We are in the midst of a Swine Flu, level 5 Pandemic. Today the Center for Disease Control (CDC), confirmed 90 confirmed cases in the US, spread over 11 states with 2 reported fatalities. I have prepared some useful tips and information based on published research, that should be helpful to protect us from this deadly virus. Alternative Therapies including natural foods and herbal remedies can effectively help prevent and treat the Flu. There are some natural nutrients and herbs that are effective against the Swine Flu virus and a few that should be avoided.
The current H1N1 strain of the influenza “Swine Flu” virus evolved through a combination of three mutated strains of the human bird and swine strains of the influenza viruses. These natural remedies and herbs are cost effective, readily available and may be used to help prevent infection in healthy individuals. For those already infected with Swine Flu, they may be life saving! Certain nutrients such as Spirulina and Echinacea should be avoided with the flu because they can make the condition worse. This is because of the fact that the Swine Flu virus itself is immune to two different “cytokines” that the body of people and pets naturally produce. Specifically the two cytokines are referred to asTNF-a and IL-6.
Cytokines are compounds naturally produced by the immune system of people and pets that attack and remove foreign bodies, which generally protect us from disease and infection. The problem is that when a foreign particle is immune to a certain cytokine, your body thinks that its immune response is not working properly and therefore tries even harder to remove the foreign particle. This response often leads to what is termed a “cytokine storm.” A Cytokine Storm occurs when the body becomes overwhelmed with these compounds, which ultimately overwhelm the body and lead to complete destruction of the person or pet, with a fatal outcome. Nutrients including Echinacea and Spirulina actually stimulate the production of these cytokines. Avoid these foods if you suspect you may have contracted this virus . Many young lives were lost in part due to cytokine storms causing over-reactive immune systems during the former “Spanish Flu” pandemic that occurred 40 years ago. Consuming foods that suppress the production of cytokines TNF-a and IL-6 and enhance the production of those that are effective against the virus helps infected individuals recover naturally.
It is also a good idea to avoid eating foods, like dairy products and bananas that naturally stimulate mucous production in your airways and respiratory system. Mucous production which in most cases acts to protect us is detrimental to anyone infected with Swine Flu because mucous is the Swine Flu virus’s favorite place to breed and multiply. Over production of mucous makes breathing even more difficult for Flu patients and ads to their discomfort, suffering and demise.
Natural Foods and Herbal Remedies Helpful to Treat and Prevent the Flu
Certain alternative remedies can act as natural, effective anti-virals. They boost your immune system, decrease the production of toxic cytokines TNF-a and IL-6 and help not only to treat but also to prevent the flu.
- Garlic (allicin): Garlic is a very effective antiviral. It is most effective in its raw form and needs to be crushed. It must be consumed within 1 hour of crushing. The initial dose is 2 to 3 cloves daily, and this is gradually decreased until no body odor occurs. There are no toxic effects in people. Pets including dogs and cats should not use this as garlic fed continually leads to a decrease in red blood cell production which results in anemia.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C boosts the immune system and acts as antiviral by blocking the enzyme neuraminadase. Viruses need neuraminadase to reproduce. There are anecdotal stories of people that took large amounts of Vitamin C and lived through the Spanish Flu pandemic. Vitamin C may also be effective by reducing the body’s natural production of two cytokines, TNF-a and IL-6. Another study also validated the effectiveness of taking Vitamin C when flu is suspected. In this report, a group of 470 people took 1000 milligrams of Vitamin C every hour for six hours in a row, and then took 1000 milligrams of Vitamin C 3 times a day. They experienced an 85% decrease in flu symptoms.
- Green Tea may be used as an alternative to the current anti-viral medications, Tamiflu and Relenza. Green tea catechins act as effective antivirals. They decrease the production of the cytokine TNF-a, inhibit neuraminidase and may have antiviral activity equivalent to other antivirals including Tamiflu.
- St. John’s Wort (Hypericum): St. John’s Wort is an effective antiviral. Hypericum, the active ingredient in St. John’s Wart decreases the production cytokine IL-6. There have also been some promising results with this substance in research trials conducted in commercial flocks of birds infected with the H5N1 strain of the Bird Flu virus conducted in Vietnam.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E boosts the immune system and decreases the production of cytokine TNF-a.) Studies were conducted in mice and indicate that Vitamin E is very beneficial for people and pets with compromised immune systems, especially in older individuals. The beneficial effects of Vitamin E are enhanced further when it is taken along with Vitamin C.
