Where we are, here in Iowa in January of 2018, the influenza is at epidemic levels. There is a shortage of IV fluid all over because of the hurricane in Puerto Rico, where much of it is made. I’ve had super healthy friends come down with flu and end up hospitalized for serious lung infections. People have told me something that I’ve always secretly thought, that a foreign enemy could make our country powerless with a virus like influenza.

You know its influenza when you lie in bed for several days aching, chilling and feverish, with no appetite, and no energy at all. You can barely find the strength to get up and drink water, much less take care of family members and pets. Everything in the house comes to a stop when you are that sick, and you can certainly not take care of others who are sick.

Many people end up with serious lung infections after this stint of being bedridden for several reasons, one of which is that the immune system is completely busy with influenza virus, secondly, lying still and sleeping for so many hours keeps us from moving fluids through our lungs. Phlegm sits there and stuff grows. lastly, we are nutritionally depleted and just don’t have the resources to fight infections because we have not been eating.

In our community, in some of the retirement communities people are quarantined to their rooms, having meals brought to them. They are feeling isolated and bored without contact. In hospitals where patients are chronically housed, flu is spreading and taking down many.

If you have been through this lately, you know exactly what I’m speaking of. It is devastating to have influenza. You are so fatigued even after the initial bout is past, that you cannot work full time, cannot get chores done, and cannot do normal routines for a while. It can take 2-3 months to get back to normal energy and activity levels. And even very healthy people are finding themselves in this situation.

And lastly, this year’s flu shot did not have the coverage we’d hoped for. People who were inoculated still got sick anyway. And everyone seems to have a cold.

So, what does natural medicine have for this?

Prevention is always the best for infection, especially influenza. SO that means keeping the immune system healthy with good sleep, hydration, and moderate exercise and reduced stress if possible. Very frequent hand washing is critical, and avoiding being around sick people is important if possible.

Next is EARLY intervention. That means at the first sign of a sore throat or excess fatigue, we start with treatment for the virus. My preferred regimen is to take 50,000 IU of Vitamin D3, and begin antiviral treatment immediately, using Orthomolecular Product’s Viracid. The dose is 2 capsules every one to two hours till you reach twelve caps, and then wait. This product includes many of our old favorites for immune boosting, plus some you may not have heard of, such as andrographis, a powerful herb originating in India. After two days, one can get back to 5000 IU of D3 per day. Sleep is also critical here, and one should try for at least 8-9 hours per day, plus a nap if possible.

If the infection manages to get through anyway, then I recommend Chinese herbal formulas at the earliest time. We using a staging system called the Shang Han Lun to determine which formula is correct at which stage of the infection. We usually begin with something like Cinnamon Twig formula, and move into something more powerful such as White Tiger decoction if there is a high fever and big sore throat. Aggressive treatment with Chinese herbs can really help move through the process faster and without the long-term depletion that often follows flu.

Call our office, or your local natural health clinic for help with Chinese herbs. They are not appropriate for self prescription, due to their complexity.

Remember, early intervention is KEY for influenza.

Laura Christensen, MA, MAc, LAc, DiplAc(NCCAOM)   Jan 2018