Swine Flu Prevention

April 27, 2009 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

There are few people who are not aware of the current public health concern surrounding the “Swine Flu”. Words like “pandemic” and “quarantine” are being bandied about in such a way that it could very well provoke anxiety and, even, panic. In particular, many citizens of Mexico and the United States are on edge right now because this threat is at our doorstep. But even those living in other parts of the world understand the potential of a highly infectious virus to spread beyond manmade borders.

I won’t cite figures and theoretical projections about the course of this most recent “crisis”. Instead, I’d like to focus on the positive side of things. As hard as it may be to believe, there is something constructive that can come out of situations such as this. There are proactive measures that can be taken to help support immune function and, possibly, improve the odds of avoiding any viral invaders you encounter on a daily basis.

Flu Symptoms at a Glance

Symptoms

Cold

Flu

Fever Fever is pretty rare with a cold. Fever is usually present with the flu. A temperature of 101°F or higher for 3 to 4 days is associated with the flu.
Aches Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold. Severe aches and pains are common with the flu.
Chills Chills are uncommon with a cold. Chills are fairly common in most flu cases. Chills and shivering are a normal reaction to a cold environment, but unexplained chills can also be a sign of the flu.
Tiredness Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold. Tiredness is moderate to severe with the flu. It’s normal to feel tired at the end of a long day or when yo don’t get adequate sleep, but unexplained tiredness can be a sign of the flu.
Sudden Symptoms Cold symptoms are not sudden and develop over a few days. The flu has a rapid onset with 3-6 hours. The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.
Coughing A hacking, productive (mucus producing) cough is often present with a cold. A dry, nonproductive cough that does not produce mucus is usually present with the flu.
Sneezing Sneezing is commonly present with a cold. Sneezing is not as common, but can accompany the flu.
Stuffy or Runny Nose A stuffy or runny nose usually accompanies a cold and typically resolves spontaneously within a week. Stuffy or runny nose can be present with the flu.
Sore Throat Sore throat is commonly present with a cold. A sore throat is pain and inflammation is in the throat that usually comes with a cold. Sore throat is not as common, but can be present with the flu.
Chest Discomfort Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold. Chest discomfort is often severe with the flu. Chest discomfort is pain or abnormal sensations that you feel anywhere along the front of your body between your neck and upper abdomen.
Headache A headache is fairly uncommon with a cold. A headache is very common with the flu, present in 80% of flu cases.

The three best ways to protect yourself from this current threat and any that may follow are: 1) maintain a potent immune system; 2) use common sense measures to protect yourself; and 3) encourage the same in those around you (see the second image below).

There are many natural substances that help support immunity. Below, I’ve put together a list of several inexpensive options that are widely available and that also promote other aspects of good health. All of these measures are very safe and have what I call “side benefits” (as opposed to “side effects”).

  • Don’t Panic: Stress suppresses your ability to fight infections (1,2). You can literally worry yourself sick or find a way to constructively process these very real feelings. Go for a walk with a friend. Practice deep breathing or guided imagery. Meditate. Get a massage. Watch funny movies – laugh! (1,2) You may not be able to control the viral realm of the world, but you can help your body and mind be strong in the face of any viral challenge.
  • Don’t Comfort Yourself with Sugar: As tempting as it may be, try to avoid reaching for starchy and sugary snacks to soothe negative feelings. A famous study from 1973 indicates that consuming large amounts of carbohydrates and sugar can drastically lower the activity of neutrophils. Neutrophils account for about 50-70% of white blood cells and are the first responders when an infection is detected by the body. The effects of these unhealthy carbohydrates can last for over 5 hours.
  • Sleep It Off: When in the midst of an illness the body often demands more sleep, simply because sleep helps strengthen the body’s defenses. The same is true when trying to stay well. The key is to get adequate sleep (usually between 7-9 hours) in a completely dark environment. Darkness is necessary in order for the brain to produce adequate/optimal levels of melatonin, which may be responsible for some of the immune-boosting effects of sleep. (1,2)
  • Let the Sunshine In: There’s a growing body of evidence that vitamin D is imperative for optimal immune function. You can prime your body’s immune system by getting regular sun exposure. The key is to spend time in the sun during the morning and evening hours so as not to get a sunburn. Some experts recommend 15 minutes or more of “smart sun exposure” several times a week. Nutritional supplements can also be used to ensure a consistent and adequate supply of vitamin D.
  • Know Your Berries: Black currant and black elderberry extracts (1,2) may help combat influenza. Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, an Israeli virologist, proposes that black elderberries may interfere with the flu virus’ ability to attach to healthy cells.
  • Drink and Gargle with Tea: A study from September 2006 found that gargling with a green tea extract helped to prevent the incidence of influenza in a nursing home setting. Subjects gargled 3 times a day for 3 months with a green tea concentrate that was standardized for catechin and ECGC content. A 1997 study also found anti-influenza activity in patients who gargled with a black tea extract. Many other laboratory experiments suggest a role for tea in the prevention of flu-related illnesses and in supporting the immune system (1,2,3)
  • Take Your Multi: There are many nutrients that are absolutely vital to ensure healthy immunity. The simplest way to nutritionally “cover your bases” is to take a high potency multivitamin/mineral. Ideally, this means taking a supplement that needs to be consumed 2-3 times a day with meals or snacks.
Common Sense Flu Prevention Tools

