Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • January 2016
Written by 

Flu season is coming!

WebMD reported that last year’s flu treatment was only about 18 percent effective for the predominant strains causing the flu. The year before it was only about 60 percent effective. So, while the medical community is saying get your flu shot, getting the flu shot doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get the flu. There are ways to limit your chance of getting the flu and minimizing the severity of the flu if you are exposed.

Making sure your vitamin D levels are optimal is extremely important. Getting your level up to at least 70 ng/ml is essential for a good immune system. If you have your levels checked, make sure you ask for the specific number and don’t just rely on the practitioner saying your level is OK. Many times the labs will give normal ranges that are between 30 ng/ml to 60 ng/ml. Studies clearly show that this level is not enough to have an optimal immune system. Most people will need at least 5,000 IU daily to get their levels up to where they need to be.

Other supplements have also been shown to help the immune system. EGCG is a supplement that has been shown to have antiviral properties for many viruses that include influenza, hepatitis B and C, and even Ebola. Research has shown that EGCG supports the activity of the cells in the body that provide the immune response. Numerous studies have demonstrated the ability of EGCG to prevent the proliferation and growth of virus cells. An excellent source of EGCG is green tea extract but you need to look at how concentrated the EGCG is in the product you look at.

There are many other supplements to support a healthy immune response. These include DMG, astragalus, black elderberry, larch tree and Maitake mushroom. Each of these supplements could be a subject of their own article but there are many studies available to show how these support a healthy immune system. For example, astragalus is a Chinese herb that has been extensively studied since the 1970s for its ability to support the immune system. Black elderberry serves as a source of anthocyanidins that are thought to have immune modulating effects. DMG, which according to numerous studies, can help maintain a strong immune system by supporting increased resistance to invading microorganisms and enhancing antibody and lymphocyte production. Larch tree is a source of arabinogalactans, which support the immune system in its production of immune cells and supporting healthy cell replications. Maitake mushroom has a long history as an immune support product and serves as a highly concentrated source of beta-1-6 glucans, which research has found support the body’s first line of defense, including macrophages and natural killer cells. While a lot of this information is technical, the bottom line is the body uses many ways to fight infections within the immune system. Using many different supplements to support those different immune responses makes for a synergistic effect.

If you get the flu, or more correctly influenza, it is a serious disease. Flu symptoms include fever over 100 degrees, aching muscles, chills and sweats, headache, dry, persistent cough, fatigue, weakness, nasal congestion, and sore throat. Shortening the time or lessening the severity of those symptoms is important and the right mix of supplements can help. Certainly you should do the things necessary to keep you comfortable such as rest, fluids and treating the high fever. Some natural practitioners are recommending high doses of vitamin D to stave off the flu. Many are recommending 100,000 IU daily for 10 days if you get exposed to this contagious disease. While this is a high dose, and I wouldn’t advocate using this high dose for a long time, a short course of this high dose is extremely safe.

While the best course is to avoid the flu, nutritional support can help to shorten the severity and length of the flu. 

John Sowinski, R.Ph.

John Sowinski, R.Ph., is the owner/pharmacist at Custom Health Pharmacy, 1011 S. 10th St., Manitowoc, your source for quality compounded medications. For more information, please call 920-482-3145 or visit

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