The following is a guest blog post by East West graduate and faculty and professional herbalist Nancy Angelini.
Viral influenza is generally categorized as H1N1 (swine flu) or H5N1 (avian/bird flu). These are the two largest categories of flu, with the swine flu being the more easily transmitted than bird flu.
Usually, bird flu is an aggressive upper respiratory infection, while the swine flu has digestive derangement in addition to sinus congestion, sore throat and cough. The real way to know which one is epidemic at any given time is to test for it. Deaths are associated with both. While the pediatric and geriatric population are traditionally considered high-risk for flu, these aggressive flu strains put everyone at risk.
Multiple studies from the National Institutes of Health show moderate efficacy of flu vaccines, but even this is inconsistent across age ranges and from season to season, with very limited protection on occasion. Some people are completely convinced that the flu vaccine works; whether or not this is the placebo effect for some is anyone’s guess. In some cases, physician-prescribed and over-the-counter remedies for flu symptoms fail and people die. In others, they work swiftly.
Flu Management with Homeopathic and Herbal Medicines
Natural remedies can be good and effective alternatives to the many biomedical approaches that may drive the disease deeper and do not release it from the body. Serious relapses occur with the wrong approach; the longer the body must fight the infection, the more fatigued it gets.
Both avian and swine flu strains are virulent and must be managed aggressively, meaning dosing with both homeopathics and herbs 3 to 4 times daily, for at least a week (if not two) followed by continued consistent dosing a week after symptoms abate. These virulent flus can last five to six weeks in total if not managed aggressively.
Natural isopathics (a subset of homeopathic remedies based on the concept of ‘same cures same’) are available as “prevention” for seasonal influenza. I use yearly homeopathic/isopathic formulas made by Professional Formulas with my clients, especially the elderly and youth, as protection from serious flu illness. I find they work and are an important part of my GP herbalist approach as an alternative to traditional flu vaccines. If you are among those who have negative reactions to the flu vaccine, but still wish to have some type of protection, check out the isopathic flu formulas.
When I become ill, it is very difficult for me to stand in the kitchen cooking up traditional herbal or dietary flu remedies. If I am on the road, I have to make do with what I find at local health food stores. Recently I was in just this situation when I caught the flu. Based on symptoms of mild sore throat, low-grade fever, violent chills, mild sinus congestion, dry/constricted/unproductive but spastic cough, fatigue and general malaise (and the fact that I was not at home until a week and a half into the illness), my personal approach to treatment was the following:
- Boiron’s Cold Calm homeopathic medicine – 1 tablet, 4x daily
- Planetary Herbals Cherry Bark Cough Syrup – 1 tablespoon every 2 to 3 hours alternated with ivy leaf extract
- Vitamin A (retinol palmitate) – 10,000 IU, once daily
- Gan Mao Ling – 2 tablets, 3x daily
- Host Defense Breathe Formula – 2 droppers full, 3x daily
- Supercritical Care 200B Probiotic and Inulin Prebiotic from Advanced Naturals – 1 capsule daily
- Triphala – 2 capsules at night
- Supercritical extracted oregano oil – 1 gel cap daily
I did a Dr. Singha’s mustard bath and gently sweated myself after arriving home on a long flight from the West Coast. To my regimen I added thyme essential oil and lemon balm leaf extract suppositories (hand-made) each night. Also, I cut open an onion and left it on the night stand next to my bed (which smells, but disinfects the air). Had my cough progressed, I would have added formulas targeted to the deep lung and not bronchioles.
Here’s my own lesson from being exposed and fighting this flu valiantly: I neglected to use the bird flu homeopathic this year. Although I did not come down with severe illness, I was surely not the best version of myself. I haven’t had an upper respiratory imbalance for six years so I was a bit taken off guard. Nevertheless, I went straight at it hammer and tong and didn’t let up for three weeks. Though my symptoms are all but gone, I am continuing treatment now to make sure that a relapse does not occur.