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Swine Flu: Protecting Yourself Naturally

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Yoga, vitamins, reflexology ... you can fight it without drugs or needles.

Lisa Sharkey: Yes I admit it. I live in fear. I'm a mom. Don't we all worry, even when there's nothing to worry about? Now I have a new reason to panic: SWINE FLU! The World Health Organization says we're at Level 5, which means they predict we're in for a full-blown pandemic that shows no sign of being short-lived. What's a worrywart like me or you to do?

Woman doing yoga

In times of stress, what gets me through are the natural healing remedies I've been using for more than fifteen years. I have relied on complementary and alternative medicine with tremendous success. When I ran the medical news department of "Good Morning America" for the first half of this decade, I always relied on top medical experts for help in sorting through all sorts of stories and also produced many segments on alternative medicine, which Americans spend billions of dollars on each year.

What can I do to keep my family safe? How can I boost our immune systems now, and what complementary medicines can I begin taking immediately, regardless of whether or not I ever come in contact with the dreaded Swine Flu?

Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has the world's most popular natural health online newsletter,, says he's never seen so much online traffic, with his visitors all clamoring for this information.

He told me how we can begin to protect ourselves now without drugs or needles.

Here are his tips:

Dose up on D

First of all, Vitamin D is essential. Dr. Mercola says it is the "single most important action you can take." Mercola urges folks to have their levels of Vitamin D monitored and to get on an appropriate supplement as soon as you can. He believes Vitamin D deficiency is the single biggest culprit of the flu situation altogether. If you do come down with symptoms and have not been on Vitamin D, Dr. Mercola suggests therapeutic doses of up to 50,000 units a day for up to three days during the worst of it.

Cut out the sweets

This bit of advice makes good sense one hundred percent of the time, but it is particularly true when it comes to battling a virus. Don't make your body a trans fat and processed food hotel, as unhealthy organisms won't want to check out. Fill it instead with fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Unprocessed foods rule. Common-sense healthy eating is kind of obvious, but use this swine flu alert as an alarm clock to wake up and strengthen your resolve.

Rest is best

Now is not the time to skimp on sleep. Being a well-rested human is essential to fighting any bug that comes your way. Take Omega 3s like Krill Oil. Top docs have been saying this for years and if you have not listened before, try listening now.

Avoid hospitals

It may seem as obvious as the vigilant hand-washing recommendation. Hospitals and doctors' offices are where the sick people are, and if you want to steer clear of Swine Flu, try to stay away from those places where germs are known to gather unless you have no choice. This common-sense advice is for healthy folks who do not need medical attention.

Another well-known alternative medical expert, Dr. Leo Galland, the author of Power Healing,, has decades of experience in this area of healing adults and children. Dr. Galland gave me what he sees as the single best nutritional immune booster shown to actually help people avoid being infected with influenza.

Dr. Galland recommends:

American Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolius) 200 milligrams twice a day.

Dr. Galland agrees with Dr. Mercola about vitamin D, and suggests at least

1000 IU a day of vitamin D3 and about 25 milligrams a day of zinc.

If homeopathy is your preference, remedies that homeopaths who have been treating similar kinds of flus have used successfully in the past are Gelsemium, Eupatorium Perfoliatum, and Phosphorus.

These are classic flu remedies prescribed for all the aches and pains and lifeless feelings one gets with an illness of this sort. Remember, when using homeopathic remedies, which are available online or at many local drug stores and health food stores, you are advised to cut out coffee, stop using products that contain camphor or mint, and avoid eating an hour before and an hour after taking your remedy. The National Center for Homeopathy has a very interesting take on the Swine Flu that's worth reading.

If you are more of a physical type and want to boost your immunity through yoga, here are some poses suggested by my personal phenomenal yoga teacher, Antonia Katrandjieva, whose website will show you what the asanas look like so you can make sure you are doing the poses correctly.

