8 Powerful Natural Health Strategies To Prevent The Flu
The reason influenza vaccines are not effective is because first, they do not address the viral strains that cause influenza like symptoms, and second, they add an element of toxicity which brings down the immune system. Only strategies which incorporate natural health and immune boosting mechanisms will assist the body in aligning to give the body a fighting chance to prevent the flu.
No matter which immune-boosting flu-prevention protocol you follow, there’s always a chance you will still catch a cold. However, if you combine several of the strategies below below at the first sign of a cold, either you will significantly reduce its symptoms or eliminate it within 24 hours. There are no side effects, except as noted--and you can safely take more than one of these remedies at the same time.
The Difference Between A Cold and The Flu
A Cold: Over 200 different types of viruses can cause a cold. Rhinoviruses, which means "nose viruses", are the most common cause. Respiratory syncitial viruses (RSV) and a host of others can produce colds.
Colds are the most prevalent infectious disease. The three most frequent symptoms of a cold are nasal stuffiness, sneezing, and runny nose. Throat irritation is often involved (but not with a red throat). Adults and older children with colds generally have minimal or no fever. Infants and toddlers often run a fever in the 100 to 102 degree range.
While it lasts, the common cold is primarily a head cold. While you may feel tired or have aches, the illness is centered in the nose, and most of the symptoms are above the neck.
The Flu: With more than 200 viruses known to cause influenza-like illness (ILI), a person can get a flu shot and still become sick with what is described as “the flu”. According to CDC data, in the past 11 years, 86% of all influenza-type illnesses were NOT caused by the influenza virus, thus influenza viruses are ONLY active 14% of the time.
The proportion of ILI caused by influenza viruses varies by year, and even varies within a specific year over the course of the winter.
Therefore, under a hypothetical scenario that influenza vaccines work 25% of the time (which is marginally high percentage for flu vaccine effectiveness), that means the maximum effectiveness of the flu vaccine would be 3.5% on influenza viral strains and nil for ILI.
Unlike the common cold, both adults and children with the flu generally have a fever.
Classically, the flu begins abruptly, with a fever in the 102 to 106 degree range (with adults on the lower end of the spectrum), a flushed face, body aches, and marked lack of energy. Some people have other systemic symptoms such as dizziness or vomiting. The fever usually lasts for a day or two, but can last five days.
Somewhere between day 2 and day 4 of the illness, the "whole body" symptoms begin to subside, and respiratory symptoms begin to increase. The virus can settle anywhere in the respiratory tract, producing symptoms of a cold, croup, sore throat, bronchiolitis, ear infection, and/or pneumonia.
The most prominent of the respiratory symptoms is usually a dry, hacking cough. Most people also develop a sore (red) throat and a headache. Nasal discharge and sneezing are not uncommon. These symptoms (except the cough) usually disappear within 4 to 7 days. Sometimes there is a second wave of fever at this time. The cough and tiredness usually lasts for weeks after the rest of the illness is over.
8 NATURAL HEALTH STRATEGIES
TO PREVENT THE FLU
1) Virus-Fighting Herbs
There are many herbs that attack viruses directly, which can be used together with immune stimulants by anyone who contracts the ‘flu or some other viral infection. Some immune stimulants above are also antiviral, including purple coneflower, pot marigold and black elder. Other important antiviral herbs include yarrow herb (Achillea millefolium), hyssop herb (Hyssopus officinalis), lemon balm herb (Melissa officinalis), St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum) marjoram herb (Origanum majorana), oregano herb (Origanum vulgare), heal-all herb (Prunella vulgaris), rosemary herb (Rosmarinus officinalis) and blue vervain herb (Verbena hastata).
Usage: If you think you might have influenza, combine two to three herbs from among the immune stimulants with two to three herbs from the antivirals. It is important to begin taking the herbs as soon as you think you are getting sick. Take your formulation four to six times per day until you are better.
2) Vitamin D
The risk of children suffering from flu can be halved if they take vitamin D, doctors in Japan have found. The finding has implications for flu epidemics since vitamin D, which is naturally produced by the human body when exposed to direct sunlight, has no significant side effects, costs little and can be several times more effective than anti-viral drugs or vaccine.
According to the Copenhagen-based researchers, activated T cells can become one of two types of immune cell: Killer cells that attack and destroy all cells carrying traces of a foreign pathogen; or helper cells that assist the immune system in acquiring "memory". If the cell is not activated it is known as a naive cell.
Many studies show an association between low levels of vitamin D and respiratory tract infections. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that only 10% of school-age children who took vitamin D got the flu, compared with 18% who took a placebo.
