Spring is in the air. Just when you thought you'd made it through the winter months without succumbing, you get hit with the first signs of a spring flu.

Typically, fall and winter are considered the height of "flu season," but many people who get through the first round fall prey in the spring. Whether you get hit in the spring or in the winter, the dreaded flu symptoms are the same.

There are differences and similarities between flu and cold symptoms. They're both viruses, but the influenza (flu) virus is far more virulent than a cold virus. The flu carries a much higher risk of developing secondary infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis and other serious respiratory infections.

Holistic pharmacist RoseMarie Pierce says flu symptoms differ from the usual stuffiness and congestion of the common cold. Symptoms of the onset of flu include headache, chills and a dry cough, followed by fever and body aches, nasal congestion and sore throat.

"It can feel like you've been run over by a truck," says Pierce. "When you have the flu, your whole body aches; your head, your joints and your muscles all let you know that you're being attacked by a virus."

Beware the Flu Shot

The orthodox medical establishment is pushing the flu shot like there's no tomorrow without it, despite dozens of medical journal references documenting severe adverse reactions to the flu vaccine. Previously recommended only for high risk patients including the elderly, infants and those with a compromised immune system, the flu vaccine is now being promoted for all ages–even children. The media reported that several Canadian hospitals have a policy of "no flu vaccine–no sick pay" for nurses refusing the flu shot.

Reputable scientific journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal, and the American Journal of Epidemiology have all published articles implicating the flu vaccine in the incidence of several life-threatening diseases including lupus, encephalitis, and other neurological complications.

Adverse reactions aside, the flu vaccine's effectiveness is debatable. Due to the virus' insidious ability to "morph" and mutate quickly, it quickly renders every new vaccine ineffective and obsolete, leading to a new vaccine being created every year. This scenario is similar to the "super-bugs" created by the overuse of antibiotics. The question begs to be asked: what virulent strains of influenza super-bugs are being created through the use and overuse of annual flu shots? No one yet knows for certain.

Nature's Alternative to the Flu Shot

With mounting evidence that the flu shot poses risks greater than the flu itself, growing numbers of people are turning to the development of their best defense system–the strength of their own immunity.

Preliminary studies of a new proprietary blend of three potent immune-enhancing polysaccharides (Beta-1,3-D-Glucan, arabinogalactan, and Echinacea angustafolia) offer hope to sufferers of flu and cold, as well as other immune-related health problems. Extracted from natural sources, this unique blend is now available in capsules. The blend is based on human immune system research studies conducted by the International Clinical Research Center in collaboration with Arizona State University.

The first of these three polysaccharides is Beta-1,3-D-Glucan. It is a highly purified, isolated extract of the yeast cell wall. More than 200 studies have shown that Beta 1, 3-D-Glucan activates and turns on macrophages (immune cells) that are an essential defense against viral, bacterial and other foreign invaders.

The second polysaccharide in the proprietary blend is derived from the sap of the Western larch (Larix occi-dentalis) tree. Larch arabinogalactan provides a broad-spectrum defense against bacterial, viral and fungal infections. Oral supplementation with larch arabinogalactan increases all levels of immune system defense, including lymphocytes and mono-cytes (white blood cells), cytokines (immune system protein messengers) and macrophages.

The blend's third polysaccharide is Echinacea angustafolia. Also known as purple coneflower, Echinacea angustafolia is a wildflower native to North America and Europe. The American natives used echinacea as a traditional medicine for fighting infections of all sorts. Modern research shows that several active constituents found in Echinacea angustafolia root (including polysaccharides, arabinogalactan, isobutylamides, glyco-proteins and echinacosides) work together to enhance immune function. Echinacea angustafolia root increases production and activity of white blood cells, lymphocytes, macrophages and interferon–the important cold and flu-fighting forces of the immune system.

Robert F. Waters, PhD, director of research at the International Clinical Research Center, states "Our research center has had many years of experience in the research and clinical testing of immune-stimulating substances. Based on our research, we consider this blend to be an effective, broad-spectrum immune system enhancer with proven health benefits."

Colds and flu are just two examples of how our immune systems are challenged every day. Nature has her own effective way of fighting all disease if we give her the right tools. Get busy building your all-season immune power house.

About the Author

Lucretia Schanfarber is a writer, editor and broadcaster.