Board Certified, Holistic Pediatrician Dr. David Berger offers these tips to help keep your little ones healthy this flu season.
Therapies for when coming down with flu symptoms:
1) ELDERBERRY- An herb that appears to have direct anti-influenza viral activity. Children as young as 6 months of age can use this (although some people have used the product in younger children). There are many elderberry products on the market. In the office we carry the encapsulated liquid extract (Phyto-Caps) from Gaia/Professional Solutions. The dose for older children and adults is 2 capsules 4 times a day. For younger children and people who do not swallow pills, we carry Sambucus, (by Nature's Way) which is an updated version of Sambucol. Younger children should take 1 teaspoon 4 times a day, and older children and adults should take 2 teaspoons 4 times a day. There is a newer concentrated liquid extract fro GAIA herbs called "Black Elderberry Syrup". This product contains organic sugar, but it is also about 4x more concentrated then the Nature's Way product, so 1/4 of the above dose would be given of this product.
2) OSCILLOCOCCINUM - A homeopathic remedy that has been shown to be effective in small studies. I have personally had success with this product, although some families are concerned about the lactose/casein content. If it really seemed like flu was going through my community, I would strongly consider using it. Each small vial contains little sugar pellets (containing lactose) that are most effective if allowed to dissolve under the tongue. Three doses a day for 2 days is the recommended amount. Small children can chew the pellets if necessary. For the youngest children, give a few at a time to make sure they can handle it. Another alternative is to dissolve the pellets in about ½ teaspoon of warm water, and then give this slowly, a few drops at a time so that it there is more contact with the oral lining. As with any homeopathic remedy, it is most effective when given away from food, herbs, or strong flavors like mint or cinnamon in toothpaste.
3) VITAMIN A - in a mycelized natural or palmitate form, (instead of one that is mostly Beta Carotene) Vitamin A seems to have strong anti-viral activity. High doses should never be used for more than 2 days in a row. The liver can be damaged if used for long periods of time at these doses. The dosing provided here is anecdotal, based upon my and other doctors' experience. Studies have not been done to confirm them. The amount give per dose: for children under 6 months, 10,000 IU; children 6-12 months, 15,000 IU; children 12-24 months, 20,000 IU; children 2-4 years, 25,000-30,000 IU; children 5-7 years; 50,000 IU; children 7-10, 75,000 IU; children 11-14, 100,000 IU; and people 15 and older,150,000 IU. Pregnant women and lactating women of young infants, should not take more than 25,000IU per dose, These doses are to be used twice a day for 2 days only. These high doses may be problematic for people with clotting difficulty or liver disease. It is advisable to give/take a ½ dose when not sick to make sure it is tolerated. There are both liquid drops and capsules available. In our office we have a concentrated liquid that has 5,000IU per single drop (NOT DROPPER) as well as capsules that contain 25,000IU.
4) VITAMIN C - preferably as Ester C or Buffered C. Doses listed here are the total amount per day and should be divided in 3-4 doses. For children under 1 year of age give 100mg per month of age. For children up to age 5, 1000mg per year of age, and as much as possible for older children and adults, as long as the stool does not become loose. Our office has capsules that are 250 and 500mg, 250mg chewable tablets, and a powder that has 1100mg per 1/4 teaspoon.
5) ZINC - this mineral should be given divided into at least 2 doses spread through the day. For children under 2 -12 months old give 10-15mg a day, for children between 1 and 3 give 20-30 mg daily, for older children give 50 mg a day, and adults can take 75-100 mg a day. This should be divided into 2-3 doses throughout the day. We carry capsules of 20, 25 and 50mg, and a liquid that has 20mg per teaspoon.
6) LARIX - This is an herb derived from the bark of the Western Larch tree. The active ingredient, arabinogalactan, is the same as Echinacea, which is believed to increase production of white blood cells. Larix has been found to be much stronger than Echinacea when using similar amounts, and can be used by patients over 6 months of age. For adults and older children, the dose is 2 tablets 3 times a day, and younger children who can swallow pills should give 1 tablet 3 times a day. There is also a powder available. Adults and large children should use 1 tablespoon 3 times a day, and smaller children should use 1 teaspoon 3 times a day. For children less than 6 months of age, there are alcohol free extracts of Echinacea that can be used. For children under 3 months of age use 5 drops 4 times a day and for children 3-6 months use 10 drops 4 times a day. Echinacea should not be used as a daily preventative.
Daily supplements to strengthen the immune system against Flu:
These are doses of therapies that can be taken longer-term until the flu threat has been lessened:
1) Vitamin C - young children (under 5) can take 250mg twice a day and older children and adults can take 500mg twice a day
2) Zinc - younger children can take 5mg daily and older children and adults can take 10mg a day
3) Vitamin A - children 2-24 months can take 1250IU daily, children 2-5 years old can take 2500IU daily and people over 5 can take 5000IU daily
4) Larix - younger children can take ¼ teaspoon of the powder once a day, and older children and adults can take ½ teaspoon or 1 tablet once a day
5) Elderberry - Young children can take 1 teaspoon daily, and adults and older children can take 2 capsule daily.
6) Vitamin D3 - Vitamin D, while known for its use in calcium absorption, is also very important to help fight off infections. Quite possibly, part of the reason that the "flu season" occurs in the winter is because people do not spend as much time outdoors. If possible, people should get their 25-hydroxy vitamin D level checked and get the value above 50ng/ml. If not able to check a level, all adults can take 5000IU of Vitamin D3, children under 25 lbs can take 1000IU, children 25-50 lbs can take 2000IU, and children over 50 lbs can take 3000IU. We have capsules of 1000, 2000 and 5000IU as well as a concentrated liquid that has 1000IU per single drop. If a person is suspected to have a vitamin D deficiency, either revealed by testing or from lack of direct sun exposure (sunscreen blocks the formation of active vitamin D), I would consider taking 5 times the dose mentioned above for 1 week in order to build up the body's levels and then drop down to the maintenance dose. For more information about vitamin D, go to www.vitamindcouncil.com
7) Selenium - this powerful antioxidant has been shown in animal studies to decrease lung damage in mice who contracted influenza virus. Children under 1 year old can safely take around 50mcg daily, children 1-4 years can take 100-125mcg, children over 4 years old and adults can take 200mcg. In our office we have capsules of 100mcg and a liquid that has 66mcg per single drop.