and Flu Prevention
George I. Traitses B.Sc.(Hon.), D.C., M.Sc., C.H.N., C.N.M., A.C.R.B. 3,
cold weather knocking on the door, many are
concerned about falling victim to colds and flu. Flu
vaccine the most effective way to prevent the flu,
according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention remains a controversial subject. First,
most flu vaccines still contain thimerosal, a mercury based
preservative. Second, because of the unpredictability
of flu strains, the available vaccine often
doesn't match the strain of flu that hits the population.
But even if the vaccine corresponds with the circulating
flu strain, it is not that effective. A recent study
found that the overall effectiveness of vaccines against
flu-like illness in the elderly was 23 percent when vaccine
matching was good, and not significantly different
from no vaccination when matching was poor or
unknown. Well-matched vaccine, however, may effectively
prevent pneumonia and decrease hospitalization
rates due to pneumonia or flu.
Recent research shows that the best protection from
flu may be flu itself. In the past 20 years, deaths from
flu in the elderly have decreased. At the same time, flu
vaccination has increased by 45 to 50%. Researchers
concluded, that flu vaccine didn't help decrease
deaths from flu people simply acquired natural immunity
to the emerging strain of flu. Because of this,
many are looking into natural ways to prevent viruses.
Garlic has been used as a health food for more than
5,000 years and is touted for its antibiotic properties
and effect on general immunity.
A recent study found that a group of people treated
with an allicin-containing garlic supplement for a period
of 12 weeks between November and February had
significantly fewer colds than the group that took a
placebo (24 colds vs. 65) and recovered faster if
In the group treated with the garlic supplement, 24
people came down with the common cold, which lasted
for 1.52 days, compared with 65 people in the no treatment
group who had colds that lasted 5 days on
Garlic therapy should be discontinued at least two
weeks prior to surgery to prevent excessive bleeding.
People on anticoagulants should consult their physicians.
Green and black teas have been studied for their
effects on the cardiovascular system and cancer. A
recent Harvard study looked at teas role in boosting
the immunity system. Participants who drank five cups
of black tea a day for 2 to 4 weeks increased their levels
of interferon, an important immune defense hormone
up to 4 times normal levels. Drinking the same
amount of coffee for 12 weeks produced no such
effects. The researchers suggest that the key was in L-theanine,
a substance in tea that increases immune
response in fighting bacteria, infection, viruses and
fungi. Excessive doses may cause insomnia,
headache, dizziness, and diarrhea.
The role of vitamin C in the prevention and treatment
of respiratory infections has been widely researched.
Some studies suggest that vitamin C can affect the
duration or severity of symptoms. Others have shown
no effect on the symptoms, but suggested that vitamin
C can reduce susceptibility to colds.
A recent study compared 29 clinical trials in which participants
received 200 mg or more of vitamin C daily.
The researchers found that vitamin C prevented flu or
colds in people who were exposed to brief periods of
severe physical exercise and/or cold environments. In
those who regularly take vitamin C, they concluded
that vitamin C plays some role in their defense mechanisms,
helping them to recover from their colds faster
and reducing the severity of symptoms. People with
kidney disease should not use vitamin C.
Echinacea has been widely used to prevent and treat
colds. Research on the plant, however, has produced
conflicting results. A recent study that focused on 3
preparations from echinacea root found no clinically
significant effects on the common cold. The critics of
the study believe, however, that the dose of 900 mg
per day was too low. Echinacea treatment may lead
to minor and uncommon abdominal upset, nausea and
dizziness. It may be contraindicated in people with
autoimmune conditions or HIV.
Zinc lozenges are another home remedy for fighting
winter viruses. Although research on this remedy is
conflicting, a recent study on zinc gluconate glycine
lozenges in school-aged children showed shorter cold
duration and fewer colds with the therapy. Zinc
lozenges, however, come in different formulations, and
more research is needed to assess their effectiveness.
In addition, long-term use of zinc lozenges may lead to
problems, including impairing the body's immune
responses. Excessive zinc in the diet can lead to copper
deficiency and may also decrease the levels of
HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood.
Research indicates that chronic stress may substantially
increase the risk of catching cold and stress management
reduces the duration of flu and colds.
Acupuncture may be effective against preventing and
curing the common cold, as well. Many chiropractors
have also noticed that chiropractic adjustments have
helped prevent or reduce the duration of their patients
colds. Preliminary results of an ongoing chiropractic
study show that chiropractic may increase
immunoglobulin A levels and that it decreases the levels
of glucocorticoid cortisol, a major component of
For more information on health and safety visit the Ontario
Web site at www.chiropractic.on.ca
or call 1877-327-2273.
Dr. George Traitses, 416-499-5656, www.infinite-health.com