Are you ready for flu season?

Column by Dr. Matt Reddy

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By Dr. Matt Reddy, Alternative Naturopathic Center in Centennial
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According the the Center for Disease Control, it is now flu season. The Influenza virus, or the flu, rears its ugly head each fall and winter causing distress in the form of work loss, missed school days, and many symptoms throughout the whole body. Are you ready?

The following are 10 ways to prevent viral infections:

1. Stress management. Our body can only handle so much stress before it becomes weaker and more susceptible to illnesses and infection. It is imperative to find a way to manage our stress if we are to remain healthy. Yoga, meditation, prayer, biofeedback, exercise, etc are all some effective methods. Make sure to find one that works for you.

2. A diet of quality food. Food provides our cells with the necessary information to function optimally. Whatever foods you choose to eat try to eat the highest quality food possible. Organic produce, free-range meat, whole grains, and healthy fats all provide the body what it needs to be healthy

3. Wash your hands. Your mom was right.

4. Stay hydrated. Our cells are mostly water and need to be hydrated to be healthy and strong. A quality spring water or filtered water is vital, so find a good source and drink to your health.

5. Avoid sugar.  Processed white sugar and other processed foods containing sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or sugar substitutes like Splenda are all damaging to the immune system. Numerous studies have shown negative effects of sugar on the white blood cells and other immune cells.

6. Echinacae angustafolia. This herb really shines when it comes to preventing the flu. It is important to take at the first inkling of flu symptoms. It will reduce the symptoms caused by the immune systems response to the flu virus. A tincture form is very effective and must be taken frequently and in high doses for optimal results. Two full droppers of tincture every two hours should do the trick. It can also be taken when there are no symptoms. Take five drops of tincture in one liter of water daily.

7. Vitamin C. Known for many years for its role in enhancing immunity and reducing symptoms of the flu, vitamin C should be taken regularly for health maintenance. 1500 mg per day as a base dose and increasing to bowel tolerance (usually 5,000 - 8,000 mg) when sick.

8. Fish Oil. Quality fats are important for cellular health and for helping the body with inflammation. The Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are essential for overall health maintenance.

9. Probiotics. Intestinal bacteria play a big role in our immune system. In fact it is estimated that 70% of our immune system is located in our gut. Supporting the gut will support the immune system and reduce the symptoms of the flu.

10. Maintain healthy adrenal glands. Our adrenal glands are in charge of our stress response also known as our fight or flight response. Our hectic lifestyles put a huge burden on them and over time, they often don't work very well. By supporting them with B vitamins, magnesium, and herbs like Ashwaghanda, Licorice, Holy Basil, and Eleutrococcus, they will assist us in dealing with stress more efficiently.

Now obviously we cannot always prevent the symptoms of viral illnesses like the flu. Even though we do all the "right things" we may get sick. This is not the end of the world. Remember that our immune system is amazing and will help us get well again.

Here are seven suggestions to assist the body in its healing efforts:

1. Decrease the food you consume. Digestion is a lot of work for the body and a body that is sick needs all the help it can get. Eat only light and easy to digest foods like broths, steamed vegetables, and steamed rice. Your grandmother's suggestion of chicken soup is another great idea.

2. Stay hydrated. It is extremely important to keep your fluids up. Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks like coffee, soda and sports drinks as they can depress the immune system. Stick to fresh water and herbal teas.

3. Do not suppress a fever. Although it is an uncomfortable symptom of the flu, a fever is the body raising its temperature to heal itself. A fever in the range 99.5-104.5°F is a normal response. Watch the fever carefully, keep well hydrated, and do not give food. A tepid bath or cold washcloth can be used to lower the fever slightly if you are worried.

4. Homeopathic remedies. he most popular remedy is Occillococcinum. Take three pellets at the first hint of flu and three pellets every three hours after until you feel better. There are many other effective remedies so don't hesitate to request help finding an effective one.

5. Chinese medicine. A commonly used Chinese patent formula is Yin Chaio. This one also needs to be taken at the first hint of flu.

6. Herbal medicine. The following herbs are great for viral infections. It is by no means a complete list. They can be taken together or separately. For best results in reducing the symptoms of the flu take frequently (every 2-3 hours). Echinacae (as mentioned above), Elderberry, Olive Leaf, Lomatium, and Reishi mushroom.

7. Warming Socks. This is a great Naturopathic hydrotherapy treatment to enhance the immune system. To do this wonderful treatment find a pair of old cotton socks and get them wet. Ring them out thoroughly and put them on your feet. Cover them with wool socks and go to bed. In the morning you will find them dry and hopefully you will feel better. Do this as many nights as necessary.

The immune systems is truly incredible and can handle most common viral infections fairly easily. The bottom line is to be proactive about your health and wellness. By taking the steps above you will minimize the symptoms of the flu and move through the winter months with ease.

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