H1N1 Virus – A Pediatrician’s Standpoint

This general panic about the flu this year raises some important questions about how you can protect yourself and your children- Deciding on vaccination is a complex question. As you know I prefer to approach each child individually and yet public health policy is demanding that we make decisions without regard to personal situations. We are still gathering info on the swine flu- It is spreading very quickly which in NO WAY means it is more deadly than any other flu- its just that there are more numbers! This will naturally increase the numbers of very sick among the not-so-sick. The elderly seem to be at less risk due to ‘herd immunity’ from the 70’s swine flu epidemic. This naturally shifts our focus to children and pregnant women. We have now seen over 200 cases of h1n1 in our practice and so far and they all seem to be very mild, (3-4 days of fever). But it’s still THE FLU! And that must be taken seriously. Most of the information that is being put out on the media is based on hospitalized patients (the sickest cases) and is meant to scare you into following the CDC guidelines without question. Fear does not help make rational decisions. The flu is never something to be taken lightly. Every year 35,000 people die in the US from the flu. If there is any history of underlying respiratory, cardiac or immune disorder then one should consider getting the flu vaccine.

The H1N1 influenza is spreading very fast. Once we reach a critical mass of people exposed to this flu, we as a community will develop what’s called ‘herd immunity’ which means even if we don’t get it we develop some immune protection. This is a fascinating phenomenon that demonstrates the power of the human community. I hope, in light of how quickly it is spreading, that this will happen before the seasonal flu begins.

General Preventive Measures for Flu season


Maintain a healthy immune system. Many forms of supplements will fortify immunity so that an attack by viruses will be less successful. If you tend to get acute illnesses easily, then begin a program of immune strengthening. A good herbal and antioxidant immune enhancing supplement will help build the strength of your system. These formulas are usually built around the herb Astragalus, a potent herb for augmenting the body’s protective defenses and stabilizing the exterior against invasion by pathogens and physical stresses such as cold and wind. Other supplements have similar immune enhancing properties.

Vitamin D3 is essential for a prevention program. Adults need 5,000 IU when midday sun exposure is not possible, infants need 1,000 IU, and older children need 2,000 IU.

Mushrooms: Several species of mushrooms have significant immune stimulating effects. Each contains high percentages of polysaccharides, long chain sugar molecules that regulate immunity. They activate white blood cells and stimulate complements and antibodies. These mushrooms include reishi (ganoderma), maitake (grifola), shiitake (lentinus), polyporus, and tremella. Many preparations of mushroom combinations in tablet, powder, or liquid extract form are available at major health food stores.

Colostrum is an excellent source of immune system stimulants. Colostrum contains a host of factors that stimulate the immune system and help to prevent illness. Immunoglobulin IgA coats the intestinal lining preventing attack by pathogens. Lactoferrin locks onto iron releasing it to red blood cells and depriving bacteria of the iron they need for reproduction. Lysozyme destroys microorganisms on contact. Cytokines boost T-cell activity and stimulate production of your baby’s own protective immunoglobulins. Polysaccharides bind to bacteria and block their attachment to mucus membranes. Take two capsules twice a day through the winter months.

Vitamin C at 2-4 grams per day prevents inflammation and maintains the body’s vigilance against infection.

Vitamin A is essential to immune function and mucous membrane integrity.

Zinc has potent immune protective effects. Take 25 mg zinc per day, but if you continue zinc for an extended period of time you will also need to take copper to prevent a deficiency (10:1 ratio of copper to zinc). Get a supplement that contains both.


Immune supplements for adults

Mushrooms (reiki, mitake, shiitake)

Colostrum – 4 capsules

Vitamin C – 2-4 grams

Vitamin D – 5,000 IU

Zinc – 25 mg with copper 2 mg

Influenzinum is a specific preventive for the flu. You can begin taking Influenzinum (9C, 12C, or 30C) if you are exposed to the flu. Take one dose each week for four weeks at that time, or you can take it once a week for four doses during the flu season.

