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Preventing Flu

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The advice in this health tip works for preventing virtually all virus infections, including the flu.

Of the 150,000 genetic variations of mushrooms on our planet, it’s guesstimated that about 5% have useful medicinal properties. Of these, we know something about just a scant handful. Like every other living thing, mushrooms are susceptible to environmental damage and hundreds of species are being lost every year. For all we know, the next major oil spill might destroy the species that could have cured cancer.

Practitioners of Chinese medicine have incorporated mushrooms into their herbal blends for millennia. But really, travel to the most remote parts of the world and you’ll find virtually every group of original inhabitants surprisingly well-versed in mushroom medicine, officially called medical mycology.

The major scientific research has been coming from Japan, mainly because so many mushrooms are included in the typical Japanese diet. Epidemiologists first determined that people eating certain mushrooms had fewer colds or less breast cancer, and so forth. Years were then been spent analyzing individual species for various medicinal properties. What emerged is that certain species are immune boosters, and blending several is the best way to provide the broadest anti-viral and anti-cancer protection.

My patients frequently ask two questions: “If I choose one product to reduce my chances of getting a virus like the flu, what should it be?” Answer: despite a plethora of mushroom blends on the market, only a few have undergone clinical testing, among them Host Defense, made by a small herbal company called NewMark.

Take one capsule daily during the cold and flu season, starting now and continuing through February or even March. Bump up your dose to twice daily if the flu hits where you live and everybody at work is coming down with something. Likewise, if you’re feeling the first inklings of a viral infection–scratchy throat, runny nose, achiness–increase to twice a day.

Second question: “If I take Host Defense, can I avoid a flu shot?” As discussed in this health tip, I’m a strong advocate of flu shots. However, if you choose not to have one, taking Host Defense is certainly better than doing nothing.

Ideally, get your flu shot and take Host Defense too. The shot signals your immune system to create antibodies against a flu virus and Host Defense makes sure your immune system is working at 100%.

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