Influenza:prevention and cure

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Please see My book The Infection Game - life is an arms race


As I constantly iterate, Life is an Arms race. Viruses are highly successful microbes, constantly evolving and 'intelligent'. They come up with cunning plans to overwhelm our defences so that they can make themselves at home in our very comfortable bodies and enjoy wild and profligate sex (well………. reproduction).

Private Baldrick: I have a plan, sir.
Captain Blackadder: Really Baldrick? A cunning and subtle one?
Private Baldrick: Yes, sir.
Captain Blackadder: As cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University?

(Blackadder Goes Forth, "Goodbyeee")

Viruses are the Professors of Cunning, not the Baldricks!

There is always a two pronged approach to treating any infection.

The idea of this first step is to make the body as uncomfortable as possible for these wretched invaders. However as we age, or mess things up (and yes I do much of that), or are subject to an overwhelming infectious challenge, our defences become less robust and the invaders gain access through skin or membrane. We need an additional approach to fight back at them, namely -

  • SECOND STAGE - kill the little wretches and mitigate their terrorist like activity!

Specifics of SECOND STAGE for Influenza

  • To achieve this effectively you must know your enemy. If you know the weapons they are going to use, then one can hone the defences in terms or what you use, how much and when. If the virus is going to get into the body and be successful, there are various steps it takes and knowing these helps us.

The Biochemistry of an Influenza infection and the steps that can be taken to mitigate this from happening

The steps that influenza virus takes to get into the body What we can do to slow or prevent this happening Notes
When we inhale, we can acquire the Influenza virus - it lands on the mucous membranes which line the respiratory tract Some is coughed up and swallowed. Kill this by taking vitamin C to bowel tolerance
Kill virus directly before it enters the body with zinc, selenium and echinacea Must be Echinacea angustifolia
Just like a ship coming into port, the virus docks onto a receptor called haemaglutinin. This allows the 'terrorist' virus to stick to the dock wall and lock on and thereafter to start the process of entering the body Chinese skull cap inhibits this process
Having stuck to the dockside, the virus releases an enzyme, neuraminidase, which softens the dock wall so that the lock gates open. For our terrorist virus these really are the gates to heaven! Neuraominidase inhibitors slow this process. Eg herbals such as Chinese skullcap, elderberry, licorice, rhodiola, ginger, isatis etc
Also prescription drugs such as Tamiflu or Relenza
Once inside the cell the virus wants its own bed and control centre. As the gates of heaven open, such a bed and control centre is created - called a vacuole.
The virus sticks to the lining of the vacuole and creates a tiny pore through which it can direct further affairs to its own advantage. This pore is called an M2 ion channel Lomatin is a powerful inhibiter of M2 development. The M2 ion channel is specific to influenza A which is the most dangerous form of 'flu. This is how the drug amantadine works- - but resistance is common since this drug has been so widely used in the poultry industry. This has rendered it pretty useless.
Once the M2 pore is open, the virus uses this porthole to hijack the cell machinery and direct it to make more virus! (Who said viruses were not intelligent?). The cell is sucked dry by these vicious demands, exhausts and dies and the new young terrorists move into the next cell……. This viral RNA release again involves neuraminidase so all the above herbs have use.
As cells die, the lungs do not work so well and all the symptoms of lung disease and infection strike – malaise, sore throat. cough, mucous, shortness of breath and eventually pneumonia…………
Throughout all the above, the virus additionally manipulates the body’s immune system to its own advantage in two ways. The longer the virus can hold off effective resistance the more it can replicate – in particular it

