What is the Flu?
The flu is a broad term used to describe a group of viral infections that tend to infect and cause a lot of symptoms, loss of workdays, hospital and ER visits, and even death. Usually the deaths caused by one of the viral illnesses is a secondary infection that overwhelms the immune system in those whose immune system is already compromised like newborns and the elderly. Every year around October the CDC come out with a “flu shot” that is “marketed” as safe and healthy and expected for almost everyone to get to “prevent” the flu. In reality this is their best (calculated) guess of what strains will be coming through and more than once they’ve had to tell the public they guessed wrong.
This is not going to be rant about the safety of the flu shot but you can decide for yourself if the proclaimed benefits outweigh the risks (study, study, article). Sometimes practitioners prescribe antiviral medications like Tamiflu to try to lessen the duration of symptoms by slowing the viral replication but overall your immune system is what eventually has to rid the body of the virus. Antivirals are not very helpful in clinical practice (or in the research) but at least offer some hope to patients that we can help shorten the process.
Cause of the Flu
“Catching a cold” is really catching a viral infection more than 90% of the time. This is why antibiotics are often useless against the infection unless a secondary bacterial infection has set in. Getting “the flu” is really not much different except that the viral influenza strains that come through in the winter season are usually pretty tough on the body for a solid 2-3 days and symptoms can linger for 1-2 weeks.
A strong immune system doesn’t ensure that you won’t get the flu but it does make complications from the flu extremely rare and usually shortens the duration of symptoms. We’ve been trained to think that getting sick is always an experience we should avoid but getting sick gives the immune system the opportunity to get stronger. As it formulates an attack on the invader(s) it has an amazing capacity to store memory of that particular pathogen in case it tries to come attack us again. Of course I’m not advocating hanging out in the ICU or health department and seeing how many hospital acquired infections you can stock up on but at the same time, I’m not afraid of my kids playing with a friend who’s battling a cold. There is almost always a middle ground where wisdom lives.
Natural Cold & Flu Remedies and Recommended Supplements
- Elderberry Syrup
- Vitamin C Spray (great for children)
- Drink LOTS OF WATER. Push fluids like crazy. You'll need to flush out the virus.
- Drink ACV mixture 2-3 times/day.
- Drink Bone Broth - homemade if possible but even store bought will give your immune system a great boost. Replacing meals for bone broth if you don’t have an appetite while sick is fine too!
- Drink Kefir or Kombucha
- Hot decaf tea with raw local (or manuka) honey and lemon.
- Thieves essential oil (there are a few equivalent oils out there) - 1-2 drops with carrier oil to neck, bottoms of feet.
- Chew a raw clove of garlic morning and night (if that's too strong for you, mince and sweeten with honey then swallow). Or you can mash a few cloves and steep it in your broth.
- Gaia Quick Defense or Turmeric Immune A.S.A.P. - Take 2 capsules every 3-4 hours (Both have echinacea and elderberry. It's like an all natural tamiflu alternative)
- High Dose Vitamin C- Vitamin C can be dosed pretty high but is best to spread the dose out over the day if you don’t have a buffered form that is easy on the digestive tract. Shoot for 3-5 grams per day if you are over 100lbs.
- IntraMax- nothing beats a strong foundation. IntraMax is a potent liquid multivitamin packed full of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, herbs, antioxidants, and more that are designed to help build a strong immune system and internal environment.
- Lauricidin- this is a monolaurin supplement taken from coconut oil. Monolaurin has been well studied as an immune support in significantly compromised HIV patients and showed impressive decreases in the viral load! It is also a potent pathogen killer proven successful against intestinal and systemic candida, H. pylori, Staph and Strep strains and others. It is used often to suppress chronic EBV (Mono), HSV (herpetic viruses), CMV (Cytomegalovirus), and influenza (Flu)!
- Colostrum - high quality bovine colostrum sources have multiple ways that they support the immune system. If collected within the correct window the products should contain a good amount of IgG which is an immunoglobulin that binds pathogens and removes them from the GI tract primarily. It also contains large amounts of lactoferrin that have also proven to have strong anti-viral benefits. Lactoferrin is one of many “immune factors” that is contained in colostrum and bovine colostrum, in particular, is up to 40 times higher in these “immune factors” than even human colostrum is.
