11/7/2009 — Many people use Echinacea and Astragalus products as “immune enhancers” during acute infections.  This may not be a good idea with the current Novel H1N1 influenza (also known as “swine flu”)

These products exert their action by increasing the immune response of the organism.  But, especially in younger adults and children who naturally may already have a strong immune response, this may be harmful if the response becomes too strong.  One theory of why young people may have more serious illness and death from influenza is that they produce a lot of “cytokines” (natural promoters of the immune response) and if excessive, a condition known as “cytokine storm” can ensue, with a very rapid progression of the inflammation, very high fever and severe respiratory manifestations of the disease.

The main cause of death in the current epidemic is from “acute respiratory distress syndrome” which can be rapidly fatal and in its more severe forms requires a very specialized set of treatments which can only be administered in a hospital setting.  This may include mechanical ventilation and/or “extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.”

If anyone has a flu-like illness (fever, aching in the body, sore throat, nausea or diarrhea, sore throat) during this time of widespread H1N1 influenza, and feels that they are getting any kind of respiratory distress, they should go immediately to the hospital.

Flu is now widespread in every state in the country.
I’ve only seen a couple of patients, and have worked with a couple more on the telephone.
So far, the most frequent remedy has been Bryonia alba.
   The most common characteristic of acute Bryonia states is that the person wants to be still, with definite aggravation of symptoms from motion.  They tend to want peace and quiet, to be undisturbed, and are likely to be irritable if disturbed. 

My colleagues in other states have not seen one or a small number of remedies emerge as consistently effective in swine flu (and they’ve seen more cases, as Connecticut is one of the last states to report widespread disease). 

So, if you wind up having a flu-like illness (fever, body aches, nausea, respiratory tract symptoms) and use this remedy, please email me and report your success.

I’ve updated the following pages (or sections):
My practice — regarding what I am studying (see “my teachers”)
Nutrition and homeopathy — to include some newer aspects of my use of therapeutic nutrition
Soy as food for humans — (one important link still missing, and should be up by the end of the weekend)

In the vein of yesterday’s post, here is more from Dr. Jefferson regarding the H1N1 flu.  There is also a link to a similar cultural phenomenon regarding osteoporosis.

This article, from the online edition of the Atlantic, is a review of the effectiveness and use of influenza vaccines, and of the controversy around these issues.

A colleague, Dr. Louise Sanchione, sent me a link on homeoprophylaxis, the use of homeopathic medicines to prevent epidemic disease.

I think that this is an interesting presentation.  The comparisons to conventional treatment are a bit problematic, however, since conventional care has improved greatly since the majority of these epidemics happened.  The epidemic of meningitis in Brazil is the best documented of all these examples.

Another colleague, Molly Punzo, MD, in Baltimore, has seen a few Novel H1N1 cases recently and has had good results with the remedy China officinalis (commonly known as China).  I haven’t seen any cases in my practice as of the present time, although there are always a few people with fevers, so I may have.  I’ve certainly seen nothing serious or long-lasting.

I wrote yesterday regarding Squalene, but I see in this morning’s NY Times that the vaccine for the Novel H1N1 vaccine sold used in this country does NOT have squalene, or any other adjuvant, as a component.

I’ve called it swine flu but this is probably unfair.  All human influenza viruses are mixtures of human, bird, and pig virus.  The current terminology for the virus which is causing the current pandemic is the “Novel H1N1” virus. 

The incidence of this virus is still increasing, at least as of the data of one week ago.  At this point the mortality rate appears to be about the same as the usual seasonal influenza, or perhaps a bit higher. 

Supplies of the Novel H1N1 vaccine have just started to be released, but are still in short supply. 

I have seen no reports of safety issues regarding the vaccine.  The single dose vials contain a trace of thimerosal (a mercury based preservative) while the multi-dose vials have a larger amount. 

A recent New York Times article summarized the issues around the Novel H1N1 virus and vaccination, and stated that there were no adjuvants (substances in addition to virus or viral components that act to enhance the body’s immune response).  I have understood, however, that the vaccine does contain squalene, a substance commercially derived from shark liver oil.  Various commentators in the “alternative” medical world have reacted strongly against the inclusion of squalene, considering it to be toxic.  The World Health Organization has sought to allay these fears.  Their response may be found here.

The same NY Times article summarized the risk for Guillain-Barre syndrome (paralysis) from the (real) Swine Flu vaccine of 1976.  The risk has been estimated to be from 1 in 100,000 to as low as 1 in 1,000,000.  They contrast this with the risk of death from the flu of one in 8300 Americans.  I am uncertain as to the exact meaning of this last figure.  Does it refer to all Americans regardless of whether they have flu or not (eg another figure is 36,000 Americans die each year of the flu). 

As always, the decision to vaccinate or not to vaccinate should depend upon one’s age, medical condition, circumstances, etc.  But everyone can practice good hygiene, take adequate amounts of Vitamin D (see my article on influenza), and use common sense in terms of coming into contact with people who are sick during an epidemic.

Alert sent on 9/13/2009

September 16, 2009

Swine Flu Update: My recommendations regarding the swine flu can be found in the article on influenza  on my website.

The usual seasonal flu is also coming. I haven’t changed any recommendations regarding this, so the above-mentioned article applies.

Other developments

I will be giving a free public talk on September 30th at Windham Hospital. More information can be found at the Windham Hospital Integrative Medicine page.

I’d also like to announce that I have trained and certified in a Therapeutic Lifestyle Program called FirstLine Therapy.

 After trying this well-researched program on myself I began using it in my practice. While not a substitue for medical treatment, the program does address the root biological disturbances underlying many chronic diseases (adult-onset diabetes, many cases of obesity/overweight, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, etc.)

FirsLine Therapy, were it widespread, has the potential to fundamentally improve the health of our population, where 65% of adults are overweight. “Therapeutic Lifetsytle Change” is now endorsed by the conventional medical authorities as the initial approach to chronic disease, and drug therapy is recommended if such changes fail.

When I get time, I will post a more detailed article on my website regarding this treatment. The basics of the program consist of a food plan emphasizing an adequate protein but low grain, low glycemic load diet. The plan emphasizes a broad array of foods, including legumes, nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables.

Body Impedance Analysis (BIA) is used to assess body composition (percentage of body weight as fat and lean mass, distribution of water inside and outside of cells, and other useful information).
More information on BIA can be found here and here (the latter thanks to Jeremy Kaslow MD).

Proper body composition is extremely important for healthy functioning at the biochemical level. This is not primarily an issue of weight loss, although achieving proper body weight will occur as body composition improves. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are used, as are “medical foods” (in the form of shakes which contain vegetable-based extracts and other natural substances designed to help with blood sugar control, inflammation, detoxification, etc., as needed by the individual).

If you have any questions regarding FirsLine Therapy, Donna can assist you with the logistical details.

I’ll update the swine flu situation as more information becomes available. 

While the death rate from Swine flu is not higher than with the more usual types of influenza, because swine flu virus is very widespread, more people will get sick and there may be more deaths. 

The difference in the case of swine flu is that it tends to cause infection deep in the lung tissue, which is not ordinarily the case with seasonal flu.

This has been described in an interesting article describing autopsy findings in people who have died from swine flu.  This can be found at:  http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSTRE58E6NZ20090915.  [Please paste this URL into your browser — for some reason my software wouldn’t create the automatic link]

Obesity, fatty liver disease (which often accompanies obesity), asthma, and heart disease were found in those who had died.  It is also known that children with neurological diseases and developmental delays seem more susceptible, although the reason for this is not clear.