1.prevents type 1 interferon production using NS1 protein

Licorice upregulates type 1 interferon production
2.inhibits the white cell response Increase white cell responses with zinc, selenium, vitamin C, licorice, elderberry
Too much of the above (ie prevention of type 1 interferon production and inhibition of white cell response) and the immune system flips into a cytokine storm. It’s as if the body realises it’s been duped and sends in the atomic bomb. But this can be counterproductive and the “friendly fire” overwhelms and causes terrible tissue damage. This was a major cause of death during the 1918 Spanish 'flu epidemic which killed an estimated 52 million worldwide - about 3% of the World's population. See 1918 'flu pandemic
Indeed, the influenza virus also moves into and hijacks immune cells causing them to pour our cytokines and chemokines. Again some of this is inappropriate Inhibit overly toxic cytokines such as TNF alpha with Chinese skullcap, elderberry, licorice and cordyceps. It is wonderful how these herbs multitask. This partly explains why resistance to herbs does not arise because the chances of any microbe simultaneously acquiring resistant genes to multiple factors is vanishingly small. Especially when they are not used in the poultry production industry!!!
Mice that cannot produce TNF alpha, a cytokine, have fewer symptoms and lower mortality when infected with the Spanish 'flu virus
Another cytokine may be overproduced vis TGF beta2 Inhibit this cytokine with astragalus, Chinese skullcap, Japanese honeysuckle
Another cytokine may be overproduced vis HMGB1.

(don’t worry about the names- - I don’t because I can never remember them and remembering them does not change management!)

Inhibit this cytokine with angelica sinensis, licorice, green tea, quercetin In severe cases prescription antivirals, steroids, NSAIs and antibiotics (except oddly minocycline) have no effect. But herbs do! Oxygen can be vital to allow patient to survive.
There are inevitably dead cells (killed by virus) and collateral damage from friendly fire. Drainage lymph nodes in the lungs enlarge to clear up the mess. A test for cell free DNA taken at this stage would show a high result! Improve lymphatic drainage with red root, immortal and pleurisy root
Viruses like sugar too! The saying “feed a cold, starve a fever” should be “starve a cold, starve a fever”! The body has more than enough fat reserves to power itself for a few days PK diet. All infections are encouraged by sugar and carbs. Do not eat that bunch of grapes however lovingly they have been purchased! Intravenous glucose during 'flu substantially increases viral load and worsens symptoms. I suspect sugar feeds the cytokine storm as it is so pro-inflammatory.

Translating the Biochemistry into what you actually do!

  • So how does all the above translate into what you actually do at the first sign of a cough and cold…………….which may or may not progress to a nasty 'flu.
  • You may discover a few critical interventions that do it for you……..everyone is different!

