Posts Tagged ‘flu’

The old phrase, “you’ve got to nip it in the bud,” is so true when it comes to addressing acute cold and flu symptoms. In exploring what works when it comes to immune stimulation and fighting seasonal illness, I look to traditions around the world that have been keeping people healthy for generations.


Contrast hydrotherapy – common to Finnish culture, Japanese and native American tradition, the alternating hot and cold water stimulation to the body does wonders to boost the system.  This can vary from enjoying a regular warm shower and briefly alternating the temperature to as cool as can be comfortably tolerated, then back to heat as warm as is comfortable and back to cool again. A typical duration is 1 minute hot, 5-10 seconds cold repeated 3 times.

Intensifying the experience with hot tubs or sauna use alternating with intermittent cool/cold temperature is common as well and has profound measurable effects. In a Finnish study of contracting hydrotherapy from a sauna to a shower the white blood cell activity after use was especially enhanced.   Athletes making use of the sauna with contrasting cold shower had a more dramatic result, although it is effective in non-athletes as well. (1)

SW Sauna

Medicinal mushrooms – As researcher and mycology expert Paul Stamets describes, mushrooms can save the world. The complexity of the mycelium web has numerous interactions with our own immune system when we consume the wide varieties that nature provides. Modern research mimicks what Chinese Medicine has known for years. Various mushroom strains are well known to boost the protective energy of the body,

“We share in common the same types of pathogens, humans and mushrooms…We speak the same biological language… Agaricus mushrooms are my favorite. They are very active immune stimulators. They are known to destroy the pox virus, flu virus and our common cold rhinovirus,” Stamets shares. (2)


Many Americans suffering from cold and flu symptoms will be prescribed antibiotics drugs this year. These are important, life saving drugs that have gone through many incarnations as time and the marketplace has changed. While every prescribing practitioner knows the danger of over-prescribing, many feel they have to give something to a patient in distress. Even if it’s a viral infection, an antibiotic can still provide some symptomatic and placebo relief. However, when it’s not truly an out of control bacterial infection the cost of using antibiotics may be greater than the benefit for long term health.

There is a concerning association between the number of antibiotic prescriptions used in one’s lifetime and developing cancer. People who have used 10 or more courses of antibiotics in their lifetime have a significant increase in rates of cancer. This does not mean that antibiotics cause cancer, but that we are identifying a correlated trend. (3)


Berberine containing herbs – this chemical compound found in nature exists in a wide variety of plants that have been traditionally used to defeat illnesses. Goldenseal, oregon grape root, turmeric, chinese skullcap and more all contain this powerful compound. It is known to kill bacteria, yeast, parasites and more. In doing so, it also enhances intestinal elimination and provides rich nutrients to the body.

From a traditional medicine perspective, enhancing the body’s natural defense mechanisms by stimulating the immune system provides not only a relief from aggravating symptoms but more importantly supports improvements in long term health.

Stillwater Clinic & Apothecaryprovides acute care services to Lyons and the surrounding communities! I practiced in Oregon as a primary care doctor for 5 years and now diagnose and treat patients in my office here in Lyons as a Registered Naturopathic Doctor. I offer natural medicine alternatives to pharmaceutical treatment as well as collaborate with area physicians to meet the full healthcare needs of individuals.


  1. Wanda Pilch,1,4Ilona Pokora,2Zbigniew Szyguła,1,4 Tomasz Pałka,1,4 Paweł Pilch,3 Tomasz Cisoń,1,4 Lesław Malik,3and Szczepan Wiecha J Hum Kinet. Effect of a Single Finnish Sauna Session on White Blood Cell Profile and Cortisol Levels in Athletes and Non-Athletes. 2013 Dec 18; 39: 127–135. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3916915/
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Paul_Stamets

3.Dobson, Roger. The risk of developing prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancer rises with use of antibiotics, a large observational study has found (International Journal of Cancer 2008 Aug 14, doi: 10.1002/ijc.23622) http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a1381.

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With the circulating virus’ this time of year the snot, sniffles, fever and chills are everywhere! The physical stress of the temperature changes, time indoors, more sugars and less exercise all contribute to the increasing colds and flus this time of year.

While it is incredibly annoying to have a cold, for many people it provides an opportunity for the body to restore. Extra sleep, days off, increased elimination can all provide the body a net benefit when it’s all said and done. Getting a low to moderate fever benefits the body greatly. Despite feeling crummy, the fever is the body’s best defense against not only organisms we don’t want but also genetic errors and toxins that all contribute to the “normal symptoms of aging” and chronic diseases.

The most common treatments that American’s utilize for colds and flus may be short-changing the body’s experience and leaving us worse off than before. Most of our over the counter cold and flu remedies contain variations of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief and fever reduction. Brand names Tylenol, Advil and more contain acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen all work via similar mechanisms in the body. While they often provide much desired pain relief, an undesireable effect that this class of drugs has on the body is diminishing the immune systems response.

Using NSAIDs during the course of a cold or flu is more likely to cause a longer duration of illness, worsening symptoms over time and the necessity for stronger medications to get through the illness. What’s worse yet, the inhibition of the immune system with these drugs prevents the immune systems most important feature from happening; memory. When the body goes through an illness, the immune system captures the experience in it’s long-term memory so that the next time we see that organism, or one similar to it we are ready to go and can address it immediately. Ideally, we experience enough illnesses in our younger years that when we reach our senior years and have lessened capacity to fight infection, our memory is so vast that we’re naturally prepared for any infection that comes our way (1).

Fortunately, natural medicine provides an incredibly diverse spectrum of healing tools that not only help relieve pain and discomfort but also strengthen the immune system along the way.

