Tag / immune system

“Should I Get the Flu Shot?”

It’s a question asked of me frequently, and not an easy one to answer. A review of recent research suggests a decent 42% effectiveness for last year’s vaccine[i],[ii], but also with little to no impact on days of work lost, hospitalizations, or complications from influenza in generally healthy people[iii]. A review last year even noted lack of benefit to the elderly in long term care facilities when healthcare workers were routinely immunized [iv]. Despite the confusion, prevailing medical opinion continues to promote the flu shot as the best way to protect ourselves and the vulnerable members in our community. So, while I struggle to offer clear advice regarding the flu vaccine, here’s what I can tell you about the flu virus:

Four Homeopathic Approaches to Flu Season

fluThroughout history, homeopathy has enjoyed a proven track record in treating influenza and other epidemic disease. During the Spanish Flu of 1918, homeopaths reported mortality rates of 1-5%, while their conventional counterparts, had rates of 30% and higher. Homeopaths of that era used a therapeutic approach in the treatment of the flu, honing in on the most characteristic and individualising symptoms of the flu outbreak in their community.

Today, homeopathy has 4 categories of treatment approaches: constitutional, therapeutic, prophylactic, and isopathic. Each one has unique benefits, and a mix of them can potentially be used together to optimize results for a modern population.

Cold & Flu Kits

cold-and-fluWe’ve put together 3 of our favourite products in a nice little gift box, perfect for friends and family and just in time for the cold season. Though true prevention involves addressing immune system balance, these kits are designed to give you an extra boost at the early signs of symptoms. $45 each.

Super Powerful Throat Tea

Tea

As the cold and flu season encroaches on us it is nice to have a few treatments options at your disposal. This recipe is easy and uses simple ingredients found at home, but the best part is, it really helps! Brew this tea at the very first signs of a tickle in your throat and if your throat is feeling sore. It is especially effective for strep throat symptoms. Drink at least 4 cups a day for relief.

WARNING: This drink is potent. The garlic (a key ingredient) can kill most forms of bacteria but leaves your breath strong enough to ward off vampires. I think this is fine – you are getting sick and this isn’t the time to be a social butterfly. Curl up with a good book and sip away on this tea- you will thank me in the morning.

Immune System Mystery

I find the immune system to be one of the most fascinating areas in medicine. We live in an era of incredibly advanced science and technology, and still the immune system harbours many mysteries: How have we not yet solved the common cold? What causes autoimmune disease? Why do we not yet have a good test for the bugs that contribute to chronic illness? It’s sometimes easier to blame our genetics or bad luck instead of acknowledging our poor understanding of these things. Fortunately, many traditional medicines, with thousands of years of experience, offer priceless insight that can help us stay healthy through application of immune supporting and balancing strategies.

Acupuncture Points to Boost your Immune System

Jianmin Xu, Acupuncturist

Follow this self-acupressure treatment routine to ward off colds and flus:

1. Get into a comfortable position.

2. Spend 30 seconds on each point, following the order shown below. Apply firm pressure while breathing steadily into your abdomen.

3. As a maintenance routine, you can do this once in the morning and once before bed. If you start feeling fatigued, weak, or like you might be coming down with something, up it to three times a day.

Kidney (KI) 27
KI27 is a superior immune-boosting point. It is located roughly one inch from the midline on the lower border of the collar bone.

Ren (CV) 17 and Ren (CV) 6
CV17 and CV6 both fortify the immune system. CV17 is located on the midline of the sternum just slightly above the nipple level. CV6 is located on the midline two fingers below the naval.

Energy Tips for Your Spleen

By Sarah Knight, PhD, RM, EuBP
Energy Therapist

The spleen is an often overlooked little organ. At about 4 inches long, it lies in behind your rib cage on the upper left hand side of your abdomen, towards the back. It plays several roles in immune function by filtering the blood, and by producing some types of white blood cells that fight infection in the body.

If you are feeling run down, or fighting off a cold, you can keep your spleen strong using simple energy medicine techniques.

The Flu Shot: Is It Worth It?

Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND

Vaccines are an incredible public health accomplishment. They save lives. However, there remains some debate over just how effective the influenza (flu) vaccine is, and this information is lost in the strong marketing campaign that all but shames individuals choosing not to acquire the vaccine. If you’re savvy enough to hear the conflicting messages, then choosing whether or not to receive the vaccination can be difficult. And regardless of your decision, there are reasonable steps you can take to prevent a variety of flus and colds this season.

According to a review of recent research by the Cochrane Collaboration published in March 2014, 71 healthy people would need to be vaccinated to prevent 1 case of influenza. Furthermore, “vaccination shows no appreciable effect on working days lost or hospitalisation”.

Bacteria Controlling your Behaviour

Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND

Though integrative medicine professionals have educated patients about the bacteria in their digestive tract for decades, a recent explosion of research and media attention is bringing this medical game-changing understanding to public light: Our lives depend on these bacteria. We’re neglecting to care for them and now our healthcare system is overwhelmed by epidemics of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, obesity, and cancer, all of which are scientifically linked to unhealthy gut bacteria. We’ve acknowledged that this “gut microbiome” is directly linked to our immune system, thereby triggering autoimmune diseases, allergies, and asthma, when unbalanced. It’s also linked to our brain, thereby influencing our behaviour and possibly even triggering mood disorders. Though this science remains a few years ahead of current conventional medical practice, traditional medical systems such as Asian medicine, adapted by Western Integrative Medicine practitioners, have much experience and wisdom to share with us about protecting our gut bacteria, and our health.

Our bodies are composed of 10 times more bacteria than cells. The majority of these bacteria exist in our gut alongside where about 70% of our immune system function resides. They generate chemicals that teach our immune cells how to function and target harmful microbes. We’ve evolved with these bacteria so that disturbing them at critical points in our lives causes serious immune system shifts that we’re only beginning to understand. Therefore, immune imbalances such as asthma, allergies, or inflammation (e.g. some chronic pain conditions, heart disease, and some skin disorders), are a key sign that the gut microbiome may not be healthy. Gastrointestinal diseases or symptoms of poor digestive function (e.g. bloating, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea), are also common signs that the gut microbiome requires some extra protection.

Protecting your Gut Microbiome

First,

Cold and Flu Prevention

“By creating an artificial environment, we’re not stimulating our immune system enough. Germs are immune-stimulants. They challenge you to be prepared.” ~ Deepak Chopra

This Integrated Roots October e-newsletter issue is about our immune health. We’ve created a series of educational brochures, including one with tips for keeping your immune system strong through the winter months, available on our website.

Did you know that Canadian researchers recently found more evidence that the flu shot might increase your risk of acquiring the H1N1 flu? We’ve posted the news article here on our facebook page. For more information about the flu vaccine, please read the article by Dr. Sonya in this issue of Integrated Roots.

Gateway To A Healthy Immune System

– Sonya Nobbe, ND

Most of us know that a healthy immune system helps us fight off seasonal colds and reduces the number of sick days we take at work. However, a balanced immune system also minimizes inflammation in our body, which potentially reduces the pain of arthritis and lowers one’s risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Your digestive tract hosts millions of these immune cells and is the largest barrier between you and the outside world. Ensuring its health is crucial to obtaining a balanced immune system.