- Orthobiotic 100 - high dose probiotics have shown a positive effect on immune health by increasing a lab marker called Secretory IgA (SigA). SigA is one of the first lines of defense against invading pathogens in all the mucosally lined organs including (but not limited to) the respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract. The flu virus usually invades via inhalation often affecting the sinuses, throat, bronchi, and lungs. If your linemen (SigA) are strong and they mount a good response there is a chance you never have a single symptom. If they are able to rid the body of most of the virus but not all, at least you should have an easier road ahead of you and symptoms will be minimal and short lived.
Breakdown of SLW Flu Protocol
7am- First full dose of Intramax on an empty stomach + 8oz of fluid, Apply Essential Oil
8am- Bone Broth and Gaia Quick Defense or Turmeric Immune A.S.A.P + 8oz of fluid
9am- Food + 8oz of fluid
10am- Drink ACV mixture
11am- Elderberry Syrup + 8oz of fluid
12pm- Bone Broth and Gaia Quick Defense or Turmeric Immune A.S.A.P + 8oz of fluid
Apply Essential Oil
1pm- Food + 8oz of fluid
2pm- Drink ACV mixture d
3pm- Second full dose of Intramax on an empty stomach + 8oz of fluid
4pm- Elderberry Syrup + 8oz of fluid
5pm- Bone Broth and Gaia Quick Defense or Turmeric Immune A.S.A.P + 8oz of fluid
6pm- Food with Lauricidin, Probiotic, Colostrum + 8oz of fluid
7pm- Drink ACV mixture
8pm- Elderberry Syrup + 8oz of fluid, Apply Essential Oil
9pm- Bone Broth and Gaia Quick Defense or Turmeric Immune A.S.A.P + 8oz of fluid
10pm- Down your garlic mixture and go to sleep! Your body needs rest. If you can, go to bed earlier!
Preventative Options (Lifestyle)
- Preventative medicine is always ideal. So if you are looking to be proactive versus reactive this flu season here is your summary.
Optimize Your Immune System!
Optimal sleep: 8+ hrs of sleep per night. 7 is a minimum if you are under negligible daily stress. But always shoot to get 8+. Usually we fall short of what we really think we are getting. Consider tracking your sleep patterns with an app or other device to get a better sense of how much good sleep you are really getting.
- Nutrient Dense Diet: Shoot for a strong nutrient base as discussed above and avoid frequent or large doses of sugar to prevent periods of compromised immune function. Kefir is also something we are excited to start carrying at the clinic. This may surprise most who are familiar with our thoughts on dairy but this is actually a non-dairy Kefir with a potent live probiotic dose. We as a family do not love fermented foods and our gut is likely paying the cost for this. Therefore we are excited for this addition to not only the practice but also our daily routines. You can read more about the low sugar Juice Kefir by Ether Elixir at etherelixir.com. It is a very cool immune boosting routine to add in during flu season and any season for that matter.
Build your Metabolic Reserve: Consider the supplement recommendations above to build a reserve that is difficult to deplete. This will make complications less likely in the times when you do get sick. One nutrient that is better accumulated from something other than supplementation is Vitamin D. Make sure to get at least 20-30 minutes of sunshine everyday. Obviously lab testing to confirm any nutrient deficiencies or compromised immune health (i.e. Adrenal Dysfunction or GI Pathogens) would be ideal if you have access to a Functional Medicine practitioner near you. Or you could always set something up with us Remotely if you don’t to get some deeper testing done.
Use Your Common Sense: There are things that should go without saying but probably should be mentioned. Wash hands often during flu season. Try to air out the house often after someone has been sick and don’t stay cooped up inside. This is just asking to get sick. If you do get sick, wait until the fevers and body aches abate before exposing the world to you. That should be common courtesy but is often forgotten. If a cough and runny nose is lingering but you feel fine otherwise, it is unlikely that the virus load is high enough to really cause an outbreak. Again, just wash your hands often and make sure to exit the room if you are feeling a coughing fit coming on. Wiping the house down often with essential oils like Thieves or On Guard and/or diffusing them will also create a less friendly environment for virus to hang out and spread. Find a friend who is super savvy with EOs to get further recommendations or find a trusted resource online who studies the research closely in this area.