Cold, Influenza and Maintaining Wellness During the Flu Season

Why  do we catch colds and/or get the flu?

cold woman

As Autumn begins, so does the school year. This time of year also marks the beginning of cold and flu season, as the influx of bodies in crowded places creates a perfect environment for the precipitation of pathogens. The afflictions we can most likely expect to encounter are the common cold and the flu.

Colds are caused by viruses.

The rhinovirus is the most common virus causing the flu. Symptoms of the cold include sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, coughing, watery eyes, body aches, and headaches. When the nose and sinuses are first infected, they create a clear mucus that helps flush out pathogens. Later as the cold progresses and begins to subsidcold-and-flu viruse, the natural bacteria found in the nose begin to return and the color of the mucous may change.
Parents are often fooled into thinking this means that their child needs antibiotics, but colored mucous is not always indicative of a bacterial infection. Moreover, antibiotics can’t help a cold get better because it’s caused by a virus which is unaffected by antibiotics. Their misuse can actually cause more harm than good. A healthcare practitioner should be consulted if a child’s temperature exceeds 100.4 degrees, if symptoms last longer than 10 days, or if symptoms are not relieved by over-the-counter medicines.

The influenza virus, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness.

Original Title: Sneeze_73bj.jpg

 

 

Its symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle and body aches, headaches, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Not everyone with the flu will have a fever. The flu is most easily spread when people sneeze, cough, and even talk. The virus is especially adept at spreading, in part because people with the virus can be contagious up to one day before any symptoms develop, and for up to five to seven days after becoming sick. The flu’s virulence (how sick it can make someone) is unpredictable and fluctuates from year to year.

Flu season lasts from roughly October through May and thousands of people die from it every year, mostly older adults.

To curb the rate and severity of infection, a yearly flu vaccination is recommended for nearly everyone six-months-old and older (those with certain allergies may need to talk to a doctor first). The vaccine is even recommended for pregnant women, and a recent study showed that its administration in the demographic yielded a 92% rate of effectiveness for preventing flu-related hospitalization of infants (Benowitz, 2010).  Some people should not get the flu shot or the nasal spray vaccine.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

People who can’t get the flu shot:

  • Children younger than 6 months are too young to get a flu shot
  • People with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine. This might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients. See Special Considerations Regarding Egg Allergy for more information about egg allergies and flu vaccine.Note: There are certain flu shots that have different age indications. For example people younger than 65 years of age should not get the high-dose flu shot and people who are younger than 18 years old or older than 64 years old should not get the intradermal flu shot.

senior-man-flu-shotPeople who cannot get the nasal spray vaccine:

  • Children younger than 2 years
  • Adults 50 years and older
  • People with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or to a previous dose of any influenza vaccine
  • People who are allergic to eggs
  • Children or adolescents (2 years through 17 years of age) on long-term aspirin treatment.
  • Pregnant women
  • People with weakened immune systems (immunosuppression)
  • Children 2 years through 4 years who have asthma or who have had a history of wheezing in the past 12 months.
  • People who have taken influenza antiviral drugs within the previous 48 hours.
  • People who care for severely immunocompromised persons who require a protective environment (or otherwise avoid contact with those persons for 7 days after getting the nasal spray vaccine).

Despite scientific research, whether or not the risks of the flu shot outweigh the benefits, remains controversial.

Multiple holistic and natural health practitioners, enthusiasts and advocates do not endorse the use of flu shots and site research warranting concern. A 2011 research study published in the International Journal of Medicine, (Lanza, et al, 2011), entitled “Inflammation-related effects of adjuvant influenza A vaccination on platelet activation and cardiac autonomic function,” revealed a fact that is not discussed by conventional health authorities, or mainstream news media reports. According to these researchers, flu shots result in inflammatory cardiovascular changes which cause increased risk for serious heart-related events such as heart attack.

