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Five Natural Agents for Protection Through This Flu Season

Flu Prevention

Influenza (Flu) Mayhem

With the flu season hitting the United States with a vengeance, the healing duo thought best to help its community by providing some helpful natural tips to stay healthy. This season the dominant flu strain is H3N2, with high levels of H1N1 and influenza B viruses beginning to emerge. H3N2 is of most concern because of its ability to evade the protection provided by the flu vaccine. If that wasn’t scary enough, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the influenza is currently widespread across the entire continental US. In fact, this is the most extensive influenza to date, since health officials started tracking the influenza progression in the early 2000s.  

Rest easy; we are here to help. There are many steps that you can take to protect yourself and your family. Before we get into complimentary botanicals and nutraceuticals that can be used to help support your immune system, here are some general tips that can be done.  

Six General Recommendations:

#1 –

#1 – Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water, paying close attention to under the fingernails. When soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer. 

#2 – Avoid touching your face. This is the easiest way for influenza to spread. 

#3 – Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Best to cough or sneeze into your elbow. Remember to wash hands thoroughly after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose.  

#4 – Drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated, and remember to eat the rainbow in fruits and vegetables. Avoid sugary drinks and sugary foods as much as possible.

#5 – If you are not feeling well, stay home and rest. This is especially true if you have a fever; remain home for a full 24 hours after your fever has gone away.  

#6 – Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces. Do not forget about doorknobs, handles, light switches, and remote controls.


Botanical (Herbal) Remedies:
Black Elderberry – Black elderberry (Sambucus) when used prophylactically or at the first sign of influenza symptoms may be able to decrease the duration of symptoms by up to 2 days. [4] Although two days may not seem like much it is important to note that the drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu) generally will only decrease flu symptoms for ¾ to 1 day. Tamiflu also primarily works on influenza A and may not be effective against influenza B.  
· Side note: Please do NOT confuse with the commonly adored Italian liqueur Sambuca. Yes, unfortunately, they are different.  
Echinacea – In a recent double-blind placebo-controlled study, a combination product of echinacea and black elderberry was as active oseltamivir (Tamiflu) with fewer adverse effects. [1] Used alone, echinacea may not be the most effective botanical for use in patients with upper respiratory tract infections, especially children. [2] However, echinacea has shown to increase white blood cells which can help fight off infections. 
Vitamin C – Regular supplementation of vitamin C had a modest but consistent effect in reducing symptoms of the common cold and flu. [6]  Vitamin C administered before and after the appearance of cold and flu symptoms relieved and prevented further symptoms in 85% of the test population compared with the control group. [5]
Garlic – Garlic extract supplementation and garlic consumption via the diet has shown to reduce the severity and shorten the duration of colds and cases of flu [8]. Garlic has immunomodulatory effects which appear to enhance the function of the immune system. These effects include increasing and stimulating white blood cells, natural killer cells, macrophages, and lymphocytes; all of which play a crucial role in fighting off infections. [7]
Chicken soup – Chicken soup has been long touted, probably by your grandparents or parents, as the best remedy to battle a cold or the flu. Well, they were right. Some studies have been able to show that chicken soup may have some mild anti-inflammatory actions in the body which will decrease the sympathetic expression of an upper respiratory infection. [3]   
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Important Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only; it is NOT meant to substitute professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should NOT use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem/disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please see your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

* Rauš K, Pleschka S, Klein P, Schoop R, Fisher P. Effect of an Echinacea-Based Hot Drink Versus Oseltamivir in Influenza Treatment: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Double-Dummy, Multicenter, Noninferiority Clinical Trial. Current Therapeutic Research, Clinical and Experimental. 2015;77:66-72.

* Koenig K, Roehr CC. Does treatment with Echinacea purpurea effectively shorten the course of upper respiratory tract infections in children? Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2006;91(6):535-537. 

* Rennard, Barbara O., et al. “Chicken Soup Inhibits Neutrophil Chemotaxis In Vitro.” Chest, vol. 118, no. 4, 2000, pp. 1150–1157.

* Tiralongo E, Wee SS, Lea RA. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2016;8(4):182. 

* Gorton, H.clay, and Kelly Jarvis. “The Effectiveness of Vitamin C in Preventing and Relieving the Symptoms of Virus-Induced Respiratory Infections.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, vol. 22, no. 8, 1999, pp. 530–533.

* Hemila, H, and E Chalker. “Vitamin C for Preventing and Treating the Common Cold.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Jan. 2013

* Nantz, Meri P., et al. “Supplementation with Aged Garlic Extract Improves Both NK and γδ-T Cell Function and Reduces the Severity of Cold and Flu Symptoms: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Nutrition Intervention.” Clinical Nutrition, vol. 31, no. 3, 2012, pp. 337–344.

* Arreola, Rodrigo., et al. “Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds.” Journal of Immunology Research, vol. 2015, Apr. 2015, pp. 1–13.


Dr. Pamela Santapaola Dr. Pamela Santapaola Dr. Pamela Santapaola (AKA Dr. Pam) is a licensed naturopathic physician in the state of Connecticut and co-owner of Healing Duo Integrative Family Medical Practice. Dr. Pam has a passion for educating, whether it be through her writings or in her office in a one-to-one setting. She is an advocate of making small lifestyle changes that can make a big impact in the future. Her goal is to enlighten individuals about holistic medicine and empower them to make the changes necessary to live a healthier life. As her saying goes, "It’s time for you to start feeling like your best self.”

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