If we’re fortunate, this “Swine Flu” will come and go without serious consequence. But even if that’s the case, there may be similar challenges in the future. So, the most effective defense we have as individuals is to prepare the immune system for whatever challenges may come.

5/7/09 Update: A Probiotic That Fights the Flu

5/11/09 Update: H1N1 Swine Flu and Propolis

7/24/09 Update: Fish Oil and Swine Flu Risk

8/14/09 Update: Beta Glucan, Pomegranate and Tamiflu

9/01/09 Update: Andrographis Paniculata and Immune Support

10/07/09 Update: Elderberry Flu Protection

10/21/09 Update: Umcka for Upper Respiratory Infections

11/06/09 Update: Antioxidant Protection Against H1N1

11/13/09 Update: An H1N1 Success Story

Be well!

JP

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54 Comments & Updates to “Swine Flu Prevention”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Thanks for such a helpful article, JP! It’s very helpful to our overall health as well.

  2. JP Says:

    You’re most welcome, Kevin. I’m glad you found it helpful!

    Be well!

    JP

  3. GIULIANA FANTON Says:

    Hi JP,
    Very useful and timely article!
    If the implemented prevention strategies would not stop the virus…, and fever were to develop…
    I think it would be very useful to know the information made available by the Medical Advisor
    of Channel 7: The “vaccine” effect of Tagamet consists in stopping the replication of the virus in the body and it only works if started to be used within the first 48 hours of the infection as detected by the starting of the fever”. Procrastination or undecisiveness in seeing a Doctor may result in dangerous consequences!
    I hope I have the right interpretation of the facts and request if you would please confirm them and emphasize the relevance of prompt disemination of the information among as many people as soon as possible.
    I am surprised that the authorities have not taken advantage of the media and informed immediately the public in general of this fact!

    Thank you!

  4. JP Says:

    Thank you for sharing that valuable information, Giuliana.

    I know that cimetidine/Tagamet may impact the immune system as described in this report: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2001/mar2001_report_tagamet_1.html

    The Life Extension Foundation also offers information about specific dosages that may be considered:

    http://www.lef.org/protocols/infections/influenza_01.htm

    This proposed use for this over the counter medication appears to be rather experimental/theoretical.

    If you can find some additional information or references I’d be happy to share those with my readers. I didn’t come up with much when I did a preliminary search.

    I agree that everyone should go to see their doctor if they’re running a fever that they suspect is related to Swine Flu. DO NOT DELAY!

    Thank you again.

    Be well!

    JP

  5. GIULIANA FANTON Says:

    Hi JP,

    I am sorry, a “wire crossing” in my mind introduced an error in my prior comment.
    The comment about the “vaccine effect” of TAGAMET was supossed to state TAMIFLU! The mechanism of effect of TAMIFLU as a post infection “vaccine” and its effectiveness dependent on prompt timing is what was presented in Channel 5 TV by their medical advisor.
    The fact that TAMIFLU apparently does not increase your defenses if taken prior to the invasion by the virus is also important.
    This understanding may help to prevent unjustified usage when it is not needed that will contribute to shortage !
    TAMIFLU may be in short supply when a patient may need it in desperation!
    The bottom line as far as timing is concerned was properly presented by you:
    DO NOT DELAY!

    Thank you!

    Giuliana

  6. Gayle Fox Says:

    What an informative and information packed article! Very useful to the general public and all around helpful in our every day health routines. Thanks for your efforts!

  7. JP Says:

    Thank you for the clarification, Giuliana.

    I appreciate you following up!

    Be well!

    JP

  8. JP Says:

    Thank you, Gayle! I appreciate your kind feedback!

    Be well!

    JP

  9. Jan from BetterSpines Says:

    Thanks JP, most clear and informative. By the way, have you noticed that nobody gets a cold any more? Everybody gets the ‘flu! So your article is most timely.

