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 And you thought the news was already scary enough to keep you up nights, now we have the daily reports on the swine flu virus.  Like the killer bees that are slowly making their way up from South America to our back yards, we now have a mysterious virus that has ominously sprung from the South and into our lives.

Of course, swine flu is not the first epidemic that has burst on the scene suddenly and frighteningly.  Legionnaire’s Disease erupted just as suddenly two decades ago, and was deadly until an antibiotic cure was discovered.  The media have blown up stories of “flesh-eating bacteria” and “mad cow disease” and then got bored of them (so-called flesh-eating bacteria are actually particularly deadly variants of common bacteria, and mad cow disease is caused by a slow-growing virus that is worrisome, and seems to have Europe’s and now Canada’s cattle stock.)  We’ve had bird flu, and SARS.   And of course, the scourge of AIDS and its virus, HIV, has had a numbingly profound effect on the world’s population and will, unfortunately, continue to do so in our lifetimes. 

Many centuries have had the imprint of a fearsome disease on them.  The bubonic plague dominated the Middle Ages, and rearranged the world’s population.  Chicken pox and other common viruses wiped out scores of Native Americans, tuberculosis ravaged the 1700s and 1800s and diseases like polio and diphtheria played a role in 20th century history.

So, will swine flu grow in danger to the magnitude of one of these powerful killers? Will it become attenuated (less strong) as it spreads, much as streptococcus, which used to cause the deadly rheumatic fever but now is mostly the cause of a nuisance sore throat?  Will a cure or vaccine be developed? Or will it disappear again, as mysteriously as it appeared? 

The answers to these questions will, of course, take time.  But in the meantime we can do several things to allay our fears. 

One way to quell fear is through understanding.  So what is swine flu? Swine flu is caused by a type of virus called Influenza Type A H1N1, which is not usually that dangerous.  This strain, however, causes an illness that starts with a fever (over 100.5 degrees) a sore throat and a cough, frequently with other symptoms like muscle aching, headache, and malaise.  In other words, it behaves very much like a flu in the early stages.  The deaths from swine flu have been due to the progressive breathing problems or dehydration..

Are you at any real risk of getting swine flu?  Currently there are very few U.S. cases, and it’s too early to tell whether this virus will continue to spread rapidly or not. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend wearing masks in public, avoiding public places, or changing behavior significantly.  It does recommend awareness of possible risk if traveling in other parts of the world, and vigilance when coming into contact with those with possible flu risk, particularly health care workers.

In fact, it’s helpful to understand the numbers of this illness that has dominated the news lately.  As of this writing in on May 1, there have been about 257 documented cases of swine flu worldwide.  Of those, 97 have been in Mexico, including 7 deaths.  The U.S. has had 109 confirmed cases of swine flu, with ONE DEATH.  So, keep worrying about drunken drivers on our roads, about mercury in our food supply, our mouths and our brain tissue, about second-hand smoke and about our children getting heavier and more sedentary.  All of these problems are real, and threaten us on a daily basis.  Swine flu, thankfully, does not, at least at this point.  We can only hope that this will remain the case.

Meanwhile, this talk about viruses gives us an opportunity to think about ways of strengthening our immune systems generally.  First, we recommend lessening the strain on our immune system by paying attention to food allergies, and taking measures to identify and remove heavy metals from our systems (for more information, see our website, http://www.wholehealthne.com).  Other burdens on our immune systems come from persistent stress (including worrying too much!), lack of sleep, and from too much alcohol, cigarettes and other toxins. 

Second, we can practice simple public health behaviors that can prevent the spread of illnesses, and teach them to our children.  Washing our hands frequently, covering our mouths when we cough or sneeze, making sure public food supplies are maintained in a clean way can have marked effects on the spread of common illnesses.

At WholeHealth New England we use a combination of homeopathics, herbs and nutrients to support the immune system and ward off flu and viruses.

We use homeopathic Occilococcinum, a time-honored immune booster that is used at the first sign of the flu.  For those who want to be preventative, we recommend using one vial of Occilococcinum per week.  We also utilize the same homeopathic antiviral shot (intramuscular) that we use during flu season.

