The Flu season is here, and with this year’s H1N1 media frenzy, anxiety is high. But before you enter a state of full-fledged panic, take a breath, and trust your body. Your immune system has been successfully thwarting bugs for millennia and you can handle the “swine flu” too. Although the H1N1 flu can cause severe symptoms, it has been less lethal than the seasonal flu. However, it is wise to tip the scale in your favor, so here are my recommendations to beat the swine of ’09.
We have to start with living each day in a way that promotes long term, as well as, short term health. This begins with reducing sugar, managing stress and getting regular exercise. The Devil may wear Prada, but I’m pretty sure he is made of sugar. The amount of sugar in a can of pop (I’m back in the Midwest, so it’s pop) will suppress your immune system for 24 hours. So that means, if you have a Coke, or Sprite, or Redbull, or handful of cookies, or bowl of ice cream every day—your immune system is constantly suppressed! Everything you eat, drink, and think, sends messages to your body. Obviously the message of sugar is detrimental. Conversely, the most positive physiological message is exercise.
Regular exercise programs your body for health and can even make up for bad habits. Exercise boosts your immunity, in addition to boosting your mood, energy and sex drive, strengthening your cardiovascular system (including high blood pressure and cholesterol), balancing blood sugar (preventing diabetes) and increasing your muscle to fat ratio (which means you’ll look good too—hey!)
In addition to exercising and limiting sugar, stress management is key. Stress activates our fight or flight response, which suppresses our immune system. When we are stressed our resources are allocated to immediate concerns, such as getting out of danger. Steroids, such as cortisone and prednisone, create an artificial stress response in the body and are well known to cause suppression of the immune system. Our bodies, including our immune systems, don’t know the difference between real life-threatening danger, or a traffic jam. Therefore, the many stressors of our modern lives will contribute to a weakened immune system. To boost your immunity, be sure to get plenty of rest and relaxation. If you often find yourself in stressful situations, try 100-200mg of L-theanine, 2-3 times per day. L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid, found in green tea and kombucha, which has an anti-anxiety effect and will not cause drowsiness.
Throughout history, cultures across the globe have taken advantage of the immune supportive properties of herbs and foods. We would be wise to do the same. Keep in mind that there are nutrients that can be used long term and others that are best taken for the acute phase of the flu.
A “Multi” of immune supporting anti-oxidants, vitamins and
minerals will help to keep your immune system ready for the flu season. The common immune supporting antioxidants are
known as ACES. These are vitamins A, C
and E, as well as Selenium. You should
also add to this list, Vitamin D and Zinc.
For additional long-term immune support, I add the herb Astragalus and a good blend of medicinal mushrooms to the protocol. Many of these vitamins and minerals can be
obtained from eating a healthy diet with plenty of produce, unrefined grains,
and fiber. A multivitamin, containing
therapeutic levels (not RDA) of these nutrients, can be taken daily to support
Here are some guidelines. Vitamin A should be mainly in the form of beta-carotene, very high doses such as 50,000 IU can be taken short term, a typical daily dose is 2,000 – 5,000IU. Vitamin C can be increased by 1000mg daily until tolerance is reached (lower your dose when you get loose stools). Vitamin E (200-400 IU/day) should contain gamma tocopherols. Selenuim should be in the dose of 100-200mcg daily. Zinc should be about 10-20mg daily. During a cold/flu Zinc can be increased to 50mg/day. Vitamin D can be tested through a simple blood test, to determine your level and set your appropriate dosage. A therapeutic, yet safe dose, is 2000 to 4000 IU daily.
The Chinese herb Astragalus and the medicinal mushrooms provide excellent immune support and can be taken daily for long term support. These nutrients are sometimes combined, such as in the products Immune Renew by Protocol or Defense Plus (contains GSE) by Nutribiotic. These nutrients have been found to increase Natural Killer cells and T-cells, therefore helping to destroy unhealthy cells. These vitamins, herbs and minerals will do wonders to protect you and your family from the flu. But, if you do find yourself feeling like you may have caught something, here’s what to do.
At the first sign of the flu, my favorite remedies to take are the Chinese herbal formula Yin Qiao San and Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE). Be aware of your earliest symptoms. It is human nature to assume, or hope, your symptoms will just go away. Don’t make this mistake! Go to a high quality health food store or visit a knowledgeable holistic doctor and arm yourself for the first sign of the flu.
Yin Qiao San and GSE may not be the most popular immune supplements, but they are the most effective I have found. Yin Qiao San is a Chinese Herbal formula with very good anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. This formula is particularly helpful if you tend to have a sore throat when you get sick. Yin Qiao San is most effective early in the progression of a cold or flu. I take this in combination with GSE, which is a very broad spectrum anti-microbial. That means it kills everything. It is important to treat colds and flues in an aggressive manner. Because these conditions develop quickly, they must be treated in a similar manner. A full dose of Yin Qiao San and GSE, up to six or more times per day, will kill the bugs, dead. It is a very common mistake to take the low “recommended dose”, get worse, and assume that the remedy you took and all of natural medicine is bonk. Au Contraire, the medicine may have been great, but it is necessary to take the right high-quality remedy, at the right time, in the right dose. For colds and flues, hit them hard. If you have special concerns or if your condition is not resolving within a few days, consult a knowledgeable professional. Yin Qiao and GSE are not to be taken long term.
You must also take the proper form of nutrients. A research study recently made a lot of waves in the media because it concluded that there is no benefit from taking multivitamins. However, many of the nutrients used in this study were cheap, synthetic, mildly toxic forms! This is a caution against buying cheap supplements: you could be doing more harm than good.
You didn’t see the flu shot on my recommended list and you won’t. There are so many exceptional natural remedies to support your own immune system and kill pathogens directly. Why use a vaccine which carries much more risk? If you act fast and dose-up you can ignore the media frenzy of Swine ’09. Humans are the reason we have superbugs. The overuse of anti-microbial medications, anti-microbial sanitizers, unhealthy factory farming conditions and the polluting of our waterways—has resulted in superbugs. Why would anyone think this man-made problem could be solved by the man-made solution of vaccines?! If humanity renews its respect for nature and the fragile planet, the virulence of pathogens will begin to reduce. But while I am waiting for man’s arrogance to decrease, I will be taking nature’s many immune boosting gifts.
For accurate non-sensationalized information on the Swine
Flu, listen to interviews between Dr. Mercola and Barbara Loe Fisher, founder
of the National Vaccine Information Center.
Here’s a recap of my favorite immune boosters:
1. Yin Qiao San – anti-viral and anti-bacterial Chinese herbal formula for fever and sore throat
2. Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) – kills everything
3. Oil of Oregano – another good antimicrobial
4. Berberine (Goldenseal, Oregon grape root, Coptis) – anti-bacterial and fever reducer
5. Huo Xiang Sheng Qi Wan – Chinese herbal formula for nausea and vomiting
Long-term/daily immune support:
1. Vitamin A/beta-carotene
2. Vitamin C
3. Vitamin E
6. Vitamin D
8. Medicinal mushrooms/beta-glucan
Wishing you peace and health,
Tim Walsh, LAc