Nobody I know was surprised when the president and many of his staff were found to be Covid-19 positive. You can only thumb your nose at science for so long before Mother Nature gets exasperated and lets you have it. To me, the real irony is this: at the same time the upper echelon in […]
The Flu Shot: Now More Important Than Ever
When it comes to the flu shot, I take a far more conventional approach than many WholeHealth Chicago patients expect of a doctor who considers himself alternative/integrative. It’s also worth noting that after reviewing some of the online advice warning people away from the flu shot, it’s my sense that this is frequently followed by […]
The Flu: How To Recognize It and What to Do
It’s here, folks, and this year could be a doozy. How do we know? We keep a watchful eye on Australia, whose winter and flu season occur six months before our own. The New York Times reported that “In 2017, a terrible flu season in Australia presaged an American outbreak in which 79,000 died. Experts […]
Should I Get the Flu Shot?
When it comes to flu shots, I admit I take a far more conventional approach than many patients at WholeHealth Chicago and regular readers of these Health Tips might expect of a doctor who calls himself “alternative” or “integrative.” I’ve recently been reading some of the alternative medicine newsletters online warning people away from flu shots. The conclusion often seems to be “…and I’ve got this product you can buy instead.”
Still More on the Flu
Beyond reading the newspapers, I can tell by the number of e-mails requesting either quick information or phoned-in prescriptions for Tamiflu that the number of flu cases is rising. Despite the scary headlines (any headline about children dead of flu is truly horrifying), the overall number of fatalities remains small.
Preventing and Treating the Flu
All in all, the news is generally good about H1N1 (swine) flu. We’ve got both a vaccine to prevent it and an antiviral prescription medicine to treat it. Epidemiologists have concluded that if you had the “regular” flu last spring, you actually have some protection from this year’s epidemic of both regular and H1N1 flu. The odds are in your favor that you won’t have two bad flu years in a row.
Should I get the Swine Flu Vaccine?
By now, everyone knows there are two flus this season. First, the regular seasonal flu (for which you get an annual flu shot), as always requiring a slight change in vaccine formulation to ensure it targets this year’s flu strain. The second vaccine protects against the well-publicized H1N1 virus, better known as swine flu.
In the eighteenth century, seasoned sailors found that by sucking on lemons they could avoid scurvy, a debilitating disease that often developed during long voyages when fresh fruits and vegetables were scarce. When the lemon’s key nutrient was formally identified in 1928, it was named ascorbic acid for its anti-scurvy, or antiscorbutic, action. Today ascorbic acid is widely known as vitamin C.
This famed vision-enhancing nutrient was isolated in 1930, the first fat-soluble vitamin to be discovered. The body acquires some of its vitamin A through animal fats. The rest it synthesizes in the intestines from the beta-carotene and other carotenoids abundant in many fruits and vegetables.
For centuries, the tall perennial herb with pinkish flowers known as valerian (Valeriana officinalis) has been enlisted to help restless insomniacs get a sound night’s sleep. Today this mild, nonaddictive sedative is quite popular both as a sleep aid and as an anxiety fighter, particularly in Germany, France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. And in recent years its popularity has grown enormously in the United States as well.
What Is It? Famed as an energy tonic in China since ancient times, Siberian ginseng only gained recognition in the West in the 1950s, when a Russian scientist (I. I. Brekhman) reported its notable stress-repelling powers. Healthy men and women taking the herb were found to better endure physical strain, resist disease, and perform tests […]
Along with the bold yet delicate taste that shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms add to soups and other dishes, these gourmet delicacies are prized as herbal medicines. Traditional Asian healers have used them for centuries to strengthen the immune system and promote longevity. Recently, an extract from a different mushroom altogether–PSK (Coriolus versicolor)–was identified as a possible ally in the fight against cancer. While mushrooms other than these may well have specific health-promoting actions, they haven’t been as thoroughly researched for medicinal purposes.
The Iroquois and Cherokee were among the first of the American tribes in the eastern United States to use this small perennial plant (Hydrastis canadensis) medicinally. They harvested its fleshy underground stems (rhizomes) and roots and used them to treat a variety of infections and other complaints, from insect bites and digestive upset to eye and skin ailments. By the nineteenth century, healers began to refer to this native wildflower (which resembles a buttercup) as goldenseal because the cuplike scars on its bright yellow rhizomes resembled the wax seals then used to close envelopes and certify documents. The plant’s colorful roots also provided dye for clothing.
Along with its well-earned reputation for discouraging friends and repelling potential lovers, this powerful herb has a storied culinary and medical history. Egyptian pyramid builders took it for strength and endurance. Medieval healers recommended it as protection against supernatural forces–vampires in particular. The French scientist Louis Pasteur investigated its antibacterial properties, and doctors in the two World Wars treated battle wounds with garlic juice when other drugs were unavailable. Most recently, garlic has been touted for heart health as well.
From cough cure to tension-reliever, the woody scented oil and leathery leaves of the stately eucalyptus tree have found myriad uses over the centuries. Australian aborigines relied on this native evergreen for soothing painful joints and healing skin lesions. And settlers to the continent dubbed eucalyptus the “fever tree” in recognition of its disease-fighting powers. While these early users ascribed its potency to the tree’s brisk aroma, it is now known that the thirsty roots were responsible: They kept the surrounding ground relatively dry and thus free of malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Elderberry and Elderflower
Famed as a source of the blue-black berries used to make elderberry wine and jelly, both the berries and flowers from the elder shrub (Sambucus nigra L.) have been used medicinally for centuries to fight off respiratory infections and other ailments. American elder (Sambucus candensis L.) is found in the eastern part of North America. What accounts for the plant’s therapeutic action is not well understood, but its healing properties are thought to derive from substances called flavonoids. These substances act as in the body in a variety of ways. As antihistamines, bioflavonoids can be helpful in the treatment of allergies. As antioxidants, they counteract the cell destruction caused by toxic molecules called free radicals. But it is the third property of flavonoids, an antiviral effect, that seems to make elderberry a clinically useful plant.
One of the most popular herbal remedies in the world, echinacea contains active ingredients thought to fight colds, flu, and other infections. There are nine species of this herb, commonly called the purple coneflower, but just three (Echinacea angustifolia, E. pallida, and E. purpurea) are used medicinally. Various parts of the plant (flowers, leaves, stems, or roots) from a variety of species appear in literally hundreds of commercial preparations. Depending on the species and plant part used, the herb will stimulate the immune system and combat bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing microbes.
Help! I’m Getting the Flu
Click here for the Health Tip link. We’ve talked about the flu in my last couple health tips, but let’s review before we discuss Tamiflu, the antiviral drug. First, learn to differentiate a common cold from the flu. With a cold, most of the symptoms you feel are evidence that your body is trying to […]
Flu Shot: Do I Need One?
Posted 09/23/2008 The quick answer is, probably yes. Influenza (Italian: influence, a reference to the fact that the disease has always occurred in recognizable epidemics) makes its appearance virtually every winter and may last as long as spring. The biggest believers in flu immunization are those who’ve been through one bad flu episode. No one […]
Q&A: Flu Shot
Click here for the original post. Q: Hi Dr Edelberg. I’m a semi-retired woman, age 62, with no real health problems. Do I need to get a flu shot? A: Absolutely yes, and try to get yours as soon as possible. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the flu is currently making its annual […]