Every year, I advise my patients to protect themselves against colds and flu. The best defense against these illnesses is a strong immune system. Here’s how to protect yourself this winter…
MY FLU-PREVENTION PROTOCOL
I recommend a powerful protocol for flu prevention that my patients, my family and I all follow. Begin this protocol now—and continue it through April. (All of these products can be found at health-food stores and online.) As many of you know, I don’t recommend the flu vaccine for healthy people, but these remedies are helpful and effective even if you do get a flu shot.
The protocol includes…
Influenzinum. I have recommended this homeopathic remedy on its own for more than 15 years. The manufacturers of Influenzinum reformulate it annually based on the flu viruses expected to predominate that year. One French survey found that 90% of 453 people who took Influenzinum did not get the flu.
Dosage: Follow label instructions. Adults and children (age six and older) should take one dose (three pellets of a 9C potency) dissolved under the tongue once weekly for six weeks, beginning at the start of flu season. (For infants starting as young as one day old, crush one pellet and place on the tongue.) Influenzinum is available at health-food stores and online. It is made by several manufacturers including Boiron.
Vitamin D. Many studies show an association between low levels of vitamin D and respiratory tract infections. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that only 10% of school-age children who took vitamin D got the flu, compared with 18% who took a placebo.
Dosage: Adults and children age 13 and older should take 2,000 international units (IU) daily, then increase to 4,000 IU during peak flu months (January through March). This is higher than the dose I typically recommend, which is 1,000 IU to 2,000 IU, but these higher doses of vitamin D are safe. Infants over one year old and children up to age 12 should take 1,000 IU daily, then increase to 1,500 IU during peak flu months, though for infants, check with a pediatrician before increasing the dose to 1,500 IU.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC). This antioxidant helps prevent flu and reduces severity of symptoms if infection occurs. A landmark Italian study found that only 25% of older people who were injected with flu virus after taking NAC for six months experienced flu symptoms, versus 79% who took a placebo.
Dosage: Adults and children age 13 and older should take 1,000 milligrams (mg) to 1,200 mg daily. Children ages six to 12 can take 500 mg to 600 mg daily. At the first sign of flu symptoms, increase to 3,600 mg to 4,000 mg daily for adults and 1,200 mg to 1,500 mg daily for children, and continue until symptoms subside. Higher doses, such as 4,000 mg, may cause digestive upset. Reduce the dose if needed.
NATURAL COLD REMEDIES
Colds can be hard to distinguish from flu. Colds come on slowly with symptoms affecting the chest, neck and head. Flu comes on quickly with more intense symptoms, including bodywide aches and pains, high fever and often digestive complaints.
Even if you follow my immune-boosting flu-prevention protocol, there’s always a small chance that you will catch a cold. Take one or both of the herbal remedies below at the first sign of a cold until symptoms are gone. There are no side effects, except as noted—and you can safely take more than one of these remedies at the same time. For dosing information for adults and children, follow label instructions.
Pelargonium sidoides. The focus of more than 20 clinical studies, this South African plant has been found to be effective in relieving cold symptoms, sinusitis, sore throat and bronchitis. It is available in many forms, including syrup, powder and chewable tablet. Brand to try: Nature’s Way Umcka ColdCare or Umcka Cold+Flu.
Elderberry extract and echinacea. Research has shown that echinacea can reduce the length of the common cold and elderberry extract reduces recovery time from the flu. Now a recent study shows the combination of the two is a potent antiflu formula. Brands to try: Nature’s Way Sambucus (elderberry extract) and Natural Factors Echinamide (echinacea).
GET THE FLU VACCINE?
I have concerns about flu vaccines—mainly because we don’t know the long-term impact of using them and some studies show that they are not very effective. Should you get a vaccine, make sure to get the mercury-free version.