Zika has arrived in the U.S.

NATURAL HEALTH MATTERS with Dr. Laurell

Every year it seems like there is some new nasty virus spreading around the world. I can’t forget the devastation and worry Ebola caused last year. In 2010, the H1N1 strain of influenza led the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to declare a public health emergency. The deadly SARS outbreak over a decade ago seems like it could have been yesterday. The H1N1 strain of the flu was circulating last February and March during this year’s flu season. The CDC was even warning doctors about the severe symptoms that were being reported this strain.

Likewise, the Zika virus is probably one of the biggest health threats on the minds of pregnant women, especially now that it has surfaced in Florida, and is projected to spread to many of the southern states. Zika is not the first virus to be a particular threat to babies of course. Before the vaccine for Rubella, that virus was causing similar issues for pregnant women while causing relatively mild symptoms in the rest of us.

It is very likely we will continue to be exposed to new potentially harmful viruses and bacteria. With our global economy and easy travel between countries, microorganisms have more opportunity to spread. As viruses go from person to person, they also have the chance to mutate, which can also contribute to problematic changes in how they affect us. There is a small glimmer of hope, researchers are beginning clinical trials of a Zika vaccine, but it could be some time until it’s widely available to the general public.

So what can we do to minimize our risks in the face of this global exchange of viruses?

Our best bet is to focus on keeping our immune systems strong along with other prevention strategies.

Unhealthy lifestyles are hard on our immune systems. Stress and lack of sleep in particular seem to suppress our immune activity. I try to make a point of getting at least eight hours of sleep on most nights. I also try to stay calm and keep my stress manageable, but this can be a constant challenge. I regularly take an immune supporting herb like Astragalus, which not only helps the immune system but also reduces some of the harmful effects of stress.

Another strategy for boosting your immune system would be to add Ionic Colloidal Silver to your routine. There has been evidence in recent studies that show silver has positive results in helping your immune system cope with viruses and other microbes.

Homeopathic medicine can also play a role for people who feel like their immune system could use a boost.  Our own Vital Immune Booster was formulated with people in mind who seem to get every cold that comes through. I regard this tendency to be a clear sign of the immune system not functioning adequately and a cue to emphasize its support.

When it comes to the Zika virus, most of us would only experience mild or even no symptoms. The great worry is the neurological issues manifesting in babies born to women who were infected early in pregnancy. If we all make an effort to not contract the virus, we might have a chance of reducing its spread to more mosquitoes and therefore more vulnerable people. Particularly by keeping our immune systems strong and preventing mosquito and other insect bites, we might be able to help slow the spread of this and other international diseases.

For more information on the Zika virus and prevention, read the blog of my naturopathic colleague Dr. Paul Hersu, ND.

 

Dr. Laurell

Dr. Laurell Matthews, ND has a bachelor’s in biochemistry and received her doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University.

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