It looks like the whole country is going to be dealing with this new swine flu outbreak. So far there have been no cases reported in Iowa but it’s likely this will change in the next few weeks. While there’s no need to panic, this may be worse than anything we’ve dealt with for a number of years. Fortunately, there are some things we can do to protect ourselves and others.

  • Stay hydrated. Water is the best source of liquid, although unsweetened juice is fine too. Avoid caffeine drinks because caffeine increases stress hormones which knock down the immune system. You should get at least 2 quarts of water a day
  • Get adequate rest and sleep. Sleep deprivation severely weakens the immune system and makes you much more susceptible to infection. Depending on your physical type, you’ll need from 6 to 9 hours of sleep/night
  • Stress hormones depress the immune system. That’s why you want to avoid caffeine. In addition, try to reduce stress in your life. In addition to emotional stress there is also:
    • Thermal stress: extremes in temperature, especially when the temperature fluctuates rapidly like it has been lately. Listen to the weather report and try to dress appropriately
    • Chemical stress: Caffeine, refined sugar, food additives, cleaning and workplace chemicals are all in this category. Try to reduce or eliminate those you can. Ask me about nutrients and homeopathic remedies to help deal with those you can’t
    • Physical stress: poor working position, sleep deprivation, overworking, muscular and skeletal imbalances all contribute.
    • These all add up together to equal the magic stress number at which things start going wrong in your body
    • Incorporate some anti-stress activities in your life like
      • Moderate, aerobic exercise
      • Tai Chi
      • Yoga
      • Meditation. I’ll be writing a separate anti-stress breathing techniques that give some of the same benefits as medition
  • Wash your hands regularly, especially if you have been around anyone you think is sick or if you’re sick yourself. Definitely avoid touching your or anyone else’s face, mouth, nose, eyes with hands that may have the virus on them
  • Avoid sugar. A tablespoon of sugar inhibits the immune response by 40% for four hours. A can of pop contains 3 tablespoons of sugar.
  • Eat lots of fruits and especially vegetables. Fresh is best, followed by frozen. The more colorful the better. Deeply colored, fresh produce contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that have been shown to fight infection and even cancer.
  • Shitake mushrooms have been shown to be big immune system boosters in many studies. They are available fresh, frozen and dried at most grocery stores these days.
  • There are a number of nutritional supplements that can build your immune system and help prevent infection
    • Vitamin C is a proven standby. I suggest 3000mg/day divided in at least 3 doses
    • Vitamin D has been found, in the last few years to be very important for immune function. One reason we are sicker during the Winter is that we don’t get significant vitamin D from the sun. The recent research in D has been very exciting. I plan to write a separate article for you just on D but for now here are some highlights
      • 10% of our genes depend on vitamin D to work properly
      • Vitamin D helps prevent several types of cancer, including skin cancers
      • You should get out in the sun with arms and legs bare for at least 10 min/day without sunblock, preferably between 10 AM and 2 PM
      • You should avoid getting burned. This, rather than just sun exposure may increase your chance of skin cancer
      • Some people don’t make vitamin D as effectively as others, especially as we get older. They will need vitamin D supplements and we all need them during the Winter, early Spring and late Fall. The best way to determine your best dose of D is a combination of a blood test that I can order for you and muscle testing.
    • Spriulina has been shown effective at reducing the reproduction of several viruses, including influenza. I suggest everyone take two 500mg tablets three times/day and increase to one every hour if you start getting sick.
    • Echinacea can be useful if you take it at the beginning of illness. It should not be used for prevention like spirulina because it becomes ineffective if taken for very long.
    • Boneset can be especially useful for the flu but, like echinacea, you should wait until you feel you are actually starting to get sick.
    • Zycam, available from the grocery store or drug store, is a zinc supplement you use in your nose that helps shorten colds and flus.
  • If/when we start getting swine flu cases nearby, it’s best to avoid situations where you might be crowded together with a lot of people. You also might want to carry a bandanna, silk scarf or surgical mask to wear over your mouth and nose.
  • If you get sick, stay home. I even suggest you wait to come to my office until you’re well. If you’re coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth with a handkerchief or tissue to avoid spread the virus around. Don’t touch other people, especially around their face until you’ve thoroughly washed your hands.
  • There are a number of treatments I can do that improve your ability to resist infection. The 1918 flu epidemic was probably the most dangerous and lethal flu in recent history. There were thousands of deaths. I’ve heard from several sources that people who were under regular chiropractic care during the epidemic did much better than average. One source claims that not one person under chiropractic care died of the flu. I’ll be tracking down the actual stats on that but I have many powerful tools for enhancing health and immune function that weren’t available in 1918. I suggest, if you want to optimize your immune system, that you come in to get checked at least once every two weeks until the present epidemic is past.

These are a few strategies for improving immune system strength and decreasing your chances of getting seriously ill. I’ve been delaying sending this out because I keep thinking of things to add. I’m going to post this now and send shorter messages for any additional tips that come to mind.

Let’s all work together to get through this.

Dr. Hogg