With summer now officially over, it is fall’s time to shine. And, unfortunately, this also means flu season. Whether you prefer mai tais and beaches or hot chocolate and jumping in piles of leaves, we can all agree that the flu is no fun. It can even be deadly if you are immunocompromised.
The 2019 Flu Season: Worse Than Last Year?
There are already clues that this year’s flu season will be particularly nasty. The recent flu in Australia caused a surprisingly high number of deaths early on. And the U.S. may be next. The severity of the southern hemisphere’s flu season often predicts what will happen in the northern hemisphere. To make things worse, in California, a four-year-old child with underlying health problems has already died from the flu this year.
“We should never forget that the flu still kills … A death so early in the flu season suggests this year may be worse than usual,” states Dr. Cameron Kaiser, a public health officer from Riverside County, California.
During the previous flu season, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that there were between 37-43 million cases of the illness in the United States. Of these cases, 36,400 to 61,200 people died.
Why Does The Flu Season Correlate With Winter?
If we want to protect ourselves and those we love from the flu, we must first ask why we’re more vulnerable at certain times of the year. One reason is that we spend more time inside, out of the sun, which leads to a lack of vitamin D. Supplementation with vitamin D is shown in both research and clinical practice to prevent the flu and speed up recovery.
In an article for Canadian Family Physician, Gerry Schwalfenberg writes that very few of his patients present with the flu once their blood levels reach 100nmol/L of vitamin D. Those with the infection get the “vitamin D hammer,” a one-time dose of 50,000IU or 10,000IU three times daily for two to three days. His typical results are so dramatic, with complete resolution seen in 48-72 hours, that he has called for clinical trials of this intervention.
Existing research already suggests there’s a strong link between vitamin D and flu prevention. In a trial involving over 300 schoolchildren, only 10.8 percent of those given vitamin D caught influenza A, compared to 18.6 percent in the placebo group.
Supplementation was even more effective for kids who started nursery school later or had not taken vitamin D before. The children previously diagnosed with asthma enjoyed an additional benefit. Only two suffered asthma attacks while taking vitamin D. But, attacks happened in 12 of the children given a placebo. Researchers believe that vitamin D helps in several ways: regulating immune system function, helping to produce antimicrobial substances, and strengthening tissue barriers.
Other Ways To Protect Yourself
Of course, vitamin D is not the only solution. The flu season happens at the same time as the holidays, where you may not have much time to take a break! Shopping, cooking, decorating your house, and traveling to see family takes a lot of energy. To thrive during this time of year, adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms can boost your immunity, energy levels, and overall health.
A blend such as Rasa Koffee will give you the best results as each adaptogen has a specific indication. For example, reishi (one ingredient) enhances the immune response and production of immune cells, increasing your chance of fighting off an infection before symptoms appear. It also has antiviral properties, including activity against influenza A and herpes simplex.
Many adaptogens in Rasa Koffee come from Asia, but recent Australian research shows that elderberry, a traditional European remedy, can be effective too. Ripe elderberries both stimulate the immune system and inhibit the flu virus’ ability to replicate in cells. Surprisingly, its antiviral properties are stronger after the infection has already begun.
Vitamin C sounds like a cliched treatment for infections, but it’s very successful when used correctly. In a study of over 700 students, a supplementation protocol reduced cold and flu symptoms by 85 percent! Everyone in the treated group took 1000mg (one gram) of vitamin C three times daily. If they still developed symptoms, they took 1000mg every hour for six hours before resuming their usual dose.
Finally, colloidal silver possesses broad-spectrum benefits against viruses and bacteria, including the influenza A virus. This means silver may prevent secondary infections, which can become dangerous if you don’t get on top of them right away. Silver is also anti-inflammatory and can relieve allergies and asthma by targeting hidden chronic infections which make us hyper-sensitive. Unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, it doesn’t cause significant damage to the gut microbiome.
When we look in nature’s medicine cabinet, there are plenty of ways to stay healthy this flu season, whether they strengthen our immune systems or provide antimicrobial support. Enjoy your fall and winter by taking the proactive approach and nourishing your system with natural boosts for your immune system.
Alexandra Preston is an Australian naturopath, passionate about empowering others to take charge of their health and healing the planet. Her special area of interest in natural health is antiaging; she also loves the beach and is a semi-professional dancer.
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