Halasana -- all plough variations -- massages the internal organs, stimulates the spinal nerves, and brings increased blood supply to the region, nourishing many essential internal organs

Pashimottanasana -- Head-to-toe pose, the full sitting-forward bend -- massages all the inner organs, stimulates and tones the digestive organs, and detoxifies the body

Sarvangasana -- Shoulder Stand -- as the chin presses on the throat, it brings a rich blood supply, the thyroid gland is massaged and brought to its proper level of activity, which encourages deep abdominal breathing and promotes blood circulation

Balasana -- Child's Pose variations -- massages the inner organs, stimulates glandular secretion

Bhujangasana -- baby cobra and all cobra variations -- the arching of the spine stimulates the thymus gland and boosts the immunity of the body, increases flexibility of the spine, rejuvenates spinal nerves, and brings a rich blood supply

Sirsasana -- Headstand -- reverses the flow of gravity, allows the hypothalamus to secrete hormones, and stimulates total glandular secretion, boosts the immunity by catalyzing the thymus gland functions

Ustrasana -- Camel -- opens the heart, expands the lung capacity, and stimulates the thymus gland, strengthens the back

Matsendrasana -- fish pose -- opens the thoracic spine, stimulates the thymus, thyroid, and parathyroid glands, and expands the lung capacity

Antonia says these postures are the so-called "King's Asanas" and they are the 8 key asanas that promote full glandular secretion and are a must for a strong immune system.

Antonia is also an expert in reflexology, which is something that's fun and easy to do with your children, and if they are a little older, to teach them to do it themselves.

Reflexology on the foot

There are three points: at the crease of the big toe, the space between the big toe and the metatarsal, the central point on the inner side of the arch, which are also immune boosters and kidney detoxifiers, and at the very center of the sole, this is the main regulatory point which governs all the other reflex zones and directly stimulates the hypothalamus to secrete hormones, and thus strengthens the entire body.

Reflexology on the face

The next immune booster is part of the facial reflexology -- the point between the upper lip and the nose needs to be pressed firmly for 5-10 seconds, and then the hollow point slightly above the chin, and also two points at the base of the inside of the eyebrows.

The next significant immune shot is massaging the ears, starting from the inner base up and then from the upper point down, then pulling the soft part of the ear in all directions to increase blood supply.

Tapping with your fingers

Another beneficial tip is tapping -- especially tapping the space between the heart chakra and the throat chakra, tapping gently and doing three sets of 28.

So now that I've gotten you busy checking out all of these ideas for getting healthy, you might just want to check out my new book, DREAMING GREEN: Eco-Fabulous Homes Designed to Inspire, which you can order through my website.

next: Hot Mom Mess of the Week!
10 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristin April 30, 2009, 2:56 PM

This is a great article! Another suggestion would be plant phytonutrients and plany polysaccarides. My not quite 4 year old has been taking Ambrotose (made by mannatech) for about 3 months now and is doing amazing after having had a comprised immune system for about 6 weeks. I’d highly suggest going the natural route. We also take probiotics and Omega 3’s.

Anonymous April 30, 2009, 5:33 PM

what is ambrotose, I have a four year old and am pretty freaked out by thus swine flu

Andrea April 30, 2009, 11:33 PM

Oh, and another suggestion might include frequent handwashing and getting your freaking flu shot.

This new flu outbreak, while scary due to the news reports, is still flu, and carries the exact risks as the yearly flu outbreaks. Try not to panic, keep a healthy lifestyle, and be sensible. If you got your flu shot in 2006-07 then you may even have partial protection as it was a H1 that was circulating then as well.

RMX May 1, 2009, 12:17 AM

Nice,but my advice:
1.)WASH YOUR HANDS! I perfer to use liguid soap instead of a bar of soap.
2.)Have and carry hand sanitizer with you.AND USE IT!
3.)This sounds odd but do it;TRIM DOWN YOUR FINGER NAILS! Nails carry nasties underneath them when long.
6.)CANCEL! Avoid non necessary visits to your Doctor’s office.
5.)Use a face mask and gloves if people around you are already sick.People here are doing this.Keep your hands away from your face.
6.)KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN.Wash them.Use sanitizer when on the go!
7.)VACATION ELSEWHERE,Disney,a roadtrip,etc. Avoid Mexico and the border.
I live on the border and yes people are starting to wear masks.As a human being you have the right to take all these measures.Get your kids and husband to abide to these rules.My male brothers - REAL MEN USE SOAP!It’s there - USE IT!

