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Oct 01, 2009 at 12:00 AM

H1N1 Flu Infection Prevention

By Thad Jacobs, ND, LAc

H1N1 Flu Infection Prevention

Vaccination has its benefits, but do the risks associated with the H1N1 vaccine outweigh the benefits?  The research indicates that the main groups targeted by manufacturers to take the flu vaccine are the most likely to suffer severe side effects, including: 

  • Pregnant women

  • Children over the age of 6 months with chronic health conditions

  • Adults with chronic health conditions such as chronic respiratory disease, asthma, or obesity

According to a vaccine manufacturer's package insert, these side effects include life-threatening and debilitating Guillain-Barre Syndrome, vasculitis, paralysis, anaphylactic shock and death.  Although these adverse side effects are rare,  you and your doctor must determine the appropriateness of the H1N1 flu vaccine if you fall into any of the groups listed above or have a severe medical condition. 

For people who refuse vaccination or are poor candidates for vaccination due to a medical condition, flu may thwarted by basic hygiene and diet and lifestyle approaches.  Basic hygiene involves not touching your face or mouth with unwashed hands, sneezing or coughing into a handkerchief which you DO NOT share with anyone else, and frequent hand washing or use of hand sanitizers, particularly before meal time.  A few lifestyle modifications discussed in this blog, such as healthy diet, managing stress, and supplementing with vitamin D and colostrum, may also go far in preventing disease. 

Influenza vaccination contraversy is widespread, mainly because the safety and effectiveness of the flu vaccine is still unproven.  Despite ever-increasing numbers of people getting flu vaccines every year, mortality rate from seasonal flu has remained steady for the last 20 years.  In addition to evidence suggesting the vaccination it is generally not effective, there remains big questions regarding the safety of adjuvants and preservatives added to these injections.  For a very good overview on how flu vaccines are designed and produced, as well as the evidence that directly goes against current media and government policies on vaccination, see the video below.  I also recommend you read the interview by Tom Jefferson, MD, http://medicalconsumers.org/2009/09/24/why-the-h1n1-virus-is-not-a-major-threat/.  With colleagues at the Cochrane Collaboration, Dr. Jefferson has co-authored over 10 Cochrane reviews to answer a wide range of questions such as: do these vaccines reduce the chance of getting influenza or reduce the risk of complications, hospitalizations and deaths in elderly people, children, healthy adults and asthmatics?   (FYI: The Cochran Collaboration is a group of over 10,000 volunteers in more than 90 countries who review the effects of health care interventions. The results of these systematic reviews are published as "Cochrane Reviews" in the Cochrane Library.)

Also, be sure to read about preventive health measures that follow so you can combat the flu this season.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCBlxqmOMKM&feature=player_embedded#t=507

Healthy Diet Prevents Flu

Put down that donut!  A sugary diet suppresses important immune system cells responsible for fighting infections.1,2  In fact, it has been shown that a single sugary snack can suppress immune activity up to 48 hours after sugar exposure.  Refined grains, such as white flour, likely has a similar effect when eaten because of how rapidly the carbohydrate in these foods are absorbed into the bloodstream.  Limiting sugar and refined carbohydrate intake is not only good for preventing flu and other infections, it's good for your health in general.  Common sugary food sources are sodas, juices, honey, condiments, candies and many baked goods. 

Some basic healthy dietary guidelines include:

  • Do not over-eat.
  • Eat a variety of foods.
  • Consider organically grown food.
  • Eat as much of your food raw or lightly-cooked as possible.
  • Eat fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Avoid drinks containing sugar or caffeine.
  • Avoid sugars.
  • Avoid processed and refined foods; particularly refined grain flours and foods made with them.
  • Avoid hydrogenated trans-fatty acids.
  • Use only certain oils for cooking and frying; such as olive oil, for low-temperature cooking, or grape seed oil, for high-temperature cooking.
  • Limit animal protein intake in the form of red meat, chicken, pork, eggs and dairy to a few ounces per day.
  • Eat whole grains, pseudograins, nuts, seeds and legumes.
  • Eat more fish.

With regard to eating fish, it is recommended to avoid fish known to contain unsafe levels of heavy metals and other chemical pollutants.  The fish to avoid are tuna, Atlantic salmon, farmed salmon, sea bass, oysters, marlin, halibut, pike, walleye, white croaker, largemouth bass, shark, swordfish and fish know to be from polluted waters.  The safest fish to eat are small fish varieties, such as anchovies and sardines, and those grown in minimally polluted areas like the Arctic, Antarctic or Alaskan waters.  Wild northwestern US, Canadian and Alaskan salmon and halibut are good choices.  Arctic white fish and farmed tilapia are known to be significantly less effected by pollution too.

