Hydrogen Peroxide for Colds and Flu

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March 13, 2002 | 562,557 views

Story at-a-glance

  • Placing a few drops of three percent hydrogen peroxide into each ear is a surprisingly effective treatment for upper respiratory infections
  • The best way to treat a cold is to prevent one from taking hold in the first place by strengthening your immune system
  • Vitamin D deficiency is a major contributor to your cold and flu susceptibility, and inadequate rest, excess stress, poor sleep, and too much sugar are also major factors
  • If you have a cold, practice good nutritional choices, and avoid using cold remedies, fever reducers, painkillers, and antibiotics; seek medical care only if your fever is greater than 102 degrees Fahrenheit

Email from Wendy Fyfe, Subscriber
Brush, Colorado

"Thanks to one of your articles in your newsletter about using peroxide in the ears for flu or colds, my family and I have had a relatively flu/cold free winter! We have been exposed to a serious flu in our area, but have managed to dodge it. Here are some specifics:

My 6-year-old son had kept me up during one night with coughing and sneezing. By noon the next day he had a fever. I then remembered recently reading in your newsletter about using three drops of peroxide in each ear for 10 minutes.

You should have seen his face when I told him I was going to put peroxide in his ears! He was nervous, but soon settled down. It bubbled a lot in both ears. I did only one treatment in each ear, and from then on, his fever went away and his symptoms were reduced to the sniffles. That night he slept well, as did mom. The cold did not return!

Next came myself. About a week later I felt like my head was in a 'fog,' a familiar fog that is a sure sign I am going to get sick with a bad cold or flu. I used the peroxide treatment in each ear and went to bed about an hour early. The next morning I felt fantastic! Not a trace of illness.

Again about a week after I had felt something coming on, my husband started feeling 'ugh.' I told him about the peroxide and he looked at me skeptically. But he tried it. And it worked! He works for the school district in the bus shop and is around the drivers (who are around all those kids passing germs about) frequently.

At the same time my 10-year-old son who is rarely sick said he didn’t feel well. I wasn’t sure if he was saying that because he felt left out (the peroxide treatment aroused his interest), or if he really was coming down with something. So, I gave him a treatment, not seeing that any harm would come of it. He had strong bubbling on one side. He soon felt better and did not become ill.

The peroxide has been used a few other times on all of us with almost amazing results. There was a different result in one case, which had to do with myself. It had been a couple of weeks from my first use of the peroxide on myself.

I came home from our local library book sale, which was held in the basement. I quickly became ill, as if allergic to something in the basement, of which this was my first time down there. By the next morning I had a full-fledged cold and felt awful. I tried the peroxide.

Although I had to repeat the peroxide treatment about every 4 hours, the peroxide alone relieved my symptoms! I was a bit tired, but other than that, no sneezing, coughing, fever, etc. After about 4 hours I would feel pressure building in my head (especially the ears) and I would begin to get quite cranky. Then I would use the peroxide again and be much better.

The peroxide allowed me to maintain my schedule of homeschooling the boys and doing my chores. It worked better than anything I have tried over the years and had no side effects!

A few notes: the peroxide feels like ice when it is dropped into the ear! It usually did not sting. The hardest thing for me to get used to was the tickling of the bubbles!

Thank you again for the information on peroxide for flus and colds. This wife and mom has had many peaceful nights thanks to you! Thank you also for ALL the fantastic information that you pass along in your newsletter. If it weren't for you, how would we know of these things?!?

Last fall I started using EFT and am very pleased with the results and that I have such a useful tool for others and myself. I learned of it through you. You have made a difference in many lives."

By Dr. Mercola

You probably know that I don't advise over-the-counter medications in general, but the hydrogen peroxide treatment referred to by Wendy Frye in the above email she sent to me is surprisingly effective against upper respiratory infections. Many patients at my clinic have had remarkable results in curing colds and flu within 12 to 14 hours when administering a few drops of three percent hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into each ear.

This is really easy to do. All you need to do is use regular hydrogen peroxide that you purchase for about $1 in nearly any pharmacy or grocery store. It is not necessary to dilute it. What I do is take the cap off the bottle and fill the cap with peroxide. This is about the amount that fills your ear canal.

