Friday, August 28, 2009

On Swine Flu (H1N1) and Immune Systems

Over the past month and a half, I have had countless people ask my thoughts on the Swine Flu. Meanwhile, I continue to hear of more incidents where someone in a nearby school, a local church, or a nearby neighborhood has contracted the virus. It hits close to home, literally, when you know families who have it!

So what is a mother to do? That's the question I keep hearing. And I do have some thoughts I would like to share with you. But keep in mind, I'm speaking mother to mother... not medical professional to patient... I have no medical credentials! For the record, I hold a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a minor (lacking six hours to be a major) in Fine Arts. Health is our lifestyle and my hobby.

You'll read from many credible sources, even the CDC, that Swine Flu is not a severe threat to those with strong immune systems. Of course, the flipside is also true: any flu is a threat to any person with a weakened immune system.

And what about vaccines? Once a vaccine is developed and released, it will protect against the particular strain of flu it was developed for (along with side effects), but it offers no help against mutations or newly developed strains. A healthy immune system will offer up a defense no matter what strain of flu attacks. It is my belief that a person with a strong immune system, when confronted with any flu or virus, will have reduced symptoms and a shorter duration of sickness.

Avoiding contact with infected persons may not be within our control. Honestly, if the Swine Flu spreads as the CDC predicts, we will come into contact with infected persons -- probably BEFORE they know they are infected. Our family was in contact with the swine flu recently. But we didn't know it until the next day!

Bottom line: We need to do what we can to build up our immune systems for the viruses we will most likely encounter this fall and winter -- H1N1 or any other invading pathogen.

This leads to the question: "What can I do to make sure that my family has strengthened immune systems?"

1. Did you know that your body's first line of defense is your skin? So it only makes sense to follow the ubiquitous advice and "Wash Your Hands."

2. If an invader breaks through your first barrier, your body will defend itself with its patrolling scavenger cells. A strong, healthy immune system will have plenty of these cells. Remember, it takes building materials to build immune cells, so take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. Make sure yours includes a substantial amount of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc and B Vitamins. Each of these (plus others!) play a big role in supporting a functional immune system.

It is very, very rare that a person could consume adequate amounts of these vitamins through diet alone. (Click the links at the top left of this blog for my "What Is Health Anyway?" series. In those three posts, I offer a more complete discussion of this topic.) Balanced, real supplements supply your body with the building materials it requires to build an army of scavenger cells. This is my choice for myself and for my children.

3. Those pathogens that make it through the skin barrier AND get passed the patrol guard, infect individual cells. Once a cell is infected, it will secrete Interferon. "Interferon is an immune system regulator that is extremely active in cell defense due to its antiviral and immune stimulating effects. When produced by cells infected by viruses, interferon communicates with uninfected cells to trigger an antibody response to the virus. Interferon can also activate natural killer cell activity, macrophage activity, and trigger the release of powerful cytotoxic chemicals designed to neutralize immune system invaders."

If you didn't get all that, just know that interferon is your friend and you need plenty of it to fight the good fight. Nutriferon is the only natural supplement I know of that boosts your body's own interferon without any negative side effects. It can be taken without pause, unlike other immune boosters, because it's efficacy does not diminish over time. In my opinion, a daily dose of Nutriferon would prepare your body for H1N1's friends and mutations better than any specific vaccine that can only defend against a particular strain.

4. Supplement your supplements with probiotics. Current research shows that the intestines are an important line of defense for the immune system. Prolific friendly bacteria in the gut will inhibit the growth of invading pathogens, so it is vital to keep a stong colony ready for action. My vitamins already contain probiotics, but I give this additional product to my children.

5. Finally, when you feel the slightest tinge of fever or other symptoms coming on, act right away with Garlic, Echinacea and Elderberry and Vitamin C around the clock. See yesterday's post for how I did this with Spiderman.

Keep in mind that if you or your children are just now beginning your health journey, it may take a while to build up your immune system. Eating whole foods, supplementing regularly, getting as much sunshine as possible, getting adequate rest and exercise... all of these things contribute to healthy immune function. Whatever you do, don't let yourself be discouraged about how far you have to go. Just get started! Your body will thank you, whether it's fighting Swine Flu or just living well.

There is so much more to be said about H1N1, vaccinations, immune systems, etc. I am trying to keep this brief. Just know that:

  • We will most likely come into contact with some sort of potent viruses in the years to come.
  • We may not be able to avoid sickness.
  • But, we can protect ourselves from devastating effects of sickness.
  • We are all at God's mercy, which is the very best place to be.

I welcome your comments on this topic. Please post your thoughts.


Kathryn said...

I so agree with you!

What is more, vaccines have ingredients that can make them more dangerous to your immune system, they weaken the body's ability to fight infection.

I just can't see that a vaccine, particularly a flu vaccine, is a benefit to anyone. If you already have a strong immune system, the vaccine will be hard on your immune system. If you have a weak immune system it is going to do even more damage.

And, when they talk about flu vaccines, they discuss the % effective. I found this report at PubMed (conventional medicine) that states with a 50% effective flu vaccine between 1000 & 3000 (my rough estimate) of children to age two have to be vaccinated to prevent ONE hospitalization. The number is much higher for older children. Which means that a lot of children are being exposed to something that weakens their immune systems & have side effects in order to prevent one hospitalization.

