Virus Alert! How to Protect Yourself This Flu Season

With all of the scare about the coronavirus, you may be asking yourself what you can do to keep from catching it or any other flu-like virus this year. Chinese medicine is being used along side western medicine in China to combat it, and I’ve been keeping up to date on the formulas being used.  Rest assured, I have both preventative formulas and formulas to treat these viruses in stock.  Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself.

Let’s talk about prevention first as that’s the easiest way to keep from getting sick.

  1. Wash your hands frequently. This is by far the best way to prevent the spread of sickness. You need to wash your handswash with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. That’s the amount of time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice, or Twinkle, twinkle little star.
  2. Clean your environment regularly – We know that most respiratory viruses are spread by droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The virus can live on surfaces for a period of hours to days. Door knobs, sink and toilet handles, kids toys, etc. are all breeding grounds that need to be disinfected, especially if someone in your home is or has been sick. I also burn moxa or sage to help fumigate a sick room (also great for an immune system boost).
  3. Keep your hands away from your face. For some of us this is hard. A simple itch of the nose and the hand goes up instinctively. But this is exactly how germs get into your body. Eyes, nose, mouth and ears are all places where viruses can enter.
  4. When traveling via plane or public transportation, wipe down surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes. Arm rests, seat back tray tables and the video screen – anything you might touch are all candidates for disinfecting. You may even want to take a mask in case your seat mate is coughing or sneezing. You may want to wipe down your hotel room when you arrive as well.
  5. Stay away. It goes without saying that you’ll be better off if you stay away from sick people. But sometimes that’s difficult when you have a sick child or relative who requires your care. Double up on all of the precautions above, keep that person in a designated sick room, and keep everyone else away. If there’s lots of sneezing and coughing, consider wearing a mask. And by all means if you are the one who is sick, stay away from others. They will appreciate that you aren’t sharing the bug with them.
  6. Stay warm. The weather can be really fickle this time of year.  One day it’s cold and rainy, and then the next day is 70 degrees.  Make sure to dress appropriately especially on cold, windy days.  In Chinese Medicine we say that all pathogens come on the wind, so protect your head and neck and keep warm by wearing a scarf or hoodie.

Aside from steering clear of the germs, maintaining a healthy immune system is your best bet for staying well when everyone else is sick. Those who have compromised immune system, the elderly and very young are most vulnerable to a strong virus.  When your immune system is strong, the incidence and severity of symptoms is lowered. Sleep is super important because that’s when your body does it’s healing internally. And since your digestive system is a huge part of your immune system, digestive health is critical too. Taking steps to reduce stress will also help maintain a healthy immune system. Additionally, I make use of a number of nutrients that promote an improved immune system such as:

  • Vitamin C – regular supplementation of 1-2 grams per day has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of colds and flu.
  • Vitamin D – Many of us are deficient in Vitamin D, and supplementation is of benefit in boosting immunity to common illnesses. 1200 IU of Vitamin D3 per day or up to 10,000 IU weekly in the winter is the recommended dosage for protection against viruses and colds.
  • Zinc – considered an anti-viral, Zinc is helpful in reducing the risk of pneumonia and the incidence of respiratory tract infections. It has also been shown to speed the recovery from these infections. 20 mg per day is recommended, best taken at the earliest sign of illness.
  • Echinacea – Has been shown to reduce risk of respiratory complications by preventing virus and bacterial adhesion. 2400 mg per day for prevention and 4000 mg per day during early stages of illness appear to be beneficial.
  • Elderberry – studies show Elderberry can help strengthen your immune system and minimize flu symptoms. It can reduce the severity and duration of an infection if taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms. I buy mine at the local farmers market in Peachtree City, and I take about a tablespoon or two daily. You will want to increase that to 4 times per day if you have any symptoms.
  • Chinese Herbal Formulas – as I mentioned above, I have some Chinese herbal formulas that are great at protecting you from infection or correcting imbalances that affect your immune system. Should you fall ill, I also have formulas to treat the bug and it’s symptoms which work especially well if you start taking them at the earliest signs of illness.

Bear in mind that these are just some suggestions and if you begin to show symptoms, you should consult your primary care doctor. With the coronavirus and other flu viruses, you can go from the sniffles to a fever with significant respiratory symptoms very quickly, so acting fast is key.    Be well.