The Immunity-boosting Roundup

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

At the end of a 12-part article on your immune system, it is best to revisit all the points made here and bring you the most valuable health advice to take away from it all. This is how the realm of natural medicine and natural supplements can come to your aid.

The regular influenza (flu) season comes in the late fall and winter months. It is known that up to 60% of adults do not routinely receive the flu vaccine. For those who are vaccinated, the regular flu vaccine may protect less than 60%-70% depending on your age. With current drugs used to treat the flu (including such incarnations as the swine flu), the severity and duration of flu symptoms are decreased by 1.5 to 2.5 days only. To protect yourself and your family from the flu, do remember to get the vaccinations (two injections for swine flu and one injection for the regular flu).

Be aware of factors that might depress your immune system, such as medications, stress, diet, lack of sleep, alcohol, physical inactivity, lack of sunlight exposure, and various diseases. In addition to getting the proper vaccinations, it is prudent to consider the follow ways to help prevent as well as treat flu-like symptoms.

For prevention, consider the following:

— Take vitamin C; 200-500 mg a day
— Take vitamin D; 2,000 IU a day
— Take vitamin E; 200 IU a day
— Herbs: probiotics; ginseng at 200 mg a day; andrographis at 100 mg twice a day; garlic at 600-900 mg a day; and N-acetylcysteine at 600 mg twice a day.

For treatment of flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, aching joints, severe headache, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and/or feeling lethargic) consider using a mega-dose of vitamin C in one or two ways: one gram every hour for the first six hours and then one gram three times a day until flu-like symptoms subside; or 100 to 150 grams divided into portions taken eight to 20 times a day. The right dose is the dose that is just short of producing diarrhea, the “bowel tolerance dose.” But consult your doctor before using vitamin C if you have a G6PD deficiency, an iron overload disease, a history of kidney stones, kidney failure, or diabetes.

For herbs, these are some of the best bets for flu treatment:

— Echinacea: 300-mg capsule or tablet every two hours on day one, followed by the same dose three times a day for up to 10 days

— Andrographis (plus Siberian ginseng): 500-2,000 mg three times a day

— Elderberry syrup: one teaspoon (5.0-15 ml) for children or two teaspoon for adults twice a day.