Subject: What can we do to avoid getting the flu, how should you
treat it and what about flu shots and the other questions you've been
calling on the phone with?
You've all heard by now that this year is a lousy flu year. First
they distributed the wrong flu vaccine so it isn't offering very good
protection. Then the flu seems to have shown up earlier than it
was supposed to. From what we've seen so far people who catch the
flu are having a miserable time of it. The newspapers have treated
us with the daily tragedies of young children dying. Perhaps this
is to take your mind off Iraq but it has had the effect of sending people
into a flu panic. Now there isn't enough vaccine to go around
We've been getting frequent calls about the flu. Let me try to answer
some of them. Many calls are asking our opinion of flu shots, well
more exactly, "Should I get a flu shot?" I don't have
an easy answer for the question. I think each person needs to weigh
the pros and cons of getting these vaccinations and unfortunately we are
missing much of the information needed to make these calculations.
It is clear that some people are at great risk if they get the flu and
should do everything they can to avoid getting it. Yet it isn't
clear that this year's flu shot will offer any guarantee of protection.
How to avoid getting the flu without getting the shots? Well the
old standbys still work. Get plenty of rest, wash your hands frequently
and avoid sick people still seem reasonable.
Is there something I can take? I like the combination immune stimulators:
either the mushroom extract combinations or Astragalus and Echinacea mixtures
in theory though I forget to take them. I wrote a news letter about n-acetyl-cysteine
(NAC) last year. Daily doses don't change whether or not you get
the flu but they do decrease how many people notice they are sick.
In other words it is possible to get the flu and never feel particularly
I am totally sold on the Elderberry extracts sold under the brand
name Sambuccol. If I remember to start taking them at the first
twinge of sickness I think they work well to cut the intensity and duration
of viral infections way down. Rena on the other hand, hates the
way they taste and uses a homeopathic preparation called Flu Solution.
Both of these seem to work if taken very early in the course of illness
but with only some benefit if started in the middle of the illness.
We keep both products at the office where they do you little good.
If you want to try them, get them now and keep them at home where you
see them and start taking them at the first suspicion of impending illness.
Lauricidin, the brand name for the monolaurin we stock, is being promoted
for treating the flu. I haven't used it for this but have seen it
work well for other viral infections, especially the herpes virus.
Longstanding patients have told us about having the flu as an afterthought.
"I didn't know you can treat the flu, my MD said there was nothing
he could do." The MDs may not have anything to treat the flu
with but we certainly do.
How do you treat the flu? We get this question often and there isn't
a simple answer. We don't treat the flu; we treat people who have the
flu. This is very different. People don't all get the flu
in the same way. Our treatments vary depending how people experience
the flu. Typically I'll give a person with the flu several different
things. As I've mentioned I'm a fan of Sambuccol and will almost
always give this along with a homeopathic remedy and an herbal tincture.
The homeopathic remedy is picked based solely on the person's symptoms:
are they thirsty or irritable, do they ache, where do they ache, when
are the symptoms worse and so on down the list of a hundred and one questions.
Based on their peculiar symptoms we can often choose a homeopathic medicine
which appears to reduce their discomfort and shorten the duration and
intensity of the illness.
There are a number of herbs which we used which have distinct anti viral
action. We will often use one or more herbs in treating the
flu because of this antiviral action. We may combine antiviral herbs
like licorice, and lomatium with specific herbs to treat the symptoms.
For example, if swollen glands are the predominant symptom I may add phytolacca,
if bone aches are a big part of the discomfort, I'll add eupatorium and
so on. The herbs we choose for coughs will vary with the type of
cough: location, wet dry, productive or not, color of phlegm, sensation
and so on.
Some people are sent home with instructions for complicated hydrotherapy
techniques, others with a list of videos to rent. With the flu as
with many other illnesses we treat there is no one size fits all when
it comes to treatment plans.
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