Ditch the Flu Shot: TOP 5 Immune Boosting Alternatives
‘Tis the season—the flu season that is. And with it comes the annual push for everyone to get their flu shot. A message that permeates just about everywhere; from our doctor’s office to the local pharmacy and community centers, complete with a barrage of advertisements promoting the shot over radio, television, and social media spaces. Deceptively, this season’s messaging will likely fail to include how poorly last year’s shot performed against the dominant strain that season - Influenza A (H3N2).
There are a variety of influenza strains (A and B) and subtypes (H1N1, H3N2, etc) that can dominate a given flu season and only at a single meeting each year is the formula for the coming season’s flu shot agreed upon by a committee of experts. They meet to finalize the formula in February for the Northern hemisphere and in September for the Southern Hemisphere. So, by the time flu season hits, it has already been several months since the flu shot was last updated. This flawed design is likely why last year’s flu shot performed at a dismal 16% against the dominant strain.1 This leaves many doubting the ’40-60%’ effective rate touted by the CDC and as a result, many are choosing to ditch the shot this season and turn to natural alternatives to combat the flu.2
A choice supported by Dr Zelenko in which he noted in one of his censored interviews that each year from 2015 to 2020 there were 40 million cases of flu in America—and approximately 40,000 deaths. So it is no wonder that at a time when the flu shot is readily available, he stated that the flu shot was “no longer necessary”.
Dr Zelenko further outlined the top essential supplements to combat the flu, all of which are available as individual supplements or as an all-in-one super formula. These include: EGCG, NAC, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D.
Here is a more detailed look at each and the top reason to ditch the flu shot!
5 Natural Alternatives to Combat Influenza and Boost The Immune System
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG): EGCG is a plant pigment found most prevalently in green teas and in smaller quantities in some fruits, nuts, and other types of teas. It is best known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties making it a potent immune support supplement.3 Research shows that EGCG has numerous health benefits particularly those that enhance immune function and fight the flu. In fact, a meta-analysis of multiple studies suggests that regular intake of EGCG can help prevent the influenza virus.4,5 EGCG has also been shown to be effective at reducing the risk of a variety of chronic diseases including autoimmune, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. It is also effective at preventing skin damage, and improving joint, cardiovascular and brain health. It has even been used as an effective antiviral to help counteract COVID-19.6,7,8
N-acetylcysteine (NAC): N-acetylcysteine or NAC is used by the body to help replenish supplies of glutathione which is considered our body’s most powerful antioxidant. For our immune systems to function optimally it requires sufficient levels of glutathione to reduce the negative effects of accumulating damage from things like free radicals, reactive oxygen species, and heavy metals.9 NAC has also been shown to inhibit the replication of the influenza virus and in a long-term, randomized, double-blind trial it was found that regular supplementation led to a significant decrease in the severity, frequency, and length of infection with the flu.10,11
Zinc: Zinc is an essential and abundant nutrient in the body that plays a vital role in maintaining health and preventing disease. It exists in every cell with roles in cell signaling and as a common cofactor for hundreds of biochemical reactions. It is found in greatest concentrations in the brain, muscles, eyes, bones, kidneys, and prostate.12,13 Zinc is considered an antiviral powerhouse with demonstrated effects against influenza and a variety of other viruses like the common cold, RSV, COVID, and the herpes simplex virus. Zinc helps inhibit viral replication and activity within hijacked cells and minimizes the symptoms that accompany an infection.14,15
Vitamin C: Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is an essential nutrient that directly supports the immune system as a potent antioxidant and cofactor for a variety of regulatory enzymes.16 This potent effect on the immune system helps prevent and reduce the effects of the flu and other viruses like coronavirus or the common cold.17 One study showed that high dose supplementation of Vitamin C reduced flu and cold symptoms by 85% compared to the control group.18 Vitamin C has also been shown to support cardiovascular health, wound healing and collagen production and plays a role in enhancing the absorption of iron from dietary sources. It can also help reduce risk of certain cancers like oral or esophageal and can help protect against age related eye disease.19
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is an essential nutrient necessary for a healthy immune system, teeth, and bones. Its impact on the immune system comes primarily through stimulating white blood cell production and its role as a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It helps to reduce the risk of a variety of diseases including autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancers including breast, colon, and prostate.20 Regarding the flu, research shows that deficiencies of Vitamin D were significantly correlated to infections and serious illness with influenza and COVID-19.21 A meta-analysis and review of randomized controlled trials showed that regular supplementation of Vitamin D significantly reduces the risk of flu.22
The medical apparatus bolstered by the CDC may make it seem like the flu shot is our only option for fighting the flu this season, but plenty of research shows that there are a variety of safe and effective natural alternatives to having to inject potentially ineffective lab formulations into our body.
