I recently got this email from a naturopathic doctor I see- Dr. Virender Sodhi. I would put it in my own words, but this article is so articulate, well thought out, and intelligent that I thought I would just copy and paste word-for-word (And I don't think he minds me doing so. What's important to him is that the information gets out there). It's long, but thought provoking.
The Panic Over the ‘Pandemic’:
Is Swine Flu a Scientific Fact or Media Frenzy?
Dr. Virender Sodhi
With new alerts and warnings being issued on an almost hourly basis - with words like “pandemic” and even “plague” now being used - it’s hard not to be concerned about the swine flu outbreak. Although CDC (Center for Disease Control) is on hold issuing next warning and now toned down from the previous warnings. The WHO (World Health Organization) has decided not to raise its alert to a full pandemic, since the virus has yet to cause sustained transmission outside North America. More than 100 people have died in Mexico. But to put this in to perspective, every year more than 36,000 people die with influenza virus.
Health care authorities, politicians, and media spokespeople cite statistics, issue travel advisories, and point to maps showing the rapid worldwide spread of the virus. While authorities reassure us that a new vaccine is being developed, and anti-flu medications are being “stockpiled,” they continue to fuel the fear that we are on the brink of imminent disaster. Most of us are left wondering whether we should travel, visit public places, or send our children to school.
In the face of this growing panic, I believe a dose of healthy skepticism is good medicine. A brief look back at the history of flu outbreaks sheds new light on the current situation. The established public health response to viral outbreaks of the flu in recent years has been less than perfect. The side effects and complications associated with flu vaccines, which can be debilitating or even fatal, are never mentioned. And as usual, herbal, natural and nutritional therapies to prevent and ease the effects of viral infections are almost never mentioned. But it will certainly sell billions of dollar worth of Tamiflu, which yet to prove its effectiveness.
Although the strain of the flu virus spreading through human-to-human contact today appears to be unique, this is not the first appearance of swine flu. More than thirty years ago, in 1976, a swine flu “pandemic” was declared, and a public health effort was launched to vaccinate millions of people worldwide. As it turned out, the swine flu pandemic never materialized, but the vaccine itself claimed its own casualties. Within a few months after vaccinations began, 25 people had died, and $1.3 billion in claims had been filed by people who suffered paralysis due to the vaccine. Hundreds more developed crippling Guillain-Barré Syndrome, in which muscle paralysis can lead to respiratory failure and even death. Tragically, healthy young adults ended up as paraplegics.
As an Ayurvedic and Naturopathic practitioner, I find events such as these particularly frustrating. The complex balances involved in human health are poorly understood and inadequately addressed in the mainstream medical establishment. According to the prevailing mentality, the swine flu virus is on the loose and the only solution is a one-size-fits-all vaccine. Simple, natural therapies such as curcumin (turmeric) and garlic can reduce the viral load on the body, ease inflammation and strengthen natural immunities without the risk of injurious side effects.
The more recent history of the bird flu virus offers a strong case in point. Beginning in 2003, the avian flu virus began to appear in Asia. First in Vietnam, then in China, Hong Kong and Singapore, a massive public health effort was launched to dispense vaccinations as widely as possible and millions of birds were slaughtered. Ironically, however, it was traditional Chinese herbal medicine that provided one of the most effective therapies. Curcuma longa, widely known as turmeric, acts as a natural preventative against many flu viral strains. Turmeric’s active ingredients, called curcuminoids, have been shown in laboratory investigations to have powerful antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.1
Like the original deadly influenza of 1918 and the original swine flu, the current viral strain appears to over stimulate the body’s natural immune system. This explains the fact that most of the deaths so far have occurred in relatively young patients with robust immune systems. The swine flu virus appears to activate a response known as the cytokine storm, in which large amounts of immune system hormones (cytokines) are produced. Left unregulated, this inflammation can lead to respiratory and organ failure. In most cases, deaths occur when excess fluids accumulate in the respiratory system. According to the CDC, like seasonal flu, symptoms of swine flu infections can include:
· fever, which is usually high
· runny nose or stuffy nose
· sore throat
· body aches
· fatigue or tiredness, which can be extreme
· Diarrhea and vomiting
The beauty of using turmeric against flu is that it's a natural protease inhibitor. In order to affect the respiratory tract, the flu virus needs the proteasome enzyme complex. Curcuminoids inhibit the release of these enzymes, leaving the virus unable to replicate itself. Since turmeric is a natural food substance, I believe that taking it regularly can provide a safe and effective anti-flu therapy.
