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Natural and Alternative Bird Flu Treatments

      There is a lot of attention being given to the current "Bird Flu" that is becoming pandemic in birds. There is a great fear and real danger that this virus could mutate into a form that could easily infect humans.

  • Because this virus is a new strain, there is no established immunity.

  • This virus is very agressive and multiplies rapidly.

  • Over half of those humans who have become infected have died.

  • There are presently no human vaccines for this virus available.

  • There are only two anti-viral drugs for use against this virus and both are of questionable and unproven effectiveness.

  • One of the serious problems is that so much about this virus and how to deal with it is unknown.

      An obvious question that arises is "If this thing spreads into the human population and there are no vaccines or drugs, what can I do?" And "are there any natural remedies that may be helpful here?" There are a number of possibilities but their application to the bird flu virus or any future variants of it is theoretical at present.

      There are three categories of interventions where natural supplements may (theoretically) be helpful. They are immune system support, modulation of inflammatory response and anti-viral activity.

Immune System Support

      Our immune system is our only real defense against all of the bacterial, viral, and fungal agents in our environment. Maintaining a healthy and efficient immune system is clearly a top priority in facing any pathogenic threat. However, with the bird flu, there is another consideration. Because the agressive version of the H5N1 virus multiplies so rapidly, the immune system can become overstimulated and produce an excess of inflammatory products causing ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and pneumonia. ARDS and pneumonia are major factors in death from the bird flu. So, theoretically, stimulating the immune system when it is already overstimulated may make the condition worse, not better. It may be that having an immune system that is responsive and efficient at the earliest exposure to the virus may be helpful, while immune modulation becomes more important as symptoms progress.

      A baseline for immune system nutritional support is a combination of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Zinc. These nutrients boost immune function and, when used together, are frequently more effective than other immune boosting herbs and supplements. All of the elements that favorably support or influence the immune system can be used synergistically. For more information on dosage, precautions, and action of these supplements, click on the links in this paragraph.

      Additional immune system support can be obtained from Lactoferrin, Thymic Protein A, and Beta Glucan. Thymic Protein A directly stimulates the Thymus T cells while Beta Glucan acts as a powerful non-specific activator of the macrophages. The macrophages are an important first line defense that acts somewhat independently of the T and B lymphocytes.

Inflammation Modulation in Bird Flu Infection

      Inflammatory reactions provoked by agressive infection can contribute to organ and tissue damage and pneumonia. Researchers have determined that the agressive variant of the H5N1 bird flu virus, that has infected humans, produced approximately ten times as much inflammation and inflammatory products than the seasonal flu virus. It may be possible to diminish this damaging reaction by using anti-oxidants and other substances that have anti-inflammatory properties. Anti-oxidants include Vitamin A , Zinc, Vitamin C, Lycopene, Vitamin E, Selenium, Bio-Flavonoids, Resveratrol, Beta Carotene, Co-Q 10, N-Acetyl Cysteine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and Quercetin.

      Some of the anti-inflammatory supplements are Rosemary, Ginger, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Curcumin (Turmeric Extract). Curcumin, in particular, is a good candidate for use during the acute phase of a flu infection.

      The amino acid N-Acetyl Cysteine deserves special consideration. It not only acts as an antioxidant but specifically reduces damage to the lungs and helps mobilize and eliminate mucus. Flu victims often die from pneumonia.

Natural Anti-Viral Substances as Candidates for Bird Flu Treatment

      There are two categories of substances with anti-viral properties that may be helpful in a flu virus infection. First, there are substances that weaken viruses by solubilizing their protective lipid coat. The flu viruses, including the bird flu virus, has a lipid coat. Two substances that have this effect are Coconut Oil and BHT. Second, some natural substances exhibit specific or non-specific anti-viral properties. Some of these are St. Johns Wort, Garlic, Olive Leaf Extract, Elderberry, Skullcap, Propolis, Astralagus, Zinc, and Colloidal Silver.

      Colloidal Silver is a strong candidate for investigation as a bird flu treatment. In the first half of the 20 th century silver compounds were widely used to treat bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. They were displaced by patent antibiotics starting with sulfa drugs and penicillin. Silver, a heavy metal, has low toxicity in humans but did cause some cases of argyria when it was overused and abused. Today, silver colloids are available but the manufacturers aren't allowed to make any medical claims or provide information about them. Because these products are not patentable there is no economic incentive for anyone to develop them or do basic research on treatment efficacy, dosage protocols, etc. This combined with the fact that an acceptable quality of silver colloid can be produced by anyone very inexpensively in their own kitchen makes silver medicine a politically incorrect area of investigation for researchers. Not surprisingly, there is something of a silver counterculture and a lot of good and bad information available. A good source of information is an ebook called Colloidal Silver - A Literature Review: Medical Uses, Toxicology, and Manufacture.

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