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Tag: flu

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Vitamin C

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.

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Vitamin A

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.

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Valerian

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.

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Siberian Ginseng

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 of mental sharpness. Today, Westerners are perhaps most familiar with Read More

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Mushrooms

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.

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Goldenseal

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.

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