The Flu and You

Ophelia Gherman, M.D.
January 30, 2018
Prevention and treatment options against this year's potent flu season

This year's flu season is being called “the plague” with every state in the US experiencing an intense increase in the influenza virus. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), this year's flu season has a death toll of 30 children and is still rising. Out of all deaths combined, 8.2% were due to lung complications linked to influenza-caused pneumonia.

 

The flu virus can cause various degrees of illness, usually characterized as a severe upper respiratory symptom, but it can also lead to the hospitalization of thousands and hundreds of deaths. Since 2018 is proving to be one of the most active flu seasons since 2014, it would benefit us to review some important health concerns regarding this dangerous virus.

 

There are four different types of influenza: A, B, C, and D. Seasonal flu epidemics are caused by types A and B. Flu C usually causes mild flu symptoms and rarely is diagnosed. Flu D is mainly found in cattle.

 

The influenza virus circulates all around the world and can affect young and old. Those at greatest risk are the elderly, babies, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses involving the heart, lungs, and those with suboptimal immune systems. Unfortunately, these high-risk individuals are usually found in highly contagious locations such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.

 

The flu is spread by salivary or mucus droplets from an infected person when they sneeze or cough. The virus may also be spread by contaminated hands. As such, it is best to sneeze or cough into a disposable tissue or into your elbow instead of your hands and still wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap. The best method to reduce the chances of getting sick or spreading germs is hand hygiene which includes scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds or the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” from beginning to end twice.

 

Washing your hands is key in these situations:

1. Before and during food preparation and eating

2. Before and after caring for the sick

3. After using the toilet and changing diapers

4. After blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing.

 

Flu Symptoms

The main characteristics of the flu are a sudden sense of feeling ill-being associated with severe fatigue, achiness (body soreness), a fever, headache, cough, and sore throat.

Use the pneumonic FACTS (Fever, Aches, Cough/Chills, Throat discomfort/ Tiredness, and Sudden onset of symptoms) to help identify the symptoms.

 

If you have these symptoms, it would be wise to avoid close contact with people including handling objects, food, and healthcare items during your illness. It is imperative that you not share food and drink. Although there is a flu test that consists of swabbing the nose, most cases of the flu are diagnosed based on the patient’s symptoms.

 

Flu Prevention         

Our ability to fight the flu during the winter months has much to do with how we treat our bodies year-round. Our immune system depends on the tripod of physical, emotional, and spiritual sustenance. Therefore, our diet, exercise habits, water intake, sun exposure (Vitamin D levels), and stress vs. rest ratio, can either serve as building blocks or bulldozers for our immunity.

 

NATURAL TREATMENTS

Our Creator has provided many substances in nature which gently yet powerfully assist our body, strengthening it, healing it, and sustaining it. Rather than triggering a host of unpleasant side effects, these unassuming agents reinstate balance and health to the diseased body. Such natural products are gaining increasing scientific attention, stupefying many incredulous, post-modern physicians. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty,” 1 Corinthians 1:27.

 

Oregano

Oregano oil is part of the mint family and has a high antioxidant activity rating and various anti-microbial properties. The highest grade of Oregano oil is called P73, which stands for polyphenol 73 percent and is a specific blend of several high-grade, medicinal, wild oregano.

 

Tea: Oregano can be used to make tea using 3 teaspoons of fresh leaves or 1 teaspoon of dried leaves in 1 cup of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. Drink up to three times daily to help heal a cough, bronchitis, or sinusitis. Add raw honey and lemon for added benefit and flavor.

 

Oil: To use oil of oregano, simply drop two to three drops into an 8 oz glass of water, swish and gargle four times a day to help with a sore throat or cough and then swallow. It’s best to start with a low dose and increase the number of drops slowly if needed.

 

Capsule: Pure and authentic oregano oil in P73 form is also found in capsule form. Each soft gel capsule contains 6 drops of pure oregano essential oil. Take as directed on the bottle. For parasitic cleanse, use 500 mg of oregano four times daily for 2 weeks. Longer courses of treatment are not advised due to the potential for liver toxicity.  

 

Elderberry (Sambucus)

Black elderberry is the fruit of the elder shrub. It is found worldwide. In ancient history, the elder plant was known as one of nature’s healing treasures. Today, its extract is widely used to boost the immune system's ability to deactivate the flu by blocking the flu proteins called "hemagglutinin".

 

Treatment should begin within 48 hours of developing flu-like symptoms and should continue for 5 days. Adults should take 10 ml of the syrup four times daily and children 5 ml four times daily.