Prima May 1, 2009, 12:42 PM

STOP consuming sugar and soda. They both drastically reduce your immune systems strength!!
“…in adults, cell mediated immunity is significantly depressed after sugar ingestion (75 grams). A 100g portion of sugar can significantly reduce the capacity of white blood cells to engulf bacteria. Maximum immune suppression occurs one to two hours after ingestion and remains suppressed for up to five hours after feeding.” In other words, drinking one Coke or eating a candy bar can leave you “weaker” for five hours… how many soda/candy bars/sagar snacks does one eat over a day??? hmmm…

JJ May 2, 2009, 10:19 PM

Great information and advice - thanks! I make sure that my family takes supplements every day (vitamins C & D3, probiotics, and elderberry extract) to help keep their immune systems strong. I also bought air purifiers for just about every room in our home. Since I sometimes travel for work, I went online this morning and bought a face mask and a hand sanitizer to take with me.

If you are on a budget like we are, I’d just like to pass along that I got all of these items for a really great price at ( When I was online this morning, I found out that they are including a free Vitacost Healthy Living Kit with a purchase of $50. The kit includes a Vitacost shaker cup, pill case and mouse pad that has a healthy eating food guide printed on it - all things I can actually use! You just enter Source Code WD95BG at checkout. I think that the offer is going on until the end of May. Take care.

Hi, good post. I have been wondering about this topic,so thanks for sharing. I will certainly be coming back to your blog.

red rabbit May 4, 2009, 6:48 PM

Actually, the nail trimming thing: not so much. Hands frequently and properly washed, regardless of nail length, are good protection.

However, removing nailpolish and not using acrylic or other fake nails helps: nailpolish and fake nails are horrendous germ traps, which is why nurses in hospitals are not allowed to wear them.

Daniel May 5, 2009, 1:35 PM

Hi! My name is Daniel. I am a very active business entrepreneur. The wellness of my Immune System is a top priority. So your article is well-appreciated.
As a vegetarian, it is a slight challenge to find all of the bells and whistles to have a balanced diet. Although I do not make sugar consumption a habit, I did not know that pathogens swoon when sugar is on the menu, thus further compromising the Immune System. Is eating a little square of black chocolate daily a no no? I really enjoy drinking Silk (Soy milk). Does this qualify as a recommended protein source? In the last 2 years, I have discovered and have been using an undenatured Whey-Protein source which provides the precursors(building blocks)for GLUTATHIONE the body’s master antioxidant. GLUTATHIONE is naturally produced in our body. However, it can be severely compromised,at all ages, by the many pathogens which we breathe in and ingest. Of course, as we age, GLUTATHIONE is depleted, unless we provide the building blocks for our body to replenish it. If this undenatured whey protein source sounds interesting as an added tool to your Immune System arsenal, you can learn more on the site.
Once again, thank you for helping me keep my Immune System in top shape!

red rabbit May 5, 2009, 10:47 PM

Your immune system will be fine with a normal balanced diet. GSSH (glutathione) is produced naturally and anyone with a normal diet, including vegans and vegetarians who are careful to get adequate protein from a variety of sources (and soy milk is one of many), does not need a supplement.

You can eat as much sugar as you like, though there are sensible limits (more refined sugar=less food with other nutrients=not a balanced diet). If you are not diabetic, your blood sugar remains relatively constant at 4-7mmol/L, regardless. Neither pathogens nor your immune system will care.

Your dark chocolate square almost certainly contains soya lecithin, a natural cholesterol-lowering agent (again, great in small doses). Enjoy it it!

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