Sitnews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Compliments to Your Health

Listening To The Groundhog
by Joann Flora,
Acupressure, Nutrition Counseling, Qigong


February 11, 2004
Wednesday - 12:50 am

Last week, the groundhog poked his head above the snow, saw his shadow and decided we'd have six more weeks of winter. That being said, it's important to remember that along with the winter months come health considerations. By continuing to follow some basic cold and flu season guidelines, we can make it till spring with minimal inconvenience.

First and foremost, it's important remember the basics of not getting ill or passing our illnesses on to others:

Wash hands often, especially when performing unsanitary tasks. Carry hand sanitizer or disinfectant towelettes for when soap and water are not available.

Sneeze and cough into the crook of your arm, not on your hands. We've all been raised to politely cover our mouths when we sneeze or cough. This is an effective way of preventing the spray of germs into the air around us. However, the next thing we touch or pass to another person carries them on. By using the crook of the arm, we limit the spread by air and contact. If you have a tissue handy, use that and then dispose of it.

Avoid contact with unsanitary objects. These objects include the door handles of public restrooms, trash receptacles, public floors, and other areas where you may not have control of the cleanliness. Use your paper towel to open the door of a public rest room. Pick up something from a floor with a tissue or towel. Avoid touching trash containers with your skin. Shake hands with your gloves one if need be. Remembering that you are responsible for protecting yourself is a good prompt for realizing where you need to be paying attention.

If you're sick, stay home! Too many well-intentioned heroes think they are indispensable at work. Too many conscientious parents believe the kids can't afford to miss a day of school. They end result of this type of logic is that the worker or student does indeed become ill and they pass it on to their family and peers. As everyone continues passing the bug around, it gets harder to recover and stay well. Sudden and extreme fatigue, headache or body aches, chills, the sniffles, sneezing and coughing can all be indicators of more to come. Give yourself and everyone you know a break by keeping it to yourself - at home. Rest and sleep.

If you do come down with something, what options do you have? Grandma said "starve a cold and feed a fever" and she was right. A fever raises the body's metabolism, increasing your need for caloric intake, so eat! A low grade fever indicates the immune system working. Let it do its job. High fevers can be dangerous and should be addressed medically. Colds, viruses, and flues without fever should be starved. The body can then consume the disease to produce energy, so lay off the groceries. Lots of clear liquids including purified water, chicken broth, and diluted juices help hydrate and flush the system of its unwanted germs. Have homemade chicken broth and don't skim the fat; it has decongestant properties. Dilute your clear apple and white grape juice to reduce your sugar intake. Sugar depresses the immune system which is not advantageous when we're ill. Caffeine also depresses the immune function, so coffee, cola, and tea (except herbal) should not be included in your liquid intake.

At the beginning of the cold and flu season or at the first sign of symptoms, echinacea can be started. Use standardized capsules or extracts according the package directions for the product you select. Echinacea is well known for its ability fight viruses, bacteria, and for its immune enhancing effects. When taken with goldenseal, the combination packs a pretty good immune punch, though goldenseal should not be used for more than two weeks at a time. Garlic is found in many kitchens and has a long history of fighting disease. The active ingredient, allicin, breaks down into sulfur compounds which have been long recognized for their usefulness in preventing or treating disease. In it's most effective form, garlic is taken as whole cloves, cut into smaller pieces, and swallowed with water during meals. Don't chew it, just swallow. Take one to five cloves daily. Do not use prepared garlic for this purpose. For those concerned about its odiferous nature, descented, dehydrated garlic in capsules can be found in health food stores and supplement sections of grocery stores. Though not as effective as fresh garlic, the encapsulated products are easy to use and very helpful. Avoid garlic if you take blood thinning medications.

If you can handle your symptoms, do so; the less we interfere with the normal function of the immune system, the better we allow it to work. That being said, sometimes we just feel so awful that relief of symptoms becomes necessary for our rest and recuperation. Ginger root is an ancient herb known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Grate fresh ginger into boiling water and steep as a tea. It helps reduce inflammation of the mucosal lining and opens breathing passages. It contains numerous antiviral compounds that are known to be effective against rhinoviruses (common colds and more). Ginger increases peristalsis of the intestines and can help with diarrhea and intestinal cramping. Hot ginger tea has a warming effect on the body to alleviate chills. Avoid ginger if you have gallstones or morning sickness.

There are many other natural remedies we could discuss, but these simple guidelines present an easy, efficient way to be prepared for winter. For those who are essentially healthy people not at risk, taking precautions against illness and using non-invasive methods during illness allows the immune system to work according to its design. An immune system allowed to function learns to function more effectively. For those who may be particularly susceptible to contagious disease there are a couple of other things to consider.

Transfer Factor. This supplement is extracted from colostrum, which is knows for its role in jump starting the immune system in newborns. Transfer Factor sends immune recognition signals between immune cells and naive cells. It has been proven useful in viral disease, parasitic disorders, autoimmune disease, bacterial disease, fungal disease, and more. Those at higher risk (elderly persons, those who are weakened from other diseases, people with known immune deficiency) can benefit from using Transfer Factor as routine immune support. Anyone will benefit from adding it at the first sign of illness.

Flu Shots. The benefit of flu shots is not to be taken lightly. Elderly people and those with a history of illness or respiratory impairment can help protect themselves from the threat of influenza by getting an annual flu shot. It is important to remember that flu vaccine is formulated for the strains that are expected to be present in any give year. In that regard, it can be very much hit and miss.

Anti-Biotics. The common cold or any other illness that is viral in nature will not be improved by anti-biotics, which are intended to treat infections of various types. If you have a cold, even a bad cold, please do not demand that your doctor prescribe anti-biotics. Inappropriate use of these medications is, in part, how we have been able to grow 'super bugs' that are impervious to anti-biotic treatment.

Masks. Those at very high risk for respiratory disease or air born pathogens can wear filter masks in public places. A good mask can make the difference between having a life and sitting home, afraid to have contact with the outside world. The mask must fit well and filter at the .3 micron level. Most viruses are in the .1 to .2 micron range. There are new, anti-microbial sprays on the market to upgrade the effectiveness of masks. How well they work is being debated.

Our best defensive is always good offensive. Preventive care and attention up front can minimize our need to suffer each winter.



E-Mail Joann Flora
 E-mail Joann Flora


©Compliments To Your Health
Joann Flora 2003


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