Richard A. Feely, D.O. FAAO, FCA, FAAMA
Not only does fall signify the beginning of a new school year, but the beginning of cold and flu season as well. Like many viral infections, influenza is spread by touch – so it can be easily transmitted through a population – whether that’s a household or a schoolroom. The symptoms of the flu virus include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, chills and fatigue. By implementing a few simple strategies to help build the immune system, your chances of sailing through the H1N1 flu are greatly improved. Below are several strategies from specific immune formulations, to Chinese herbs to OMT (osteopathic manipulative therapy) that will help stimulate your immune system.
Basic Hygiene to protect your health
1. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it
2. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. When that’s not convenient or available, alcohol-based had cleaners are also quite effective
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way
4. Try to avoid close contact with sick people
5. If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.) Stay away from others as much as possible to avoid making others sick
Before flu season hits is an ideal time to begin a proactive immune support program. This will lay a strong foundation for optimal wellness throughout the winter months. The following natural strategies are used in our clinical practice to support immune health not only at this time of year, but throughout the year in preparation for when our immune systems are particularly challenged.
A special formula known as Immune™ synergistically combines three key ingredients to bring out the most potent aspects of their immune enhancement properties. This formula has emerged as one of the most important ways to build and support immunity, now and ongoing.
The Immune™ formula contains a high degree of immune-modulating activity due to a small polysaccharide known as 1-3 beta glucans. It is these 1-3 beta glucans that are mandatory for proper immune system function, by activating natural killer cell activity. Why is this important? Natural Killer (NK) cells are filled with potent chemicals designed to orchestrate cell death. They are called “natural” killers because they do not need to recognize a specific germ before swinging into action, so they protect against a wide variety of infectious agents. Natural killer cells kill on contact by binding to its target, aiming its weapons and then delivering a lethal burst of chemicals that destroy the target cell membrane. Fluids seep in and the cell bursts and dies.
It is also important to activate other aspects of the immune system to resist bacteria, fungi and viruses. Another key ingredient found in the Immune™, called muramyl peptides, have been shown in scientific literature to directly influence macrophage activation. Macrophages are large and versatile immune cells that act as microbe-devouring “Pac-Men” circulating throughout the body looking for invaders.
The use of Chinese herbs can be very beneficial for the prevention of flu and colds. The use of Chinese herbs to build up the Wei Qi or the protective Qi is critical in early protective mechanisms. The particular depth at which a pathological process infiltrates the body challenges this protective mechanism of the body or the Qi. Minor illnesses impact the defensive and functional layers of the body, that is, the Wei and theQi. More serious problems assailed in nutritive and blood layers of the body, which is the Yin and Xue. Critical conditions threaten the fundamental, primordial integrity and identity of the organism at its deepest level, which is the essence or the Jing.
The use of Chinese Modular Solutions, Resilience, contains the ingredients of astragalus root, ganoderma fungus, grifola frondosa fungus, polyporous fungus, and tremella fungus. Astragalus reinforces the Wei, the defensive or protective Qiand consolidates the surface of the body, warding off penetration of noxious influences, viruses and bacteria. Research shows that these mushrooms contain a potent immune-modulating polysaccharide. In animal experiments, polyporus and grifola have demonstrated inhibitory effects on tumor cell growth. Ganoderma protects the cardiovascular system by regulating blood pressure and blood lipids and the liver by inhibiting cell damage caused by toxins.
This formula is based upon both ancient tradition and modern research. In traditional terms, it tonifies Qi and Wei, nurtures blood, secures and replenishes essence. It benefits the spleen, lungs, heart, kidney, and liver. In modern terms, it improves the overall adaptability of the body’s regulatory mechanisms and is appropriate for general conditions of debility and lowered resistance.