Most flu shots have high quantities of mercury, higher than what is considered safe for most people.  Thimerosal, which is 49 percent mercury by volume, is a widely used vaccine preservative. It can be found in many different vaccines used in the U.S., including most seasonal flu vaccines, although there are a few million doses of thimerosal-free single dose vials of influenza vaccine made by drug companies which are reserved for infants and pregnant women. The amount of mercury in a single dose of the flu shot is deemed unsafe for people weighing less than 265 pounds.  It’s a well established fact that mercury is a neurotoxin, having harmful effects on the brain.  If you are getting a flu shot you can request that it be thimerosal-free.

An Act of Congress in 1986 that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011, decreed that a special court be created to handle all vaccine cases, Vaccine Court. The funds for settlements are paid by a vaccine sales tax.  The settlements in Vaccine Court can be downloaded and viewed and we have pasted it here below.  A large number of settlements have been for the flu shot for Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The flu shot has also been linked to narcolepsy in children, allergic reactions and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s in seniors.   Adjudicated settlements for 8/16/13 – 11/15/13 are below.  Note the number of Guillain-Barré Syndrome cases linked to flu shots. Compensation for injuries and deaths due to the flu vaccine were more than the total compensation paid out to eleven other vaccines.
Settlements Vaccine 1

Settlements Vaccine 2

Settlements Vaccine 3

Settlements Vaccine 4

Settlements Vaccine 5

Settlements Vaccine 5

Settlements Vaccine 6

Settlements Vaccine 7 Settlements Vaccine 8
Settlements Vaccine 9

Despite these multiple settlements for Guillain-Barré Syndrome, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention believes flu shots to be safe and strongly recommends that the advantages outweigh the risks and side effects, stating,

“For more than 50 years, seasonal flu vaccines have had very good safety track records. Over the years, hundreds of millions of Americans have received seasonal flu vaccines. The most common side effects following flu vaccinations are mild. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely monitor for any signs that flu vaccines are causing unexpected adverse events and are working with state and local health officials to investigate any unusual events.”

 

Flu shotResearchers believe that the flu vaccine cannot give someone the flu.

Some vaccines are made from non-infectious, “inactive” viruses, and others, like the recombinant flu vaccine, are made without any viruses at all. At worst there are mild side-effects from the flu shot and nasal nasal spray such as headache or runny nose.  Some researchers conclude that the known benefits of flu vaccines far outweigh the cost of contracting the virus. Protecting yourself also helps protect others who might be more vulnerable. There will be 150 million doses of the vaccine available to the public this year. Additionally, new laws require health insurance policies to cover the vaccine so virtually no one should have to pay out of pocket.


A variety of alternative approaches to health and healing can improve immune function during cold and flu season.

Prevention-Tips-InfographicEngaging in a light exercise such as walking just a few times a week may improve the body’s immunity. It’s also important to stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water daily.  Plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit in addition to the other components of a balanced diet are paramount to staying well and optimizing immune responses during cold and flu season. Last, but no less important, is forming is the habit of frequent hand washing with soap and warm water. Soap and water is always superior to an alcohol-based sanitizer.

Natural remedies and treatments can be very successful in relieving or eliminating cold and flu symptoms and have less side effects than prescription drugs. 

Natural remedies and treatments include:

NaturalSuppressant
For cough
-wild cherry bark, marshmallow root, honey, ginger root, elderberries, mullien
For headache acupuncture, peppermint oil, hot water bottle, ginger tea, meditation, exercise, massage, ice pack and sleep.

Natural Headache Remedies
For sore throat
– salt-water gargle, herbal lozenges and throat sprays, fruit juices and fluids, vitamin C, honey and apple cider vinegar (do not give to young children), lemon or lime juice, ginger tea, neti-pot, marshmallow sap, horseradish, vaporizer, anise or licorice drops, frozen ice or frozen fruit, garlic
For sinus infection – netipot, quercetin, vitamin C, vitamin E, acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology, steam, rest, drinking plenty of fluids

 

Cold and flu season is unavoidable. Fortunately, its effects can be prevented or at least minimized if we are prepared and take the proper precautions to stay well.

