How to Protect Myself from the Flu ?

What Can I do to protect myself from Flu?

Since the beginning of this Flu season, Zanjabee practitioners have been deluged with requests for what our patients can do to:

  1. Protect themselves from the Flu.
  2. Quick recovery if you have had the Flu.

Here are our answers to your questions:

Should I get the flu vaccine?

The short answer to this for 2012-2013 flu seasons is, yes.

The long answer is more complicated. Flu vaccine has to be both on target (have protection against the right viruses) and effective (be able to prevent infection when exposed to virus).

In Feb 2012, scientists from around the world pooled their expertise to predict that the flu this season would be caused by 3 types of flu viruses namely H3N2, HINI and a B influenza virus.

  1. We now know that their prediction was 90% accurate. Vaccine is on target.
  2. Vaccine is 60% effective in protecting the average person against the flu.

Should you get vaccinated?

Only you and your physician can make that decision. Here are some thoughts that you should consider.

  1. It makes sense to get the vaccine if the flu season is severe and the vaccine protects against the right viruses. Both of these statements are true this year.
  2. At a community level, vaccinating everyone makes sense since it prevents transmission of flu and reduces the overall burden of flu related illness.
  3. There is no short-term disadvantage to getting the flu vaccine.
    • You may have some local soreness on your vaccinated arm.
    • Data proves the flu vaccine does not cause recipients to get flu like illness.
  4. Theoretically on a long-term basis any vaccination can modulate the human immune system towards autoimmune illness, which can in turn harm the individual’s health. There is no data supporting that this is the case for the flu vaccine.
  5. Children above the age of 6 months and elderly (age >65) are especially vulnerable to the flu.
  6. You should also get vaccinated if you look after young children or elderly or cannot afford to take sick leave of ~ 6 weeks if you get a severe bout.
  7. Patients with asthma, congestive heart failure, Diabetes and COPD are especially at risk and should be vaccinated.
  8. It only makes sense to not get vaccinated if the scientists’ predictions for active flu virus strains are wrong for a given year. Remember that there is no way to find if the vaccine is on target until late into the flu season. The scientists have been wrong only three times in the past two decades.
  9. Since the flu season is still going strong, you should consider vaccination now even if you deferred it earlier.
  10. Since three strains are active, it makes sense to be vaccinated even if you have had the flu.
  11. It takes 2 weeks to get peak protection after you have been vaccinated.

How can I use Ayurveda to protect myself from Flu?

Ayurvedic concepts can be applied for prevention as well as management of flu. According to Ayurveda, there is aggravation of Vata energy and accumulation of Kapha energy in winter.
Vata is cold, dry, light and Kapha is cold, wet and heavy.
A preventive strategy would focus on avoiding Vata aggravation and keeping the accumulating Kapha in check.

Prevention:

This can be done through diet, lifestyle and use of selected herbs:

  • Diet – warm, well lubricated foods with warming spices like pepper, long pepper, white pepper, cumin seeds, carom seeds, turmeric; dry fruits like figs, watermelon seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, makhana (puffed lotus seeds), cashews, chironji (charoli), etc.
  • Herbs to help in Flu
  • Lifestyle – warm suitable oil body massages, brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) infused oil/ghee head massages, shirodhara (Ayurveda bodywork for destressing and inducing deep restorative sleep), karna poorna (ayurveda body work for ear care), nasya (ayurveda body work for ear care); keeping physical and mental health at an optimal.
  • Herbs – chyavanprash (52 herb jam), sitopaladi (5 herb mix to expel accumulated mucus), immune boosting formulations, wine like formulations, turmeric milk, etc.
  • Shirodhara

During Acute Illness:

Once flu has set in, the preventive protocol should be continued along with more powderful and specific herbs and herbal formulation like:

    1. Sudarshan formulations
    2. trikatu (3 herb formula)

How can I use Acupuncture against Flu:

Acupuncture can help in both prevention and recovery of the flu. It does not help during the acute flu illness.

      1. Weekly or once every 2 week acupuncture during flu season, helps your immune system becomes stronger and strengthens “weak spots” like allergy, running nose, sinus infection, anxiety or headaches. This increases your chances of either not having the flu altogether or contracting a milder illness if you do catch it.
      2. This year post flu symptoms (cough, exhaustion and fatigue) remain for a long time. Acupuncture is helpful helping you recover quickly from residual cough, running nose, sore throat and weakness. Acupuncture will balance all meridians, making you feel like yourself again.

For a basic overview of Flu please go to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website here. For latest flu updates, please check out CDC updates.