hour.

Why does this work? Well again ... from a naturopathic point of view, we're speeding up the rate at which toxins leave the body. From a conventional point of view, it's long been noticed that elevated body temperatures help the immune system kill off viruses faster. Who's right? Maybe both.

Next week: Linus Pauling's Revenge!