Every year as flu season approaches both the media and the pharmaceutical companies (and recently the government) tend to create a lot of fear. While I do not deny the potential seriousness of the viruses that cause flu (history has shown us how devastating they can be) it is also important to remember that there is action we can take to protect ourselves and our families.
Whether or not to get the flu vaccine is an individual decision. There are arguments both pro and con. Pro of course is the possibility of avoiding the virus. On the con side:
There are a great number of flu viruses: the vaccine targets what are expected to be the few most likely, but very often the powers-that-be miss the major causal virus.
The possibility of side effects, which occasionally are serious. For example: Guillain Barré Syndrome which causes paralysis. In 1976 the year of the Swine Flu it was reported that more people died of the vaccine then the Swine Flu that never developed. There were claims of 1.3 billion dollars for paralysis and 25 deaths. (Now there is a law that protects the pharmaceutical companies that make the vaccine so that they cannot be sued by the public.)
Maintaining good health through exercise, healthy food and stress management keeps the immune system strong and offers the best protection against viruses and bacteria of all types. There are several other precautionary measures that can increase your protection, or—if one of those viruses has your name on it—shorten the duration and lessen the severity of symptoms.
The most common way that germs are spread is through human contact. It is important to wash the hands often, especially after going to the toilet. Wash with soap and for as long as it takes to recite a short nursery rhyme like Humpty Dumpty.
Faucets and door knobs have been touched by many others (some of whom did not wash when leaving the bathroom). It is not neurotic, especially in public places, to use a paper cloth or carry hand wipes.
Kitchen sponges (and tooth brushes) are a major source for propagating germs. Every few days or more often microwave your kitchen sponge for about 15-20 seconds. (Be careful when removing them: they stay hot for quite some time.) You can do the same to your toothbrushes.
Grandma’s advice to “keep a window open for fresh air” is especially pertinent at this time of year. In a closed environment we are constantly breathing in each other’s air and lots of folks out there are breathing in hostile microbes. Closed-in areas I believe are a major problem for spreading microbes, more so than going out in the cold or even getting wet. The human animal with a good immune system should be able to get wet and not “catch a cold.”
Nourish your body with a diet of colors. This means fruits and vegetables of all types. The more color the more different antioxidants, minerals and vitamins you are taking into your body. Fruits are full of vitamins and minerals that our bodies depend on, but wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them raw. A lot of us were conditioned to believe that fruit juice was chock full of Vitamin C and therefore a good idea when colds or flu threaten. However, fruit juice has three times the amount of sugar as a piece of fruit and the juice sugar can theoretically help germs to propagate. If you want to give your child fruit juice, dilute it with 50% filtered water.
If you have a sore throat try drinking tea (preferably herbal), with honey and lemon. The honey coats and soothes the throat while the lemon keeps down the flow of the irritating mucous.
Drink a lot of filtered water. If you have nausea and /or vomiting just sip it through a straw a little at a time throughout the day so you do not activate your stomach with contractions. Food is not important at this time but fluids are.
New York Medical School has shown that chicken soup actually raises the white blood cell count (the cells that eat up microbes). So the old jokes are right on! Chicken soup offers nutrition and fluid and helps the immune system.
Omega 3s: This is a healthy, protective fat that our cells depend on. (Actually, it is a good idea to make sure these are part of your diet all year round.) Foods that contain Omega 3s are cold water fish, almonds and walnuts, and flax. If you prefer to take your Omega 3s as a fish oil extracts make sure it’s a reputable brand because you do not want any mercury and lead in it; and keep it refrigerated to avoid a fishy flavor.
3. Symptomatic relief
But as we know, you can do everything right and still contract a virus. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. The American Medical Association is trying to teach this fact to both physicians and the public. If your doctor does prescribe antibiotics be sure to take pro-biotics such as acidophilous at the same time and for at least thirty days after completing the antibiotics to prevent yeast problems. Antibiotics do not discriminate: they kill all microbes, including the healthy ones that help to digest food. Losing the good bacteria can cause intestinal problems (called dysbiosis and leaky gut syndrome). This holds true for men, women, and children.
If you have even an inkling of an idea that you are coming down with flu symptoms start taking:
Vitamin C 1000 mg every 1-2 hours (I keep a supply in my pocket so I do not forget). If you should develop diarrhea you can cut back and build up to the higher dose.
Sambucal: This is black elderberry from Israel – I have tried the newer American brands without success and their taste is not nearly as good. Be sure to follow directions since it tastes so good you may want to take more than is necessary.
Oscillococcinum: This homeopathic remedy really works when symptoms first appear. Kids of all ages love it because it tastes and looks like sugar.
I find it a good idea to keep all three of these available, or at least Vitamin C since it is best to take this vitamin every day anyway. Both Sambucal and Oscillococcinum are safe for children over two years of age. But note that both Sambucal and Oscillococcinum work only if one takes one/or both within the first 36 hours of symptoms or signs of the flu.
For nausea and/or vomiting ginger is as effective as Dramamine, and you can supplement your fluid intake by sipping on lemon-ginger tea. You can buy the tea in health food stores or make your own. Boil the (well-washed) rind of one lemon with about an inch of ginger root cut in slices for fifteen minutes. Sweeten with honey, real maple syrup or Sucanate (a pure unadulterated sugar with all its vitamins and minerals).
If your head and nose are really stuffed up to the point of not functioning then it is alright to use an Afrin-like nasal spray. However, do not use more often than every 12 hours and only for three days. There is an addictive rebound effect if it is used too frequently. After three days if you still need to use it you can alternate nostrils for another two days so that you can sleep and breathe comfortably. (Some would reproach me for this last use of Nasal spray but one has to sleep to get better; using it like this will not have an addictive affect.) There are other methods such as neti pots but when one is sick and miserable this is may be uncomfortable unless one is in the habit of using the neti pot previously.
Aloe is very effective and fast acting for itchy rashes due to the flu. Cut a small piece off the plant, slice it lengthwise, cut off the stickers on the side and rub the gooey middle on the rash. It can be wrapped in saran wrap and kept refrigerated. (This also works on fire ant bites, poison ivy, and chickenpox). The itchy irritation is usually abolished within 3-5 minutes.
There are also alternative treatments for flu symptoms that some holistic physicians can administer:
Mega C IV (intravenous): this consists of a huge dose of vitamin C, the B vitamins, zinc, selenium, chromium, manganese and magnesium. The advantage of taking these nutrients IV is the security of knowing they have entered the body. If taken by mouth poor absorption may hinder the effect, the time needed for them to reach the right places is a lot longer, and the doses have to be much higher.
Hydrogen peroxide IV: creates an oxygen-rich blood environment in which pathogens do not thrive, and can shorten the flu’s duration to 24-48 hours instead of 6-8 days of suffering. The lethargy and the cough can linger for a few more days to weeks as the body recovers and even after it is fully recovered. Annoying but not pathological.
Colloidal silver IV: colloidal silver kills viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoans and has been used for hundreds of years. Now there is available a colloidal silver with none of the side effects of the past (argyria) since it is so pure.
I have used all of these methods hundreds of times on clients and my family and myself always with good effects and no side affects. These measure will not always prevent the flu, but they will help to shorten its duration, severity and uncomfortable aches and headaches.. (To find a holistic physician near you, consult www.acam.com or http://www.holisiticboard.org).