Stress Can Make You Sick

Stress is a well-known contributor to many types of illnesses.  Flu and other infections are higher in individuals who report higher levels of life stress and anxiety.  Cortisol is a hormone released in higher amounts when one experiences excessive physical or emotional stress.  Cortisol helps us adapt to acute bouts of stress and inflammatory conditions, but prolonged exposure to high amounts circulating in the system inhibits normal immune system cell function.3-7

A bad night's sleep can make you sick too.  Sleep quantity and sleep efficiency, which is a sleep science term used to describe how well you fall asleep and say asleep, also appears to be crucial in preventing airborne illnesses such as the common cold.8  Sleep is vital to health, and the evidence to date show that not only does sleep disturbance increase colds, it also increases pro-inflammatory chemicals released by the body, which contribute to atherosclerosis, allergies and other inflammatory conditions.  If you have sleep issues, then contact our office to make an appointment.  There are ways to naturally restore this vital health component.

There are many ways to manage stress to encourage healthy immune system function and health and well-being in general.  Eating a healthy diet and getting regular aerobic exercise are the foundation for supporting physical and mental health.  Stress management should be individualized to meet your specific needs; therefore, discuss ways to deal with stress with a health care provider who specializes in this area.

Vitamin D May Prevent H1N1

Vitamin D has been shown in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to prevent colds and flu.  Vitamin D, which is actually not a vitamin at all but a hormone, plays a crucial role in the production of antimicrobial compounds in the fluids that coat and lubricate the respiratory tract.  Vitamin D deficiency is well associated with increased disease risk and supplementation has been shown to enhance immunity in many studies. 

To treat active infection and prevent disease after recent exposure, I recommend taking very high doses of vitamin D to promote naturally occurring antibiotic compounds produced in the body.  One thousand international units (1,000 IU) per pound of body weight can be used during active infections.   Five to ten thousand international units (5,000-10,000 IU) can be used daily by adults preventively, but a blood test should be given after a two months to determine if this dose provides adequate protection.

 For a more in-depth explanation of Vitamin D's important disease-fighting role in relation to preventing H1N1 illness, I hightly recommend you read the views of vitamin D authority, Dr. John Cannell, MD.  http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/newsletter/h1n1-flu-and-vitamin-d.shtml

Colostrum May Prevent H1N1

Colostrum is the first milk produced by a cow around the time of giving birth. It is rich in immunoglobulins (antibodies) and other components needed to support healthy immune function of the calf.  Colostrum-derived immunoglobulins likely account for the majority of the immune system enhancing effects seen in colostrum studies.

Authors of a 2007 Italian study concluded, "Colostrum, both in healthy subjects and high-risk cardiovascular patients, is at least 3 times more effective than vaccination to prevent flu and is very cost-effective."9  The study also revealed that colostrum was 3 times more effective than no vaccine prophylaxis. In fact, the flu vaccine was actually found to be worse than doing nothing at all; suggesting that the vaccine was the incorrect recombinant and the well-known immunosuppressive effect of vaccines played a role in predisposing individuals to another flu strain.  

It is unknown whether colostrum would be effective against H1N1 specifically, but it sheds light on a potential new, inexpensive, food-based H1N1 prevention and treatment strategy. 

What to do If You Get the Flu

Make an appointment with either Dr. Cates or Jacobs as soon as possible.  The sooner infection is addressed, the better.  There are several effective ways to both soothe flu symptoms and kill-off the virus after it takes hold.  The flu usually only lasts up to a few days, but how severe an infection will get is difficult to predict.  In general, be sure to follow the following guidelines:

