Beat the Flu with High-Dose Vitamin C

Photo ©Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Influenza (a.k.a., the “flu”) is a serious and sometimes deadly illness, as is evident in the recent deaths of a 10-year-old hockey player in New Canaan, Conn.; 21-year-old fitness enthusiast in Latrobe, Penn.; and a 40-year-old marathon-running mother of three in San Jose, Calif. (as well as 73 other people in California at the time of this write-up).

According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) influenza estimates, influenza-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of 12,000 (during the 2011-2012 flu season) to a high of 56,000 (2012-2013). Deaths from the flu are concentrated among the elderly, but mortality is often elevated among middle-aged adults with other health issues, such as heart or lung disease, diabetes, compromised immune systems, or obesity; pregnant women; children under the age of five years; and children with asthma. Even healthy people face some risk,

Photo ©Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Photo © Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash | Used with permission.

As is typical every flu season, some media outlets lead some people to believe that this flu season is the worst ever, but that’s not the case this year. According to the CDC website, the United States experiences epidemics of seasonal flu each year. Although the 2017-2018 season has outpaced other flu seasons from 2013-2017, it is currently considered moderately severe. In a mild season, about 2 percent of all Americans seeking medical care have flu-like symptoms. In a bad season, that percentage climbs to over 8 percent. The current number is about 6 percent. And while highly publicized cases of flu deaths may lead some people to believe that this year’s strains of flu virus are particularly deadly, the mortality rate for victims under the age of 18, a key indicator used by the CDC, is currently well below that of the 2014-2015 season.

That said, flu-related deaths in California are well above normal levels for this time of year, with 74 deaths since October among people under the age of 65 so far, this season, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Influenza Surveillance Program, which is significantly higher than the 14 deaths reported for the same period last flu season.

What the Flu Is and Isn’t

Certainly, any serious illness is reason for concern, and death from such illnesses are always tragic, but too much worry causes stress, which contributes to compromising the immune system. This is why we encourage our patients to follow standard precautions and seek appropriate care, including preventive measures, without becoming overly concerned.

The flu (short for influenza) is a very contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza A and B viruses. The flu is commonly confused with the common cold and with stomach flu:

  • Flu vs. common cold: Although both cold and flu are caused by viruses that infect the respiratory system, flu symptoms develop much faster and include chills and sweats, fever, severe body aches, a dry cough (as opposed to coughing up green or yellow gunk), and sometimes nausea. And while colds are common throughout the year, flu is seasonal, typically beginning in late October or early November, peaking between 10 and 20 weeks, and ending in April or May.
  • Flu vs. stomach flu: Stomach flu is not a type of influenza. It doesn’t affect the respiratory system. A stomach flu is gastroenteritis — inflamed stomach or intestinal tissue caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or contaminated food or water. Common symptoms of gastroenteritis are stomach pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

How the Flu Spreads and What You Can Do About It

The flu spreads in two ways — mainly through the air when someone who’s infected sneezes, coughs, or talks within six feet of other people, and (less frequently) when a person touches the surface of an object that has the flu virus on it and then touches their own mouth or nose.

Photo by Chris Abney on Unsplash | Used with permission.

Photo by Chris Abney on Unsplash | Used with permission.

In fact, a study released just this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that we may pass the flu to others just by breathing. According to The Mercury News, the study offers new evidence on the importance of the flu’s airborne qualities and how it can easily be transmitted to others. Researchers found large quantities of infectious viruses in the breath exhaled by those suffering from the flu.

To prevent the flu from spreading, take the following precautions, as the CDC recommends:

  • Stay away from sick people and stay home if sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Don’t share linens, eating utensils, or dishes used by someone with the flu without washing them thoroughly first. You can wash dishes and eating utensils in a dishwasher or by hand with soap and water. You don’t need to wash them separately.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect any touched surfaces at home, work, and school, especially if someone in these living spaces is ill.

It’s important to note that the flu is contagious one (1) day before and up to seven days (7) after symptoms appear. Parents should know that children can spread the virus for longer than seven days after developing symptoms, and that symptoms appear 1-4 days after contact with the virus (meaning —you can spread the virus well before you know you’re infected). In addition, a person infected with the virus may not develop symptoms but can still spread the virus.

Preventing the Flu with Flu Vaccines

Conventional medicine fights the flu with vaccines to prevent infection and with anti-viral medications if a patient becomes infected. According to the CDC, flu vaccines provide two benefits: they reduce the likelihood of getting infected, and if a person gets the flu despite being vaccinated, it’s said to lessen the severity of the illness and reduce the chance of dying from the illness.

