It’s flu season again and even though there is no mention of a swine flu epidemic at the moment, the flu will soon start to make its yearly rounds. You may be thinking, ‘Well, there is the flu vaccine.’ However, numerous studies have called into question the efficacy of the flu vaccine in preventing unintended complications, such as flu-related community-acquired pneumonia and even death.1 2 3 4 5
Even after the increasingly widespread use of flu vaccination, the yearly prevalence of the flu has not been reduced significantly. This is primarily because not all vaccines are a good match or will trigger enough immunity in all persons. There are other natural ways to prevent and treat the flu.
Vitamin D, in its active form prevents excessive inflammation (the cause of cold symptoms) during an infection. Vitamin D will also optimize the functioning of the immune system, which includes increasing the expression of anti-microbial proteins.6 Vitamin D plays a special role in the body’s “immune fitness.”
Adults should get 2,000 IU’s vitamin D3 daily, however for adults who get no sun exposure or perhaps in the winter, the research indicates a requirement of 5,000 IU’s daily).7 8 At the first sign of flu symptoms, you should take 500 IU per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight daily for three consecutive days. (about 25,000 to 50,000 IU’s daily.)
Black Elderberry Extract
The extract from this remarkable berry has been shown to protect the body from viral infection. Black elderberry extract has been known to be an effective cold remedy since ancient Greece. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, believed black elderberry extract to be an overall tonic.
Black elderberries contain a potent antiviral compound that blocks the ability of the influenza virus to infect cells, which is its only means of replication. In fact, black elderberry extract has been shown to be effective in fighting off both Influenza A and B strains.
A double blind, placebo-controlled study of an outbreak of influenza B in Panama showed that black elderberry extract reduced symptoms of the flu, including fever four days faster. Treating with the extract also resulted in a complete cure within two to three days, twice as fast as the group that did not take it.9 Another small study in Norway showed that an oral elderberry extract relieved symptoms of the flu four days faster than those given placebo syrup.10
Take 15 ml (1 large tablespoon) daily as a preventive when exposed to someone with the flu. At the first sign of symptoms, increase the frequency to four times per day.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral, which is required to ensure proper immune function. A deficiency of zinc has been shown to impair the action of monocytes and natural killer cells, integral components of the body’s immune system.11 Even mild zinc deficiency can depress immunity.12 One study showed that zinc added to cellular medium inhibited the release of viral particles from infected cells.13
Take 15 to 25mg zinc lozenges every two hrs while awake, until symptoms improve, starting at the earliest sign of symptoms.
Tips to help you stay healthy this flu season:
• Eat plenty of organic fruits and vegetables
• Get enough sleep
• Exercise regularly
• Drink plenty of water
• Avoid excess sugar
• Do not smoke
• Use a hand sanitizer
• Avoid stress
Vincent Pedre, M.D. is an Integrative, Holistic General Practitioner and Board-Certified Internist in private practice in New York City. The Ultimate Swine Flu Survival Guide, Vincent M. Pedre III, MD
More from ecomii:
1. Jackson ML: Influenza vaccination and risk of community-acquired pneumonia in immunocompetent elderly people: a population-based, nested case-control study. Lancet. 2008 Aug 2;372(9636):398-405.
2. Fireman B: Influenza Vaccination and Mortality: Differentiating Vaccine Effect From Bias. American Journal of Epidemiology 2009 170(5):650-656.
3. Szilagyi PG. Influenza vaccine effectiveness among children 6 to 59 months of age during 2 influenza seasons: a case-cohort study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008 Oct;162(10):943-51.
4. Warren-Gash C. Influenza as a trigger for acute myocardial infarction or death from cardiovascular disease: a systematic review. Lancet Infect Dis. 2009 Oct;9(10):601-10
5. Simonsen L, Reichert TA, Viboud C, et al. Impact of influenza vaccination on seasonal mortality in the US elderly population. Arch Intern Med 2005;165:265-272.
6. Cannell, et al: Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Review Article. Epidemiology and Infection (2006), 134 : 1129-1140. Cambridge University Press.
7. Smith SM. Vitamin D supplementation during Antartic Winter. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Apr;89(4):1092-8. Epub 2009 Feb 18.
8. Weaver CM. Vitamin D requirements: current and future. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6 Suppl):1735S-9S
9. Zakay-Rones et al. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter;1(4):361-9
10. Zakay-Rones et al. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40.
11. Klaus-Helge Ibs & Lothar Rink. Zinc Altered Immune Function. The American Society for Nutritional Sciences J. Nutr. 133:1452S-1456S, May 2003
12. Shankar, A. H. & Prasad, A. S. (1998) Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infections. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 68 (suppl. 2): 447S–463S.
13. Srivastava V, et al. Influenza A virus induced apoptosis: inhibition of DNA laddering & caspase-3 activity by zinc supplementation in cultured HeLa cells. Indian J Med Res. 2009 May;129(5):579-86.