I'm prone to regular sinus infections. Over time, I've come up with a regimen for fighting them off quickly. At the first sign of an impending illness, I:

  1. Medicate with everything: decongestant, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, cough medicine, and expectorant -- whether I need them or not
  2. Drink lots of water
  3. Get lots of sleep
  4. Modify my diet: extra garlic, no sugar

Yesterday I found out that I've been doing the "no sugar" bit for all the wrong reasons. I'd been told that viruses can only eat sugar, and so cutting sugar from my diet would starve them off. Turns out that's not the case, for embarrassingly obvious reasons: viruses don't eat, they just hijack your cells' machinery to duplicate themselves. They use whatever your normal cells eat.

That led me to a modification that (in this single incidence and without double-blind or verifiable evidence) finally kicked my current virus out of my system.

White blood cells require Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to phagocytose (absorb and destroy) viruses. Vitamin C diffuses into white blood cells through the same receptor as glucose, maybe because Vitamin C and glucose are so closely related. The more sugar in your blood, the more work your white blood cells must do to obtain Vitamin C.

Cutting out sugar should increase the ratio of Vitamin C to sugar, but I started supplementing just to make sure. A fella at work suggested 1000 mg an hour, which doesn't seem so unreasonable when you find that Vitamin C has a very low toxicity (around 12 grams per kg in rats). Better yet, extra Vitamin C is excreted very quickly. I just took 1000mg whenever I remembered, about 4 times a day or so, usually with meals.

There is some scientific evidence indicating that Vitamin C improves immune function, as well as some very good scientific evidence against Vitamin C improving phagocytosis in vitro, although it has other immune boosting effects.

From now on, when I modify my diet to fight off illness, I'll be adding in regular big doses of Vitamin C.