Clinical signs and symptoms What to do? Why?
At the first sign of the tingling, sore throat, runny nose, malaise which means you are going to get something…… Take vitamin C to bowel tolerance. I reckon I need 10 grams to get a result. If I do not have a very loose bowel motion within 2 hours I take another 10 grams. This greatly reduces any viral load in the gut (remember some of the infecting load of influenza virus will get stuck onto the sticky mucous which lines the lungs and is coughed up and swallowed – it needs to be killed in the gut). This has worked brilliantly for me for 30 years - but as I get older and the defences decline I need some more ammo…….
Take zinc and vitamin C lozenges every hour. Both zinc and vitamin C kill virus directly but they must come into direct contact with the virus, ideally before it gets into the body
Take selenium – chew a 100mcgm capsule of selenium in the mouth up to 5 times daily or empty contents into the mouth Again direct contact with virus needed - the idea is to contact kill microbes in the mouth, throat as well...
Take echinacea. Use tincture of Echinacea angustifolia - a few drops dribbled into the mouth as often as you can. Hold in the mouth for as long as you can, gargle with it, let it dribble slowly down the throat. I have one patient who stands on his head to allow it to soak the top of the throat and nasal passages…….why not? Again direct contact with virus needed.
Goldenseal 800mgs chewed three times daily or empty contents into the mouth Does not taste great but hey ho…………the idea is to contact kill microbes in the mouth, throat as well...
Take Swanson’s “improving the defences” rhodiola, ashwaganda, ginseng complex 2 capsules every 2 hours up to 12 daily
Rest – within running distance of the loo – you will need this if you have taken enough vitamin C! Your immune system needs all the energy it can muster to fight this infection
Keep warm. Viruses are killed by heat and flourish in the cold.
Do not symptom suppress with paracetamol, aspirin, antihistamines, cough suppressants, pseudoephedrine or other such! This is what doctors recommend – it is a disaster. We have symptoms for good reason – cough, sneeze and runny nose help to expel the virus, fever kills virus, feeling ill keeps us still, so that energy can be spent on fighting the infection. I suspect many cases of CFS result from virus infection that the body is not allowed to deal with because of symptom suppressing medication
Mild infection – if the above does not work or you can’t get to your pharmacopeia in time….. Buhner recommends freshly juiced ginger. I have no experience of this but it sounds great! His recipe includes honey which may improve the flavour but I don't think is a good idea for infection (sorry Stephen). Otherwise it is one pound of fresh ginger pulped and juiced, juice of a lime and 6 ounces hot water. Drink 2-6 cups regularly. I have to say I cannot see that I would find the time to do this. However what works as well is…….
Elderberry syrup 800mgs/tspn – one teaspoon every waking hour
Should you progress to more symptoms Start off with Chinese skullcap 400mgs capsule every waking hour and/ or Isatis (this is cabbage juice – you could make your own!), Licorice 750mgs caps x 3-9 daily, Lomatium
Should you progress to moderate symptoms Add in Pleurisy root tincture 2grms/2floz liquid (Buhner also suggests red root, Immortal)
Should you progress to severe symptoms (I am thinking of cytokine storm) Cordyceps 600mgs 1-2 x 3 daily (Buhner also suggests Japanese honeysuckle, angelical sinensis) With severe symptoms you need medical help. Possibly hospital admission for oxygen and other such supportive therapy. Let us hope that all of the above means that no-one gets to this stage!

By putting in place these two stages of interventions we shall have become more cunning than the 'Professor' viruses!

Blackadder: Baldrick, I have a very, very, very cunning plan.
Baldrick: Is it as cunning as a fox what used to be Professor of Cunning at Oxford University but has moved on and is now working for the U.N. at the High Commission of International Cunning Planning?
Blackadder: Yes it is.
Baldrick: Hmm... that's cunning.

(Blackadder Back & Forth)

Monitoring blood sugar and Vitamin C

Bear in mind that the DIY home tests for blood sugar rely on a test that employs glucose oxidase. Vitamin C cross-reacts – so if you are taking vitamin C to bowel tolerance your blood will be saturated with vitamin C and this may give false highs. My experience is that this may be 2-3mmols/l higher than the actual blood glucose. That is to say an apparent reading of 7-8mols/l equates to a real reading of 4-5mmol of glucose.

Influenza Vaccination

There are several problems with the 'flu vaccination:

  • Many case of CFS are triggered by vaccination, indeed many people report feeling ill and 'flu-like following such.
  • Vaccines are known to switch on the immune system with the potential to trigger allergy and auto-immune reactions.
  • Their effectiveness has been greatly exaggerated.
  • NHS GPs are paid per vaccine administered. In addition, target payments are made. This means a GP has a vested interest in getting as many people vaccinated as possible. In my opinion this does not amount to Best Practice.

I advise my CFS/ME patients to avoid the annual 'flu vaccination because of the above problems. The point is that the dietary, nutritional and herbal interventions are highly effective, well tolerated and extremely safe. Importantly they restore control of health to the individual.

First Aid Package

You can order a 'flu prevention package from My Online Shop which contains:

  • Ascorbic acid 500grams
  • Zinc and vit C lozenges x 100
  • Selenium capsules 100mcgsm x 100
  • Elderberry syrup
  • Immune support rhodiola, ashwaganda, ginseng complex 60
  • Chinese skullcap 400mgs x 60

Related Article

External Links

Postscript - Groundhog Regimes

I have developed general strategies for good health, and for dealing with both acute and chronic infections. Please see:

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