 

References

Baker, Deborah, D.C,  Is There A Natural Cure For.. Flu Shot 2014-2015 Season  Retrieved online 9/30/14  http://www.drdeborahbaker.com/flu/

Benowitz I, Esposito DB, Gracey KD, et al. Influenza vaccine given to pregnant women reduces hospitalization due to influenza in their infants. Clin Infect Dis. 2010; 51(12):1355-61.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Influenza Vaccine Safety, Seasonal Influenza (Flu)

Ciszewski A, Bilinska ZT, Brydak LB, et al. Influenza vaccination in secondary prevention from coronary ischaemic events in coronary artery disease: FLUCAD study. Eur Heart J. 2008 Jun; 29(11):1350-8.

Ferdinands JM, Olsho LEW, Agan AA, et al. Effectiveness of influenza vaccine against life-threatening RT-PCR-confirmed influenza illness in US children, 2010-2012. J Infect Dis. 2014; 210(5):674-683.

Flu Shot Causes Polio-like Guillain-Barré Syndrome: Are Rates Higher Than the Government Admits?
J Intern Med. 2011 Jan;269(1):118-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02285.x. Epub 2010 Oct 22.

Flu Vaccine is the most Dangerous Vaccine in the U. S. based on Settled Cases for Injuries,  Health Impact News,

Gach, Michael Reed , PhD, Acupressure Points for Sinus Problems & Nasal Congestion  Acupressure Points for Sinus Infection

Hills, Wellesley , MA , Gold Law Firm, LLC.,  The National Vaccine Law Firm Obtains Compensation for Man Injured By Flu Vaccine  Flu Shot Season is Upon Us—Gold Law Firm Files Petitions to Compensate Those Injured as a Result of Vaccination, Retrieved online 9/30/14 http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/12/prweb9037470.htm

Holzinger F, and Chenot J-F, Systematic Review of Clinical Trials Assessing the Effectiveness of Ivy Leaf (Hedera Helix) for Acute Upper Respiratory Tract Infections, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 382789, 9 pages

Lanza GA1, Barone L, Scalone G, Pitocco D, Sgueglia GA, Mollo R, Nerla R, Zaccardi F, Ghirlanda G, Crea F, Inflammation-related effects of adjuvant influenza A vaccination on platelet activation and cardiac autonomic function .J Intern Med. 2011 Jan;269(1):118-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02285.x. Epub 2010 Oct 22.

Liu W, Jiang H, and Mao B, Chinese Herbal Medicine for Postinfectious Cough: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials,Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 906765. PMC385334810 Published online Nov 20, 2013. doi: 10.1155/2013/906765

Mercola, Dr., Flu Vaccination: The Hidden Risks in This Heavily Promoted Seasonal Routine. October 31, 2011 Retrieved online 9/30/14 http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/31

Phrommintikul A, Kuanprasert S, Wongcharoen W,et al. Influenza vaccination reduces cardiovascular events in patients with acute coronary syndrome. Eur Heart J. 2011; 32(14):1730-5.

Shadkam MN, et al. A comparison of the effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and diphenhydramine on nightly cough and sleep quality in children and their parents. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010;16:787.

Smith, Deborahann, Natural Remedies for Sinusitis.  Gaiam Life: Your Guide to Better Living

Talbot HK, Griffin, MR, Chen Q, et al. Effectiveness of seasonal vaccine in preventing confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations in community dwelling older adults. J. Infect Dis 2011; 203:500-8.

Talbot HK, Zhu Y, Chen Q, et al. Effectiveness of influenza vaccine for preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalizations in adults, 2011-2012 influenza season. Clin Infect Dis. 2013; 56(12): 1774-7.