Dosage: Children (12 and older) and Adults should take a minimum of 2,000 international units (IU) daily, then increase to between 5,000-7,000 IU during peak flu months (January through March). The higher doses are still safe for those age groups indicated. Infants and children up to age 11 should take 1,000 IU daily, then increase to 2,000 IU during peak flu months.
3) N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
As a metabolite from an amino acid, this powerful antioxidant helps prevent flu and reduces severity of symptoms of infection. It has been used to treat bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, high cholesterol, diabetes, HIV, autism and even cancer. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is converted by the body into an amino acid called cysteine. N-acetylcysteine supplements can protect against a wide range of health problems and the science backs up the claim. In a study conducted at 20 centers in Italy under the direction of the Institute of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, University of Genoa, Italy, involving 262 subjects, 78% of whom were age 65 years or older who either received 600 milligrams NAC or a placebo tablet twice a day (1200 mg NAC total per day) for 6 months, the effects of NAC were profound. Subjects given NAC experienced a significant reduction in the frequency of flu-like episodes as well as reduced severity of symptoms.
Dosage: Children (age 12 and older) and Adults should take 1,200 milligrams (mg) daily. Children (age 6 to 11) can take 500 mg daily. At the first sign of flu symptoms, increase to 4,500 mg daily for adults and 1,200 mg daily for children, and continue until symptoms subside. Higher doses, such as 4,500 mg, may cause digestive upset. Reduce the dose if needed.
4) Deep Acting Immune Tonics
Another group of herbs that help to improve and optimize immune function are the immune tonics. These herbs are deeper acting than immune stimulants, but take longer to work. They include North American ginseng root (Panax quinquefolius), lacquered polypore or reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), artist’s conk (Ganoderma applanatum), Chinese milkvetch root (Astragalus membranaceus) and Siberian ginseng root (Eleutherococcus senticosus).
Usage: Combine two or three immune tonics and take them three to four times per day for two to three months. Immune tonics are not suitable for treating infections in progress. They are used for preventive purposes or to optimize immune function and work best after first doing several cycles of immune stimulants.
5) Nature's Flu Shot
Nature has the ultimate flu shot with pure, ultra immune boosting power that a vaccine can never match. This recipe stimulates the immune system to such an extent, that people often report results within as little as three hours. It combines 9 effective immune boosters into one drink. Recipe and Dosage:
8 Fresh Lemons 2 Fresh Oranges
2 Cups Pineapple Juice
2 Tbsp. Ground Ginger
1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar 1/2 tsp. Ground Turmeric
1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp. Raw Honey
1 bulb Garlic (can increase to 2 if tolerated)
Blend all ingredients and store in a glass jar. This recipe works exceptionally well if you start taking it just as you start to feel symptoms. At that point, take 1 cup 3 times per day until symptoms resolve.
6) Pelargonium Sidoides
Dozens of clinical studies have focused on this herb found to be effective in relieving cough, congestion, sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis and other respiratory ailments. Some specific extracts are also supported by safety data from post-marketing surveillance studies and pharmacovigilance. Pharmacological studies have suggested that the mechanism of action is multifactorial. In vitro studies have found that it exerts a cytoprotective effect against virus-induced cell destruction and also increases release of antimicrobial peptides (also known as defensins) from neutrophilic granulocytes.
It is available in many forms, including cold syrup, powders and chewable tablets.
Immune Strengthening Herbs
Immune stimulant herbs can boost immune functioning in the short term. They may also be used to treat infections in progress. Some of the most versatile immune stimulants include the various species of purple coneflower root and herb (Echinacea spp.), plantain herb (Plantago spp.), elecampane root (Inula helenium), pot marigold flowers (Calendula officinalis), boneset herb (Eupatorium perfoliatum), black elder flower (Sambucus nigra), stinging nettle herb (Urtica dioica) and goldenrod herb (Solidago spp.).
Usage: To support immune function, combine three or four of these herbs and take them three to four times per day for one to two week intervals. For best results, this should be repeated once or twice, each time after a one to two week break. This protocol can be used to help boost your immune response, which can prevent illness or lessen the severity if you do get sick.
Influenzinumis formulated by the homeopathic specialists at Boiron help optimize the body's defenses against seasonal illnesses such as the flu. Influenzinum is the only homeopathic flu product in the world that is updated each year based on the flu strains predicted by the World Health Organization. It is shown year after year to be highly effective to prevent the flu.
One French survey found that 90% of 453 people who took Influenzinum did not get the flu.
Dosage: Adults and children (age six and older) should take one dose (9ch potency 1G Tube) dissolved under the tongue once weekly for 5 weeks, beginning at the start of flu season. One box typically contains 5 1G tubes. (For infants starting as young as one day old, crush one pellet and place on the tongue.) Influenzinum is available at health-food stores and online.
Dave Mihalovic is a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in vaccine research, cancer prevention and a natural approach to treatment.