Evelyn Wolff MD of Huntville, Canadda tells us that public health and the media have been recommending vaccination and frequent hand washing as the primary ways to protect ourselves, our families, and children from flu and H1N1.
She explores other preventative options to be considered.
She says that research in the area of neuro-psycho-immunology has also clearly proven that when people take responsibility — becoming co-creators of their own health — their healing capacity improves.
Conversely, when people are frightened and feel helpless their immune system is weakened.
Person-centred medicine, an outgrowth of this research, believes people not only have a right to make their own choices but that a physician’s job is to empower people to make better choices through education rather than to decide what they should do.
Here are her suggestions using complementary methods to strengthen the immune system and help prevent H1N1 flu and other flu:
1. Supplementing with higher levels of Vitamin D3 than most people get since we have been told to avoid the sun. A few hours of sunlight on a person in a bathing suit produces 10,000 IU of vitamin D3. Holistic physicians often recommend that adults take about 5,000 IU and babies and children can take 1,000 to 2,000 IU in drop form. Vitamin D3 comes in drops, tablets or capsules 1,000-5,000 IU each.
Optimum blood levels for immune function are considered to be 150 to 200 nmols/litre. Vitamin D3 is best absorbed when taken with some oil. Your family doctor can monitor safety of vitamin D levels with the 25 OH-vitamin D blood test and serum calcium.
2. Omega 3 6 & 9 containing fish oil, Evening Primrose Oil or borage oil. It is available in capsules or liquid. Most adults need at least 1,000 mg daily. If your skin is dry you may need more. If not allergic, use seeds and nuts as snacks, supplying omega 3 and 6 oils as well as magnesium, a mineral important in over 650 enzyme processes, but deficient in 90 per cent of North American people.
3. Vitamins and Minerals – a good quality multi vitamin and mineral plus extra Vitamin C (500 mg three times per day). Vitamin C taken with the multi mineral will help the absorption of the minerals. If you find vitamin C is too acid forming, use Ester C instead (600 mg two times perday). It is buffered with calcium or magnesium. Selenium 50-100 mcg daily is also very important to the immune system and important in thyroid function helping detoxification. It can also be gotten by eating three Brazil nuts per day. Zinc (30-50 mg) is essential to immune health. Vegetarians tend to be especially low in zinc, because foods highest in zinc are meat and chicken.
4. Deep Immune Complex or other combinations of immune building herbs such as Astralagus, Reishi Mushroom, Codonopsis, Eleuthrio or Siberian Ginseng (present in Cold FX). Deep Immune Complex also carries a formulation just for kids with astralagus, codonopsis and colostrum. Echinacea is an herb, very effective in kick-starting the immune system, if used at first sign of cold or flu, Echinacea is not meant for maintenance use like Astralagus and other herbs mentioned above. Echinacea is not recommended for people with HIV or autoimmune disorders.RM 10 Ultra and RM-10 are similar products.
5. Herbal Antivirals
a) Oregano Oil is a potent anti-viral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial. Taking some at the first signs of cold or flu can help the body regain balance. b) Garlic & onions also have anti viral properties.
6. Homeopathics: There are homeopathic preparations available in health food stores, pharmacies and grocery stores. Influenzinum can help create immunity to flu strains including H1N1 e.g. influenzinum. Thymol can boost the immune system generally.
They can be taken together. Other homeopathic preparations can ameliorate flu symptoms such as fever, aches, pain, chills, excess mucous after exposure to flu virus or flu vaccination. eg. oscillococcinum.
Homeopathy is a much used healing modality in Europe and is the first line of defence in all treatments for illness in the British Royal family. It is a legislated health profession in Canada.
7. Eat a highly nutritious diet of unprocessed, preferably organically grown food, with some fruit, and lots of vegetables, including dark leafy greens full of phytosterols, and antioxidants. Do not over eat. Reduce excess red meat intake. Eat antibiotic-hormone free organic/ grass fed meat, and free range chicken and eggs. Avoid eating large fish such as tuna which are high in mercury unless the can is designated light/flaked-which are made from smaller younger tuna and have not accumulated so much mercury.
8. Avoid sugar and high glycemic carbohydrate food. Sodas are especially loaded with sugars that tend to dehydrate you as well as weaken your immune system.
9. If you have milk intolerance, milk products tend to make you more vulnerable to cold and flu. If you have chronic post nasal drip, recurrent sinusitis, or ear infections and acne on your back and chest you may be milk intolerant. If the problem is mild, cut back on milk products using only some yogurt and feta.
10. Keep bowels moving regularly through moderate exercise, high fibre diet, and drink up to eight glasses of water each day. Use a mild laxative if constipated when cold or flu symptoms threaten.
11. Probiotics: Research shows increased immune defence against flus and colds with adequate seeding of the bowel with lactobacillus and other good bacterial species.
12. Get adequate rest and sleep, ideally eight hours per night. Reduce stress and try to avoid stress.
13. Moderate exercise only, since extreme training also registers as stress and has been found to undermine the immune system. Walking is an excellent exercise for calming and weight reduction. Obese people have a six times increased incidence of flu.
14. Stay home from work or school if you are showing signs and symptoms of flu or colds.
You can reduce viral load on mucous membranes by gargling with salt water two times per day or rinsing nasal membranes with a saline soaked Q-tip or preferably using a Neti pot, available at a pharmacy.
15. Practice good hand hygiene, and cough in your sleeve. Hydrogen peroxide is the least toxic anti bacterial for wipes, breaking down to water and oxygen. Do not use antibacterial soaps unless you are doing surgery. They give a false sense of security but do not kill all the pathogenic bacteria. Some of the chemicals in these soaps are toxic, undermining the immune system, and as well tend to generate increasingly dangerous mutant bacteria over time.
16. Avoid toxins that weaken the immune system e.g. Bisphenol A in saran wrap, plastic food containers, plastic water bottles, and phthalates in scented body soaps, shampoos, shaving products. For further information read: Slow Death by Rubber Duck by Dr. Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence Canada
17. Smoking makes a person more vulnerable to respiratory infections, including influenza. Switching to nicorettes can protect your lungs.
18. Practice deep breathing or other forms of meditation for stress reduction. When stressed, our body produces the hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels cause immune suppression and an inability to fight colds and flu. Treat yourself to a regular stress-relieving bath. Add 1 cup of Epson salt, 1 cup of baking soda and 20 drops of lavender essential oil helping you detoxify and calm down.
November 4, 2009
Evelyn Wolff MD CGPP(certification in GP Psychotherapy)