To Your Health
December, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 12)
Winter Cold and Flu Defense
By Dr. Jared M. Skowron
If you're looking to gear up for the cold and flu season without subjecting yourself or your family to the potential dangers of the flu vaccine, take heart: There are natural ways to boost your immune system and reduce your risk of getting sick. Here are a few to discuss with your doctor.
Last year, swine flu was a bust. The hype, the worldwide craze, the unnecessary vaccine, all fizzled out. Fewer people died of the swine flu in the 2009-2010 season than an average flu season. (Of course, that's not to diminish the fact that some people did in fact die.) But let's turn our eyes to the present, for the flu is back this winter season. We don't yet know how many people will be affected; perhaps it will be an average one, perhaps a true pandemic. No one knows for sure, but we must do everything to prepare our families, boost our immune systems, and have effective, natural treatments at the ready.
The influenza virus starts in November, but doesn't peak in activity until February and usually winds down in March. Approximately 5-20 percent of our population gets the flu, many mild, some so severe that they need to be hospitalized. On average, 36,000 people die from the flu in our country, the majority of them being the elderly; the death toll is 250,000 to 500,000 worldwide.
We are all familiar with the standard flu symptoms of fever, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat, rhinitis (stuffy nose) and myalgia (muscle pain). Children can also experience nausea, vomiting, otitis media (ear infection), and diarrhea. The illness lasts up to a week, with cough and malaise lasting up to two weeks. Younger children (6-20 percent) can experience febrile seizures concurrently.
As stated, the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to boost your immune system and reduce your chances of complications if you do contract the flu or even a stubborn cold. Preventing and treating the flu is very effectively done using natural medicines, including vitamins, minerals, botanicals, and homeopathics. A combination of some or all will boost your immune systems for the entire winter season.
A study of 715 people showed that flu symptoms were decreased by 85 percent when people took 6 grams of vitamin C as a one-time loading dose, then continuing with 1 gram three times a day, compared with people taking only the 3 grams daily. The message here is to take a lot of vitamin C the first day you feel symptoms or the first day people around you are getting sick, and then take 3 grams daily after that. Keep in mind that vitamin C can loosen stools, so be careful if you are predisposed to this.
An additional study showed that vitamin C is 10 times more effective in its antiviral properties when taken with iron. Ten to 20 mg of iron can be taken on a daily basis, and is also a good mineral to balance the stool-loosening effects of vitamin C.
Vitamin D has exploded in research and popularity the past few years. Most of us are familiar with its bone-building properties, however new research suggests it improves the immune system as well. Have your doctor test your vitamin D levels before supplementing. Research suggests 2,000 IU daily is safe for most adults and children. Higher doses are safe and effective, but must be monitored by your doctor.
Elderberry (Sambucus) was researched in a group of 60 people and found to alleviate symptoms four days earlier compared with controls. Elderberry helps boosts the immune system and is great-tasting for kids. Start taking as soon as symptoms manifest.