Get Ready for Flu Season

There’s a nip in the air, leaves
are starting to change colors – which means that it’s time to start thinking
about influenza.  Sore throat, fever,
fatigue, muscle aches:  everyone knows
it’s no fun.  The Centers for Diseases
Control recommends flu vaccines for everyone, though there is no scientific evidence for this approach.  Furthermore, the flu vaccine might prevent flu virus infection, but does absolutely nothing to protect against related viruses that cause flu-like illnesses.  Are there
good natural alternatives for preventing and treating the flu?
My first recommendation to everyone
at this time of year is to get a blood test for vitamin D levels.  The proper test is called 25-hydroxyvitamin
D, and the optimal level should be between 40 and 100 ng/ml.  Research has shown a clear connection betweenlow blood levels of vitamin D and risk of catching the flu.  Flu season can span anytime from October to
May – the same time period that we don’t get enough sun exposure to produce
vitamin D naturally through the skin.  Coincidence?  If you have low vitamin D levels now, it’s
critical to supplement at high doses under a doctor’s supervision.  Without a blood test, a supplement of
1,000-2,000 International Units per day is advisable through the winter.
Remember good hygiene – wash hands
frequently, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.  There is no need to use antibacterial soap,
since this does no better than standard soap in protecting against
infection.  Get a good night’s sleep to
support your immune system.  For
supplemental support, look into herbs such as astragalus, larch, and elderberry,
as well as extra vitamin C and zinc.  If
you’re exposed to people with flu or other respiratory illnesses, use a neti
pot or squeeze bottle with plain salt water to rinse the nasal passages, twice
a day.

Flu vaccination is important for those with asthma and
other lung problems; for nursing home residents and health care workers; and
for those with suppressed immune systems. 
For the rest of us, take care of yourself naturally, and if you do catch
the flu, visit your naturopathic physician for specific recommendations.

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