By all reports, the flu of 2013 has come earlier than expected. This season’s flu is the worst we’ve had in 10 years with 29 states reporting severe epidemic. Last week, 7.3% of all deaths in the U.S. were due to the new flu. The Center For Disease Control (CDC) says the current vaccine is only 62% effective, and as always, less effective for ill patients, the elderly, chemotherapy patients and those on steroid medications. While there is no “cure” for this or any flu, there are steps you can take to prevent it, and if you are one of the unlucky one’s who “catch” it, actions you can take to reduce it’s virulence and duration


The best prevention for the flu is to maintain your health and the strength of your immune system. If you are a clinic patient with compromised health, please take actions to review your program in light of the virulence of the flu of 2013.

EAT WELL, focusing your diet on healthy, whole foods, rich in vitamins, mineral, amino acids, fatty acids, and phyto-nutrients that lead to healthy immune system function. It’s proven that people who eat a diet of vegetables, whole unprocessed grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, moderate and reasonable quantities of lean meats and fish fight bacterial and viruses better than those with a poor diet. If your diet is not up to snuff, you will need more nutritional supplements of micro-nutrients, phytchemicals, amino and fatty acids to augment your immune system and give you what you need for the good fight.

• WORK ON YOUR ALLERGIES: If you have a lot of “allergy symptoms” like throat clearing, post nasal drip, sinus problems, sneezing and watery and itchy eyes, it’s a sure sign that you’ve got allergic sensitivity which will weigh down your immune system and make you more vulnerable to viruses like flu. Get the help you need to work on your allergies at the root (click here to read about the treatment of allergies). There’s nothing worse than a load of allergens in the body when there is a virulent flu in the environment, and anti-histamines and symptom-suppressing meds won’t help a bit to protect you.

BALANCE YOUR HORMONES: There is plenty of evidence that if your thyroid or adrenal hormones are low, you have greater susceptibility to viral and other infections. Both low thyroid and low adrenal hormone levels are linked to low immune function. Get your thyroid and adrenal glands tested or re-tested and any treatment necessary to maintain the proper balance of hormones required for strong immunity. Weak adrenals, or low thyroid won’t do you any good with a flu such as the one we’re seeing this year.

PERIODICALLY DETOXIFY AND CLEANSE YOUR BODY: The immune system appears to respond to a “total load” of irritants, allergens, and toxins in the body, keeping the system’s soldiers (various immune system cells and antibodies) all tied up when a flu virus needs to be expunged. When the flu is around you as it is this year, you want your immune army at the ready for action. Detoxification and cleansing regimens help you free up your soldiers to stay by their posts to get rid of the viral invaders when they attack. Many of you have cleansed with us before at Pearl Natural Health. This is a good time to take down your antigenic load with one of our many cleansing regimens.

• MANAGE YOUR STRESS: Stress weakens the immune system and sets you up to become a host to the next virus you encounter, be it the cold or the flu. Figure out how to manage your life with a balance of sleep, good dietary habits, exercise, and constructive activities in your spare time that give you sense of spaciousness and freedom. This will go a long way to help protect you from the flu.

• GET ACUPUNCTURE: While we have few studies on acupuncture and influenza, there’s plenty of evidence that it can positively influence the immune system through a variety of mechanisms, with research showing stimulation of immune system cells with treatment. Many of you have come into the clinic for treatment of your colds and sinus infections, and acupuncture can also help you protect against the next flu by assisting in building up your defenses. Use Chinese medicine to strengthen your immune system and get the tune ups you need with tried and true, centuries-old strategies to hasten the end of colds and flus.

DEVELOP A CUSTOMIZED SUPPLEMENT PLAN TO SHORE UP YOUR WEAKNESSES: We’re all different. Some of us can manage our health through diet and exercise alone, and some of us need a lot more support with nutritional and herbal supplements and various treatments. Come into the clinic for a review of what you may need to get your immune system strong and determine which supplements may be the most advantageous to take this winter. If you are immune compromised, have problems absorbing vitamins and minerals, have digestive disease, or poor dietary habits at the present time, consider nutritional IV therapy to deliver the nutrients you require right now.



Stop what you are doing, go home, and rest. Know that the flu will pass, but it’s going to take rest and time to get the virus out of your respiratory tract, muscles, and body in general.

Eat simply. This is a time for well cooked vegetables and soups. It’s not a time for mucus-producing foods like dairy products, sugary or fried foods.

Use Epsom Salts, adding 2 cups of salt to each bath, and have these baths as often as every 2 hours. After each bath, wrap yourself up real warm and sweat, encouraging your fever to rise, letting the magnesium pull the pain out of your muscles.

Find the appropriate homeopathic treatment and take a “30C” potency of the remedy as frequently as every 2 hours. For the flu of 2013, the homeopathic remedy Eupatorium Performatum is highly indicated for its relationship to muscle aches and fatigue. You can also consider Gelsemium, Nux Vomica, and Phosphorus. You may need help from your healthcare practitioner to determine the best remedy, so don’t hesitate to schedule a visit.

Use some anti-viral herbs, such as Sambuccus (Elderbery) Syrup, 1 tsp every 2 hours in the beginning stages to help with the muscle aches and cough. Consider herbs and vitamins. We have a nice supply of syrup at the clinic!

Raise your Vitamin D level for 3 days (call your healthcare practitioner to determine a suitable dose—we often go up to 20,000IU-30,000IU). Your vitamin D must be adequate for proper immune function. Studies show great immunomodulatory activity with this important nutrient found to be so low in the great Pacific Northwest at this time of year.

If you are concerned about your health,visit your natural healthcare practitioner for to see what else you can do. If you are a thyroid or adrenal patient, consider a review of your medication. If you are elderly, immune-compromised, on steroids, have a lung diseases, or other chronic health problems, return to the clinic to determine what else is required to get you well, and to remove any obstacles to a more speedy recovery. Consider nutritional IV therapy, acupuncture, and other treatments to get your immune system in gear to fight the flu of 2013.


If you are seeking ways to stay healthy in flu season, please click here to schedule an appointment .



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Ellen Goldsmith

Ellen Goldsmith

Ellen Goldsmith is a licensed and nationally board certified acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist. She has been in the field of Asian medicine for the past 30 years, teaching, speaking and working with thousands of people to give them the resources, skills and tools they seek to improve the quality of their health and lives. Ellen is the author of the well respected book, Nutritional Healing with Chinese Medicine: + 175 Recipes for Optimal Health. She is on faculty at the National University of Natural Medicine’s College of Classical Chinese Medicine in Portland, Oregon.

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