Q: I have an egg allergy and cannot get the influenza vaccine, because it’s made using egg protein. But I also have asthma, and I’m afraid of how sick I may become with the flu. Is there another way to prevent the flu?
A: It’s a good idea to minimize flu risk. Besides the miserable symptoms, a bad case can send some people with chronic diseases – like asthma – to the hospital. Even when you don’t have complications, it takes one to three weeks to recover energy.
The influenza vaccine is the workhorse of flu prevention. Research is underway to formulate an egg-free vaccine; meanwhile, it’s unwise for people with egg allergies to get the current version. But the vaccine can still protect you, even if you don’t get it: you can immunize those people who can bring the flu home to you. For example, if your kids are immunized, your exposure to the flu is substantially reduced. Some parents immunize themselves so if kids come home with the flu, they’ll be protected and able to care for sick kids.
You can also talk to your doctor ahead of the flu season – which starts in December in Colorado – about getting a supply of anti-inflluenza medicine, in case someone in your household does come down with the flu. These are very effective at minimizing the contagion, but must be started as soon as the exposure is known or with the first signs of the flu, no less than 48 hours. Talk to your doctor about it every year, since there are years in which the flu strain is resistant to one or more of these medicines.
If you are at risk for flu complications, have your levels of vitamin D and intercellular zinc checked, since correcting a deficiency of either will help ward off all viruses – not just the flu. Also avoid getting over stressed, skipping meals or eating too much sugar (especially around the holidays). And, of course, wash your hands often, especially in public places.
As for supplements, one of the most favored remedies is homeopathic influenzeum. Boiron makes theirs from the same strains of the flu virus that the vaccine is made from every year. It should be taken over the five weeks prior to the onset of the flu season. If you do get the flu, a homeopathic called Flu Plus is very effective at reducing symptoms.
Glutathione is an important nutrient to keep respiratory lining healthy, but it gets severely depleted during the flu. It’s poorly absorbed through the gut, but a mucosally absorbed form, called liposomal glutathione, is very well absorbed. The mucosally absorbed form also concentrates in the chest and head – right where you want it. Glutathione can also be given intravenously. We often give flu patients an intravenous combination of high-dose vitamin C and glutathione, to reduce symptoms and speed recovery.
Other natural agents for fighting the flu include:
Elderberry: three teaspoons, four times a day; studies show it can reduce recovery time from the flu by more than 50 percent.
N-acetyl cysteine: 500mg, three times a day.
Selenium: 200-400 mcgs per day.
Vitamin D3: 1600 to 200o IUs per day; better yet, ask your doctor to check you vitamin D level and adjust the level until it is in the middle to upper part of the normal range.
Nexus November/December 2011