The leaves have turned and the weather is changing: this year’s distinctive and novel influenza virus is already breeding in some swamp somewhere, eying the world and choosing its targets. Whatever the season, however, getting the flu or catching cold is not inevitable! There are strategies we can follow to prevent this misery from coming upon us, and mostly they involve
supporting the immune system, and coping with stress.
How does one avoid catching cold, or getting the flu?
Make sure on a continuing basis that the immune system is in tiptop shape.
These ills are opportunistic, and will sneak into our bodies in any way they can: we have to make sure the barricades are in place. This would mean:
- Washing one’s hands regularly
- Avoiding those already sick, and staying home oneself when ill.
- Eating antioxidant rich foods (lots of fruits and vegetables), which is also a diet rich in Vitamin C, beta-carotene and essential minerals.
- Drinking green tea,
- Maximizing intake of immune system supportive nutrients, such as mushrooms and garlic
- Keeping on hand a herbal combination of such things as Echinacea and Propolis,
- as well as a homeopathic flu or cold solution. Immediate action is most successful!
- Drinking plenty of water
- Ensuring adequate levels of selenium
Watch out for sugar, as there are now a number of studies that suggest sugar in excess can undermine our body’s defenses. This is particularly important for small children: watch juices, breads, pastries, pasta, and treats: all of these act in the body as sugar, and help feed viruses.
When my son was little, I could always count on October being the month when he would develop bronchitis, which would develop into either a cold or the flu.. Therefore, in mid-September, I would increase the amount of Vitamin C and Zinc I was giving him, along with extra B vitamins. I would also add a capsule of Propolis to his daily regimen, and some of the herbs I mention below. We would be aware that he was not altogether well, but generally at least he wasn’t ill. I contrast that with one time when I had to go to Europe at precisely that time of year, and he ended up hospitalized for 3 weeks!
When you are dealing with a non-dangerous situation, such as a cold, does it make sense to put your child in danger?
Warnings suggest that OTC cold medications are not safe for young children. (http://www.webmd.com/content/Article/131/118019.htm?pagenumber=2) This quote from the report gives me extra amusement: “There are no studies demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of cold and cough medications in this under age 2 population,” says Ian Paul, MD, a pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa.
I recall very well how frightening it is to be a Mother with a sick child, but with fevers, remember that high temperatures have a purpose: they are Nature’s way of fighting a disturbance in the body. Unless the child is very uncomfortable, it is best to let fever run its course. Here is an explanation – http://www.princetonol.com/family/columns/pedgroup13.html ( including when to worry) with valuable information, though I do not endorse the references to ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
Zinc Echinacea tablets for Children
Honey A Better Option For Childhood Cough Than Over The Counter Medications – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071203164750.htm
Nowadays, with advances in the formulas available to me, I make sure that my Cold & Flu Season Medicine Cabinet is stocked with:
- A Vitamin C complex, containing bioflavonoids. High doses can shorten the duration of a cold.
- An immune system enhancing combination with Echinacea, Goldenseal and Propolis
- Elderberry Extract
- Several kinds of herbal teas specifically designed to counter congestion
- Oscillococcinum by Boiron
- A Cold and Flu homeopathic combination
- Influenzinum, by the same company
- Chicken soup (see study below**) Grandma knew best
- Mustard Rub to soothe and protect the chest – mustard bath for relief
- Herbal teas such as Gypsy Cold Care, Throat Coat and Breathe Easy, noted for both taste and results
Propolis is a very interesting substance, made by bees for the protection of the colony. It has been extensively researched, and has impressive anti-viral credentials. Not only that, it seems specifically to be helpful for any nastiness involving the mucous membranes. A report I came across recently among students at a nursing college in Sarajevo who had been exposed to the influenza virus stated that of 182 students not taking Propolis, 63% became ill: of the 80 who took Propolis, only 7% sickened. Impressive figures.
