With the winter weather approaching, we typically see an increase in colds and flu at this time of year. Although the flu vaccine is often recommended as THE treatment to avoid the flu, individual should know that the flu vaccine boasts only a 50%-60% effectiveness (lower for individuals over 65) and because there are so many strains of the flu, there is no guarantee that the flu vaccine offered in any given year will actually match the flu strains that are prevalent at that time.
So, what else can be done to help avoid the flu and flu symptoms?
Award Winning Naturopathic Doctor, Debra MacIntyre, practicing in Roswell, Georgia, offers up 7 methods to help avoid the flu. Try these instead of a flu vaccine and keep your immune system strong this winter!
- Optimize your Vitamin D levels. If you’ve had a blood test, you’ll see that the range of “normal” is 32-100. Optimal, however, is 60-80. Be sure you are in optimal range! If you have not had your blood tested, it is a good idea to do so. Even without testing, adults are safe taking 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily and children are safe taking 400-1000 IU, depending on the size of your child. Be aware that if your levels are low, you could need a higher dose. Liquid Vitamin D3 is BEST as it allows for better absorption.
- Avoid being “run down” and more vulnerable. It’s important to get adequate sleep each night (7-8 hours for adults and 10-12 hours for children). Good nutrition falls into this category, too. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with organic meats and non-GMO (non-genetically modified) whole grains. The only way to ensure this is to go organic or look for Non-GMO certification on the package.
- Get moderate exercise regularly. The more “stressed” you feel, the more vulnerable you’ll be. Exercise is one of the best preventatives for that!
- Wash your hands often, particularly after visiting public places. But DO NOT use anti-bacterial soap! These soaps actually make you more vulnerable in the long run. Buy a soap that contains tea tree oil or lavender oil from you local health food store. You can also use #5 below as a hand sanitizer.
- Carry lavender spray to use in public places. Make your own anti-viral/anti-bacterial spray instead of using the toxic wipes and hand sanitizers available in public places. Get a 3 oz. spray bottle (look in the drug store where they sell travel containers), put 30-40 drops of lavender oil in and fill the rest of the bottle with water. Shake and spray grocery cart handles, public restroom sink handles and any other places you might encounter unclean surfaces. Dr. MacIntyre tells the following story about the success of Lavender Oil in helping avoid the flu: “Remember the horrible flu outbreak we had about 5 years ago? One of my patients was a preschool teacher at the time and used the above lavender spray in her classroom and as a hand sanitizer for her students a couple of times a day. At one point, the school administrator came to her to ask what she was doing…other classes had 30-50% absentees from the flu and she didn’t have a single one! Even children in her class who had siblings with the flu were not sick! This was all thanks to the lavender spray. Non-toxic and VERY effective!”
- Take Astragalus herb to enhance your immune system. This is widely available in health food stores and you can follow recommended dosages on the bottle. Also available in a liquid format to add to teas, juices or protein drinks.
- Keep Oscillococcinum handy. These tablets are available in health food stores and in some drug stores. If you are around someone sick or feel the beginning of getting sick yourself, take this right away. In clinical studies, it has been proven 80% effective at knocking the flu out before it gets a foothold.
Keep these tips in mind this season and stay healthy!!