What can you do to prevent the flu and support your immune system?
• Stay away from sick people - seems simple but people don't do this.
• Wash your hands regularly.
• Clean instruments such as phones that are shared with others with a lavender spray or another antiviral essential oil spray. You can make a simple spray by starting with a base of 40% rubbing alcohol & 60% water or a Base of 20% grain alcohol and 80% water. Once you make your base put the base into a spray bottle. For each oz of base add 40 drops of lavender essential oil. Spray this on items you are sharing with others such as phones. Make sure you don’t spray it on anything you think will be damaged by the essential oil or the alcohol. (I spray this on most things with no problem, but it can damage wood and may damage some fabrics etc. You can test an area first to make sure it will not harm the item.)
• Eating antioxidant rich foods (lots of fruits and vegetables), which is also a diet rich in Vitamin C, beta-carotene and essential minerals is helpful.
• Increase immune system supportive nutrients such as vitamin C with bioflavonoids 500 mg in the AM and PM at minimum. If someone is sick they usually take vitamin C up to bowel tolerance. (This is the amount that causes your stools to become slightly loose.) Once they reach bowel tolerance they lower the dose slightly so they don't have loose stools. Also zinc, about 15-30 mg per day. If taking zinc for more than 3 months you should take copper in a ratio of 8 parts zinc to one part copper. So if taking 15 mg zinc per day you would take 2mg copper also. Last but not least consider vitamin D (sunshine, supplements (needs to be D3-check lab levels to decide on amount to take-see below), cod liver oil) . A multiple B vitamin can be helpful in addition for general cellular energy production.
• Getting a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D test is a good idea as many people do not have adequate levels of vitamin D, and often these people find they can prevent flu with just this one change. Research shows that low levels of vitamin D predispose one to getting the flu as well as the common cold. Until recently there was not a reliable measurement of vitamin D available. The vast amount of new research has shown we need much more vitamin D than thought previously. People who test low in vitamin D usually need to use D3 supplementation to raise their levels to within normal limits. The amounts necessary are often between 3000 IUs to 8000 IUs per day. One should not take large amounts of Vitamin D without testing occasionally to check for toxicity. Although it is best to work with a professional health care worker, many cities have independent labs that will let you order this test without a physicians order.
• Immunomodulating herbs such as Echinacea and Garlic help prevent colds and flu. I use a lot of fresh as well as cooked garlic in my food during flu season. If I am around others who are sick or if I feel I am starting to get sick I take one teaspoon to one tablespoon of Echinacea every few hours for 2-3 days to keep from getting sick. This works well for me. Yes it is a lot of Echinacea, but I find for myself this is what is necessary.
• Get as much sleep as possible. This is necessary for your body to stay healthy.
• Homeopathic flu solutions called Dolicoccil or Occilococcinum are helpful.
For detailed information on the use of herbs to support the immune system, you can go to a 2005 newsletter I wrote and have archived at my website: http://www.herbaltransitions.com/herbalresources.html
What About Those Flu Vaccines?
Personally I do not get flu vaccines. I don't like what they are preserved with and don't like to put things I consider to be toxic into my blood stream. I also feel I can much better take care of myself by keeping myself healthy and supporting my immune systems innate ability to protect my body from viruses.
The flu vaccine is prepared from the fluids of chick embryos inoculated with a specific type(s) of influenza virus. The strains of flu virus in the vaccine are inactivated with formaldehyde and preserved with Thimerosal, which is a mercury derivative. (There is a limited supply of thimerosal-free influenza vaccines and it is supplied in single dose vials which do not require a preservative).
Every year, the federal health agency officials make a guess as to which three flu strains are most likely to be prevalent in the U.S. in the following year to determine which strains will be included in next year's flu vaccine. They usually include the two most prevalent strains from the previous season and they watch to see what strain is causing trouble in Asia and use that as a basis to guess it will move on to the U.S. If they guess right and the match between the vaccine and the circulating virus is close, the vaccine is thought to be 70 to 90 percent effective in temporarily preventing the flu of the season in healthy persons less than 65 years old. For those over 65 years old, the efficacy rate drops to 30 to 40%.
Of course this is based on having the correct strains. Making this prediction is difficult since there are several hundred strains of influenza circulating at any time. They do not always correctly predict which flu strains will be most prevalent and the vaccine's effectiveness is much lower for that year and may even be worthless. You would think they would withdraw the flu vaccine if they guess wrong, but they still continue to give out the vaccine anyway.
According to the CDC, people at high risk for reactions to flu shots are those who are sick with a fever, have an egg allergy, have a mercury allergy and have a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome. The most common reactions usually begin within 12 hours of the vaccination and can last several days. They are fatigue, fever, headache and painful joints. The most serious reaction is Guillain-Barre Syndrome which occurs usually 2-4 weeks after the vaccination. Less than 5% of the cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome end in death.
For up to date detailed information on all vaccines this website is invaluable: http://www.nvic.org/default.aspx
For detailed information on the use of herbs to support the immune system and more details on the flu you can go to a 2005 newsletter I wrote and have archived at my website: