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Flu, Anthrax and Your Immune System

As I prepare my morning herbal immune building juice drink I recall two news items that caught my attention several years ago. Both deal with threats to the American public from disease producing germs, viruses and bacteria, and the inability of modern western medicine to adequately protect us from the havoc they may wreak on our society.


The first article is entitled ‘Scientists Say New Virus Can Cause a Pandemic’, from the January 17 issue of USA Today newspaper. While ‘epidemic’ is defined as a disease affecting many persons in a locality, ‘pandemic’ refers to a disease prevalent throughout an entire country. The incident discussed was the influenza during World War 1 that killed tens of millions of people worldwide, including many in America.


The statement that “The death rate grew 50% from 1980 to 1992 from infectious diseases once thought to be nearly vanquished by modern medicine in the USA” particularly caught my attention. One significant factor in this frightening trend is the emergence of the MDRBs, ‘multiple drug resistant bacteria’, which cannot be treated with any known medications. Ironically, these supergerms are actually being unintentionally created by our medical system through overuse of antibiotics for treatment of infections and for stimulating weight gain in cattle. Bacterial strains evolve in an environment of diluted antibiotics and, through mutations, become immune to them. The weaker germs die off, leaving only the strongest, most virulent ones to repopulate and spread. The other irony in this sad state of affairs is that the best place to contract an untreatable strain of staph or pneumococcus seems to be in the hospital, the place we rely on for healing from, not exposure to, disease.


The article goes on to say that ‘A flu virus that no one has ever been exposed to-one that can move swiftly causing illness and death, social chaos and disaster around the globe- could be incubating in a remote area of China. The prospect of pandemic influenza has scientists stocking up the public health equivalent of sandbags in anticipation of the coming flood.’ I recall a noted immunologist quoted in the article stating that, in the event of such a disaster striking America, “There is not a damn thing we can do about it,”  and  that millions of people would succumb to the illness.


A more recent report concerns an October 20, 2001 interview on Fox Network with Dr. Ken Alibek, president of Hadron Advanced Biosystems, which contracts to the federal government, currently developing medical defenses for anthrax for the US Army. It is most interesting to note, then, that the anthrax strains which killed five Americans appear to have originated not from Iraq or Russia but from the US military.


Dr. Alibek, formerly known as Kanatjan Alibekov, was a Russian scientist who developed biological weapons for the Soviet Union for nearly twenty years, responsible for 32,000 employees in forty facilities. He defected to America in 1992 with the personal and professional goal of making the greatest possible contribution to eliminating the danger of biological weapons.


Dr. Alibek says that when dealing with anthrax used in biological weapons, which has a 90% fatality rate, the usual form of antibiotic treatment is largely ineffective. So much, then, for hoarding Cipro or other medications. When asked what he then recommended to the American people, he replied that the best defense against the threat of anthrax or other biological pathogens is to build the immune system using antioxidant herbs and vitamins, including vitamins A and E and selenium. It is quite remarkable, I feel that one of the top experts in the world in the field of biological weapons dismisses the value of drugs and, instead, recommends the use of natural medicine to build immunity against disease. This is, after all, what practitioners such as myself have been recommending to patients and customers for years, only to see them gobbling up bottles of antibiotics instead, eventually experiencing the inevitable side effects such as digestive system dysfunction resulting from elimination of healthy and helpful intestinal bacteria.


To summarize, then, we have a top virologist saying that when a major viral or bacterial pandemic strikes us millions of people will die and a top expert agreeing that current medications will be largely ineffective, and recommending that we protect ourselves with immune system building supplements. The next step is which ones to choose from among the hundreds of products on the shelves.


One of the most popular herbs for this purpose is Echinacea. which stimulates immune components including antibodies, macrophages,  NK cells, promotes phagocytosis (eating germs), and lymphatic circulation. Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa), St John’s Wort, and Chinese herbs such as astragalus and Korean ginseng enhance immunity by tonifying the ‘wei chi’ defensive energy, increasing white blood cell counts, and countering immune suppressive effects of pharmaceutical drugs. Recently, many products composed of medicinal Chinese mushrooms including  coriolus, cordyceps, ganoderma and maitake have gained popularity for their reported ability to boost immunity, inhibit bacteria and viruses and inhibit tumors.


In addition, foods such as garlic, and nutrients including beta carotene, vitamins B-6, C and E, and minerals zinc, selenium, copper and germanium are known to be helpful. Bovine colostrum has many benefits, as do friendly bacteria (probiotics). Your natural health care practitioner can help you select a product most suited to your specific immune system needs. Have a healthy and happy winter!!


© 2009 Jim Martin, LAc., Dipl Ac. (NCCAOM)


Serving Washington and Columbia counties since 1994, including cities and communities of Scappoose, St Helens, Warren, Rainier, Columbia City, Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Beaverton, Aloha, Portland, Gaston, Banks, North Plains, Carlton and Yamhill Oregon


immunity, virus, bacteria, influenza, Cipro, antioxidant, herbs

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