- Apple Juice: Apple juice demonstrates anti-viral properties. Fresh apple juice along with the pulp and skin offers more antiviral protection than heated commercially available apple juice. More research is needed and its effectiveness toward H5N1 is unknown.
- Resveratrol: Resvertrol has antiviral properties. In addition to inhibiting neuraminidase, Resveratrol also helps to block virus production in the body. Products that contain Resveratrol include red wine, peanuts, mulberries, Japanese Knotwood Root (richest source), raisins and red grapes. Resveratrol supplements are available commercially and are more stable than wine. Liquid forms allow immediate absorption orally. There are no reported toxic side effects in people.
- Scutellaria (Skullcap): Skullcap is an herb used to make tea and has antiviral properties. It has no adverse side effects in people and also acts as a mild tranquilizer. Research suggests that Skullcap may act by inhibiting the enzyme neuraminidase, which is a needed for the H5N1 strain of the Bird Flu virus to reproduce.
- Cranberry Juice: Studies indicate that cranberry juice shows anti-viral activity. Cranberry juice may act by reducing the virus’s ability to invade the body and/or multiply. Its specific effect against the H5N1strain of Bird Flu is unknown.
- Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa): Cat’s Claw decreases the production of the cytokine TNF-a. It also boosts the immune system. In one study, in which water bark was used, there was an increase in the number of white blood cells, but no toxicity was noted. [Link to www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov] The leaves, bark, vine, and roots contain the active ingredient which is Uncaria tomentosa. Children and pregnant women should not ingest Cats Claw because it may have a harmful genetic effect, adversely affecting the DNA, in the developing cells of young children and unborn babies. Since this is also a source of aspirin, pets including dogs and cats should not be given Cats Claw. In cats, aspirin cannot be metabolized or broken down and therefore is toxic and may be fatal. In dogs, aspirin can lead to bleeding ulcers of the stomach and intestines.
- Curcumin (Tumeric): Tumeric is the active ingredient in Curcumin. Curcumin is the yellow colored spice used to make curry. Tumeric decreases the production of the cytokine TNF-a. Research indicates that this may help to prevent cytokine storms. Tumeric should be taken with food in order to prevent irritation of the lining of the stomach, called gastritis and/or the development of ulcers in the stomach which are referred to as peptic ulcers. Pregnant and nursing mothers should not take Tumeric. Since curcumin is metabolized very quickly by the liver, it is best to take this along with a substance called “Piperine”, which is found in black pepper. Various health food stores carry Tumeric, already combined with Piperine. The product is available commercially in tablets, liquids and capsules already combined with Piperine. Human dosage is 500mg to 4000mg a day.
- Astragalus root (Astragali Radix): Astragalus root boosts the immune system.
- Tea Tree Steam Inhalation: This reduces the cytokine TNF-a and has been said to help relieve congestion and combat infection.
- Recipe for Tea Tree Steam Inhalation: add 2 drops of tea tree oil to a bowl of steaming water. Cover your head with a towel and inhale for 5 to 10 minutes. Dogs may also safely enjoy the benefits this offers. For canines: place the steaming bowl in your shower or bathroom and enjoy the vapors, along with your dog for 5-10 minutes together. Tea Tree substances including tea tree oil can be toxic to cats and therefore should not be used.
- Natural Remedies and Herbs to Avoid during the Flu Pandemic
- Elderberry Juice (Sambucal): Elderberry juice increases production of cytokines TNF-a and IL-6. This substance is very effective against the common flu but may not be desirable for the H5N1 Bird Flu virus. It increases the production of toxic cytokines which could trigger a fatal cytokine storm.
- Micro Algae: Chlorella and Spirulina: Both of these micro-algae act to increase the body’s natural production of the toxic cytokine TNF-a.
- Honey: Honey increases production of toxic cytokines TNF-a and IL-6.
- Chocolate: Chocolate increases production of both toxic cytokines TNF-a and IL-6. Chocolate contains Theobromide which is toxic to dogs and cats.
- Echinacea: Echinacea increases production of cytokines TNF-a and IL-6. Although this is often beneficial to boost immunity with the common cold and certain strains of flu, research indicates that Echinacea should not be taken during this Flu pandemic because it may increase the risk of cytokine storms.
- Kimchi: Kimchi increases production of both toxic cytokines TNF-a and IL-6 and therefore should not be taken.
- Dairy Products and Bananas: Both dairy products and bananas naturally increase mucous production in the airways and respiratory system and as a result should not be taken.