In a study of 430 preschoolers reported in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in March of 2004, a preparation of Propolis, Echinacea and Vitamin C decreased upper respiratory infections by 55% (308 to 138).
Specific for children’s immune system support is Himalaya USA’s ImmunoCare Jr: I highly recommend adding this in times of high infection.
In Israel, there has been extensive research into Elderberry Extract as a flu fighter. In the mid 1980’s, an Israeli Doctor named Mumcuoglo became sufficiently intrigued by the folkloric history of its healing properties to begin investigating it. She discovered that Elderberry extract’s active ingredients disarms the “spikes” on the flu virus which normally enable it to penetrate healthy cells, permitting the spread of the disease. She found it to be effective against 8 different strains of flu, with 90% of the patients in one test group claiming complete recovery from all flu symptoms in 3 days. In addition, some 70% claimed to feel better on the second day, and 20% said fever, coughs and muscle pains were reduced in as little as 24 hours. Follow-up blood tests showed a higher level of influenza antibodies, which would suggest that this herbal extract actually supports immune system function.
A contemporary study at the University of Oslo by Dr. Thomhas been very positive in its findings, and has been accepted for publication in the Journal of International Medical Research.
The study involved 60 patients who had been suffering with flu symptoms for 48 hours or less; 90% were infected with the A strain of the virus, 10% were infected with type B. Half the group took 15 milliliters of Elderberry extract, and the other group took a placebo four times a day for five days. Patients in the Elderberry group had “pronounced improvements” in flu symptoms after three days: Nearly 90% of patients had complete cure within two to three days. Also, the Elderberry group had no drowsiness, the downside of many flu treatments. The placebo group didn’t recover until at least day six; they also took more painkillers and nasal sprays.
When the bird ‘flu panic started in 2005, Elderberry was tested for efficacy against that virus, and found to be 99% effective.
Definitely something to keep in the “just in case” medicine cabinet.
I also recommend an homeopathic combination called Oscillococcinum (previously Flu Solution). I cannot tell you the number of times that particular miracle worker has warded off the flu for me. If I take it at the first sign of aches, fever or sore throat, Oscillococcinum never fails. Boiron also makes an interesting homeopathic called Influenzinum which is designed to be taken once a week for 5 weeks prior to the start of flu season as a protective measure.
This is what I recommend if you feel it is the flu that is gaining on you:
Remember, if you are generally susceptible to the flu, using the Influenzinum homeopathic flu prevention annually is an excellent first line of defense.
- Immediately take extra Vitamin C – up to 500 mg an hour, stopping if you experience loose bowels: this is a sign you are taking enough.
- Also take Echinacea extract, either by itself or in combination with such herbs as Goldenseal, Astragalus, Garlic , Cayenne Elderberry and Schisandra . Never use Goldenseal for longer than a week at a time.
- Don’t forget the Propolis
- Pop your homeopathic combination under your tongue once every hour or so
- Relax in a hot bath perfumed with a blend of aromatherapy for immune support, while you sip a cup of herbal tea
- Nourish yourself with (preferably home-made) chicken soup ** with lots of garlic
If any of these therapies are new to you, consult your health professional before using them: most particularly if you are taking any medications from your Doctor. Remember, too, if your health is already compromised, you may be wise to consider a vaccine. Otherwise, try these suggestions, and join me in the Flu Free Club, member since 1976!
TO SHOOT OR NOT TO SHOOT
The first thought most people have these days when flu is mentioned, is to get the flu shot and avoid the disease entirely. I am in two minds about this. On the one hand, I realize that there are individuals whose health status makes it undesirable to take any risks with possibly catching the flu, but on the other I am not convinced that flu shots confer enough benefit when compared to the risks.
Reasons to get flu shots:
- A pre-existing health condition (such as asthma, or cardiovascular problems) means that any possibility of catching the flu is one risk too many.
