May 2, 2009
The epidemic is reaching crisis proportions. But this epidemic is one of medical meddling tied to commercial gain. The leading cause of all flu mortality is treatments which actually encourage avoidable acute respiratory complications.
Only a small minority of people develop serious flu complications, such as pneumonia, which is the actual cause of most Swine Flu deaths. The mortality arises because a small percentage of influenza cases go badly wrong. Instead of clearing up in weeks, they leave the patients possibly dead in weeks. Why does this happen?
What’s the first thing we do in cases of colds and flu? We medicate with over-the-counter analgesics. The most popular analgesics, including aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, suppress production of antibodies and on average they deplete the immune response by a staggering 50 percent. Among other effects, aspirin uncouples oxidative phosphorylation, inhibits short-chain fatty acid oxidation, lowers lymphocyte transformation and lowers interferon production in response to viral infection.
One study found flu symptoms last 5 days in participants who do not take aspirin or acetaminophen, compared with 9 days in people who do!
When we have infection, our bodies turn the temperature up. This undermines replication of bacteria and viruses which grow well at normal body temperatures, but not at the temperature of a fever. The immune system itself is also more efficient at this higher temperature.
To defeat flu, the body also lowers the bioavailability of certain minerals while switching to protein energy production to starve any bacteria of the sugar they would simply use to reproduce. That reduces the risk of a bacterial infection complications of a viral flu. Infections thrive on sugar.
So this is quite a sophisticated body-wide response. But doctors and the public won’t leave fever alone. Why on earth lower the body temperature, when this is simply defeating the natural and effective response? Perhaps we should ban thermometers, because doctors, nurses and parents are far too fond of using them.
Here’s an example of typical advice for a respiratory infection:
“If you can try not to bring your child’s temperature all the way down to 98.6°F (37°C), because that may actually prolong the illness by delaying your body’s efforts to kill bacteria and viruses. Usually, you shouldn’t give anything for fever unless your child’s temperature is 100.0°F (37.8°C) or higher…”
There go two contradictory positions. If the body is right to raise the temperature, then the doctor is wrong to advise lowering it. This quibbling over degrees of fever is missing the point entirely. Healing effectively is the objective, not easing temporary discomfort.
Fevers make people feel uncomfortable. That’s life. Maybe we could just live with that, in the interests of speeding recovery for all and preventing a significant minority deteriorating into pneumonia and some into death.
We should be working to facilitate the body, not thwart it. And the vital time is early in the infection. The sooner we can help the fever knock out the virus population, the shorter will be the duration of infection, and the lesser its severity. This will restrict the rate of transmission, and thus there will be less epidemic spread. It’s a win-win situation.
We should focus less on chasing particular variants, and instead improve general treatment thus reducing complications and deaths.
Your Body is a Flu Expert
In general, let the body decide it’s own level of fever. It knows what it is doing. It has more biological data available to it than any doctor. And vastly more experience. Before medicine, the body already knew how to deal with influenza.
The advantages of a body temperature of up to even as high as 103°F (39.4°C) outweigh the modest risk of febrile seizure. Fever increases interferon in the blood, increases the white blood cells that kill cells infected with viruses, and improves their capacity to destroy bacteria and infected cells.
The body also knows when to eat during fever and when not to eat. Don’t force food on an uninterested flu sufferer. It is also critical to avoid dairy products and caffeine at the early stage, as both increase mucous production. If caffeine is taken, let it be a little and preferably tea. Don’t overdo the advice to drink “plenty of fluids.” Obviously, with serious diarrhea or sweating you do need to take enough replacement water, but otherwise drink what you feel you wish to drink. No more, no less.
Take care with sugar. Use of sugars and fast releasing starches upsets the hormonal status quo and leads to poor immunity. This may play a significant role in respiratory morbidity in the elderly — by enabling bacterial infection of viral pneumonias and diminishing immune response.
Fever offers a more potent anti-viral effect than any of the anti-viral drugs now in vogue. Fever is safe, natural and effective. Fever can help most of us to beat an infection in 36 hours and be well into recovery within a week.