Look after your health in mind, body and spirit this fall and winter!
Medical Disclaimer: The content in this article should not be taken as medical advice or used as a direct recommendation for any treatment or medication. Always consult with a properly licensed healthcare provider before making any changes to your current health and wellness routine.
Z-DTox: Dr. Zelenko's Premier Formula to Combat Influenza
1. Chung, J. R., & et al. (2022, March 11). Interim Estimates of 2021–22 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness — United States, February 2022. CDC: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 71(10): 365-370. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7110a1.htm
2. How Well Flu Vaccines Work. (2023, February 8). CDC: Influenza (Flu). Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm
3. Ahammed, G. J., & et al. (2023, May). Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG): A unique secondary metabolite with diverse roles in plant-environment interaction. Botany, 209. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envexpbot.2023.105299
4. Furushima, D., Ida, K., & Yamada, H. (2018, July). Effect of Tea Catechins on Influenza Infection and the Common Cold with a Focus on Epidemiologica/Clinical Studies. Molecules, 23(7). Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fmolecules23071795
5. Duangjai, A., & et al. (2021, July). Anti-Influenza with Green Tea Catechins: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Molecules, 26(13). Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fmolecules26134014
6. Sruthi, M., & Uttekar, P. S. (2022, July 21). EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate): Benefits, Dosage, and Safety. MedicineNet. Retrieved from: https://www.medicinenet.com/egcg_epigallocatechin_gallate_benefits_dosage/article.htm
7. Poteet, M. (2020, March 16). Your Guide to EGCG (Epigallocatechin-3-gallate). Compounding Pharmacy of America. Retrieved from: https://compoundingrxusa.com/blog/your-guide-to-egcg-epigallocatechin-3-gallate/
8. Bertoldi, M., & et al. (2020, July). Protective Effect of Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG) in Diseases with Uncontrolled Immune Activation: Could Such a Scenario Be Helpful to Counteract COVID-19? International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(14): 5171. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fijms21145171.
9. Physical Activity Helps Prevent Chronic Diseases. (2023, May 8). National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP). Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/index.htm#print
10. Cinatl, J., & et al. (2010, February 1). N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) inhibits virus replication and expression of pro-inflammatory molecules in A549 cells infected with highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza A virus. Biochemical Pharmacology, 79(3): 413-420. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2009.08.025
11. Carati, L., Flora, S. D., & Grassi, C. (1997, July). Attenuation of influenza-like symptomatology and improvement of cell-mediated immunity with long-term N-acetylcysteine treatment. European Respiratory Journal, 10(7): 1535-1541. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1183/09031936.97.10071535
12. Zinc. (n.d.) Wikipedia. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc
13. Aizenman, E., Gale, J. R., Liu, H. Y., Reynolds, I. J., & Weiss, J. H. (2021, May), Biomedicines. 9(5): 489. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines9050489
14. Ahlenstiel, C., Ahlenstiel, G., Obeid, S., & Read, S. A. (2019, July 1). The Role of Zinc in Antiviral Immunity. Advances in Nutrition, 10(4): 696-710. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmz013
15. Marreiro, D., & et al. (2022, April 28). Antiviral and Immunological Activity of Zinc and Possible Role in COVID-19. British Journal of Nutrition, 127(8): 1172-1179. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114521002099
16. Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017, November 3). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients, 9(11). Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9111211
17. Wempen, K. (2022, November 16). Fight off the flu with immune-boosting nutrients. Mayo Clinic Health System. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/fight-off-the-flu-with-nutrients
18. Gorton, H. C., & Jarvis, K. (1999, October). The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics, (8): 530-533. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1016/s0161-4754(99)70005-9
19. Nordqvist, J. (2023, April 24). Vitamin C: Why is it important? Medical News Today. Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219352
20. Ellis, R. R. (2022, January 25). The Truth About Vitamin D’s Health Benefits. WebMD. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/ss/slideshow-vitamin-d-overview
21. Hurst, E. A., & et al. (2021, October 22). Vitamin D insufficiency in COVID-19 and influenza A, and critical illness survivors: a cross-sectional study. British Medical Journal, 11(10). Retrieved from: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/11/10/e055435
22. Chen, L., & et al. (2022, January 7). Association Between Vitamin D and Influenza: Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Frontiers in Immunology, 8. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2021.799709
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