- Even though the shots are largely ineffective, they may prevent the serious complications that lead to severe illness and possibly death
Reasons not to get flu shots:
- In the presence of any immune system deficiency, the flu shot itself becomes a risk.
There have been some suggestive figures put together that indicate negative sides to the flu vaccine:one, that it can further depress the immune system in older recipients, and
two, that there is a connection between these shots and some of the more mysterious afflictions, like Guillaume Barre, MS and Chronic Fatigue.
three, and the most alarming of the lot, that there is a connection between the flu shot and Alzheimer’s disease.
- (Thanks to Earl Mindell for this info) 52% of Americans aged 65 and older got flu shots in 1994 … despite this, figures from the U.S. Government’s Centers for Disease Control show that there has been a 44% increase in deaths among people 65 and older from flu since 1979. Even though more than half of all Americans in this age group get flu shots, pneumonia and influenza are still among the top ten causes of death in the elderly. See RESOURCES for disturbing information about flu shots and the elderly.
- There is no way the manufacturers of the flu vaccines can accurately determine which strain of flu will be on the rampage in any given year: they can only cross their fingers and guess. One study showed that in a comparison of two elderly groups, one of which received the flu shot, the other not, there was only a 1% difference in the incidence of flu!
- To quote Dr. Mercola: “Avoiding flu shots is a no-brainer. Who would want ethylene glycol, phenol, formaldehyde, aluminum and mercury injected into them? There are many expert physicians who believe that repetitive flu vaccines are largely responsible for the increase in Alzheimer’s disease.” Perhaps we should rephrase to state that GETTING a flu shot is a no-brainer ….
- Research in 2005 done by the Cochrane Review Group, international scientists working together, analyzed 40 years of research, and concluded that the vaccine only works in 28% of people over 65.
- Paradoxically, as one ages, and protection from the flu becomes more vital, it becomes ever more difficult for the body to produce the antibodies it needs to create in answer to the flu shot. Vaccines work by stimulating B cells to produce antibodies to the foreign substance in the injection. We know that older people, and those with compromised immune systems – those who need the vaccine most – are not able to produce enough of the antibodies. This would tend to suggest that an approach aimed at supporting the immune system would be even more effective in the older population than the flu shot. Another possible approach is to nutritionally support and enhance the immune system for a month or so BEFORE you take the vaccine: this would enable your body to produce the B cells needed for protection.
- An interesting take on the vaccine is given by Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the US-based National Vaccine Information Center. (http://www.whale.to/vaccines/nvic.html) She not only has doubts about the flu vaccine’s reliability, saying that since experts formulate the vaccine based on predictions of which strains will be prevalent during a given season, there is no guarantee that a person will not get the flu (“Sometimes they guess right, sometimes they don’t guess right”). She also questions whether vaccinating healthy young people against the flu instead of allowing them to recover naturally from the virus might lead to long-term health problems.
- “When more people have been exposed to the flu shot as opposed to the disease, you have fewer and fewer people who have any kind of permanent immunity to any strains of flu,” said Fisher. “We become basically vaccine-dependent.”
This is excerpted from www.RedFlagsDaily.com:
Hugh Fudenberg, MD, an immunogeneticist and biologist with nearly 850 papers published in peer review journals, has reported that if an individual had five consecutive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 (the years studied), his/her chances of getting Alzheimer’s Disease is ten times higher than if they had zero, one, or two shots.[vii]Dr. Boyd Haley, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky, Lexington has done extensive research in the area of mercury toxicity and the brain. Haley’s research has established a likely connection between mercury toxicity and Alzheimer’s disease. [viii] In a paper published in collaboration with researchers at University of Calgary, Haley stated that “seven of the characteristic markers that we look for to distinguish Alzheimer’s disease can be produced in normal brain tissues, or cultures of neurons, by the addition of extremely low levels of mercury.”[ix]
Does this prove that the mercury contained in the influenza shot can be directly linked to Alzheimer’s? No, absolutely not. But further research in this area is critically needed because the absence of proof is not the “proof of absence.”[x]
[vii] Hugh Fudenberg, MD, is Founder and Director of Research, Neurolmmuno Therapeutic Research Foundation. Information from Dr. Hugh Fudenberg came from transcribed notes of Dr. Fudenberg’s speech at the NVIC International Vaccine Conference, Arlington, VA September, 1997. Quoted with permission.
