The Flu Shot: Discussion and options

 In Opinion

With winter in full swing, many patients are asking about the flu shot.
Many Canadians receive the flu shot each year and still end up getting sick. The flu shot consists of three viral strains based on the previous year’s circulating viruses. Since there are over 400 viruses that can cause the flu each year and viruses are constantly undergoing change it becomes very difficult to isolate the probable strain for each year. Due to this, the vaccine proves to be ineffective more often than not.
Health Canada recommends the flu shot for those individuals that are at high risk for health complications such as those over the age of 65, children, pregnant, health care workers and those with respiratory illnesses. Health Canada also notes that for some populations the vaccine is only 30 per cent effective and that immunity only lasts a maximum of three months.
With this information, it is no surprise that individuals and families are looking for more natural alternatives that support the body and improve the overall integrity of the immune system. Here are some naturopathic treatments to implement this flu season to keep your immune system strong and capable to fight viruses or bacteria that you may come in contact with.
Practice proper hygiene to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. Wash your hands frequently, cough into the elbow of your sleeve and stay home if you are not feeling well to prevent the spread of illnesses.
Get plenty of fluids and rest. If your body is feeling run down, it is telling you to take a break and rest.
At the sign of a cold or flu, choose these immune boosters to strengthen your immune fighting capacity. (Always consult your naturopathic doctor for appropriate prescriptions and dosages before using.)
– The herb Echinacea purpurea helps keep the immune system working strongly when sick.
– Astragalus helps boost a run down and underactive immune system, to be used at the first signs of a cold or flu. Caution in patients that have blood pressure or blood sugar issues.
– When sick, Vitamin C can be taken in dosages as high as 5,000 mg, depending on bowel tolerance. This vitamin helps kill infectious agents circulating in the body.
– Zinc helps keep the immune system strong and ready to fight infections. It can be taken in capsule form or as a lozenge to decrease cold and flu symptoms.
– Homeopathic flu alternatives such as Mucococcinum, Influenzinum, Belladonna, Mercurius, Arsenucum and Baptisia. These remedies can help decrease the symptoms of colds and flues and also help the body mount an antibody response to infections. Consult your Naturopath or Homeopath to choose the best remedies for you and your family.
As the cold weather sets in, take care of yourself and remember that prevention is always the best medicine.

Kate Hunter is a naturopathic doctor who is practising at Body ‘n Balance on weekends.Visit www.katehunternd.com.

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