The flu is hitting us hard this year, resulting in 60 deaths so far. It may be a weak vaccine, low public awareness or just bad luck. Every year we face the same possibilities, just as with extreme weather events such as floods and hurricanes. Forewarned is to be forearmed, so Natural Awakenings canvassed local health providers for advice on how to weather our current outbreak and be prepared for the next one.
Donna and Mike Barsky, Texas Star Compounding Pharmacy
For optimal flu prevention and treatment, we recommend a variety of approaches. One approach is flu vaccines, which are available at Texas Star Pharmacy in high-dose for seniors and quadrivalent (four strains). They are also available is a nasal prevention gel, which is a special combination of ingredients placed inside the nose which can prevent viruses from entering in through the nose. Tamiflu is offered commercially and in various compounded forms such as flavored liquids for children. For sore throats experienced with the flu, we offer compounded anesthetic throat sprays, lollipops or lozenges. For coughs, we offer prescription cough medicines, as well as over-the-counter syrups such as Robitussin DM or Mucinex DM. Nutritionally, we suggest nutrients such as ViraCID, Oscillococcinum, probiotics and Emergen-C. B-Complex (high-dose) injections can be used for energy and recovery.
Mark Herrin and Anna Georges, Sundrops Vitamins and Nutrition
It’s time to review some natural approaches we can take to combat flu bugs and keep our immune systems at peak. Many times, antibiotics are prescribed to eliminate bacterial infections that can be the aftereffects of a viral infection. Unfortunately, a side effect of antibiotics is the destruction of our beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. These bacteria are responsible for helping digest food, producing vitamins and protecting from infections, among other functions. The good news is there are a vast number of alternative mechanisms right from nature to boost the body’s immune response.
One of the most well-known herbs is elderberry. Extracts have shown to increase immune response in healthy individuals. It also inhibited the replication 10 strains of influenza virus. Results from a double blind placebo study found that 93 percent of influenza B patients receiving elderberry extract had significant improvement within two days with influenza B versus six days with the placebo group. A complete cure was achieved in two to three days with 90 percent of the elderberry group.
Homeopath Cathy Lemmon, Healthy Healing Arts
For prevention, homeopathy can be used prophylactically. As we are in the flu season, here are some good, whole things to do. Get sufficient rest; drink plenty of good, whole fluids; during the fall/winter in general, when sunlight is less, increase vitamin D3, vitamin C and selenium; take a teaspoon of Hawaiian Manuka honey when we feel something coming on; and if not feeling well, stay home. For nontoxic prevention, there is Influenzinum or Oscillococccinum.
Lyn McCright, MPH, director of Advancing Holistic Health
Preventing the flu is best; avoid contact with people that have the flu, as it is airborne, but people can be contagious 24 hours before they know they are ill. Medical masks may be of some help. My personal go-to for the flu is a homeopathic product Oscillococcinum. I take the medicine 15 minutes before or after eating, drinking or brushing my teeth. If my symptoms have not improved after the first day, I repeat two more days.
Dominique Robinson, Rockwall Complete Healing and Wellness Center
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus that infects the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. It is spread through the air from person to person. The flu season runs from November to March, and can be caught at other times of the year, but symptoms outside of the flu season are more likely to be from a cold or allergy.
Main flu symptoms include fever, dry cough, muscle or body aches (severe and all over), chills and sweats, fatigue or malaise and vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults).
Unlike a cold, these flu symptoms comes on fast, sometimes within hours. because colds and flu are viruses, antibiotics won’t help. Antibiotics only help bacterial infections, which complications from colds and flu can lead to bacterial infections in the lungs and sinuses. The flu can turn into pneumonia, and for the elderly population this is quite dangerous, as they may not recover from the pneumonia. That is why it is very important to treat preventatively. Never treat fever with aspirin or any fever lowering drugs like Advil. Aspirin suppresses fever, thus causes it to go deeper, which leads to pneumonia.
Nancy Scheinost, M.D., functional medicine, Living Well Dallas Health and Wellness Center
A functional medicine approach to preventing or treating the flu includes keeping away from sick people. No handshakes or hugs. Keep hand sanitizers handy. Drink plenty of fluids. By the time we are thirsty, we are already clinically dehydrated. The goal is to have clear urine by noon.
Take lysine 500 milligrams three times daily, zinc 15 to 30 milligrams a day and CoQ 10 at least 200 to 400 milligrams a day. You also can take Allicillin. It’s garlic and they do make the odorless kind. If the symptoms are just starting, I would recommend Oscillococcinum or Tamiflu! Take this as early as possible or it won’t work.
Jennifer Trejo, naturopath, Abundant Life Wellness Center
Prevention is the key to avoiding the flu, but if you do get it, there are natural ways to support the body to overcome if faster: avoid Sugar, Get Enough Sleep, Don’t Let Stress Become Overwhelming and Wash Hands throughout the Day. Take a homeopathic flu remedy each week during flu season. Have vitamin D levels checked, but taking at least 2,000 IU/day for an adult is a good starting point. Take at 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C twice a day.
Texas Star Compounding Pharmacy
3033 W. Parker Rd., Ste.100, Plano
Advancing Holistic Health
Rockwall Complete Healing
and Wellness Spa
2455 Ridge Rd., Ste. 151, Rockwall
Abundant Life Wellness Center
3904 Boat Club Rd., Lake Worth