This flu season is giving everyone a lot to worry about. In addition to the usual concerns over the flu, there is the emerging novel coronavirus in China. While cases in China are ballooning rapidly we are not seeing a similar spread in other countries yet. The good news is the same protective measures apply for both viruses.
One thing that always struck me living near the San Diego/Mexico border was that during flu season all the US radio stations would broadcast how we all needed to get our flu shots but the Mexican radio stations had a huge campaign to make sure you were washing your hands, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and getting adequate rest to keep from getting the flu. There's a lot of wisdom in that.
First and foremost, be vigilant about washing your hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds and drying them using a towel whenever possible. Try to avoid touching your eyes or mouth unless your hands have been recently washed. Cover coughs with a tissue and dispose of it immediately. Hand sanitizers are not nearly as effective as soap and water - so do not rely on them for protection.
For those of you that have access to good quality herbal products like those we carry in house including Mediherb, Gaia, and our Chinese medicine suppliers, there are some herbal remedies that may help build resistance to viruses. For children or those with more sensitive constitutions, Elderberry syrup is a good place to start. Mediherb has an outstanding Echinacea extract which works very well when taken daily before you get sick. They also carry something called Andrographis Complex with a combination of immune boosting herbs.
For those who don't have access to quality herbs Vitamin C, either as a supplement or from foods like hibiscus and rose hips, can be helpful. I also recommend Lysine to boost the immune system against viruses. Lysine can also be very effective at shortening the duration of cold sores that may emerge this time of year. Supplemental vitamin D can be helpful and we recommend a liquid form from Metagenics that's easy to take and readily absorbed by the body.
As far as Chinese herbal formulas, it's important to check with an experienced herbalist before taking them. Yu Ping Feng San (aka Jade Windscreen Decoction) can be very helpful for those that have weak immune systems. Herbal formulas like Microgard which regulate the microbiome in the gut may help improve immune function as well. We will cover what kind of herbs to take if you find yourself with a bug in a future article.
Lastly nasal rinsing with buffered saline solution can rinse out any viruses before they have a chance to pass through the mucous membranes. This is also a helpful practice during allergy season to keep pollen and dust out of your nasal passages. We recommend the Nasopure bottles for ease of use and safety.
If you take any prescription medications is important to check with your health care providers before adding any herbal remedies or supplements to your routine.