Udell JA, Zawi R, Bhatt DL, et al. Association between influenza vaccination and cardiovascular outcomes in high-risk patients: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2013; 310(16): 1711-20.

 

__________________________________________________

Kevin McMahan3This article is written by Kevin McMahan and Jean Voice Dart, Health and Wellness Educators for the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.

Kevin has had a lifelong interest in health and wellness. After graduating from Carmel High School he went on to get an associates degree in social sciences from Monterey Peninsula College, and a bachelors in kinesiology from California State University Monterey Bay. He is a certified personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine. “Your health is your wealth”, is something that he always likes to say.

 

Jean E. DartJean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University,  is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

 

Disclaimer:  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

Natural Cough Suppressants

Natural Cough Suppressants

This is the season for coughs and sniffles. Healthy alternatives to relieving a cough can be found in nature.

This is the time of year when many people overindulge and overwork. Stress and improper diet can wear on the body and lead to fatigue and disease.  Coughing is the body’s way of telling us it is stressed and in need of care.

WHY TRY NATURAL COUGH SUPPRESSANTS?
In 2007, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel declared that cough medicines for children can be potentially harmful, and recommended that many of these products be banned. As an alternative, it was recommended that something as simple as a spoonful of honey or even a small cup of herb-flavored water, be given to children with persistent cough, which has few side effects and seems to be effective. Here are a few cough suppressants which have been known to be helpful for many years. When preparing these natural cough remedies, remember that organic foods and herbs which have not been genetically modified or treated with toxic pesticides are generally always best and most healthy for the body.

Of course, always consult with your family physician, trusted healthcare provider, allergist, or nutritionist before trying new foods that your body is not accustomed to eating, and to determine the reason for your cough.

WHAT ARE SOME EFFECTIVE NATURAL COUGH SUPPRESSANTS?
Cherry bark
Cherry bark has been a very important key ingredient in herbal cough syrups for many years. Cherokee and Iroquis native American Indians introduced cherry bark to colonists and settlers. Cherry bark is a good expectorant and treatment for dry coughs and throat irritations. Wild cherry bark contains prunasin which can be toxic if used unsafely, but when taken in tea or cough syrup form, it safe. It also contains natural cyanide (as do many other foods that contains pits), but cyanide poisoning is very unlikely since one would have to ingest very large doses of cherry bark.  You can make your own natural cherry bark syrup by boiling cherry bark with water, honey, and licorice root and allowing it to cool to form a soothing cough syrup, or by drinking as a hot tea.

Marshmallow Marshmallow is not just the white spongy,  confection that people in the United States put in their hot chocolate or roast at a campfire.  It is an herb, Althaea officinalis, a plant with short leaves and small pale white and pink flowers. The plant has been used for more than 2,000 years. The confectionery food treat by the same name, does not contain any of the herb and is not considered medicinal or effective in treating cough symptoms. According to the American Botanical Council, recent animal and human studies have found marshmallow root to be effective in treating coughs, when used alone and also combined with other herbs. Marshmallow root can be used as a tea, by adding 1-2 teaspoons of dried root to a cup of hot water and drinking several times a day.

HoneyHoney has been widely used for many years as a natural remedy for cough because of its  anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Choose pure, organic honey. For cough relief, try swallowing one tablespoon of honey.  If an adult or child has difficulty swallowing pure honey, it can added or mixed with warm or hot water, or tea, or with herbs and spices.  Honey helps coat the throat to ease soreness as a result of excessive coughing. The honey flavored tea and water helps to break up the mucous in the throat and soothe the irritation. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,  honey may be useful in relieving coughing, but it should never be given to children under a year of age because in rare cases it can cause infantile botulism.

GingerGinger root, the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, is one of the most renowned natural remedies for cough. The key part of the ginger root is thought to be the volatile oils and phenol compounds gingerols and shogaols. Ginger has been well researched and many of its traditional uses confirmed by scientific studies. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and also is an effective aid in digestion. Ginger tea and ginger drinks can be found in most health food stores. Fresh ginger is best and most powerful.