The flu, like other respiratory viruses is spread through droplet transmission from human to human. You can minimize your exposure by not shaking hands. Frequent hand washing will also prevent you from inadvertently inoculating viruses into your nose and eyes. Simply avoiding touching your nose, mouth, and eyes during flu season will also help reduce your exposure. Of course, as common courtesy everyone should cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze to prevent transmission of viruses.

Get plenty of sleep, eat well. Eat warm foods during the winter. Soups and stews are excellent sources of concentrated nutrients. Exercise regularly despite the cold weather. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables for their vitamin and antioxidant content. Stay warm and avoid getting chilled.

Immune System Supplementation for Kids

Children can take a few simple, specific supplements to maintain a strong and vital immune system during the fall and winter months when colds and flus predominate.

Omega-3 fatty acid supplement in the form of fish oil capsules or liquid fish oil will establish healthy cell membranes that prevent inflammation and resist toxins and attack by pathogens.

Vitamin D is essential for kids as well as adults to maintain immune function.

Vitamin E will ensure that fatty acids are maintained at optimum efficiency once they are absorbed into cells. In addition, vitamin E has anti-inflammatory effects and increases resistance to infection. Use only natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol), not the synthetic form (dl-alpha-tocopherol). A mixed tocopherol form of vitamin E is best because children need the gamma as well as the alpha forms. An appropriate dose is 100 mg for children under two and 200 mg for children aged 2-12.

Vitamin A is needed for proper mucous membrane function. It is essential for the growth and repair of body tissues, and for efficient digestion of protein. Vitamin A promotes good eyesight, strong bones and teeth, and a vital immune system. White blood cells, T -lymphocytes, and every cell in the important mucosal barriers of the respiratory, digestive, and urinary tracts require vitamin A.  A diet containing significant amounts of fruit and fat will help ensure adequate vitamin A intake. Whole milk products, butter, and free range eggs will help maintain necessary levels of this important nutrient. Use organic sources. For those who may not be getting enough vitamin A, a supplement is essential.

The recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin A is 1,000-2,000 IU for children, depending on their age (1,000 at one year of age, 2,000 by age nine). Primitive diets probably maintained 10 times that amount. One egg contains 300 IU, one cup of whole milk or whole milk yogurt contains about 225-250 IU of vitamin A. One tablespoon of butter contains 350 IU of A. The amount of vitamin A may vary by the season and the feed of the animals.

Colostrum is great for children as well as adults.

Zinc stimulates immune function, prevents infections, and acts as a cofactor in many enzyme reactions, including the creation of antioxidants. Normal dosage is 10-20 mg. per day. If zinc supplementation is continued over a prolonged period of time, it should be given in conjunction with copper in a ratio of ten to one to prevent copper deficiency.

Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory effects, antioxidant activity, and antibiotic qualities. A daily supplement of vitamin C during the winter months will round out the immune system prevention program. Use 500 mg for children under 3 years old and 1,000 mg for older children.

The easiest way to give supplements to children is through powdered sources mixed in a blender with fruit, fruit juice, yogurt or milk (rice milk for younger children and children with milk sensitivities), and honey (for children over 12 months old). Capsules can be opened and dumped into the blender. Children can chew oil-based supplements in soft gels or you can stick a pin into them and squirt out the contents onto something they will eat.

Immune Supplements for Children-Daily Dosage

Supplement 1 to 2-year-olds 3 to 12- year-olds
Fish Oil 1 tspn per 50 lbs. body weight 1 tspn per 50 lbs. body weight
Vitamin D3 1,000 IU 2,000 IU
Colostrum ½ Teaspoon 1 Teaspoon
Zinc 10 mg 20 mg
Copper 1 mg 2 mg
Vitamin C 500 mg 1,000 mg
Vitamin E 100 IU 200 IU

* (d-alpha-tocopherol or  mixed tocopherols)

Elderberry syrup and osscillococcinum are extremely helpful as soon as your child gets sick.

Homeopathics considerations during illness:

Osccillococcinum 3 X a day for 2-3 days

Belladonna early then Gelsemium

Bryonia if prefers not moving

Rhus Tox if prefers movement

Eupatorium with myalgia + tender eyeballs

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