 You will hear some bubbling, which is completely normal, and possibly feel a slight stinging sensation. Wait until the bubbling and stinging subside (usually 5 to 10 minutes), then drain onto a tissue or the sink and repeat with the other ear. A bottle of hydrogen peroxide in 3 percent solution is available at any drug store for a couple of dollars or less. This seems to be effective about 80 percent of the time, especially if done when your symptoms first appear. If you fail to start it as soon as the symptoms appear it will likely not work.

In 1928, Richard Simmons, M.D. hypothesized that colds and flu viruses enter through your ear canal, as opposed to your nose and throat. But his findings were dismissed by the medical community. Then in 1938, German researchers had great success using hydrogen peroxide for treating colds and the flu. But their data has been ignored for over 60 years.

Of course, the best way to treat a cold is to not get one in the first place. And the key to preventing colds is to keep your immune system strong and healthy.

Prevention of Colds Is the Key

Cold viruses are all around you, living on your computer keyboard, coffee mugs, door handles and other objects for hours, so coming into contact with them is part of daily living. However, the key to remember is that just being exposed to a cold virus does not mean you'll catch a cold. If your immune system is operating at its peak, it should actually be quite easy for you to fend off those viruses without getting sick. On the other hand, if your immune system is impaired, they'll easily take hold in your body.

The major reasons your immune system becomes weakened and you come down with a cold are:

Vitamin D Deficiency: A Major Risk Factor for 'Catching' a Cold

It's estimated that the average U.S. adult typically has two to four colds each year, while children may have up to 12. One reason for the widespread prevalence may be that vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common in the United States, especially during the winter months when cold (and flu) viruses are at their peak.

Research has confirmed that "catching" colds and flu may actually be a symptom of an underlying vitamin D deficiency. The research is quite clear: less than optimal vitamin D levels will significantly impair your immune response and make you far more susceptible to contracting colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections. Vitamin D is an amazingly effective antimicrobial agent, producing 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

The best source for vitamin D is direct sun exposure. But for many of us, this just isn't practical during the winter. If natural or artificial sunlight are not an option, then using oral vitamin D3 supplements is your best bet. If you wish to take an oral vitamin D3 supplement, follow my dose recommendations, based on the latest scientific research. The only way to establish that you are taking your optimal dose is to get your blood tested. Ideally, you'll want to maintain a vitamin D level of 50-70 ng/ml year-round.

For an in-depth explanation of everything you need to know about vitamin D, please refer to my FREE one-hour vitamin D lecture.

How You Can Get Well Faster

Most uncomplicated colds last between eight and nine days, but about 25 percent last two weeks, and five to 10 percent last three weeks. Even the most stubborn colds will typically resolve in a few weeks' time. This is actually one of the ways you can distinguish a cold from allergies—a cold will last, at most, a few weeks, but allergy symptoms can last all season.

A slight fever will actually help you to feel better sooner. Cold viruses cannot reproduce at higher body temperatures. Therefore, popping over-the-counter cold remedies or fever reducers is counterproductive to recovering quickly. In fact, as long as your temperature remains below 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 degrees Celsius), there is no need to lower it. Avoid taking over-the-counter painkillers as well as they tend to suppress your body’s natural antibody production.

One of the most effective ways to prevent spread of infection is to practice good hand washing techniques, without overdoing it. Over washing can lead to cracked skin, which is counterproductive. Use plain soap and water, not antibacterial cleansers, which can lead to resistant bacteria, or “superbugs.” For specific dietary strategies, including natural supplements, for cold prevention and treatment, refer to my comprehensive article about combating colds and flu.

When Should You Call Your Physician?

Remember that antibiotics are completely ineffective against cold and flu viruses, so avoid them—they will do more harm than good. Sinus, ear, and lung infections (bronchitis and pneumonia) on the other hand are examples of bacterial infections that DO respond to antibiotics. If you develop any of the following symptoms, these are signs you may be suffering from a bacterial infection rather than a cold virus, and you should call your physician's office:

  • Fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 degrees Celsius)
  • Ear pain
  • Pain around your eyes, especially with a green nasal discharge
  • Shortness of breath or a persistent uncontrollable cough
  • Persistently coughing up green and yellow sputum

Generally speaking, if you have a cold, medical care is not necessary. Rest and attention to the lifestyle factors noted above will help you to recover quickly and, if you stick to them, will significantly reduce your chances of catching another one anytime soon.