  • Wash the root thoroughly in clean water, and slice a piece of ginger from the root.
  • To stop a persistent cough, apply the slice fresh ginger in your mouth whenever coughing occurs.
  • Chew the sliced ginger until your cough has stopped. You can also make ginger tea by adding chopped slices of ginger root to boiling water, steeping, and serving.

ElderberriesElderberries, Sambucus nigra are known for their antioxidant activity, in treatment of coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis. Bioflavonoids and proteins in the juice fight cold and flu virus infections.  In 1995, it is reported that Elderberry juice was used to control a flu epidemic in Panama.  The berries are fully digestible when fully ripe but are mildly poisonous when eaten unripe. Elderberry plant is traditionally used as a medicinal plant by many people worldwide. 

  • Stem, bark, leaves, flowers, fruits, and root extracts can each be used to treat bronchitis, cough, upper respiratory cold infections, and fever.
  •  The dried flowers can be simmered for 15 minutes, and the tea can be poured through a coffee filter before drinking.
  • All parts of the plant can be poisonous if not eaten safely.

Mullien
Mullein
, “donkey’s ears” or Verbascum thapsus, an herb found throughout the United States, is a woolly-leafed biennial plant with yellow flowers. It has expectorant and cough suppressant properties and has been widely accepted by many around the world, as a useful and favorite herbal remedy for treating sore throat and cough symptoms.  It is primarily used to treat respiratory disorders such as asthma, coughs, tuberculosis, and related respiratory problems.

  • Mullein tea can be made by pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 – 2 teaspoons of dried mullein flowers and leaves.
  • Cover and steep for 10 – 15 minutes..
  • The tea can be filtered through a very fine sieve or coffee filter, to remove the fine hairs which irritate the throat.
  • A cough syrup can be make by boiling mullein, honey or sugar and water and allowing it to thicken and cool.

Ivy Leaf ExtractIvy Leaf extract (Hedera Helix), not as well-known as the others, has been found to be very effective in easing cough and upper respiratory problems. English ivy leaves seem to be able to break up chest congestion and relieve muscle spasms, and to help breathing in adults and children with chronic bronchitis. Cough Syrup with ivy leaf offers dependable help with the excessive formation of thick mucus and coughs associated with chronic broncitis, asthmas, tuberculosis, pneumonia and other upper respiratory disorders.  Hofmann, Hecker, and Volp (2003) concluded, “The trials included in this review indicate that ivy leaf extract preparations have effects with respect to an improvement of respiratory functions of children with chronic bronchial asthma, but more far-reaching conclusions can hardly be drawn because of a meagre database, including the fact that only one primary trial included a placebo control. Further research, particularly into the long-term efficacy of the herbal extract, is needed.


RESOURCES

Bukutu C, et al. Complementary, holistic, and integrative medicine: The common cold. Pediatrics in Review. 2008;29:e66.

Paul IM, et al. Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 2007;161:1140.

Hofmann D, Hecker M, Volp A, Efficacy of dry extract of ivy leaves in children with bronchial asthma–a review of randomized controlled trials. Phytomedicine. 2003 Mar;10(2-3):213-20.

Holzinger F, and Chenot J-F, Systematic Review of Clinical Trials Assessing the Effectiveness of Ivy Leaf (Hedera Helix) for Acute Upper Respiratory Tract Infections, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 382789, 9 pages

Liu W, Jiang H, and Mao B, Chinese Herbal Medicine for Postinfectious Cough: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials, Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 906765. PMC385334810 Published online Nov 20, 2013. doi: 10.1155/2013/906765

Shadkam MN, et al. A comparison of the effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and diphenhydramine on nightly cough and sleep quality in children and their parents. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010;16:787.

 

_______________________________

Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University.  Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.


Disclaimer:
 The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.