You think the flu is harmless? You’re wrong. In fact, influenza kills more people than AIDS, lung cancer and heart disease combined. Here’s a sobering thought: Every year you run a 50/50 chance of contracting this disease. You’ve probably had it before; even many times before. Perhaps you even suffered from it last winter. Luckily, if you’re reading this letter, you obviously survived.
The World Health Organization tells us more than 25 percent of the world’s population gets hit with the flu virus every year — that’s about 1.5 billion people. Now granted, most of those 1.5 billion will get better. That much you probably expected. But more than 15 million people will not. In fact, many of them are dead within a week of first falling ill.
The Chilling Facts
The chilling truth about the world’s deadliest disease is simply that there are literally hundreds of thousands of different viral strains — each mutating and multiplying into killer bugs, some as quickly as once every 20 minutes.
That fact is chilling enough. But did you know that it takes three to four months after a new virus emerges for an effective vaccination to be manufactured and dispersed? And once you get the virus, the vaccine is of no use at all. Of course, the loss of life is the real tragedy.
Among those who survive, the flu epidemic sickens enough of the U.S. workforce each year to drain more than $10 billion in lost wages and production from the U.S. economy. And again, that’s just the loss here in the U.S.
Not to mention the money Americans spend trying to beat the sniffling, sneezing, aching, hacking, feverish symptoms of the disease — more than $3 billion every year. That’s many times more than the economies of some Third World nations. No wonder there are more than 100 different brands of flu medicine.
Right now, all the over-the-counter flu drugs are pretty much the same. Drugs like Sudafed®, Alka-Seltzer, Robitussin®, Theraflu®, Dimetapp® and NyQuil®. But not one of them actually prevents the flu. They all just treat symptoms. And you know by now that treating symptoms will never prevent the onset of anything.
You may be thinking that a flu shot will get you through the season unscathed, if you get it in time. Not so. Flu vaccines are only 30 percent effective in preventing the virus. According to Dr. Richard Judelsohn, medical director of the Erie County (N.Y.) Department of Health, 30 percent of those vaccinated against the flu or pneumonia get no protection whatsoever from their shot.
The news only gets worse. Among the elderly or those suffering from health conditions that weaken the immune system, the flu vaccines may be useless up to 50 percent of the time.
Prevention Is The Best Medicine
While there’s no way to completely protect yourself from the viruses that cause colds and flu, you can take all-natural measures to prevent them from nailing you. Strengthening your immune system is the way to do it.
I personally use a combination of Chinese patent herbal formulas to build my immunity during cold and flu season. These include Gan Mao Ling, Zhong Gan Ling, Chuan Xin Lian, and Yin Chiao tablets. Each of these can be purchased in Chinatowns nationwide, and are also easily found on-line through a simple keyword search.
If a more mainstream approach is your cup of tea, consuming a hot cup of ginger green tea each day can do wonders in preventing this debilitating illness. Green tea is full of anti-oxidants and ginger is a diaphoretic (promotes sweating). Sweating out the dampness and phlegm — that get infected and provide an environment for viruses to live — is essential to prevention.
Doubling the recommended daily doses of vitamin C and zinc starting a month before cold and flu season will also boost immunity. Adding more garlic to your diet is great. Garlic acts as an anti-bacterial… and can also be taken in supplement form. Altering your diet during cold and flu season will also do wonders. Here’s the good and bad of it.
Here are some healing foods to include in your diet: Stews and soups (that are not milk or cream based), ginger, brown sugar, green tea, walnuts, scallion bulb, peanuts (Steamed or Boiled), egg whites, garlic, watermelon and tomato juice, pears, apples, raisins, mung beans, rice, radish, Chinese date, water chestnut extract, eggs stewed in vinegar, carrots, and lotus root.
Here are some foods to remove from your diet while experiencing symptoms: All animal milk products (milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, ice cream), excessive oil consumption, refined white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, coffee, black tea, sodas, bananas, and butter.
Finally and most important: Lower your stress. Stress is terrible for you, causing tight muscles, headaches, belly fat and high blood pressure and it weakens your immune system. In fact, nearly 75 percent of people who get colds each year are found to be under heavy levels of stress.
So relax, smile, eat some garlic, take some supplements… and you may be able to take a vacation from this year’s cold and flu epidemic. Happy winter!
–Dr. Mark Wiley