[fusion_builder_container background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”” padding_right=”” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_text]Flu season natural ways to boost immune systemReal, proven, natural ways to boost your immune system and prevent serious influenza infection.

A lot of media coverage has been given this year to the respiratory flu, specifically Influenza A (H3N2.)  If you watch the news at all, you have seen coverage of multiple tragic flu deaths.  You have heard reports that this year’s flu vaccine may not protect as well as originally predicted.  If you are like many of us, you are concerned about this year’s trend.

I have spent a good portion of my free time this year researching methods of prevention and early treatment of influenza A and B.  There are some things that you can do on your own to help reduce your chances of contracting influenza, and things you can do to help your immune system fight influenza if you are diagnosed with it.  *This message is not intended as an alternative to proper medical diagnoses and treatment for any condition.  This information is to be used as supplementary measures and does not constitute a replacement for medical advice you may receive regarding this year’s influenza strains.  Please call your doctor if you feel that you have become sick.

In general terms, a good healthy whole food diet is the best place to start when attempting to strengthen the immune system and prevent infection.  Eating whole nutrient dense real foods include produce, meat, nuts, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, etc. is best. Choose organic when possible.  Whole foods do not include anything boxed, processed, fortified, artificially sweetened, or artificially preserved.  Processing and preserving of foods strips the food of its natural nutrient composition and adds in chemicals that are a strain on the body in various ways.  Many processed foods are high in sugar and or starch, which can weaken the immune system significantly and causes inflammation in the body.  Sugar actually feeds bacteria, viruses and fungi as well.  When reaching for a cough drop this cold and flu season, reach for an all-natural honey based lozenge, or make your own “hot toddy” with hot tea, honey, and lemon juice.  Bacteria and viruses cannot grow on honey.  Stay away from sweets in general during this season to keep your immune system strong.  Keep this in mind when offering children “treats” this time of year.

Alcoholic beverages not only often contain high amounts added of sugar, but also weaken the immune system by depleting the body of fluids and vitamins.  Avoid excessive alcohol consumption in order to keep your immune system strong.

I had long ago read that certain foods like onions and garlic can have inhibitory properties against certain virus and bacteria strains.  This has been studied.  It was concluded that regular, long-term intake of fructooligosaccharides in foods like onions and garlic, galactooligosaccharides in foods like in dairy, in conjunction with certain probiotic strains may improve health by reducing the incidence and severity of respiratory diseases during the cold season. (Pregliasco F., 2008 Sep)  Probiotics are the good bacteria necessary for proper digestive and immune function.  A good probiotic supplement can be found at your local health food store.  Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kombucha tea contain naturally occurring probiotic strains.  Improved bowel function was also noted in this study.

Perhaps one of the most promising areas of research I found was relating to Vitamin C.  Vitamin C is essential for proper body function, including proper immune response.  Vitamin C deficiency can actually lead to multiple organ injury.  One particular study suggested that a sufficient amount of vitamin C is needed to prevent development of severe or fatal damages in humans by the infection of influenza.  It is important to note that in this particular study, supplementation with vitamin C after exposure to the virus had little or no suppression of the virus.  Suppression of replication of the virus (which is what happens when you become sick) happened only in those test subjects who maintained optimum vitamin C levels prior to infection. (Yejin Kim, 2013)  Vitamin C flushes out of the body every day, and must be replenished every day.  The Mayo Clinic  website lists the upper limit dosage of vitamin C as 2,000 mg/day.  They go on to say that too much dietary vitamin C is not likely to cause harm, but mega doses can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal bloating and cramps, headache, insomnia, or kidney stones.  If any of these occur, decrease your intake. Good vitamin C supplements are sold here at my office or at your local health food store, and are best with few artificial ingredients.  Foods high in vitamin C include oranges, bell peppers, and kiwi fruit.  Once sliced, the vitamin C in these foods will begin to oxidize, so consumption of those foods sooner than later is best. (Katerine Zeratsky, 2012)

My interest in essential oils led me to look into melaleuca alternifolia, or tea tree oil, as a possible influenza inhibitor.  A study published in Molecules journal found that concentrated tea tree oil did significantly inhibit influenza’s entrance into host cells in a laboratory setting.  This means, as the authors wrote, that they have proven that this herbal extract from the Australian native tea tree has a significant effect against influenza virus.  They go on to describe this mechanism, and encourage in vivo studies to confirm in vitro data.  (Xinghua Li, 2013)

One study showed that the supplement isoquercetin, or simply quercetin, has been shown to inhibit replication of both influenza A and B viruses at the lowest effective concentration.  Quercetin is a chemical compound isolated from mangoes and Sikkim rhubarb.  This study goes on to state that in mice infected with human influenza A, quercetin significantly decreased virus titers and pathological changes in the lung.  Quercetin can be purchased here at the office or at your local health food store. (Kim Y., 2010)

Aronia berries are becoming more commonplace now, and many of you may have heard this word used at least in passing.  Aronia berries are similar to elderberry in terms of use for immune support, antioxidant activity, and anti-inflammatory properties.  One article I read stated that certain chemical properties of the aronia berry are very effective anti-influenza agents, even in those strains resistant to oseltamivir (Tamiflu.) Aronia berries can be eaten plain, though they are not a sweet, pleasant berry.  More frequently, tinctures and syrups are made from the berries and provide a more concentrated delivery mode.  Many local manufacturers of these concoctions exist in the Des Moines area. (Park S., 2013)

Maintaining proper spinal alignment is one of the best ways to ensure that your immune system is functioning at optimum level.  Alignment of the atlas bone, right at the top of your neck, can normalize pressures within the head, ease sinus and ear drainage, and help clear inflamed nasal passages.

In addition to the above mentioned suggestions, you can make a huge difference in your own health by simply caring for your own body.  Get plenty of sleep. Avoid stress, and find coping mechanisms when you can’t avoid it. Exercise. Eat right. Surround yourself with positive people.  Our bodies are amazing creations.  With a little bit of care, there is no telling what your body can do.  Take care of yours.  It’s the only one you’ve got!

Dr. Laurel Griffin
January 26, 2015[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]