Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fret not over the Swine Flu!

Some natural things to do regarding the Swine Flu.

From the Medicine Woman's Roots:

1. Avoid a hyperactive (or hypoactive) immune system (and theoretically, the cytokine storm) with immunomodulators (rather than simple immune stimulators) like Elderberry. Elderberry is extra nice because it has also been shown to disarm flu viruses and prevent them from replicating in the body. Elder flower is a fine relaxant diaphoretic and lung tonic as well, and all around near perfect flu prevention and treatment remedy. I especially like my Elderberry Elixir recipe (scroll down til you see the recipe) to treat and prevent a variety of flu and cold bugs. Other herbs useful in the treatment of hyperimmune or autoimmune conditions include Peach, Cherry, Rose and Reishi.

2. Get your Vitamin D. Not actually a vitamin, this necessary steroid hormone is usually obtained through normal exposure to sunlight and diet, but supplementation is becoming increasingly necessary for those who live in Northern climes or spend much of their time indoors (that would be most of America, I suppose). Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) is important for a properly functioning immune system, especially in the respiratory tract. Up to 10,000 IU/per day is safe, and Paul Bergner says that “In order to rapidly raise se rum levels to ward normal, up to 40,000 IU/day might be safely given for a period of six weeks, followed by daily doses of 4000-10000 IU.”

3. And your Zinc. I like a dose between 10-20 mg for preventative purposes.
Bioflavanoids - Berries, greens and brightly colored vegetables - eat them in quantity. Nourishing herbal infusions (Rose, Elderberry, Nettle, Raspberry) tend to have large doses of bioflvanoids as well.

4. Essential Fatty Acids - Cod liver oil is a longstanding traditional preventive method for flu and cold prevention, and a very good idea year round. Sorry, plant based EFAs just won’t cut it, so go for the ones found in fatty fish and certain other wild and grassfed meats.

5. Reduce sugar and simple carbohydrate intake. Even the sugar contained in honey or fruit is perfectly capable of suppressing your immune system.
Sleep. Lack of adequate rest and sleep is known to depress the immune system so get your Z’s and avoid longstanding sleep debt at all costs.

6. Support the body’s natural fever and elimination processes with diaphoretics rather than using NSAIDS to suppress the body’s healthy immune processes. The classic fever tea of Yarrow, Mint and Elderflower is time tested and very effective, although I prefer to use Monarda rather than Mint in many cases.


“Influenza Prevention” by Paul Bergner, from the Summer 2008 issue (Volume 15, Number 4) of Medical Herbalism.

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