There are three basic categories of flu (influenza) A,B, and C. True influenza is a viral infection. 'A' type flu's are considered stronger viruses and can be more serious. Many in the allopathic community encourage vaccinations, however, some allopathic physicians and many natural medicine practitioners do not encourage vaccinations. If you do come down with flu symptoms and are concerned, your primary doctor can do a culture or blood test to rule out a more serious flu or other complications.
Most people will fall into flu categories 'B' and 'C'; in fact each year between 35-50 million Americans will experience flu-like symptoms. Symptoms include fever, aches, sore throat, cough, fatigue, and sometimes congestion. A few days of rest and fluids and most of us will recover fine.
Viruses and bacteria thrive in a damp environment. We cannot change our external environment here in St. Louis, which is humid and damp in general, but we can take charge of our internal environment, mostly through our diet, and stress levels.
Oriental Medicine recognizes the human is not separate from the natural world; we are of the natural world. When we are damp inside, we are more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria, just as in the natural world there is much growth in a damp or humid environment. Many of you may have heard the buzz words "acid/alkaline balance." An acidic condition tends to be damp in nature. Thus why some dietary practices dating back 50 years push for a more alkaline diet, especially if one is ill or dealing with a particular condition.
Sugars of all types, including fruit juice and artificial sweeteners; flour, especially white; alcohol and dairy all encourage a damp environment. If you are concerned about your health or you believe your immune system is especially vulnerable, then eliminating these foods/drinks or cutting back may help your system stay stronger. Ume concentrate, a Japanese plum extract, is one of the most effective supplements that can be taken to help create a more balanced acid/alkaline internal environment.
If you do experience a cold/flu I'd suggest taking Ume concentrate once daily while symptoms persist. If nasal congestion is involved, then I'd suggest Sinusin Spray, a homeopathic nasal spray manufactured by Heel/BHI. The spray has no known side effects. It can be used 3-5 times daily, and it has anti-viral properties. Taking additional Vitamin C can boost the immune system; up to 5,000mg daily for a few days is usually not a problem. (If you have a known digestive condition, kidney stones, or other health issue, consult a trained and licensed practitioner before taking Vitamin C or other herbal remedies or supplements.)
Most important though: address your stress levels as best you can - whether it be emotional/mental stress or physical; the body's energies get imbalanced and immune system function can be burdened. Stress also seems to cause a damp acidic condition in the body. If you are stressed you know what our advice is: get a treatment. I do.
So, enjoy the Fall; call, email, myself or Dr. Duckworth if you have any questions.
Jason R. Hackler