  10. JP Says:

    Thank you, Jan.

    Be well!

    JP

  11. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    At 1st sign of infection, I will sniff colloidal silver, 1 oz spiked with a drop or two of 35% H2O2, and I will do “Stoss Therapy”, take 200,000iu D3 for 2 or 3 days. It has worked for me.

  12. JP Says:

    Thanks for sharing your success story, Iggy!

    Be well!

    JP

  13. Sandhya Says:

    Thanks JP For such a helpful article..

  14. JP Says:

    I’m happy to know it was helpful, Sandhya. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  15. akash Says:

    awesome,cool
    please make this a popular website

  16. JP Says:

    Thanks, Akash.

    We’re trying! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  17. Aitsha Says:

    Got every answers..
    Really informative..
    Thank you..

  18. JP Says:

    It’s my pleasure, Aitsha.

    I appreciate your comments.

    Be well!

    JP

  19. Divya Says:

    Hi JP,

    This is really a good article.
    I appreciate you for the effort you have put in this.
    There is a myth that swine flu affected people cant survive for a long time.
    do u think by following the tips you mentioned the swine flu can be completely cured?
    is there any licensed vaccine available in the market which can help us to protect from swine flu?

    Regards,
    Divya

  20. JP Says:

    Divya,

    Thank you!

    I think that following these and other immune boosting practices may help the body to stay in and perhaps regain good health. A strong immune system can only help in that regard.

    It’s not clear when a commercially available Swine Flu vaccine will become available – perhaps in the latter half of this year:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090713/ap_on_he_me/eu_med_swine_flu_vaccine

    Be well!

    JP

  21. Mzia Says:

    Hello JP,

    Thank you for your invaluable article. I feel more confident after having read it.

    I have read that the wsine flue will reach its peack in about seven days. Does it mean that after this time span in will start to go down?

    I am travelling to London on Monday 27th with my 17 year old nephew. Could you tell me what precausions can be taken in advance.

    Best regards

    Mzia

  22. Mzia Says:

    P.S.

    Are the tourists who contract the flue liable to be treated with Tamiflue?

  23. JP Says:

    Good day, Mzia.

    I’m happy that the information was of interest to you. :)

    I believe the answers to your first few questions cannot be answered with a “yes or no” reply. There are simply too many variables and uncertainty about what to expect with this virus. How it’s treated would also likely be dependent on where the treatment occurs, the stage of the illness and other factors.

    I recently traveled myself (within the USA) and wrote a column about a few safety precautions I took:

    http://www.healthyfellow.com/291/travel-supplements/

    I personally *believe* that incorporating the lifestyle choices and supplements I mentioned in this and other related updates *could* help boost the body’s natural defenses. That is the approach I’m using in my own life and recommending in the most general way.

    Safe travels! London is a beautiful place!

    Be well!

    JP

  24. Kim Says:

    Thank you for the great information! I have a question about the herbs and extracts such as black elderberry. How do you take them? Do you mix them with a drink? Are there any liquids that would decrease their potency, such as an acidic citrus juice? Also, have you heard of Oil of oregano? Would you recommend this as well? Thank you again and good health!
    Kim

  25. JP Says:

    Kim,

    You’re most welcome!

    Since there are so many different products out there, I’d stick pretty closely to the manufacturers instructions.

    One example of a clinically tested elderberry extract is Sambucol. It generally comes in a liquid form and is advised to be taken, with or without food, several times daily (when infection risk is elevated).

    http://www.sambucolusa.com/

    Oil of oregano has demonstrated antibacterial and antifungal activity in laboratory experiments. But it doesn’t seem to be effective against the influenza virus. Here’s an abstract that provides some details:

    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf049859g

    Be well!

    JP

  26. A Says:

    wht the friends will do, if one of the housemate got a swine flu

  27. JP Says:

    A,

    If a housemate or family member contracts the swine flu, they should seek immediate medical care. I believe there should also be an attempt made to decrease the risk of spread (by reducing exposure for others – examples might be appropriate bed rest and temporary self-imposed segregation, extra vigilant personal hygiene such as hand washing and taking every possible step to hasten the healing process). I think those not infected should double-up on any techniques that could strengthen their immune system and minimize their exposure to the virus (hand washing, proper diet and supplementation, optimal sun exposure, adequate sleep, a good mindset, etc.).

    Precautions are warranted but panic is never a good idea. Psychological stress will only weaken our defenses.

    Be well!

    JP

  28. raj Says:

    Thank you for the stated information regarding swine flu.it would help many people to prevent themselves from getting infected.Atleast prevention is better than cure.

