Yes, it is flu season again. Yes, people are getting sick. Does this mean you should rush out to get the flu shot? NO.
The flu shot has two big strikes against it. The first is the problem with many vaccines, namely they contain much more than the virus for which the vaccine is designed. They contain mercury (as in thimerosol), formaldehyde (for pickling bodies), adjuvants (to make the vaccine work better, but which have been shown to irritate, not support, our immune systems), and they contain other organisms that can cause disease. The most famous example of this is the early Salk polio vaccine that contained SV40, a monkey virus associated with causing cancer. Vaccine companies do not routinely check for the organisms in their product. Other studies have found, for example, mycoplasma fermentans which has been associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. And there are others. So do you still want all of that “junk” injected into your body?
Secondly, the flu shot does not help many people. The best reports I have seen are that it helps 60% of the people who take it. Who has performed this study? We all know many people who have taken the flu shot and later get the flu. We all know some people who swear the flu shot has helped them keep from getting the flu. My concern, based on the information in the previous paragraph, is if we take the flu shot, what is the long-term price we might be paying?
There are safer methods for either preventing your getting the flu or cutting the symptoms short. Keep in mind that there are other viral infections going around at the same time. This means if you get sick, what you have may not be the “flu.” This suggests building up your immune system in general, not just relying on one “shot,” makes more sense.
What are these safer methods?
1. Get enough sleep. Sleep is when we heal. Most adults deprive themselves of this essential nutrient, ie sleep, because we are too busy working or partying. Our 24-7 society does not encourage us to take care of our health. Adults need usually at least 7 hours of sleep per night. I suggest 8 or even 9 hours per night makes more sense, especially during the winter months.
2. Avoid sugary foods. Sugar impairs the effectiveness of our immune system for hours after we have eaten it. During flu season, we need our immune system to be at its most effective.
3. Take your multivitamin-mineral daily. Besides the need for all of those vitamins and minerals for an effective immune system, vitamins A, B12, and zinc, just to name 3, are really important for our ability to fight infection.
4. Take extra vitamin C. The right amount for you is just under what causes your bowels to loosen. If you do become sick, note that your vitamin C requirement will increase tremendously. Orange juice is not the answer as vitamin C begins to dissipate as soon as an orange is cut. So have on hand a vitamin C that agrees with you. If you are someone who does not tolerate many vitamin C’s, try an Ester C or a Buffered C. Remember to take these kinds away from food so they don’t impair your digestion of your meals.
5. Probiotics. Our intestines, which are part of our first line of defense against infection, are lined with lymph nodes. Beneficial bacteria support our immune system. Thus providing some, even extra amounts of probiotics, really supports our immune system. One of my patients years ago told me that at the first sign of a viral illness, he would take 1 probiotic dose every hour that day. Rarely did he need to do so on following days. I think his advice still holds. Keep taking probiotics through your illness.
6. Elderberry. There are now several excellent elderberry products in the health food stores. Elderberry helps us fight viruses. Following the directions on the bottle.
7. Echinacea. A good echinacea supports the immune system and can be taken throughout the flu season.
8. Garlic. If you are ok with garlic, consider having some fresh garlic, or roasted garlic, or garlic capsules, daily. Garlic is a superb anti-bacterial and anti-viral remedy.
9. Thymic protein. This type of product again supports the immune system’s ability to fend off viruses. Many health food stores carry this now. It is also available online. One product is called ProBoost. I suggest people take 1 envelope (dissolved under the tongue) daily through flu season if you are exposed a lot. Then increase to 3 times per day if you think you are coming down with the flu.
10. Another product to order online is Humacel. Humacel prevents the reproduction of the viruses. At the first sign of infections, take anywhere from 1 to 6 per day during the time you are sick.
11. Oscillococcinum. A homeopathic from duck liver, “Oscillo” (as I fondly call it) can be used regularly through the flu season to boost your immune system. I recommend 1/3 tube 3 times per week, or daily if you get sick. “Oscillo” works best in the first stages of the flu.
12. Vitamin A and Zinc in high doses the first few days. Vitamin A as high as 100,000 units the first 3 days only. Zinc as high as 75mg per day as well.
13. Others. Ask at your local health food store what seems to be working for customers. It might be a homeopathic combination or an herbal combination. Several companies have a “Wellness Formula” which can be used to build up your immune system.
14. If you are not already taking Vitamin D, start now. 1000 iu’s per day seems to be safe. This can be increased significantly (even 10,000 iu’s per day) if you become sick. If you do not know your vitamin D level, ask your doctor for the blood test. Monitor your level so that it does not get too high.
15. Wash your hands – frequently! Do this especially after touching any part of a public building and after shaking hands, even with a friend.
Best wishes for a healthy start to 2013.