With the return of yellow school buses the arrival of fall also brings the fearful buzz of the approaching flu season. And accompanying this is the media hysteria to get the flu shot.

The NJ legislators passed a mandatory flu vaccine bill for all school aged children and any child, beginning from age 2 months, participating in child care services; while the Center for Disease Control, the CDC, announced that the Flu Vaccine was Ineffective for > Half of the Circulating Flu Viruses.  But the CDC also said it is still important to get a flu vaccine. Go figure???

Today I’d like to accomplish two things;

• First, review the steps we should be taking to avoid coming down with the flu.
• Then discuss some useful actions you can take  if you happen to succumb to the flu virus.

So what is the flu?

The flu is a highly contagious viral upper respiratory tract infection.  The symptoms of the flu begin like a cold; body aches, fatigue, headache, hot and cold sweats.  Often a fever develops and there can be nausea, vomiting, and a reduction in appetite.  These symptoms can last for 10 -12 days or more.  The illness is then followed by a week or 2 of weakness, dry cough, and fatigue.

Flu’s can become epidemic but since there are more than 200 different strains of the cold and flu virus, vaccinations against the flu have NOT BEEN successful in preventing outbreaks.

That said, the flu could be a cause of serious illness in older people or in those people with weakened immune systems.

SICKNESS IS SELECTIVE – Sickness requires the body’s cooperation.

So, today I’d like to review options that you have at your disposal to enhance your body’s immune system and to build protection from contagious viral infections.

1.    Wash your hands and teach your children to wash their hands throughout the day.  The virus enters the body’s airways through mucous membranes in the nose, eyes, or mouth.  Viruses spread on surfaces such as doorknobs, handrails or through coughing or sneezing. Without hand washing, germs spread by a chain reaction.  Avoid using antibacterial soaps – they’re not necessary.

1 teaspoonful of sugar can cut your body’s germ-fighting capabilities by 50% for four to five hours.  This can make a critical difference in whether an infection “catches hold” or not!  Start today and make yours and your children’s breakfast sugar-free.

3.    Get Enough Rest – Regular rest will keep your immune system strong and ensure that your body has the strength to fight off potential invaders.

4.    Reduce stress – Stress is an immune suppressor.

5.    Exercise – Exercising stimulates your immune system to become more efficient in seeking and attacking viruses.

These are Essential Nutrients to take for immune support

1.    Vitamins A, C, D, K and E with selenium and zinc lozenges

2.    Vitamin A – a minimum of 15,000 IU and beta-carotene, natural complex with a minimum of 15,000 IU daily

3.    Vitamin C  with bioflavonoids – 2,000 up to 10,000 mg daily.  This increases the quality of the white blood cells.

4.    Zinc lozenges – 15 mg, slowly dissolve every few hours.  Zinc is a white blood cell activator:  max – up to 50 mg.

5.    As you know, I always recommend cod liver oil.  It’s essential in the winter for vitamin D and A.  Both vitamins A and D are immune-enhancing.

6.    A basic multivitamin/mineral supplement can reduce overall illness, especially among the older population, 60 and up.

Herbals for Immune Support

Herbals are well documented to provide immune support.  Here are a few of my favorites-
Sambucal or elderberry; research indicates that elderberry extract may deactivate flu viruses by preventing them from replicating.  Get the one without sugar.  It’s Easy for children to take.
Contrary to what you’ve been told, Echinacea can be used daily to prevent infection as well as treat infection.  Echinacea stimulates the production of white blood cells and speeds their travel to the area of infection.

Goldenseal, The root of goldenseal is believed to help chronic inflammation of the mucous membranes, such as those lining the throat, sinuses, lungs and bladder.

Astragalus has been shown to increase nearly every phase of immune-system activity.  Take astragalus before colds and flu strike.  It’s a powerful immune support herb.

Gargle with potassium iodine mixed in mouthwash or water or gargle with hydrogen peroxide.  I’ve found this especially effective as a preventative and treatment.

If you’re 40 something, DHEA supplementation could enhance the immune system. Males dosage is 25-50 mg and 5-25 mg for women.

When a patient comes to my office with flu symptoms, I immediately begin a vitamin C drip to increase fluids and vit C to fight the infection.  IV C’s ALWAYS decreases aches and pains and speeds healing.

Often patients come to my office after not being able to shake the flu for a month or 2.  After 1 up to 3 IV vitamin Cs they’re up and feeling better than they did before they became ill.

Use Oscillococcinum at the first sign of a virus, a homeopathic flu formula.  Use Oscillococcinum every hour, for a total of 3 doses only at the onset of symptoms.

Keep your fluids up! –  Hot chicken, turkey, miso or vegetable soup with lots of garlic and if possible cayenne pepper this will keep the body hydrated, breakup congestion as well as support the immune system.

Herbal teas, filtered water, e-mergen-c drink, all help prevent dehydration while Ginger tea can bring down a fever and calm the stomach.

Foods are known for their immune-boosting and infection-fighting properties. Two of the most effective are mushrooms and garlic.

Eat Garlic – Garlic is a true natural antibiotic. It can destroy foreign bacteria, viruses and fungus.  Garlic oil is an effective fighter of mucous membrane infections.

Eat mushrooms! – Mushrooms; maitake and shiitake, are among the most researched immune-boosting, infection-preventing foods.  Among their principal active ingredients are polysaccharides, which can improve the body’s germ-fighting capabilities.

The list can and does go on with time-tested methods to resist and fight viruses.

To resist viruses, it’s important to use a comprehensive approach to strengthen the immune system.
Now that you’ve kicked your cold or flu, focus on preventing the next one.  Begin by taking Echinacea and astragalus to get your immune system in order before the next virus comes along, and listen to your body’s demands for rest, food, exercise and AVOID ALL SUGAR.

As for Flu Shots, I never recommend them for my patients.

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