By Dr. Janet Levatin
Will you catch a virus this “flu season?” If so, how will you treat it? More importantly, what are you doing for prevention? With a little knowledge and preparation, you can avoid getting sick this winter, and treat any illnesses that do occur with natural methods, avoiding pharmaceuticals, especially vaccines.
Of all the viruses that cause colds and influenza-like illnesses, only about 10% are actual influenza viruses. That means when people say they have the flu, nearly 90% of the time the symptoms they are experiencing are not caused by an influenza virus. That means you can get the flu shot and still get an illness you would call The Flu!
In 2006, the Cochrane Collaboration, an independent research organization, analyzed the usefulness of flu vaccines and made the following statement:
“Vaccination of healthy adults only reduced risk of influenza by 6% and reduced the number of missed work days by less than one day (0.16 days).”
Medicines to avoid: Flu shots, Tamiflu and OTC drugs
Flu shots are not good for you — but many run to get them as though they were an energy boosting vitamin B12 shot! Flu vaccines contain toxic ingredients such as polysorbate 80, formaldehyde, and Triton X-100; and many are still made with the mercury-containing thimerosol. Knowing that they don’t help much and also contain toxins should empower people to just say no to flu vaccines, especially for their children.
Several years ago during the Bird Flu fiasco, the medication Tamiflu (oseltamivir) came to market as a drug to treat the flu. Without a doubt, it should be avoided. Tamiflu is only effective in cases of culture-confirmed influenza. The first dose has to be taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, and shortens the course of the illness by a mere 1.3 days compared to people who take no medication at all. The drug can cause significant side effects, and contributes to the emergence of stronger viruses resistant to all known forms of treatment.
While easily available, over-the-counter (OTC) medications are also not very useful and can have toxic effects. Dextromethorphan, an ingredient in many cough syrups, can cause seizures and hallucinations. Another common ingredient in cough syrup, guaifenesin, can cause nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, and can lead to kidney stones. Although frequently used for runny noses and itchy eyes, Benadryl can cause drowsiness or hyperactivity, as well as overly dry mucus membranes.
What’s Best for Flu Season
I encourage everyone to take adequate amounts of Vitamin D3. It is a miraculous substance that participates in many bodily functions, including helping the body produce at least 200 antimicrobial peptides that have natural, antiviral activity. It also helps dampen excessive inflammatory responses, which are what lead to the aches and muscle soreness that accompany viral illnesses. Since the body only produces vitamin D with adequate sun exposure, it is very important to take enough Vitamin D3 during the winter months, especially if you have pigmented skin or live north of the 40th parallel latitude. The doctors and practitioners at TIMC recommend an annual 25-OH vitamin D3 blood test. You can order it directly through this link, without having to see a doctor. For more information about Vitamin D, including foods high in Vitamin D and suggested doses by age, please go here. You can also order high quality vitamins from our store; we ship every day to patients all across the country.
Herbs are an excellent method for quickly resolving viral illnesses. Herbs provide nutrition to glands and organs, help the body cleanse and repair itself, and help stimulate the body’s natural defense mechanisms. There are many excellent herbal preparations on the market. Two of my favorite herbs for promoting winter health are elderberry (Sambucus) and echinacea. Herbs can be taken as tinctures (glycerin-based for kids, alcohol-based for adults), teas, lozenges, and syrups. Honey-containing herbal cough syrups (not to be used in children under one year of age) are my favorite!
Homeopathy can also prevent flu-like illnesses and can help the body quickly recover if a virus gets the best of you. Homeopathy utilizes very small amounts of substances to stimulate the body’s defense mechanisms and immune system, and during times of illness, promotes a self-healing response. It is safe for people of all ages, easy to administer, cost effective, and often works rapidly and thoroughly. My training in homeopathy allows me to recommend preventative and therapeutic remedies specific to your constitution.
There are many other tools that can be used to promote fall and winter health, including probiotics (beneficial bacteria), colloidal silver and silver hydrosol, colostrum, and aromatherapy. Probiotics promote intestinal health and balance, which is crucial since a significant portion of our immune system resides in our intestines and is, in part, regulated by probiotics.
At TIMC, illnesses that might result in an antibiotic from a conventional doctor can often be successfully treated by our methods, without the use of pharmaceuticals. We have a number of herbal, homeopathic, and other preparations that help people resist contracting viral illnesses, including influenza, and bacterial illnesses.
If you or your child do catch a virus, it may be an indication that BOTH of you need some time off from your busy schedules. Remember to give yourself the time you need to rest and recover before resuming all your normal activities. While we certainly hope you don’t get sick this winter, we are here to help if you do. Be sure to call early in the course of any illness, as most illnesses (especially in children) are easier to treat in the beginning.