  29. gurjot Says:

    well JP,thanxxx 4 sharing this information,i have many symptoms from the above mentioned by u.i will try to do my best to implement those preventions,thanxx again.
    with regards,
    gurjot

  30. JP Says:

    Raj,

    You’re most welcome. I truly hope that some of the suggestions I’ve listed will be helpful. There’s absolutely no replacement for prevention and supporting our own immune system … and helping others do the same.

    Be well!

    JP

  31. JP Says:

    Gurjot,

    It’s my pleasure. Please seek out any medical support that’s available to you. It’s vital to receive any help your doctors can provide and to practice the best self-care possible.

    I hope you feel better soon and stay healthy in the future.

    Be wel!

    JP

  32. Vicky Says:

    excellent piece of work!!!very very helpful for all of us….
    but it is not reachable to the poor people who doesn’t know how to use internet or don’t have money for this……..
    so if you can also do something for them…..it would be very kind of you….
    thank you

  33. JP Says:

    Thank you, Vicky.

    You make a good point. The Internet is the primary medium by which I can (try to) get the word out. My sincerest hope is that this information will be shared with those that need it most.

    Many of the alternatives presented here could possibly be applied even in the most difficult of economic circumstances – decreased sugar consumption, better sleep quality, laughter, getting more sun exposure, etc.

    Individuals helping other individuals is what I hope to inspire. One of the best ways of doing so, in my opinion, is passing along what’s contained here with anyone who may benefit. Please help me with this.

    PS – I’m open to any advice about how I can better share this content. Please feel free to offer any suggestions you may have.

    Update: Vicky, I just wanted you to know that you inspired this column – Vitamin Angels

    Be well!

    JP

  34. Arun Says:

    Wonderful & Helpful article
    Thanks

  35. JP Says:

    You’re most welcome, Arun!

    Be well!

    JP

  36. nipun Says:

    hi dude!!!
    it worked.
    thanx!

  37. JP Says:

    You’re welcome, Nipun!

    Be well!

    JP

  38. curious Says:

    Great article on eHow about preventing swine flu naturally: http://www.ehow.com/how_5316828_treat-flu-holistic-natural-methods.html

  39. vrusti Says:

    just find out that how to come out of swine flu

  40. nisha Says:

    thanks,it really deals a great knowedge

  41. JP Says:

    Thank you, Nisha!

    Be well!

    JP

  42. monika Says:

    thank u the information provided by ur side was quiet helpful for me and also to my relative

  43. JP Says:

    I very happy to hear that, Monika.

    Thanks for letting me know! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  44. Lauren Says:

    Hello honey, I’m a big fan of yours.
    You’re like… famous and I can’t believe that you’re actually answering these people’s questions!
    You’re such a sweet and kind person, and you’ll get big rewards for that.
    May the lord bless you for being so humble to answer these patient’s questions.
    Have a nice day!
    Gosh, I can’t believe that I just told JP to have a nice day!!!
    I’m going to update my facebook status now.

    Your biggest and truest fan, Lauren

  45. Dawn Says:

    Hi, is elderberry good for you?

  46. JP Says:

    Thank you, Lauren! You’re too kind! :)

    I’m grateful that people take the time to leave comments and ask questions on this site. It’s truly my honor and pleasure to reply to them.

    I hope you have a wonderful day as well. Thanks again for your generous support!

    Be well!

    JP

  47. JP Says:

    Dawn,

    I think elderberry can be a useful food/supplement. My wife recently used an elderberry lozenge to help protect herself against H1N1.

    Please have a look at a few recent columns I wrote about these topics:

    http://www.healthyfellow.com/377/elderberry-flu-protection/

    http://www.healthyfellow.com/408/h1n1-success-story/

    I hope that’s helpful!

    Be well!

    JP

  48. Gyan Singh Says:

    Hi,
    Thanks a lot for your artical. It is very useful.

    Regards
    Gyan Singh
    NSE. IT Ltd

  49. JP Says:

    Thank you, Gyan! I’m happy to hear it! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  50. jesse Adelberg Says:

    thanks for all the help

  51. JP Says:

    It’s my pleasure, Jesse. I’m happy to know the information was helpful. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  52. jadabendra patra Says:

    is there any age limit for taking injection ?

  53. JP Says:

    Jadabendra,

    I’m not sure which injection you’re referring to. Can you please clarify?

    Injections are typically administered by health professionals – nurses, physicians, etc. They can most likely advise you about the age appropriateness of the treatment involved.

    Be well!

    JP

  54. ayushmaan khurana Says:

    the symptoms table was very helpful. the 3 best ways are very supportive. the second image is also very nice

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