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Understanding the Flu Makes Treatment Easier

Over the counter medications may delay recovery, says Dr. Paul Stallone.

by Dr. Paul Stallone

Getting influenza, or the flu, is one thing, but treating it is another. Most people will reach for over-the-counter medications that just treat the symptoms, but these products can actually delay recovery because they permit us to feel normal for a short time, which means that most people will go on to exert themselves. One of the best things we do when we’re sick is to get plenty of rest, because our body is doing a lot to fight whatever infection we might have. Silencing the symptoms is never the best answer.

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by a virus that mainly affects the nose, throat and lungs. Many of the symptoms are from the body trying to fight off the infection. Many of these symptoms are beneficial in the grand scheme of things, because the immune system is doing what it’s supposed to do. Common symptoms include fatigue, headaches, fever, body aches, sore throat, runny nose, cough, vomiting and diarrhea. A fever, for example, is a defense mechanism for fighting infections.

Treating the flu is fairly straightforward. Get plenty of rest and hydration, and take quality supplements that support the immune system and take natural anti-viral therapies. For the average person, the following supplements should help one’s immune system fight off a flu infection: vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B12, elderberry, probiotics, zinc, Echinacea and N-acetylcysteine (NAC). The dose will depend on individual factors, so speak with a naturopathic physician for specific dosing. Keeping these nutrients in our medicine cabinet is encouraged, especially during flu season, so we can take them immediately.

From a holistic approach, prescription antivirals are discouraged, because their side effects mimic the symptoms from the flu. These drugs are only effective if taken within 36 to 48 hours after symptoms occur, and generally only shorten the duration by one to two days. There are no studies that show antivirals cure the flu. Just like antibiotics, taking them can create viruses that are resistant to medication and super bugs.

If these supplements don’t help or we have a severe flu infection, consider a nutritional intravenous treatment that can deliver high amounts of nutrients directly into the bloodstream. Each IV will be customized for each patient. Adding nutrients like vitamin B12 may allow a patient to feel better even before they leave the office.