We combine Resilience in our flu prevention immune enhancing formula with Chinese Modular Solutions, Phlogisticlean. This formula dissipates phlegm nodules by purging phlegm, heat and toxins from the blood and the lymphatic system. It contains isatis root, lasiosphaera fungus, scrophularia root, oldenlandia herb, moutan peony bark and phellodendron bark. Isatis and lasiospherae root have been identified as being particularly useful in treating lymphadenopathy. These two herbs, combined with scrophularia, have potent anti-microbial properties that are good for pain and inflammation of the throat and head. Together, they purge heat and toxins, cool the blood, nourish the Yin, and dissipate nodular swelling. Current clinical uses of oldenlandia herb in China as a single medication include the treatment of cancer and the up-regulation of the cellular immune system. Moutan and phellodendron assist in cooling the blood, purging the damp heat, and supporting the kidney and liver.
The Role of Osteopathic Manipulation
Currently, upper and lower respiratory tract infections are treated once the infecting organism has been identified. Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment for pneumonia or other bacterial infections. Viral infections such as influenza A and B and H1N1 are treated supportively with symptom suppressing pharmaceuticals, or if diagnosed early, antiviral medications. 
Osteopathic medicine looks beyond the causative agent to any functional compromise (somatic dysfunction) in the patient and how it contributes to, or is the result of, the disease process. Diagnosis through palpation can reveal changes in tissue textures, asymmetry in positioning, restricted motion, or tenderness. These somatic dysfunctions lead to hyperirritability of the nervous system inputs to the respiratory tract and diminish the effectiveness of the circulatory and lymphatic systems. Osteopathic manipulation used to correct somatic dysfunctions that result from the flu can augment the efficacy of other therapies and enhance recuperation by reducing the intensity and duration of the illness. The main goals would include decreasing congestion, reducing nervous system hyperactivity and improving respiratory motion.
Osteopathic manipulation directed to the diaphragm and thoracic inlet improves lymphatic flow. Correcting the somatic dysfunctions in the ribcage and cervical and thoracic spine improves respiratory motion. Rib raising will provide relaxation, increase the blood supply to the lungs, and improve the nervous system balance to increase the clearance of secretions.
History has shown that Osteopathic manipulation can play an important role in the treatment and symptomatic relief of pneumonia and influenza. The 1917-1918 H1N1 influenza epidemic killed at least 40 million people worldwide. People who were treated with osteopathic manipulation had a 0.25% mortality rate compared to the 6% national average. As we approach this years’ flu season and a possible H1N1 epidemic, osteopathic manipulation can be used both preventively to optimize the body’s function and to reduce the severity and duration of illness.
Other Key Immune Building Vitamins – Some Favorites
The activated form of vitamin D has been shown to have profound effects on human immunity. Vitamin D has been shown to decrease inflammation and also enhance the activity of macrophages as they destroy viral invaders. In addition, vitamin D dramatically stimulates the expression of potent antimicrobial peptides that exist in natural killer cells, and in cells lining the respiratory tract where they play a major role in protecting the lung from infection. Vitamin D also reduces the incidence of respiratory infections in children. Most people are woefully deficient in Vitamin D, so a dosage of 5,000 IU during this season is adequate.
Vitamin C plays an important role in immune enhancement. Vitamin C is antimicrobial, antiviral and helps with reducing the severity of the common cold. Levels of this vitamin are quickly reduced during the stress of infection, so make sure to have a bottle of Ultra-Potent C 1,000, which contains a higher amount of vitamin C with all the important cofactors to increase bioavailability. For kids, the Ultra Potent C Chewables is a wonderful option.
Zinc serves a vital role in many immune system reactions, but it is best known for significantly reducing the duration of the common cold by 7 days. Taking high doses of zinc (greater than 150 mg) longer than 7 days, however, can actually decrease immune system function.
Whether you have school-aged children or not, immune enhancement should be at the top of everyone’s priority list. Bolstering the immune system now can set the stage for a healthier winter. Immune, Vitamin D3, Chinese Herbs and OMT are all excellent ways to strengthen the immune system.
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Page modified on 5/15/2011