I glanced at our local newspaper this weekend and saw that there were 4 cases of medication-resistant H1N1 at our local Duke University Medical Center. With people everywhere getting sick with some sort of cold or flu and more drug-resistant viruses and bacteria popping up, patients are asking me what natural things they can do to prevent getting sick. Of course, by now everyone has been reminded to wash their hands regularly and cough/sneeze into their sleeves, but what else can be done? Stress causes a weakened immune system so we need to put a concerted effort into not getting too stressed out over the holiday season. Also, try to get an adequate amount of sleep. Losing an extra hour of work in order to get a good night’s rest is better than losing a few days of work from being sick. On top of that, make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, E, and C are essential to a properly functioning immune system. Vitamin A is the anti-infection vitamin. If used properly and in moderate doses, vitamin A is rarely toxic and is very important in the body’s defense system. Vitamin C may be the single most important vitamin for the immune system. It is essential for the formation of adrenal hormones and the production of lymphocytes (a white blood cell). It also has a direct effect on bacteria and viruses. Vitamin E interacts with vitamins A and C and the mineral selenium, acting as a primary antioxidant and scavenger of free radicals. Vitamin E activity is an integral part of the body’s defense system. Zinc, which can be found in over-the-counter products such as Zicam and Coldeeze, is also very important for a strong immune system. Zinc boosts the immune response and promotes the healing of wounds when used in appropriate doses (100 mg or less daily). It also helps to protect the liver. Doses over 100 mg/day may actually depress immune function.
For those of you who want to take herbs or other supplements, there are number that are good for boosting your immune system. Echinacea is the most widely known herb for immunity. Echinacea boosts the immune system and enhances lymphatic function. People with immune-related conditions such as multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, and HIV should refrain from using Echinacea. Also, those persons allergic to pollen of other members of the aster family, such as ragweed, may be allergic to Echinacea. Goldenseal is another herb that strengthens the immune system, cleanses the body and has antibacterial properties. Goldenseal should not be taken on a daily basis for more than one week at a time, and it should not be used if you are pregnant. Goldenseal is also contraindicated if you are allergic to ragweed. Garlic has also been known to stimulate the immune system and is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-viral. You may want to watch how much of it you take though because its smell has been known to seep out of your pores when taken in large quantities. I have one friend who will eat cloves of it at a time, claiming it can get rid of a sore throat in no time. Seeing her eyes water while doing this, I have never been willing to give it a try. I have also become a big fan of Airborne. We regularly have a bottle of it around our office to take if we’ve had a day where a lot of patients have come in sick. I truly believe that it has helped keep my staff and myself from getting sick these past 3 years that we’ve been using it.
Last, but by no means least, chiropractic care has been found to help boost the immune system. During the 1917?18 influenza epidemic, which brought death and fear to many Americans, it has been estimated that 20 million people died throughout the world, including about 500,000 Americans. It was chiropractic’s success in caring for flu victims that led to the profession’s licensure in many states.
Researchers reported that in Davenport, Iowa, out of the 93,590 patients treated by medical doctors, there were 6,116 deaths ?? a loss of one patient out of every 15. Chiropractors at the Palmer School of Chiropractic adjusted 1,635 cases, with only one death. Outside Davenport, chiropractors in Iowa cared for 4,735 cases with only six deaths ?? one out of 866. During the same epidemic, in Oklahoma, out of 3,490 flu patients under chiropractic care, there were only seven deaths. Furthermore, chiropractors were called in 233 cases given up as lost after medical treatment, and reportedly saved all but 25. In another report covering 4,193 cases by 213 chiropractors 4,104 showed complete recovery. If chiropractic helped in that influenza epidemic, it most certainly should help with the H1N1.
I hope this article helps you all have a healthier flu-season this year. And remember to wash your hands!