At the first sign of illness:

  • Support the immune system with a visit to the sauna. Before an illness has a chance to get settled in, boost your immunity with the fever-simulation of the sauna. Contrasting hot and cold temperature provokes lymphatic circulation and should feel great!
  • Oscillococcinum- homeopathic flu remedy that helps address the symptoms of flu regardless of which organism provokes it. (2)
  • Echinacea, Elderberry, Propolis Throat Spray – these anti-viral and immune stimulating herbs are ideal to use directly into the throat where most viral exposures get started. All 3 of these herbs function via different mechanisms to stop virus’s adhering to the tissues, interrupt virus replication and more.
  • Osha Root – chew on pieces of this powerful high mountain herb to kill virus in the upper respiratory tract. (3)
  • Rest – the worst thing we can do for ourselves at the onset of a cold or flu is to push ourselves to keep going. Stress hormones inhibit the immune systems functioning and allow infections to get a head start.
  • Avoid sugar, dairy, gluten and individual food allergies. Any food that provokes an inflammatory or mucous stimulating response will interfere in the ability of the body to fight an illness naturally and increase the pain response.Free stock photo of person, love, woman, relaxation

Relying on natural medicine for health provides countless options in healthcare. Together in conjunction with appropriate use of pharmaceutical therapies we can make the best of both modern medicine and ancient traditions. For individualized support with NSAID alternatives to pain whether for acute or chronic disease schedule an appointment today.

  1. Simona Bancos,1Matthew P. Bernard,1David J. Topham,2 and Richard P. Phipps1,* “Ibuprofen and other widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit antibody production in human cells,” Cell Immunol. 2009; 258(1): 18–28. Published online 2009 Apr 5. doi:  10.1016/j.cellimm.2009.03.007
2.RosemariePappaGertSchubackbElmarBeckbGeorgBurkardcJürgenBengeldSiergfriedLehrla “OscillococcinumR in patients with influenza-like syndromes: A placebo-controlled double-blind evaluation,” British Homoeopathic journal Volume 87, Issue 2, April 1998, Pages 69-76.
3. Glenn D.Appelt “Pharmacological aspects of selected herbs employed in Hispanic folk medicine in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, USA: I. Ligusticum porteri (osha) and Matricaria chamomilla (manzanilla),” Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 13, Issue 1, March 1985, Pages 51-55.

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To be, or not to be….vaccinated.  This is a big question today as the amount of vaccines recommended by the Western medical establishment grow alongside research demonstrating associated long-term negative effects.  Each year as the weather begins to turn cold and the ads for the flu vaccine begin, the topic comes up again.  I hope to assist people in making the most informed decisions about their healthcare, knowing there are many options available.
The Immune System and Infection

Contrary to popular belief, getting a cold or flu can be a great opportunity!  A virus or bacteria can provide the body a chance to strengthen the immune system as well as eliminate accumulated toxins from many months, or even years.  As the immune system recognizes a foreign substance, it alarms the rest of the body to shift gears and increase catabolism (the breakdown of substances), warm the body and activate the usually dormant aspects of the immune system.  The body aches, fever and discharges are all examples of the body responding appropriately to a new challenge.  Elimination is enhanced greatly and the body is able to be renewed.  Even genetic or cellular malformations can be removed and improved through a strong immune response.  Despite the discomfort and some temporary weakness, the end-result in a healthy person is often an overall gain to a person’s health.

Modern medicine has a trend of working to avoid, or interrupt any exercise of the immune system.  Avoiding an illness doesn’t mean we are not affected.  A mild invasion can result which the immune system does not mount a response to and the organisms may grow gradually over time.  When symptoms of an illness are suppressed, the immune system is often stopped short of its ultimate goal and the body may live with pathogens for many years resulting in much deeper, debilitating disease down the road.

Vaccine’s are made to stimulate the immune system.  Simplistically, they contain a toxin (mercury, aluminum or many others), a protein carrier (egg, nut, etc…), and a fragment of the bacteria or virus.  The hope is that the vaccine will stimulate the immune system gently enough to not cause an illness, but intensely enough to create antibodies against the fragment.  Then, if the vaccinated person is exposed to the virus, they don’t have to feel sick because their immune system has been sensitized to the illness already and can act in a way that is not disruptive to the daily routine.

The influenza virus travels with wild birds and mutates along the way.  The flu vaccine is a combination of 3 most likely versions of the virus that have been identified recently.  People who choose to vaccinate should be aware, the vaccine itself may cause illness, the vaccine may not stimulate the immune system enough or the vaccine may not be effective against the viral mutation that migrates to your area.  Studies continue to show variable success rates with the flu vaccine depending upon these factors.

I am a proponent of supporting health though allowing the body the usual challenges it can handle to become stronger.  However, for infants who are not protected by their mother’s immune system through breast-feeding, individuals who already have compromised immune systems or are otherwise fragile, getting a flu may be more than they can bear.  For individuals of this nature, the toxic component of the vaccine may also pose serious hazards.  Mercury, thimerisol & aluminum, all have been found to be detrimental over time.  Therefore it is a benefit vs. risk assessment that is necessary for each individual.

Vaccinated or not, I recommend people utilize the homeopathic flu treatment, Oscillococcinum at the onset of any flu-like symptoms.  Similar to the flu vaccine, this remedy is a combination of the most likely influenza viral mutation of the year.  Contrary to the vaccine, even if it’s not identical, it can have just as powerful an effect.  There are no toxin stimulators or protein carriers and it has no negative side effects.  In addition, there are countless natural remedies to support the body in having a healthy, complete reaction to a viral exposure.

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