By Dr. Meg Jordan, Professor and Chair of the Integrative Health Studies Department
Build your natural first aid kit now so you'll be prepared in case this swine flu pandemic reaches your neighborhood. Follow these simple steps:
As recommended by U.S. public health officials, the most important methods of prevention are to wash and/or sanitize your hands, avoid contact with eyes, nose and mouth in public, and to avoid exposure to people who are coughing and sneezing. Call in sick and stay home if you're not feeling well.
This virus seems to be surviving for 48 hours on surfaces. I live in San Rafael where three new cases have been reported this week--using sanitizers on hands and phones and keyboard surfaces is a good idea. My family volunteers at Marin General's ER and we're in close contact with authorities here.
I don't normally recommend them, but this year, surprisingly, the shot contained a portion of the strain of swine flu virus. Some people may have partial immunity.
Normally, it's a great idea to boost immunity whenever you can when contagion lurks, but this viral strain takes advantage of strong immune systems and initiates a cytokine storm; it commandeers some immune factors and turns an inflammatory response into an unchecked avalanche of fluids and congestion, usually in the lungs resulting in acute respiratory stress.
Instead, you need viral stopping agents.
For natural therapies. I recommend the following blends of antiviral herbs and botanicals. No prescription needed. In case this builds to a severe pandemic, you will want one of these in your home first aid kit.
Super ViraGon or Immunify. Available through baselinenutritionals.com.
Grapefruit seed extract. Available at Whole Foods.
Olive leaf extract. Available at health food stores or at evitamins.com.
AHCC. The label says immune booster, but it's an antiviral. Available at health food stores or at evitamins.com.
Acai Berry. Strong antioxidant support.
Red Rieshi. Take one of two capsules a day; most brands are standardized. Mushroom Science is a great brand in the U.S. Mikei is a good source in Canada.
Elderberry. One of my favorite immune boosters, especially for respiratory ailments. Can be taken as a tea or herbal extract in hot water.
Wellness Fizz. Produced by Source Naturals, contains multiple herbs and vitamins.
Yin Chiao. A favorite among TCM practitioners; works best in early stages of sniffles and aches; found in herbal/health stores.
Swine flu is different from more common flu varieties because it presents with a greater degree of dizziness and high fever in the initial stages. Get medical care immediately if you're too sick to get up or showing signs of dehydration.
Tamiflu has been stockpiled for the past 3 years by U.S. medical surveillance teams. Early reports are showing that this antiviral can be effective only if taken within 48 hours of the beginning of symptoms. Some types of flu viruses are already resistant to Tamiflu.
The word pandemic can sound scary and the media are certainly playing up the frightening scenarios here. It's important to do what you know works to downregulate a ramped up sympathetic nervous system: self-soothe through mediation, music, walks, bodywork, supportive friends, and moments of gratitude. Harambee is a Swahili term that means you're only as well as your community. We all pull together. That is how we'll beat swine flu and whatever other threats come our way.