The flu has been receiving a lot of media coverage this year because of the troubling statistics related to it. While it seems that this year’s flu is more severe than previous years, there are still many ways that you can protect and treat yourself naturally. Frequent hand washing is one of the easiest and cost effective ways to reduce your risk of infection. Use soaps that are free of triclosan and harsh chemicals. Those will only deplete the beneficial bacteria on your skin’s surface, as well as disrupting hormone health. There are 2 different kits I like to have around for flu season. One is the Preventive Care kit and the other is a Therapeutic Care kit. To stay healthy, I like the DACZ approach. This includes:
Unfortunately, so many people are deficient in Vitamin D. For preventive measures, a mid-range dose of 5000 – 8000 IU/day is a good starting point to maintain proper immune function. For children consider 35 IU per lb. of body weight as a starting dose. In addition to supplementation, you can also get vitamin D from UV-B sunlight exposure, fatty fish such as, wild salmon, cod liver oil and eggs. Sunlight is always the best source of vitamin D as food has relatively low amounts of vitamin D naturally.
Vitamin A is a critical antioxidant responsible for supporting a healthy immune and respiratory system. Vitamin A deficiency can cause an increased risk of infections, including colds and flus. Vitamin A or beta carotene rich foods include, leafy green veggies, carrots, squashes, eggs, and liver. Supplementing with vitamin A can help increase secretory IgA, which is an antibody that lines your nose, throat and lungs as your first line of defense against harmful viruses and bacteria. Too much vitamin A can be toxic, so children should take no more than 10,000 IU per day and adults no more than 25,000 IU per day unless under the supervision of a physician.
Vitamin C plays a major role in the health of your immune system. It is not a nutrient your body makes naturally on its own, so you must get adequate amounts from your diet. This is critical for optimal immune health and increasing the speed at which the body heals. Foods such as red peppers, cherries, fresh fruits and veggies are good sources of vitamin c. You can also supplement with vitamin C 1000-3000 mg per day to help boost your immune system. Too much vitamin C can cause loose stool, so reduce the dose if this occurs.
Like Vitamins A, D, and C, Zinc has a strengthening effect on the immune system. It has great antiviral properties and is wonderful for supporting overall immune health. You can use it both preventatively and therapeutically. You can also use it in a lozenge form for sore throats as it works well. Foods rich in zinc include oysters, pumpkin seeds, legumes, mushrooms, lamb, beef and spinach. If you take zinc as a supplement, be sure to take it with food as it can cause nausea if taken on an empty stomach. I recommend taking between 30-60 mg a day with food during the winter time when you are most at risk of getting the flu.
Unfortunately, if you do end up getting the flu, therapeutic measures must be taken. Working to support the body’s natural fighting mechanisms should take priority. A few things I like to use in my office that work really well for many of my patients:
Elderberry has powerful immune strengthening properties. Several studies have shown it to reduce the severity of flu like symptoms, as well as respiratory infections. This is found at most health food stores and you can supplement with it in a tincture, capsule or syrup form. If you sign up for my free Immune Boosting Recipes eBook, you will find a great recipe for Immune Popsicles that contain a therapeutic dose of elderberry in them.
Respiratory Immune Support:
Respiratory Immune Support (Andrographis) is an herb that has antimicrobial, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. It’s very effective at reducing fever and fatigue associated with the flu. It’s also wonderful for treating upper respiratory and sinus infections.
Beta Glucan Plus:
Beta Glucan Plus (Beta Glucans) Naturally boosts the immune system response to fight off infections. It is known to be a major immune regulator. They help to stimulate immune cells to fight off viruses. While you primarily hear of oats being the main source of beta glucans, they are also found in mushrooms, barley and bakers yeast.
This is a very safe and effective homeopathic remedy that has been used for many years to stave off the body aches, chills and fatigue associated with the flu. It’s most effective within the first 24-48 hours of symptom onset. It’s great because it doesn’t interact with any medication and safe for almost everyone. You can find it at your local health food store.
Wet Sock Treatment:
Wet Sock Treatment is a traditional naturopathic treatment. The idea of the “wet sock method” is to boost the body’s defenses by increasing circulation and stimulating the immune system. This can be used to treat coughs, colds, flus and bronchial infections, but is especially effective for reducing fever.
Click here to read more about the Wet Sock Treatment.
This treatment isn’t for everyone and should be done under a practitioner’s guidance. Those with a compromised immune system or specific illnesses should consult with their practitioner before beginning this treatment.
While these suggestions are meant to help boost your immune system and reduce the severity of your symptoms, you should always contact your local health provider to find the best strategies to help support your individual immune system. This will ensure you get the care that is specific to you and your family’s own personal needs.