H1N1 Pandemic: Boost Your Immunity

The World Health Organization has determined the H1N1 outbreak is a pandemic.  That in itself is not a measure of the severity of the so-called “swine flu” – just of its dispersion now into Australia, too. I asked Alexa Fleckenstein, M.D., to comment about ways to protect oneself. Here is her advice—which should, of course, never replace a consultation with  your doctor or health care professional. Always check before taking any over-the-counter or herbal supplements to make sure they are right for you. In addition, there are several ways  to use water, including saltwater rinses, to protect yourself from viruses, explained here.

So far, the swine flu has been mild – lethality does not even reach that of “normal” flu outbreaks which kill more than 30,000 people every year. The unfortunate people, who die, usually have underlying diseases which compromise their immune systems. The fear is that this flu might mutate like the 1918/19 flu did, and come down on us the second time around with a vengeance. Normally, mutations are such that the virus dies out–and it would be an extremely rare event that it would mutate into a much stronger strain. Nevertheless, that is the thinking behind taking the swine flu seriously now–mostly to observe it evolve (or perish).
Advice From Dr. Alexa (but always check with your doctor first)
Meanwhile, get enough sleep, take your herbs, eat plenty of vegetables, drink warm water and/or herbal teas. And it is never too late to start challenging your immune system with daily cold showers – unless you are already coming down with something.
Another anti-viral concoction I want to share with you is the Chinese Jian Qiao Jie Du Pian or Isatis 6, also called Honeysuckle-Forsythia Detoxifier. It might be a good idea to have some of those pills at hand when you get sick (get them from a reputable source). During the next H1N1 outbreak – or any seasonal viral disease that might come along.


Filed under cold shower health benefits, colds and flu, Herbs

8 responses to “H1N1 Pandemic: Boost Your Immunity

  1. Thank you Roanne and Dr. Fleckenstein. I’d like to add some information about herbs, as student Clinical Herbalist, that we hear a great deal about Echinacea being an immune building herb. Echinacea is certainly excellent for the immune system, however, it is usually viewed among herbalists as a “front loading” herb meaning that you take frequent and/or large doses of it at the first signs of or suspected exposure to a given pathological condition(s). The herb dose usually tapers off over the period of a few to several days depending on the level of exposure and infection.

    In reference to one of Roanne’s earlier blogs from April, 2009 regarding the prevention of swine flu, Dr. Fleckenstein recommended under “Prepare” that we should “Take tonic herbs like astragalus, ashwaganda and Eleuthero to strengthen your immune system. Rotate them.” This is excellent advice. In fact, if readers have not reviewed Roanne’s blog “Swine Flu: Prepare, Protect, Pull Through” it would be good to do so.

    Although we were not diagnosed, my life partner and I have already experienced all the symptoms of a extreme case of the flu. She and brought it under control with herbs (and ibuprofen + cold compresses in my case to reduce fever) in two to three days. The important note is the “proper” herbal formulation supported our “already” healthy immune systems. We pattern our lives in a similar fashion to that described by Dr. Fleckenstein to “get enough sleep, take your herbs, eat plenty of vegetables, drink warm water and/or herbal teas”, get a daily sunshine, and exercise. The herbs AND a healthy lifestyle helped us overcome a potentially nasty wind-cold invasion.


  2. Leon

    Right now I am as healthy as ever. My regimen is to irrigate my nose with warm water and to take contrast showers. So far this has kept me immune during this flu epidemic. And I am sure I know where it all begins–in your mind. When you think proactive your best defense is to take on regimens of healthy habits. When you think reactive, you wait until you’re sick and then you go to the pharmacy or the doctor and get a presciption made. I think proactive. That’s the best weapon against any virus.


  3. olive

    Hi my name is Olive, I am a 6th grader. I am studing foxglove and digitalis in class. I was wondering if you could answer these questions as follows:

    1.what part of the plant is used when making digitalis?
    2.what does the foxglove cure or help?
    3. where does this medicine come from? (cultural origins)
    4. are there any other plants that are used in the medicine?
    please email me back at ppow@nyc.rr.com


    • Dear Olive,

      Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is an extremely poisonous plant and should be handled with great care. Did you chose this subject? Or did your teacher suggest it?

      Having said this, I will answer your questions:
      1. Originally, leaves were used – dried or fresh. They are as toxic when dried as they are fresh. The modern drug is made from leaves and flowers.

      2. Foxglove originally was used against the “dropsy” = the accumulation of water in the body (especially the legs) when the heart was weak. Because the plant can vary greatly in strength (depending on where it grows, when it is harvested, how much sun it received, and so on), the herbal medicines made from it were highly unreliable – often with fatal consequences. So, scientists extracted the active ingredients which are glycosides. The most widely used is a compound called digitoxin, which is used against Congestive Heart Failure (as dropsy is called nowadays) and certain arrhythmias (heart beat irregularities). – The plant is also poisonous for livestock, cats and dogs – all animals.

      3. Foxglove comes originally from Europe and western Asia, perhaps also from northern Africa. Now it is also growing in Northamerica, because it is used as a garden plant for its beautiful flowers and has escaped into the wild. It likes light shade and loose grounds.

      4. Digitalis is solely made from foxglove. Another species (Digitalis lanata) is someties also used as a source, but no other plants provide us with the drug. The drug is so poisonous, that regular blood checks are necessary. For that reason, even the scientific preparation is much less used now than, say, thirty years ago because we have other heart medications now that are safer.

      I am sending you this from Riyadh in Saudi-Arabia (where I learn about some of the local herbs)and hope it helps. For you personally, I would suggest you start your herbal explorations with some safer herbs like peppermint, lemon balm, thyme, rosemary, sage, stinging nettle, dandelion – to name a few.

      Best to the future herbalist,

      Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.


    • Dear Olive,
      I have asked Dr Alexa to respond to you (see her comment).Also, please note that foxglove gives NO protection for H1N1 flu or any other kind of flu.


  4. Ali

    Hi. We are so thankful we haven’t had the flu in our home for over six years. We use Lauricidin as a preventative as well as being careful about germs. Lauricidin is a derivative of coconut. This page explains why we supp with it during flu season or if we suspect exposure.
    Blessings! Ali 🙂


  5. As a Conscious Breathwork Coach & Life Enrichment Counselor, I suggest cold water in conjunction with conscious breathwork to my clients for certain complaints. Using circular breathing while in cool or cold water can help heal the following emotional & mental conditions: anger, fear, feeling helpless to make decisions, loss of creativity, depression, fuzzy thinking and even loss of libido. Maybe it comes from my Swedish heritage, but I find cool & cold water very helpful to increase my aliveness & sense of well-being. Juliana Ericson, The Joyful Life Project http://breathworks.net/ and Author of “The Other F Word: 7 Days to Forgiving Anyone” http://is.gd/clIFVd


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