We also recommend Transfer Factors.  These remarkable substances are extracted from colostrum, produced by a nursing mother before the milk comes in, to boost the newborn’s immune system.  This remarkable natural medication has anticancer properties, antiviral effects, helps with allergies and has been shown in hundreds of studies to boost immune function.  We give TransFactor MultiImmune, a particularly powerful form of transfer factors.  As a preventive, we suggest taking 2 capsules daily, and increasing the dose to 2 capsules three times a day at the first sign of illness.  Incidentally, we highly recommend transfer factors to prevent getting ill during air flight or other crowded conditions.

Nature has provided us with a multitude of natural substances that have immune boosting activity.  For every-day use to prevent illness, I recommend vitamin C at least 1000 mg twice daily.  Vitamin C has a generally positive effect on immune cells, and is specifically anti-viral.  Vitamin C will shorten the duration of a cold, although it has not been shown to prevent one from developing.  Interestingly, vitamin C has profound antiviral effects when given intravenously, and is part of a natural treatment for hepatitis, mono and other viruses that is given in offices that practice natural medicine.  We recommend that our patients receive an intravenous Vitamin C antiviral drip at the first sign of the flu.

The critical role of Vitamin D in maintaining a healthy immune system is becoming more and more evident.  It is now clear that preventing epidemic influenza, among other illnesses, requires adequate vitamin D levels.  We give a minimum of 2000 iu of Vitamin D3 daily to support the immune system.

The other immune booster that most people know about is Echinacea.  Sometimes, we use it in a measured combination with other herbs (thuja and baptisia), a combination called Esberitox that has had several positive studies of its effects.  I don’t recommend Echinacea as an ongoing herb, and I prefer to use it when there is an illness.  Echinacea should be used with caution in someone with an autoimmune illness.

For everyday use, I recommend some beta carotene and some vitamin A both (usually 10,000 units of each), and I increase this for a few days when an illness is developing.  Garlic, ginkgo biloba, olive leaf and astragalus are good herbs to consider on a daily basis, to keep the immune system healthy.  Other nutrients critical to the immune system are zinc, vitamin E, selenium and coenzyme-Q-10.  L-lysine, an essential amino acid, is an immune booster and is used by many to prevent and to treat persistent herpes infections.  And finally, mushrooms are truly magic when considering the immune system.  Any combination of ganoderma, shiitake, maitake and lentigo are potent immune protectors with much research supporting them.

Dr. Rothfeld’s Flu-Fighting Program

All supplements reccomended can be purchased through The Natural Apothecary.

Primary / Preventative

  • Occilococcinum: one vial weekly, one vial daily at first sign of symptoms
  • Immune-boosting homeopathic injection (intramuscular, may repeat in 8 weeks)
  • TransFactor Multi Immune: 1 capsule twice daily as preventative, 2 capsules three times daily when traveling or at first sign of symptoms
  • Vitamin C (as Ester-C or Buffered C):  1000-2000 mg twice daily
  • Vitamin D Balance 1 capsule daily (2000 iu)

Secondary / Treatment

  • Esberitox: chew 3 tablets three times daily at first sign of symptoms
  • L-lysine 500 mg three times daily at first sign of symptoms
  • Vitamin A 25,0000 iu daily for 3-5 days at first sign of symptoms
  • Zinc lozenges at first sign of symptoms
  • Olive leaf extract 2 capsules twice daily at first sign of symptoms
  • Consider Intravenous Vitamin C infusion at first sign of symptoms
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One Response to “Swine Flu: Keeping Calm and Healthy Despite the Hype”

  1. Another possible explanation: Greater awareness of the disorder, and programs in some parts of the country that can help children regain skills, may make parents more willing to have their children diagnosed. ”But awareness can only go so far” to explain the rising levels of autism, says Dr. Baio. “We are still identifying more children with autism, in all levels of severity, than ever before, which is why this continues to be a perplexing and urgent concern.”

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