Zoltan P. Rona, MD, MSc
Prevent and treat flu naturally Cough! Hack! Sniffle! It is estimated that at least 50 million people in North America get the flu each year from November to March. Children are two to three times more likely than adults to get sick.
Cough! Hack! Sniffle! It is estimated that at least 50 million people in North America get the flu each year from November to March. Children are two to three times more likely than adults to get sick. More than 100,000 people are hospitalized and at least 20,000 people die from the flu and its complications annually.
Influenza is a respiratory infection caused by a variety of viruses. Unlike the common cold, another viral respiratory infection, the flu can cause fevers, headaches or extreme exhaustion. Other flu symptoms are chills, a dry cough, body aches, stuffy nose and a sore throat, which many consider an inevitable fact of winter. This is not necessarily the case. The best way to prevent viral illness is to keep health at its best by getting enough rest, limiting stress and eating a nutritious, whole-food diet.
One way of maintaining good health is to ensure the body has an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals. Nutrient requirements vary from one individual to the next, but any formula for the immune system should contain vitamin A, beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A), vitamin C, vitamin B6 and zinc. There are formulae available that combine these ingredients with bioflavonoids and herbs such as echinacea, garlic and ginger. As a further precaution take additional vitamin C for its immune stimulating, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Garlic is one of the best herbs to boost immunity and has long been recognized for its antibiotic properties. It helps prevent infections and is a general wellness tonic.
Should I Get a Flu Shot?
My answer to this question is an unequivocal "no." Proponents of the flu vaccine boast a 70 per cent effectiveness rate, but clinical experience proves otherwise. For example, in British Columbia last year, it was reported that of 32 individuals in a nursing home who received a flu shot, 30 contracted the flu. Nursing homes throughout BC were reporting a much higher death rate from the flu last year than expected, despite a 100 per cent vaccination rate!
A 1993 Dutch article reporting on a home for the elderly stated that 50 percent of the vaccinated population caught the flu, compared to 48 percent of the unvaccinated group. The excuses used for such failures were that the wrong virus was predicted for use in the flu vaccine.
In both the 1992-93 and the 1994-95 flu seasons, the isolated influenza samples for the predominant virus were not similar to that found in the flu vaccine. The actual composition of the flu vaccine is based on an educated guess made by a consensus of about 30 public-health experts. These "experts" meet annually with the US Food and Drug Administration to predict which specific strains of influenza will invade the country in the coming year. If this sounds unscientific to you, it's because it is. At best, keeping in mind factors such as mistakes in production, transport and storage, the flu vaccine effectiveness rate is only about 20 percent.
The flu vaccine, received faithfully by the public without question each year, has a disturbing history of potential toxicity. The vaccine contains formaldehyde, a known cancer-causing agent.
It also contains the preservative thimerosal, a derivative of mercury, itself a known neurotoxin linked to brain damage and autoimmune diseases. Aluminum is yet another flu vaccine ingredient. Mercury and aluminum are two toxic heavy metals that have been associated with an increased incidence of Alzheimer's disease.
Flu Vaccine Side-Effects
In 1976, 565 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) paralysis as well as other neurological problems and many unexplained deaths among recently vaccinated elderly were reported. With a 10 per cent or less reporting of adverse vaccine reactions by doctors in both the USA and Canada, the true flu vaccine damage figures are grossly underestimated. Vaccine manufacturers counter this concern by saying that today's vaccines do not carry the same risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome. This may be true but many cases of GBS and other neurological problems still occur after flu vaccines. Additionally, product inserts still state that individuals who have a history of GBS have a much greater likelihood of subsequently developing GBS after the flu shot.
Other side-effects reported with the flu vaccine are fever, general malaise, muscle pain, hives, allergic asthma, systemic anaphylaxis, encephalitis, optic neuritis, brachial plexus neuropathy, polyneuritis, ataxia, respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal problems, eye problems, allergic thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), abnormal blood pressure and other circulatory abnormalities. Those with a severe allergy to eggs are advised against the flu shot because of its chicken egg content.
Natural Flu Fighters
When a cough or cold develops, its duration can be shortened with echinacea and zinc lozenges. Echinacea increases the production of white blood cells and boosts their ability to ward off, surround and destroy bacteria and viruses. Zinc is essential for the white blood cells to fight a range of viral infections. Recent research has shown that the symptoms of colds (cough, fever and respiratory secretions) can be significantly reduced with zinc lozenges.
Other natural treatments with very effective antiviral activity are astragalus, lomatium, bovine colostrum, transfer factor and propolis. While some natural health-care practitioners recommend using one or more of these only during the flu season, they can safely be taken year round, especially by those with weakened immunity.
More Remedies to the Rescue
Oregano oil is well known in the Mediterranean world for its antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial activity. There are many species of oregano but the herbs that have been most widely used medicinally are Origanum vulgare and Origanum dictamnus. The major active constituents of oregano oil are carvacrol and thymol, which not only kill off viruses, fungi, protozoal parasites and harmful bacteria, but also act as free radical scavengers and antioxidants. The usual effective dose is two to six drops taken under the tongue three or more times daily. Taking probiotic supplements such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria can boost its effectiveness. Oregano oil can also be used to prevent the flu and other infections and is an excellent immune system regulator. Side-effects are extremely rare and can be minimized by lowering the dose or mixing the oil with some olive oil.
Mild silver protein is a safe and effective form of stabilized colloidal silver atoms. Mild silver protein is capable of killing virtually any microbe to which it comes in contact, has no unhealthy side-effects and does not lead to the development of resistant organisms. It is very important to know that mild silver protein is not "colloidal silver." Mild silver protein is composed of silver atoms, whereas many colloidal silver preparations are composed of silver ions. Silver ions can be toxic at high concentrations. Silver atoms existing in mild silver protein are not.
Mild silver protein particles are significantly smaller than their colloidal silver counterparts. Their exceedingly small size falls within the ideal effective killing range for viruses, bacteria, fungi and other microbes. The usual effective dose is one teaspoon (five milliltres) three or more times daily. As with oregano oil, the use of acidophilus and bifidobacteria is important in re-establishing the friendly intestinal flora.