ILLUSTRATION BY KATE BIZER
When it comes to protecting yourself and your loved ones from killer diseases like the Swine Flu, knowledge is power.
Truth is, there are many ways to ward off the flu other than having an untested vaccine injected into your body.
It’s all about prevention and common sense. Herbalists and the holistic community have done it for years.
If your immune system is strong enough, and you keep stress levels down, you won’t get the flu or you might only get a mild case. It does, however, take some focus and work.
“Seventy percent of your immune system is in your digestive tract,” said Nathan Worthing, natural pharmacist and certified clinical nutritionist of Clark Professional Pharmacy in Ypsilanti.
In other words, eating healthy is a huge part of keeping you well.
So where do you begin, with a strong flu virus expected to hit the area this year? Start by limiting your sugar intake.
“Eating or drinking 100 grams (eight tablespoons) of sugar, the equivalent of 2 1/2 12-ounce cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40 percent,” Dr. Bill Sears, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, states on his Web site. “The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than 30 minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours.”
Eat organic, unprocessed foods if possible. Many people are deficient in vitamins and minerals from processed foods and get even more depleted during stressful times such as the holidays.
“You should definitely think about supplementation before the flu season,” said Donna Gilpatrick, an herbalist and foot reflexologist of Balanced Health in Northville.
She suggests taking “a good multi-vitamin, extra vitamin C, and something called ‘Elderberry Defense,’ which contains Elderberry, Echinacea, Royal Jelly (from bees), and Olive Leaf, a well-known antiviral.”
Supplementing with acidophilus/bifidolphilus, healthy bacteria for the gut, or plain yogurt containing these probiotic cultures will help to re-populate the digestive tract. These cultures help keep bad bugs away and produce the B vitamins needed for nervous system health which in turn helps it relax from stressors, experts say.
Worthing, whose pharmacy is just down the street from Washtenaw Community College—just across the street from St. Joseph’s Hospital on Clark Road—recommends a variety of over-the-counter products, especially vitamin D.
Recent research has shown a much higher RDA is needed than previously thought to maintain immune system health. Worthing notes that “many people take a product he has called Virus Stop which has enzymes that break down the protein matrix coating of cold and flu viruses. People love it.”
As a safer alternative to the flu vaccine, Dr. Melinda Benn, a holistic chiropractor and nurse from Healing Hands in Flint, recommends a homeopathic remedy called Flu Balancing Solution. It is an antidote to all the particular flu’s coming out this year. She says you take it throughout the flu season.
“In quantum physics, there is a subtle energy field before the physical is formed,” she said. “Homeopathics work on the vibrational level of the flu, and that is why one should be taking the remedy before they are exposed.”
Many plants produce essential oils such as Lavender to keep pests away so they stay healthy—and they work for people, too.
Benn and Gilpatrick both use essential oils in their business for sterilizing the rooms and also for people who need it for immune system issues. These oils have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties against germs and have shown to increase white blood cell immunity.
The oils are very strong and need to be used sparingly. One use is to put drops on your skin in the shower to inhale the scent regularly. Some examples of beneficial oils to use would be lavender, thyme, cinnamon, clove, tea tree, lemon or oregano oil that you can put in a spray bottle filled with water and use it to sterilize your doorknobs, computer keyboards and air. Putting some under your nose while in close quarters such as on an airplane may ward off a virus from taking root.
Overall though, experts say stress seems to be the biggest depleter of immune function. What exactly is stress? If you really think about it and break it down, besides physically overdoing it, stress is fear.
The next time you are stressed, stop and breathe deep, and ask yourself if this type of worrying is going to serve you or waste your energy? The latter is usually the answer, and you can stop running the physiological stress response that leads down the path to the flu.
When you start to feel the “mass consciousness” hysteria of the swine flu panic as the season approaches, just remember your power in that simply being in a state of fear can lower your resistance to the flu.
Spiritual gurus and motivational speakers like Dr. Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, and Tony Robbins all say, “what we focus on, we become.”
“Our mind/body connection is very powerful, you need to program yourself (like a computer) to be well and healthy,” Gilpatrick said. Daily meditation, and positive affirmations like, “I am strong and healthy, no matter what,” keep your body in a more peaceful, balanced state, which means strong immunity against the flu.
Another way of putting it: We write our own story every day. What will your story be this flu season?
Eight steps to avoid the flu this season
- Wash your hands often
- Get plenty of rest
- Limit your sugar intake
- Avoid stress and slow down
- Take supplements such as multivitamins, extra vitamins C and D, healthy gut bacteria and anti-viral herbal combinations.
- Try homeopathic flu remedies specifically for the flu
- Use essential oils like lavender, tee tree or thyme to sterilize surfaces and increase your immunity to harmful bugs.
- Meditate and relax with positive affirmations that program your health, anember the power of the mind/body connection in relation to disease.