Smacking Down Influenza

fluThe flu is a royal pain in the butt! I mean ROYAL! Anyone that has had it will know this is true. It is the beginning of flu season. I’ve been seeing cases in the pharmacy and people are coming to get their Tamiflu to help stop the flu in its tracks. Another problem during this season is colds. Viruses are flying everywhere and susceptible people are getting hammered. What can we do? Plenty.

First, about Tamiflu. For starters it is plenty expensive and the best it could do in a Cochrane Review was a reduction of symptoms by 21 hours. Now I know 21 hours is a day for a person and that can make a difference for some, the problem is the Cochrane group found no reductions in hospitalizations or transmission of the virus. That means whether you get the drug or not, your chances of going to the hospital are the same and from what we can tell now your chances of spreading it are the same.

On top of this much of the data for anti flu medications like Tamiflu (oseltamavir) have not even been published. According to the Cochrane group,

“We identified that a large number of studies, including data from 60% of the people who have been involved in randomised, placebo-controlled phase III treatment trials of oseltamivir, have never been published. This includes the biggest treatment trial ever undertaken on oseltamivir that on its own included just over 1,400 people of all ages,” noted Jefferson. “We are concerned that these data remain unavailable for scrutiny by the scientific community.”1
In other words, they’ve done a bunch of trials and aren’t publishing them. What gives? Maybe it’s not as effective as they claim, but without the trials we really just don’t know.

So if you’re wanting other ideas for dealing with the flu this wintery season, here are a few tips.

Wash Your Hands

You’ve all heard this and it’s true. You need to wash your hands regularly, especially around meal times. If you’re in a public place and touch a doorknob or handle or anything else somebody has touched, wash your hands. It really does help.

Get plenty of Vitamins

A diet rich in vitamins, especially A, C, D and minerals like zinc can help quite a lot. All of these are important for proper function of the immune system. Cod liver oil is great for A and D. C is easily obtained through fruits and leafy greens that haven’t been cooked. Vitamin C does help reduce the risk some according to the Cochrane group. 2  I would go with at least 1-2 grams a day and if you think you’re starting to get sick then up it to 1gm every hour or two until loose stool. Anytime I’ve ever had a cold this has help tremendously.

Get rid of the junk

Sugar and refined garbage will weaken your immune system and put you at risk for infection. Eat whole foods that aren’t refined and keep plenty of greens and good fats in your diet. This probably is one of the most important things to do.

Reduce Stress and Rest

Lack of sleep and a hectic schedule will increase your stress hormones and impede immune function. The best is to reduce stress and get good rest. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but this is one of those “ounce of prevention is better than pound of cure” type things. In the next article we’ll look at a few things to do if you think you’re coming down with something.

CIAO

1. http://www.cochrane.org/features/neuraminidase-inhibitors-preventing-and-treating-influenza-healthy-adults-and-children
2. http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD000980/vitamin-c-for-preventing-and-treating-the-common-cold

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