I was amazed at how many people were down with the flu over the last month. We live in Los Angeles, and many of our friends headed for the shores of Florida or the mountains of Colorado. Expecting glowing reports of lazy days on the beach, or blissful hours schussing down the mountains, instead we heard glum descriptions of being bed-ridden with fever, aches and congestion.
It is common knowledge that wintertime is flu season. The Holidays produce extra stress, from close encounters with family and in-laws with the attendant emotional issues, to extra doses of sugar and fat that stretch the boundaries of the waist-line and suppress the immune system further. Add traveling across time zones, which taxes the adrenal glands, dealing with the TSA, and being packed into airplanes with other coughing, sneezing and stressed out folk, and small wonder some succumb to nasty viruses.
I just received some interesting and useful data on avoiding the winter flu blues from one of my favorite health newsletters, produced by the Health Sciences Institute.
Studies indicate it is not the cold of winter that causes an increase in flu, but the lowered humidity. Remember that we have flu viruses around us all the time. They are opportunistic little buggies that only take hold when the internal "environment" of the body allows them to dig in. That helps explain why some people catch everything and others seem to be blessed.
So, using a humidifier in bedrooms in the winter may be your best weapon against the flu. Traveling across country or just around town? You might try a little added moisture touched to the edge of the nostrils. My favorite choice is Egyptian Magic Cream (available at Health Food Stores, my office in Burbank or online.) Egyptian Magic Cream is made of olive oil, bee pollen and propolis, and Royal Jelly and can be used as a skin cream for hydration or skin conditions -- very soothing and healing. I much prefer it to petroleum jelly, which is an oil industry by-product.
Here are some other natural remedies to try. Author of Vermont Country Medicine, Dr. D.C. Jarvis, suggests apple cider vinegar (make it organic) and honey at the first sign of a sniffle. Mix a spoonful of the cider vinegar and a bit of honey in a cup of warm water and drink as a healthy toddy that changes the acid/alkaline balance of the body and can stop a virus in its tracks. May promote restful sleep, also.
Put a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in each ear. Lay the head to one side and allow to bubble down in for a few minutes-then switch to the other ear. Some German doctors think that flu and cold viruses may enter the sinuses through the ear canal. The hydrogen peroxide will also soften wax. Don't forget to be careful about sticking anything in the ear. Just twist a tissue and gently wipe out as needed.
For some people Oscillococcinium by Boiron, the French homeopathic company, is a lifesaver. Homeopathy means "like treating with like" and is made from tiny doses of plant and biological remedies. It can be very effective and I have used it with great success in my practice. You must use Oscillococcinium at the first sign of the flu, but it can knock the virus out before it has a chance to set up housekeeping.
Speaking of setting up house-keeping, viruses seem to linger when the liver/gall bladder is congested. I often treat liver/gall bladder in my practice when a cold or flu hits and patients want a quick recovery. I can usually move a virus through the body in record time, by doing some soft-tissue work on the liver and gall bladder. You can try massaging the area on the right side below and under the ribs. Also, liver/gall bladder supplements may help, such as the herb Milk Thistle and the B Vitamin Choline (best brand is Standard Process® -- I love this product.) Avoid sugar and dairy products for the duration. Sugar may suppress the immune system for as long as four hours. The immune system is in action when the white blood cells attack bacteria and viruses and, like living Pac Men, actually surround and ingest the microbes. See the action here.
Flu shot or not? Guess what the side effects of the flu shot are? Achy muscles, congestion, fever and flu-like symptoms. Hmm, seems like that is just what we are trying to avoid. Here is the problem with the flu vaccine. No one can predict what the next flu virus will be- we can't even make educated guesses, because there is no pattern. Viruses mutate at a rapid rate. That is why they seldom kill us- and only if the body is in greatly weakened state. A virus attacks healthy cells and takes over the cell's replication process to create more virus cells. But in the process the virus changes into a more benign form, and the body is able to clean up the remains. That is also why it is hard to develop antibiotics against viruses. They change too rapidly for an antibiotic to chase them down and disappear like ghosts in the morning light.
Is there a risk to being vaccinated? Always. Why put more viruses, even weakened ones such as are in flu vaccines, directly into the blood stream? We have far more allergies, and allergy induced asthma, than we have ever had before. There is a constant assault on our immune systems, and that can trigger an inflamed immune system that goes into high alert at the slightest whiff of pollen or spore of mold. Nature developed a way for our bodies to fight infection, but over-use of modern medicine interferes in this natural process to your peril.
Many people say that the vaccines actually seem to make them more susceptible to flu's. The key to being flu-proof is a strong immune system that knows the difference between a viral microbe and a healthy cell. The internal environment of the body, when healthy, is unwelcoming to disease causing bugs. Just as a well-tended garden repels weeds and pests, human health can be cultivated. It may be hard to find Eden with so many toxins in our environment, but surely a little knowledge about how the body works can be protective armor against the relentless marketing of prescriptions that are more poison than potion.
Effective prevention for colds and flu? As Frank Lloyd Wright said, "Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."