Reports have been coming in over the last few months that whooping cough is spreading throughout New Mexico and Texas. It’s important for parents to be prepared and educated when choosing to treat their children for illnesses at home. Below, I’ll share the vitamin C whooping cough treatment so you have the tools to fight this nasty illness should the need arise.
What is whooping cough?
Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is a severe cough and illness caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. The bacteria attach to tiny, hair-like extensions called cilia that line part of the upper respiratory system. The bacteria release toxins, which damage the cilia and cause airways to swell.
While the CDC encourages all those who can to get the pertussis vaccine (found in the Dtap- diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), the truth is that many times, the majority of those who catch the disease during an outbreak are vaccinated.
Furthermore, the vaccine is touted as reducing symptoms in those who do end up catching it, but the truth is that vaccines deregulate the immune system, which means one may react in an unexpected way to illness. While it may appear that vaccinated individuals do not catch pertussis or have milder symptoms, the truth is, they can be asymptomatic carriers of the disease, and therefore, unknowingly spread it.
Studies also show that the more whooping cough vaccines an individual receives, the less effective they become!
Finally, fighting whooping cough off naturally imparts long-term immunity, while the vaccine may be effective for only three years at best.
Symptoms of whooping cough
Whooping cough may start off as a mild cold.
- runny nose
- mild cough
- mild fever
- apnea (a break in breathing)
Over the coming weeks, as the disease progresses, the cough will become more serious. It is common for the cough to become so severe that a child will vomit following a coughing fit, as well as make the characteristic “whooping” sound due to lack of air.
As can be expected, these symptoms are most dangerous in babies under one year of age. Read more on treating young infants below.
What are the three stages of whooping cough?
Whooping cough is hard to diagnose in the beginning because the symptoms start off much like a common cold. However, there are three distinct stages of whooping cough. Knowing the signs of each stage will help to ensure proper whooping cough treatment is started in time, particularly for younger children and babies.
Stage one (Catarrhal)- this stage generally mirrors a minor respiratory illness and may include mild fever, cough, and runny nose. It usually lasts 4-10 days.
Stage two (Paroxysmal)- at this stage, the cough becomes more severe. Coughs may be followed by whooping, vomiting, and exhaustion. This stage typically lasts 1-6 weeks.
Stage three (Convalescent)- this stage is known as the recovery period, during which coughing will slowly subside, but may persist for several more weeks. Cough may return with re-emerging respiratory infections. This stage usually lasts another week or longer.
How can I treat whooping cough at home?
The good news is that whooping cough treatment is simple and inexpensive, and it can be done at home (read below for more information regarding treating infants for whooping cough).
The Vitamin C Protocol for Whooping Cough
Vitamin C is purported to be beneficial for treating everything from cancer to the common cold, and whooping cough is no exception. Studies have shown that vitamin C reduces the paroxysmal stage of the disease when used in large doses and especially when started early enough.
(Note: imagine my surprise when I found literature dating back to the 1930s showing the efficacy of vitamin C in treating whooping cough! Today’s studies are generally more focused on pharmaceutical treatments.)
According to Dr. Suzanne Humphries, “the majority of parents who use [vitamin C] on their infected babies, and young and older children, report a significant decrease in cough intensity, with thinning and loosening of sticky mucus, within the first 24 hours of proper dosing.
Ascorbate, in properly spaced, very high oral doses, will get you and your children through the weeks with vastly reduced symptoms while developing lasting immunity that will later protect those around them more effectively than vaccines can.”
Vitamin C dosage instructions
The type of vitamin C that is recommended to use as a whooping cough treatment, thankfully, is cheap and easy to find: sodium ascorbate. Sodium ascorbate is a sour, salty powder and small dosages contain large amounts of needed vitamin C for treating whooping cough.
The recommended brand is Nutribiotic, whose sodium ascorbate powder is free from common food allergens and GMOs, and is pharmaceutical grade. (Get it here.)
To calculate dosage, divide child’s weight in pounds by 2.2, then multiply by 375. This is the total number of mg one should take during waking hours each day, divided into frequent dosages.
For example, there is 1112 mg of vitamin C in 1/4 tsp (one dose) of Nutribiotic sodium ascorbate. For a child who weighs 40 lbs, the dosage would be about six 1/4 tsp doses throughout the day. This can be divided into smaller, more frequent doses if needed.
40 lbs / 2.2 = 18.18 X 375 = 6,818.18 / 1112 (the mg of vitamin C in one 1/4 tsp dose) = 6.13 doses in one day
At this dosage, the vitamin C should cause “bowel flushing,” the point at which bowel tolerance of vitamin C is reached and stools become loose. While an unpleasant side effect, this is a sign that the body has become saturated with vitamin C.
If you are giving the proper dose, you should see a reduction in coughing frequency and severity within 8 hours. If you begin to taper the dosage off too soon, the cough will likely worsen once more.
Because the toxins produced by pertussis can persist for up to three months, it is recommended to continue treatment throughout that duration.
When to use liposomal vitamin C
Occasionally, a liposomal vitamin C (a special type of vitamin C that has been emulsified in fat for absorption and to protect the stomach) may be needed, particularly if bowel tolerance has been reached but the coughing persists. In that case, a liposomal vitamin C can be added in similar doses.
Liposomal vitamin C is also suggested for exclusively breastfed babies.
Considerations for treating infants
According to Dr. Humphries,
After years of experience treating infants of all ages, it has become evident that there are some exceptions to the antibiotic issue:
- In 2 week to 2 month age babies, if the antibiotic is given at the first sign of cough, the severity of cough can often be decreased. I’ve worked that out with observation and use, but the two doses of antibiotic have to be given at the very first signs of the first phase of the illness. This can only happen if the index case has previously been identified and the parents know what is coming.
- This does not seem to be the case in older babies, where parents almost always report worsening symptoms after the antibiotic has been given. This may be due to starting them after the cough is full blown. I’ve not tried the two days treatment with azithromycin on older babies, because IMO, the risk:benefit is not there at that age. One exception could be someone with cystic fibrosis or other underling lung problems. But again, it will probably only make a difference if the cough is anticipated as a result of knowing that the exposure occurred.
- Antibiotics don’t seem to help whooping cough symptoms in anyone at any age, after it has become a full blown infection.
Should you use a natural whooping cough treatment?
As with all health topics, one should research and weigh the pros and cons and make the best choice for their family and child.
Oftentimes, a natural method of treatment is just as effective, if not more, than conventional antibiotic treatment, which risks creating resistant bacterial infections, gut dysbiosis, and long-term damage to the patient’s health and biome.
- Centers for Disease Control, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Signs and Symptoms, 2017.
- Diavatopoulos DA, Edwards KM, What Is Wrong with Pertussis Vaccine Immunity? Why Immunological Memory to Pertussis Is Failing., 2017.
- Dr. Suzanne Humphries, Sodium Ascorbate/ Vitamin C Treatment of Whooping Cough, 2017.
- Centers for Disease Control, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Clinical Features, 2017.
- Ormerod, M.J., Unkauf, Byron M., Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) Treatment of Whooping Cough, 1937.