Staying Safe from Swine Flu
On Monday, the World Health Organization raised
the influenza pandemic alert to phase 4 on its
alert" scale, meaning that they have evidence that
there is human-to-human transmission of the virus that is
capable of leading to a sustained community outbreak.
Whether or not swine flu will become a major pandemic
remains unclear -- but thereís absolutely no question that
everyone would benefit from measures to strengthen their
immune systems to minimize the likelihood of infection.
I have written numerous times about flu prevention with
regard to both the "standard" flu viruses as well
as avian flu, so have pulled together the most
significant and helpful information to help you protect
yourself. These are good strategies at all times but
especially important and relevant right now.
Itís vital to follow all the same common-sense advice
weíve ever heard about staying healthy during the annual flu
season: Wash your hands often... avoid exposure to
infected people... try not to touch your face, as this is a
common way germs are transmitted... cover your mouth and
nose with a tissue (not your hands) when you cough or
sneeze... and get plenty of fresh air.
According to Daily Health News contributing editor
Andrew L. Rubman, ND, there are a number of particular
strategies that are helpful in boosting
your immune system in order to be strong enough to
fight off the assault of germs. He is quick to point out that
the real danger has less to do with exposure than with the
state of your health at the moment -- being exposed to a virus
doesnít mean you absolutely will get it. Organisms are able
to cause disease only when they can get past the bodyís
defenses. A strong immune system will help limit
the duration and intensity of symptoms.
Dr. Rubmanís favorite immune boosters to fight viral
Selenium: A Powerful Antioxidant
This essential trace mineral is a valuable antioxidant that
prevents cell damage from free radicals. Selenium helps the
immune system recognize viruses and block them from entering
cells, explains Dr. Rubman. He recommends a dose of 400
micrograms (mcg) to 500 mcg a day divided into three parts --
that is about four times the usual.
Another potent and powerful weapon against flu is a plant
called Lomatium dissectum, a member of the parsley
family that grows in the northwestern US. This herb was
traditionally used by Native Americans to treat upper
respiratory infections and is thought to possess
antimicrobial properties as well.
Specialized formulations of Lomatium are available to
physicians, but consumers can purchase Lomatium - Osha throat
spray (Eclectic Institute). Lomatium is most effective if used
as soon as possible after a known exposure (such as a person
with whom you work or attend school).
Supplemental vitamin C and D are both very helpful -- C in
improving mucous membrane resistance, which is how the virus
is most commonly transmitted, and D in reducing risk of
infection (and if you do get sick, severity).
Red-Hot Chili Peppers: A Spicy, Immune-Boosting Tea
Another of Dr. Rubmanís flu-fighting favorites is a spicy
tea concocted from echinacea, goldenseal, slippery elm
bark and just a touch of the red-hot pepper capsicum.
Echinacea, goldenseal and capsicum team up to fight off germs,
while slippery elm allows the tea to coat the back of the
throat, where viruses are most likely to take hold.
Hereís how to make it: At your
local health-food store, purchase one-half ounce of powdered goldenseal
root... one-half ounce of powdered echinacea root (not
the whole plant)... two ounces of slippery
elm bark powder... and one teaspoon of capsicum.
At home, put ingredients in a brown paper bag or plastic
baggie, close tightly and shake. Transfer the contents to a
screw-top jar. Give this jar a shake each time you use it in
order to remix the ingredients.
To make the tea, pour one cup of very hot water into a mug
over one-half teaspoon of the powder.
Cover and steep for five minutes. Sip up to several cups daily
throughout flu season.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST...
It is important enough to repeat -- wash your hands. Itís
age-old advice that remains critical. Wash hands
before eating... before leaving the bathroom... and indeed,
anytime they are dirty.
Read on to learn what to do if you do happen to be stricken
with swine flu...
Andrew L. Rubman, ND, medical director, Southbury Clinic for Traditional
Medicines, Southbury, Connecticut.
Natural Swine Flu Treatment
HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES TO FIGHT FLU
If You Get Sick...
In the devastating 1918-1919 flu pandemic, which claimed more
US lives than World War I, only 1.05% of those who used
homeopathic remedies perished... in contrast to a 28.2% death
rate in those who used conventional treatment. Thatís a
compelling reason to turn to homeopathy, in my
Homeopathic treatments encourage the body to marshal its own
healing resources to fight disease. A particular
Because they are so highly diluted,
homeopathic preparations are not associated with the adverse
effects of conventional medicines. I spoke with Michael
Carlston, MD, a physician in private practice in Santa Rosa,
California, and principal author of the book, Classical
, to get his advice on what
homeopathic treatments people can use if they become ill.
Homeopathic medicines come as small pills or drops to be taken
under the tongue. Carefully follow instructions on the label
for administration and dosage. Always use a spoon (even for
pills) because contact with dirt or oil on the skin can
potentially inactivate these substances.
With homeopathic treatments, different ones work for different
symptoms. Most homeopathic treatments are not flu-strain
specific (as flu
shots are) but rather are tailored to the needs of the
individual. Specific symptoms and characteristics will help
determine the homeopathic medicine that is best
for you. Dr. Carlstonís favorites:
Gelsemium was the primary homeopathic medicine used
successfully during the 1918-1919 flu pandemic. Dr. Carlston
recommends gelsemium for flu sufferers with extreme lethargy,
fatigue and shakiness.
Flu symptoms appropriate for treatment with gelsemium
- Dizziness and weakness
- Dullness, exhaustion, sleepiness and heaviness
- Symptoms that grow worse with movement
- Headache at the back of the head
- Muscular soreness in the neck and shoulders
- Chills, including down the spine
- Alternating sensations of hot and cold
Bryonia is best for flu sufferers who are irritable and
worried and find themselves saying, in the manner of Greta
Garbo... "I want to be alone."
Symptoms that call for treatment with bryonia include...
- Dullness that is accompanied by irritability and worry
- Headache in the forehead that feels better with pressure
and worse with motion
- An uncomfortable feeling of warmth with a strong desire
for cool air
- Extreme thirst for cool drinks
Eupatorium perfoliatum is for influenza accompanied by deep
bone pain, which may actually hurt as badly as if your bones
are broken, says Dr. Carlston. This pain is most pronounced
just before and after chills. Eupatorium perfoliatum is most
appropriate for a bout of influenza characterized by the
- Soreness and aching of the entire body, especially in the
- Hoarseness and sore throat
- A severe cough that hurts the head and chest
- Runny nose, inflammation and stinging tears
- Bad digestion, stomach pains, constipation
gas that may lead to vomiting
In contrast to the other homeopathic medicines discussed here,
oscillococcinum is a more general flu remedy. Formulated from
the liver and heart of the Muscovy duck, it is one of the most
widely used homeopathic medicines in the world. It helps
reduce symptoms and duration of the flu.
When self-treating flu with homeopathic medicine, you should
stop taking it once you begin to feel better.
Side effects of these and other homeopathic remedies are rare,
but always be on the lookout for unusual symptoms when you
take any new medication or supplement. If you already take
medication, consult your health care practitioner
before taking any remedy.
To find a homeopathic practitioner in your area, visit the Web
site of the National Center for Homeopathy at www.homeopathic.org
or the American Institute of Homeopathy at www.homeopathyusa.org
You also can consult the site of the American
Association of Naturopathic Physicians
because naturopathic physicians are trained in homeopathy.
Michael Carlston, MD, in private practice, Santa Rosa,
California, principal author of Classical
Homeopathy (Churchill Livingstone).