  1. Fluids, fluids, fluids.  Fluid intake very important, as flu sufferers lose more fluids from fever than they think.  Drink plenty of water and vegetable broth to replenish fluids and electrolytes.  Chicken soup work great too!
  2. Sleep.  Your body is probably telling you to sleep anyway - listen to it! Lack of proper sleep might have been what got you into this situation in the first place, and lack of sleep certainly won't help you get out of it.
  3. Food.  Even though you may not feel like eating, adequate nutrition is essential to feeling better and recovering more quickly.  Again, chicken soup not only helps keep the fluids up, it is easy to digest and has been shown to have anti-viral, antibiotic and decongestant properties.  Two servings of homemade chicken soup is recommended.  I've provided a homemade chicken soup recipe after the References section below.
  4. Minimal exertion. Even if you don't feel like sleeping, it's far better to stay in bed and relax than trying ineffectively to take it easy at work (and no one wants to catch the flu from you, either).
  5. Keep an eye on that fever.  Call our office if your child's fever remains at or above 103 degrees for more than 1 day.  For adults, more that 2 days.  Call our office immediately at flu onset if you have diabetes, a weakened immune system, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy beyond the first trimester, lung disease or asthma.
  6. Medications.  Depending on your symptoms and the type of flu you have, we will prescribe a different homeopathic remedy, herbs and so forth in addition to the standard antibiotic and antiviral supplements we recommend patients keep in their medicine cabinets.  It is best to consult with us so that you can recover more quickly and with fewer flu-related complications.

References

  1. Sanchez, A., et al. Role of Sugars in Human Neutrophilic Phagocytosis, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Nov 1973;261:1180_1184. Bernstein, J., al. Depression of Lymphocyte Transformation Following Oral Glucose Ingestion. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.1997;30:613

  2. Ringsdorf, W., Cheraskin, E. and Ramsay R. Sucrose, Neutrophilic Phagocytosis and Resistance to Disease, Dental Survey. 1976;52(12):46_48.

  3. Butcher SK, Killampalli V, Lascelles D, et al. Raised cortisol:DHEAS ratios in the elderly after injury: potential impact upon neutrophil function and immunity. Aging Cell. 2005 Dec;4(6):319-24.  

  4. Reiche EM, Morimoto HK, Nunes SM. Stress and depression-induced immune dysfunction: implications for the development and progression of cancer. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2005 Dec;17(6):515-27.

  5. Godbout JP, Glaser R. Stress-induced immune dysregulation: implications for wound healing, infectious disease and cancer. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2006 Dec;1(4):421-7.

  6. Cohen S, Hamrick N, Rodriguez MS, et al. Reactivity and vulnerability to stress-associated risk for upper respiratory illness. Psychosom Med. 2002 Mar-Apr;64(2):302-10.

  7. Arranz L, Guayerbas N, De la Fuente M. Impairment of several immune functions in anxious women. J Psychosom Res. 2007 Jan;62(1):1-8.\

  8. Cohen S, Doyle WJ, et al. Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(1):62-67.

  9. Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Di Renzo A, et al.  Prevention of influenza episodes with colostrum compared with vaccination in healthy and high-risk cardiovascular subjects: the epidemiologic study in San Valentino. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost. 2007 Apr;13(2):130-6.

Chicken Soup Recipe for Colds and Flu

 

  • 1 small (5lb) chicken* or leftover carcass of large whole chicken, with bones and skin (protein, amino acids)
  • 4 cloves minced garlic (blood cleanser, liver tonic, vitamins C and B6, selenium)
  • 1/8 cup olive oil (oleic acid and other fatty acids help control cholesterol, vitamin E, phenol antioxidants, benefits for colon, heart, and liver)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (alpha- and beta-carotene, vitamin A, fiber)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 large onion, chopped (flavonoid antioxidants, blood cleanser)
  • 2 cups chopped red potatoes (B vitamins, carbs, potassium)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Spice options: Thyme, Dill, Cilantro, Curry, Tumeric 1-2 tsp each or any to taste

Cut chicken into two or four pieces, place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and remove the fat that accumulates on top. Add the spices, garlic, onion, carrots, celery and potatoes. Cook on medium-low for about 1.5 hours. Remove the chicken and pull the meat off of the bones with a fork (remove the skin and any skin remaining inside the pot). Pour a little olive oil on top before serving.

* Organically grown chicken is preferred.

Posted in Integrative Medicine.

The information provided in this newsletter is free and may not be copied or re-distributed without the consent of Dr. Thaddeus Jacobs.  Unless specifically indicated as applicable to everyone, do not consider the information given either as guidelines to treat your specific medical condition or to address your general health needs.  Prior to using any new approach, first discuss any changes with Dr. Jacobs.  Dr. Jacobs is happy to utilize his broad-ranging knowledge base in many areas of medicine to steer you in the right direction.  Whenever considering changing your health regimen, please contact Dr. Jacobs to ensure your plan continues to provide the safest and most effective treatment solutions to your health problems, helping you get on with enjoying life to the fullest.







Dr. Cates presents a female compliment to this practice that I, as a woman, appreciate and value! She brings balance, and the comfort of female-to-female examinations.
Sukey B
Goleta, CA