[viii] The Relationship of Toxic Effects of Mercury to Exacerbation of the Medical Condition Classified as Alzheimer’s Disease by Boyd E. Haley, PhD.
[ix] NeuroReport, 12(4):733-737, 2001
I opt against a flu shot personally. My thinking is this: why, when the benefits are so unclear, lay myself open to risk? Particularly since there are some weapons on the scene which make it possible to fight the flu naturally, and which actually confer benefits on the body.
As for the latest horror, the FluMist – I need hardly tell you what might be the consequences of spraying live vaccine into the nasal passages of anyone with a depressed immune system, or indeed for such a person to be around another shedding the live virus through sneezing, a natural enough reaction to spraying something up one’s nose!. Frankly, the very amount that manufacturer Wyeth plans to spend ($100 million) on marketing the product makes me wonder how effective it can be.
If you do feel you have to have the shot …
Professor Jeffrey Blumberg (Human Nutrition Center on Aging, Tuft’s University) has done studies which seem to show that because immune function declines with age, some elderly flu shot recipients do not have an adequate response to the vaccine. He recommends supplementing with 200 i.u of Vitamin E daily in the weeks before receiving the shot. He also supports my view that C, B6 zinc and the carotenoids are important. This information was published in the Chemist/Druggist,6/13/98.
I hope that I have once again offered some safe and sensible alternatives for a common malady! Remember, the best protection is to watch your health all the time, and not just wait until you’re sick: a healthy body fights disease where a poorly maintained system can succumb.
**Chicken soup has long been regarded as a remedy for symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections. As it is likely that the clinical similarity of the diverse infectious processes that can result in “colds” is due to a shared inflammatory response, an effect of chicken soup in mitigating inflammation could account for its attested benefits.
To evaluate this, a traditional chicken soup was tested for its ability to inhibit neutrophil migration using the standard Boyden blindwell chemotaxis chamber assay with zymosan-activated serum and fMet-Leu-Phe as chemoattractants.
Chicken soup significantly inhibited neutrophil migration and did so in a concentration-dependent manner. The activity was present in a nonparticulate component of the chicken soup. All of the vegetables present in the soup and the chicken individually had inhibitory activity, although only the chicken lacked cytotoxic activity. Interestingly, the complete soup also lacked cytotoxic activity. Commercial soups varied greatly in their inhibitory activity. The present study, therefore, suggests that chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity. A mild anti-inflammatory effect could be one mechanism by which the soup could result in the mitigation of symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections.
[CHEST 118(4):1150-1157, 2000. © 2000 ACCP]
Go here for some information from the Vitamin C Foundation’s website, which you may find interesting!
Vitamin C Foundation/ Linus Pauling Heart Therapy http://www.internetwks.com/pauling/lie/flu.html
QUICK LINKSGarlic Mushroom Soup – http://www.thecancerblog.com/2006/06/15/recipe
Echinacea, Propolis and Vitamin C for Upper Respiratory Infection Prevention in Preschoolers – http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00231218?cond=%22Common+Cold%22&rank=10
Vitamin C and the Cold – meta-analysis – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15495002
Could FluMist be part of the problem? – http://chetday.com/flumistvaccine.htm
Flu shots and Alzheimer’s-a disturbing report – http://www.whale.to/vaccines/flu11.html
The composition of Propolis – http://yunus.hacettepe.edu.tr/~ayguns/Propolis.htm
Selenium deficiency and the Flu -http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20010511055027data_trunc_sys.shtml
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