 

The above are only two options for treating the common cold naturally. However, they are by no means the only options available. Some other remedies can be found in the posts linked below or here.

 

CONVENTIONAL TREATMENTS

In contrast with the variety of natural treatments, there are relatively few options for treating the common cold with drugs.

 

Antivirus:

Conventional anti-viral medication against the flu is called Tamiflu. It works by rapidly halting viral reproduction and thus decreasing the viral load on your immune system. Tamiflu is most effective when administered within 48 -72 hours of flu-like symptoms. Research shows it can shorten the symptoms of the flu by less than a day, but does not affect hospitalization rates. Tamiflu is also used to treat household members or close associates who have come in close contact with someone with the flu. Studies do show that it can prevent the production of flu symptoms in those exposed.

 

Flu Vaccine

Public health officials recommend the flu vaccine to everyone over the age of 6 months. The vaccine introduces small virus particles to the immune system in order to boost one’s immune memory upon true infection with the influenza virus. Each year, the vaccine composition is based on an educated guess of which influenza strains will circulate that year. This, however, is not always an accurate guess, and the strain mismatch leads to less effective vaccines. The CDC states the flu vaccine may reduce your risk of getting the flu by 40-50%, however, the 2017-2018 flu vaccine is at best 20- 30% effective.

 

While scientists agree that getting the flu vaccine will not completely eliminate your chances of getting the flu and other “influenza-like illness” and colds, they still propose that it could help ameliorate severe influenza symptoms, reduce hospitalization, and prepare the immune system to face off a myriad of infections.  

 

Due to valid concerns regarding the flu vaccine’s numerous preservatives and potentially devastating side effects, many are searching for alternative methods to ameliorate flu symptoms and prevent the illness.

 

The important thing is for every individual to educate themselves about vaccines. We must be advocates for our own health and prioritize education in order to make the best and informed choice for our families.

 

Flu Complications:

Complications can occur more readily in the elderly, infants, and immune compromised, however this year, even healthy adults are succumbing to complications of the flu. Complications can be dehydration, pneumonia, multi-organ failure, meningitis, and death.

The influenza virus decreases one’s immunity, opening the doors for other bacteria or germs to cause severe infections, thus overwhelming your body in its immune fight. It is very important to get medical help if your symptoms do not rapidly improve and your symptoms do not respond to treatment. Watch out for difficulty breathing and uncontrolled vomiting and diarrhea. Seek immediate help if you have the worst headache of your life or are lethargic and somnolent.

 

Final recommendations:

This flu season, be a responsible consumer and health-advocate. Optimize your health and that of your loved ones.

 

- Make sure your vitamin D levels are optimal by taking 5000 IU of Vitamin D daily.

- Avoid processed sugars in your diet and overeating in general, as this burdens the immune system.

- Focus on macro-nutrients in your diet such as omega-3 fatty acids and phytonutrients.

- Improve your circulation and lymphatic drainage by drinking plenty of water, exercising, using invigorating hot and cold baths (read more on hydrotherapy below), and dressing warmly.

- Eliminate stressors, and obtain emotional wellness and wholeness by loving, forgiving, and having healthy social interactions.

- There is also no replacement for following nature’s circadian rhythm and obtaining adequate nightly sleep and keeping the Biblical weekly Sabbath.

 

"But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture," Malachi 4:2.

 

References:

Antiviral potential of medicinal plants against HIV, HSV, influenza, hepatitis, and coxsackievirus: A systematic review.

Bep Oliver-Bever. Medicinal plants in tropical West Africa.

Ganjhu RK, Mudgal PP, Maity H, Dowarha D, Devadiga S, Nag S, Arunkumar G. VirusDisease. 2015 Sep 3; 26(4): 225-236

Mercola. Officials Admit Flu Vaccine 2017 Likely Worthless. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/12/19/flu-vaccine-likely-worthless.aspx

Phytother Res. 2018 Jan 22. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6024.

Sökmen MSerkedjieva JDaferera DGulluce MPolissiou MTepe BAkpulat HASahin FSokmen A.In vitro antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral activities of the essential oil and various extracts from herbal parts and callus cultures of Origanum acutidens. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Jun 2;52(11):3309-12.

Tiralongo E, Wee SS, Lea RA. Nutrients. 2016 Mar 24; 8(4): 182

von Essen MRKongsbak MSchjerling POlgaard KOdum NGeisler CVitamin D controls T cell antigen receptor signaling and activation of human T cells.Nat Immunol. 2010 Apr;11(4):344-9. doi: 10.1038/ni.1851. Epub 2010 Mar 7.