God hasn't blessed us with children, but if he had a flu vaccine would be the LAST thing i would want for my child.

Andrea Manor said...

For the probiotic, what do you think about the flavored Keifer that is sold in stores? Does the sugar in it cancel out any benefits of the good stuff?

TeresaR said...

I totally agree that the best line of defense is to maintain one's immune system. I'm not a huge vaccines fan.

Amy Ellen said...

Thanks for these great thoughts...

Andrea, I do think the Kefir is a good first step. However, taking a probiotic supplement would provide a more desirable amount of friendly bacteria. And yes, the sugar does negate some of the benefit since bad bacteria feeds on sugar and then crowds out the good guys.

We eat homemade yogurt (without sugar) almost daily AND I give the children probiotics, though not every day... but always when they are sick or exposed to pathogens.

Hope this helps! ae

Aura said...

For the most part, I completely agree with you. I've been looking into this flu since we first started hearing about it back in April. The thing that most concerns me is the risk for a cytokine storm. This is believed to be reason the 1918 flu was so deadly and this Swine Flu/H1N1 strain seems to be rather similar to the 1918 flu.

Have you looked into the use of immune boosters with regard to a cytokine storm? I'm completely in agreement with you that a healthy immune system is extremely important, especially before you ever contract the flu, but I disagree that immune boosters should be used if there is a risk of cytokine storm.

For us, vitamin D3 is the major player to preventing and treating the Swine Flu. In addition to vitamin D3, I've also given lots of probiotics, garlic, and colostrum.

My dh came down with this on Wednesday. He's been in bed up until this afternoon. Now he's playing on the GameCube with my ds. He's not completely over it yet, but he's really only had 48 hours of I-feel-so-bad-I'm-not-getting-out-of-bed. That isn't bad for the flu! And **so far**, no one else shows any signs of coming down with it.

Kimberly said...

I am wanting get some of this stuff for the kids since school is in session and I want to be ready for sickness. What do you do if they can't swallow a pill? I noticed a couple of the things are to be swallowed. Thanks for any advice. Love you blog as we are working towards a more healthy lifestyle.

Amy Ellen said...

Hi Kimberly,

I dissolve the Nutriferon in a small amount of water and the children drink it. It tastes very mild. Other people I know crush it and mix it with a spoon of peanut butter or applesauce.

The probiotic tablet is miniscule and Witzy can swallow it. I put it in Tickle's smoothie and she swallows it that way. I buy the chewable Vita C and the Echinachea/Elderberry/Zinc is chewable as well.

Hope this helps! You can email me with any specific questions about ordering,
Amy Ellen

mandi said...

this is a good post! thanks for taking the time to do it. about kimberly's question- the herbs i use for my kids is in tincture form. so they don't have to worry about swallowing a pill. with our probiotics, i usually break open the capsule and add it to apple sauce or smoothies or yogurt, or even just a small amount of water.
2 other powerful anti-viral herbs are olive leaf and oregano.
during flu season i usually give my kids a daily dose of elderberry, either through tea or syrup. not as much as i would give them if they were actually sick, just a 'maintenance' dose!

Carrie Beth said...

This all sounds so wonderful, but it is difficult to look at the website and see how much of a financial hit it would entail to purchase all of these items. I completely believe that they are wonderfully helpful- we just are not in the position to be able to do a lot of extra right now. Do you have any thoughts on "basic" supplementation for folks who are trying to maintain a little tighter budget? THANKS!!

Amy Ellen said...

Hi Carrie Beth,

I can understand your comment about the financial expense. We actually get our Shaklee supplements paid for by the bonus check we recieve monthly for referring other people. I'm just letting you know this is an option that a lot of people take advantage of.

At the minimum, you want to make sure that you are taking a high quality (pure, not synthetic, balanced) multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. This will provide your body with the building blocks it needs to maintain health.

Second, you could keep some of the immune boosters on hand for when you have been directly exposed or when you feel you're coming down with something.

Third, do your very best to eliminate sugar from your diet since sugar depresses the immune system.

Doing these three things will certainly be better than taking a synthetic, cheap vitamin and eating the standard american diet.

Hope this helps, Amy Ellen

Carrie Beth said...

Thanks for your reply- I appreciate it so much. I grew up with a mom who was into healthy and organic foods back in the seventies, so I have had that advantage, but in order to be a stay at home mom we are on a little bit tighter budget! The Lord has always provided, and I enjoy learning as much as I can from sites like yours so that I can use that knowledge to spend the money we do have as wisely as possible! Thanks again!!

lori said...

i agree with you 100%! i do not believe in the swine flu vaccine at all. one of my friends got that vaccine, and contracted the h1n1 worse then he would have without the shot. the doctor told him that he had it worse then anyone that he had seen in a long time. that is only one story. the doctors tell you when they give you the vaccine that wash your hands alot, dont be near the h1n1, sanitize your area of work ect, and all these things. if the shot worked, then why do we need to take the same percautions as normal? anyway, i really do agree with you! i do have one much garlic vitamin pills are needed to be perductive?


Amy Ellen said...

Hi Becky,

On the garlic tablets, I would follow the bottle's instructions for daily support in fighting illness. (This is also great support for your cardio-vascular system!) But, when I felt the twinges of sickness coming on, I would take a dosage three or four times a day... that is, as long as you're not out and about for the smell, you know.

Hope this helps! ae