However, you need to be aware of the following facts about flu vaccines:

  • The flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be the most common during the upcoming flu season, but flu viruses are constantly evolving into new strains. The vaccine you receive may not match the flu virus you’re exposed to. However, antibodies that your body produces in response to vaccination with one flu virus can “sometimes provide protection against different but related flu viruses,” according to the CDC, although “a less than ideal match may result in reduced effectiveness against [that virus].”
  • Effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies. In the United States, the flu vaccine is about 33 percent effective by some estimates. (Effectiveness varies from season to season.) In Australia, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine during its most recent flu season was only about 10 percent, which experts attribute to the fact that the vaccine used was a poor match for one of the circulating strains and because Australia urges only the most vulnerable populations to get the vaccine.
  • Flu vaccines themselves carry some risks. Although the risk of serious harm or death is extremely small, you may experience soreness, redness, and tenderness or swelling where the shot was given; low-grade fever; body aches; mild to severe allergic reactions; rapid heartbeat; or dizziness. The vaccine may also be associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome — a devastating auto-immune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system.
  • The CDC recommends that two groups of people should not get the flu shot — children younger than six months and people with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine, such as egg protein.

Fighting the Flu: Antivirals

When most people get the flu, they fight it by sleeping more and drinking plenty of fluids. The human body is well equipped to kill the virus and eliminate its remains over time. However, conventional medicine can speed the process with antiviral medications, including Tamiflu (oseltamivir), Relenza (zanamivir), and Rapivab (peramivir).

According to the CDC, only 1 percent of all strains of flu virus tested were resistant to these ingredients, but for them to be effective, you need to take the medication very soon after symptoms appear. Antivirals shorten the course of the illness by only one or two days and may have negative side effects, including nervousness, poor concentration, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, runny or stuffy nose, cough, headache, and abnormal behaviors. They’re primarily used to treat people with severe symptoms or those who are at an elevated risk of developing severe symptoms.

Boosting Your Immune System with High-Dose Vitamin C

Conventional medicine and functional & integrative healthcare agree that the best way to fight the flu is to boost the body’s immune system. We disagree only in regard to the best way to do that.

Conventional medicine recommends vaccines that introduce inactivated, weakened, or recombinant viruses that trigger the immune system to produce antibodies to the flu virus without infecting you with the virus. At Restoration Healthcare, we take the functional & integrative healthcare approach — in some cases, when prescribed by a physician, giving the body one or more massive doses of vitamin C to supercharge the body’s ability to fight the flu and a host of infectious and non-infectious illnesses.

We recommend for some patients and administer an intravenous (IV) vitamin C drip called Replenish. While the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends a daily dose of vitamin C of 75mg for women, 90 milligrams for men, and up to 120mg for breastfeeding women, Replenish delivers delivers 50,000 mg of vitamin C straight into the blood stream. This powerful immune enhancing IV vitamin therapy is sometimes used in the treatment of cancer, Lyme disease, and chronic fatigue and other autoimmune disorders.

We may recommend this therapy for patients under our care who have:

  • The flu
  • Have an active or chronic viral infection
  • Fatigue or chronic fatigue
  • A medical need for a boost their immune system

We don’t recommend Replenish for:

  • People diagnosed with hemochromatosis — a condition in which the body absorbs too much iron
  • Anyone within two weeks (before or after) of a surgical or extensive dental procedure

Replenish may deliver a host of benefits over conventional flu vaccines and antiviral medications for fighting the flu. For instance:

  • Replenish may boost the immune system to help the body fight off not only the flu, but also other viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.
  • If you have the flu, it may be a great antiviral.
  • It may give you an energy boost.
  • It may help to detox the body, improving overall health.
  • Vitamin C promotes the formation of peroxide in human cells. Peroxide is extremely toxic to all cells, but normal functioning cells have enough of a specific enzyme called catalase, which converts peroxide to hydrogen and water. Cancer cells have 10-100 times less catalase than do healthy cells. The peroxide produced by IV or even oral Vitamin C cannot be detoxified by cancer cells resulting in the death of these cells.
  • Vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant may be be particularly effective in maintaining healthy endothelium (the tissue that forms a single layer of cells lining various organs and cavities of the body, especially the blood vessels, heart, and lymphatic vessels) and healthy myocardium (the heart’s muscular tissue). Thus, it may be helpful in preventing and treating coronary artery disease and heart failure.

Replenish IV Vitamin C Session Details

The number of sessions varies according to each patient’s need. You may need only a single therapy. Even after a single therapy, your body may begin to experience the benefits. More severe cases of the flu or other illnesses may require more frequent treatments, such as 1-2 IVs weekly.

Other considerations include:

  • Therapy time is approximately one-and-a-half hours.
  • Cash price is $285, but patients covered by PPO and Medicare plans are usually covered. (The price is subject to change.)
  • Same day appointments are available.
  • Current Restoration Healthcare patients whose G6PD test results are within normal limits may be eligible to start this treatment immediately. (NOTE: G6PD stands for the Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency tests, which allows our medical team to determine whether or not you’re able to tolerate high doses of vitamin c.)

Please call the Restoration Healthcare office at (949) 535-2322 to schedule an appointment.