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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

12 Steps to Avoid or Mitigate H1N1 Swine Flu

Nov 03, 2009 07:04PM


by Bill Van Arsdale

While a tremendous media blitz is underway encouraging U.S. citizens to get vaccinated against the H1N1 swine flu, a powerful countervailing force of concerned doctors, researchers and citizens is questioning the necessity, effectiveness and safety of the vaccine. Should you and your family get inoculated? What else can we do to help prevent and fight swine flu?

Whether or not you decide to get the H1N1 vaccine, there are several more natural ways to strengthen your immune system and reduce the inflammatory response to help fend off and mitigate the effects of the illness. Following are initial recommendations from Dr. David Perlmutter, medical director of the Perlmutter Health Center in Naples, Florida, and Dr. Frank Lipman, director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City.

1) Optimize the body’s level of vitamin D. “Vitamin D is the key,” says Lipman. “If you can get your vitamin D level up, that is the best thing you can do. There is a correlation between low vitamin D and influenza. Currently, there is an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency.”

Unfortunately, there are no significant dietary sources of vitamin D, and most intake comes from exposure to sunlight. If we live far from the equator, we simply don't get enough sun through fall and winter to make all the vitamin D we need. To optimize vitamin D levels:

• Take 2,000 IU to 3,000 IU of a Vitamin D3 supplement daily.

• Get your 25 hydroxy vitamin D level checked by a doctor (if that is not an option, individuals can self-test levels through ZRT Labs by ordering a kit at

• Although the current normal range is between 20 and 50 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter), this level is much too low for optimal health. The ideal level is between 50 and 70 ng/ml.

Note: This is the most important step to prevent the flu. It may require a number of months taking 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily (especially during winter) under a doctor's supervision to optimize the 25 hydroxy vitamin D level in the blood. Monitor status every three months until the optimal range is achieved; then cut back to a maintenance dose of at least 2,000 IU a day.

2) Take a turmeric supplement twice daily. “In this specific case of swine flu, I recommend approaches that down-regulate the whole inflammatory cascade we call the ‘cytokine storm,’” advises Perlmutter. “We understand what genes turn on the storm, and there are ways of counteracting this genetic activity induced by the virus.

“There is a pathway in each of our cells called the NRF2 pathway, and when you activate that pathway, it dramatically reduces the production of cytokines. One thing we know that activates this anti-inflammatory pathway specific to cytokines is turmeric. If you have been exposed or are showing the first signs of flu, take 500 mg of turmeric twice a day. It has a brief period of potency, so the twice-a-day doses are important. Also, keep well-hydrated.”

3) Get adequate sleep, exercise and take actions to lower your stress levels. Do breathing exercises, meditate, practice yoga and spend time doing something that makes you happy. Feeling spent, overwhelmed, and/or mentally run down has a causal relationship with physical health.

4) Wash your hands frequently, but not excessively. It decreases the likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Don't use antibacterial soap, because of the risk of creating resistant bacteria. Instead, use a simple, chemical-free soap.

6) Avoid sugar and processed foods. These dramatically decrease immune function.

7) Eat phytonutrient rich meals. These include lots of colorful salads and dark greens.

8 ) Eat lots of garlic. It works as a broad spectrum antibiotic.

9) Take a probiotic daily. Look for one with 10-20 billion organisms. A strong immune system relies heavily on having a strong foundation in the gut.

10) Keep a supply of antiviral herbal supplements on hand. Andrographis, olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract and elderberry extract, for example, all have antiviral properties. Use one or a combination of these as a preventative measure, especially when traveling on public transportation or entering a potentially compromised environment such as a large office, auditorium, stadium or theater.

11) Take 1-2 grams of fish oils and 2 grams of vitamin C daily. These boost immune function.

12) Stock your home pharmacy with an immune-building formula. Look for one that contains Cordyceps and Astragulus. Take it throughout the flu season.

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