The upcoming flu season is causing concern for many people, compounding their worries about contracting coronavirus. Fortunately, the same behaviors that prevent transmission of COVID-19 – avoiding in-person gatherings, physical distancing when in public and wearing face masks – also protect you from the flu.
Flu statistics and projections. The flu affects 3-10 percent of the population each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Flu viruses circulate year-round, but the peak incidence for infection is December through February. In the Southern Hemisphere, where seasons are reversed, the flu peaks in August, giving us an idea of what to expect this fall and winter. There is good news from the World Health Organization (WHO), which reports a lower than expected incidence in 57 countries in the Southern Hemisphere this year.1
Flu prevention. Since prevention is the best medicine, here are some remedies you can use to stave off the flu.
- Allicin is a garlic extract which has anti-microbial properties. Take one capsule daily.
- Muco coccinum is a homeopathic preparation, meaning it contains very dilute doses of substances that work to inoculate you against the flu. One tablet weekly is all you need.
- Colostrum is a powder that contains antibodies, the proteins your body needs to fight infection and is also helpful for digestive problems. One teaspoon daily is a good preventative. Colostrum is derived from an animal source, so avoid this product if you follow a vegan lifestyle.
In addition to taking supplements, be sure to incorporate good health and hygiene protocols. Get enough rest; 7-8 hours of sleep per night is recommended for most people. Your body produces and releases cytokines while you sleep. These are molecules the immune system uses to communicate with cells and coordinate its response to illness. If you are sleep deprived, the production of cytokines may decrease. Exercise moderately and consistently. Exercise has a positive effect on the production and circulation of white blood cells, which fight infection in the body. Avoid alcohol, as excessive consumption has been linked to increased susceptibility to pneumonia and other respiratory distress syndromes.2
Flu treatment. If, despite your best efforts, you come down with the flu, here are some natural medicines that can help reduce symptoms.
- Vitamin C – Take 1 gram of vitamin C every six hours at the onset of illness. Liposomal vitamin C contains the active ingredient inside a capsule that is easy to absorb and reduces the chance of loose stools.
- Lauricidin – Take 3 grams daily with food as soon as symptoms start. Lauricidin is a powder derived from coconut that contains lauric acid, the same compound found in breast milk that confers immunity from mother to baby.
- N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) – Take 500 mg twice per day. NAC is an amino acid that inhibits virus replication, lowers inflammation and reduces mucus.3
Keep in mind that it is impossible to differentiate the flu from COVID-19 based on symptoms. Both can cause fever, fatigue, runny nose, cough and shortness of breath. If you begin to feel even mildly sick, isolate yourself and get tested as soon as possible.
Dr. Needle is a licensed naturopathic doctor with Optimal Health Center in Palm Desert and can be reached at (760) 568.2598.