During my more than 30 years of medical practice, I have never used influenza vaccinations for myself or my family. In spite of exaggerated exposure to these germs, I have warded off the flu with care and natural remedies only. My best advice to my patients is to use simple, common sense measures to strengthen their natural immunities and avoid infection.
When my patients ask me how they can avoid the flu, this is the advice I give them:
- Do deep breathing exercises (outside if possible), and circulate more fresh air throughout your home. Exercise regularly. Walking for 45 minutes a day will increase the body's immune defense mechanism. However, do not over-exert yourself. Exercising longer than 90 minutes per day may actually increase your risk of upper respiratory infections.
- Reduce the "allergenic load" in your home. Carpets, gas heaters, wood burning fireplaces, fungi, mold and chemicals of any kind can weaken your immune system. Consider using electrostatic and charcoal filters in your house to clean the air.
- Reduce your sugar and dairy intake. Eat fruits and vegetables instead. Winter is a holiday season when we tend to consume a lot of sugar. According to published studies, seven tablespoons of sugar a day retards the immune system dramatically. One can of soda contains nearly four tablespoons of sugar. Avoid foods you are allergic to.
- Take antioxidants. My personal favorites are combination of Amla ( Emblica officinalis), Guduchi( Tinospora cordifolia), Tulsi( Ocimum sanctum), Vasaka( Adhatoda vasica), Bahera( Terminalia bellerica), Mulathi ( Glycyrrhiza glabra)Tikatu and Amla products made into a paste. (For more information about these herbs, please visit www.ayush.com) These are natural source of anti-oxidants and an excellent immune builder. Add to this vitamin D3 5000 IU twice a day, Ayurvedic herbs can also be taken, such as Triphla and Trikatu( one three times per day), Holy Basil standardized extract (250 mg three times per day) and Curcumin (250 mg three times per day). When you have a cold or an upper respiratory infection, drink ginger, licorice and holy basil tea. Garlic and green tea also have immune balancing properties. Drink plenty of warm fluids. Add fish oil one teaspoon three times per day.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap solution. A study of day-care centers showed that people who washed their hands frequently got 50 percent fewer colds than those who didn't. I do not like antibacterial soaps because they sometimes force the body to develop drug-resistant bacteria. Avoid frequent touching of your nose, eyes and ears.
- Get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can increase your chances of catching a cold.
- Avoid and reduce stress. Mental and emotional weaknesses have an effect on the physical system and actually increase your chances of catching cold. Perform yoga or tai chi and spend quality time with your friends and family. A study published in The Journal of American Medical Association found that people, who report three or less social ties, such as with friends, family, coworkers or community groups, are more than four times at risk of catching a cold than those with six or more such ties.
- Do not use antibiotics indiscriminately. Antibiotics have no benefits and can weaken your immune system. According to a study published by The Journal of American Medical Association, 50 percent of the patients suffering with colds, upper respiratory infections and bronchitis demanded antibiotic prescriptions. Most of the upper respiratory infections are caused by viruses. Antibiotics are effective against bacteria. Overuse of antibiotics can leave the body vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant bacteria which can be life threatening.
Ayurveda teaches that health is a matter of balance. Disease is the result of an underlying imbalance. Our bodies are constantly bombarded by contagions, and if these were the only cause of disease, we would be sick all the time. I believe that a balanced immune system is key in the quest for health and the conquest of disease. Learn to listen to your body and treat its imbalances in a holistic way. In the end, you are your own best physician.
1Siddiqui AM, Cui X, Wu R, Dong W, Zhou M, Hu M, Simms HH, Wang P. The anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin in an experimental model of sepsis is mediated by up-regulation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma. Crit Care Med. 2006 Jul;34(7):1874-82.
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