By Matthew Stein, P.E., Author of When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance and Planetary Survival, ISBN #978-1933392837, published by Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT (800) 639-4099  http://www.chelseagreen.com

The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well..

–Hippocrates

Is Bird Flu a Real Threat?

Imagine a Hurricane Katrina sized catastrophe occurring in 50 major cities across the country at the same time, and you have an idea of the worst-case scope for a large pandemic. All medical center and government personnel would be totally overwhelmed. If there was no viable vaccine, even in limited quantities, health care workers would desert medical facilities to care for the sick in their own homes, or to simply get out of the cities to improve their own chances for survival.

The bad news is that it will take at least two years to produce enough mainstream western medicine (vaccine and Tamiflu antiviral medication) for Avian Influenza A (bird flu), to supply more than a small fraction of the population of the United States. There is nowhere near enough available mainstream medicine to halt a human epidemic of bird flu, should one get started this winter. The good news is that this bird flu is not currently contagious, so there is no immediate threat for becoming a pandemic (a pandemic occurs when a highly contagious disease, to which human beings have little natural resistance, emerges and spreads across huge populations).

The best news is that there are many alternative medicines, herbs and treatments that provide excellent results against a wide variety of viruses and antibiotic resistant bacteria, to which mainstream western medicine has little or nothing to offer. The bad news is that 99% of the doctors in our hospitals are not trained in these alternatives and if you wait until a pandemic starts, you will have only a slim chance for locating an available health practitioner familiar with one of these alternative tools.

“During Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which killed up to 50 million people worldwide, homeopathic physicians in the U.S. reported very low mortality rates among their patients, while flu patients treated by conventional physicians faced mortality rates of around 30 percent. W.A. Dewey, MD, gathered data from homeopathic physicians treating flu patients around the country in 1918 and published his findings in the Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy in 1920. Homeopathic physicians in Philadelphia, for example, reported a mortality rate of just over one percent for the more than 26,000 flu patients they treated during the pandemic.

Today, a number of homeopathic remedies for the flu are available, including oscillo, or oscillococcinum, which has been shown to shorten the duration of symptoms when taken within 48 hours of onset. Homeopaths have been given this remedy since 1925. Interestingly, it’s made from the heart and liver of ducks, which carry flu viruses in their digestive tracts.”

–excerpted from Could Homeopathy Prevent a Pandemic? by Tijn Touber and Kim Ridley,  Ode Magazine issue 30.

This particular avian influenza virus (H5N1) is both highly resistant to antiviral medications and very deadly to humans. The death rate, for recently reported human cases of avian flu, is just over 50% (a frighteningly high death rate!). Luckily this strain of virus is not currently contagious amongst human beings, with only approximately 117 reported cases so far. You might ask, “If Bird Flu is not contagious, and mostly infects farm workers in direct contact with sick birds, why worry?” The concern is due to the viral ability to share genetic material between different strains, sometimes resulting in mutations that combine the deadly properties of one strain with the contagious properties of another.

If the current strain of deadly bird flu were to mutate into a form that is highly contagious amongst humans, it could spawn a world-wide pandemic on the scale of the Spanish Flu that killed as many as 50 million people in 1918. If luck is on our side, this bird flu will pass us by, like the Swine Flu did in 1976. Knowledge is power! Don’t wait until it is too late to educate yourself and look into your alternatives!

Facts About the Current Potential For a Pandemic

  •  Viruses have the ability to swap genetic material with other viruses. This gene swapping is known as antigenic shift, and can result in a new “emerging” virus, which essentially becomes a composite of pre-existing viruses.
  •  There is a raging epidemic of avian influenza A that is sickening millions of domesticated fowl. This epidemic recently spread from Asia into Turkey and Romania, and a rising number of humans are contracting this disease, mostly through direct contact with infected animals. As the number of farm workers infected with avian flu rises, this increases the probability that some of the bird flu victims might also contract other forms of flu. When a human (or animal) is infected with two types of flu at the same time, the close contact of the flue strains inside the body creates an opportunity for viral gene swapping (antigenic shift) to produce a new strain of flu that is easily transmitted between humans while retaining the deadly properties of avian influenza. 
  •  In Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, the death rate among human victims of the recent farm animal epidemic of avian flu (viral strain H5N1) has been reported at just over 50 percent.
  •  The recently tested prototype vaccine, developed by Sanofi Pasteur, has shown positive test results, but also to appears to be extremely difficult to manufacture. Combined with the fact that this bird flu is highly resistant to most mainstream anti viral medications, it is projected that it will take years to ramp up enough production of medicine to ward off a pandemic, should this bird flu evolve into a highly contagious form.  
  •  Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918: 675,000 American fatalities and estimates of 21 to 50 million fatalities worldwide, in a single year. By comparison, WWI killed 9 million men over a 4-year period. Recent analysis of 80-year-old specimens preserved in wax indicates that this flu virus originated as a bird virus that mutated into a swine virus that mutated into a human virus. During the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, most of the flu victims died of secondary bacterial pneumonias that were enabled as a result of being sick with influenza.
  •   Viruses do not respond to antibiotics and it often takes many years to develop vaccines for specific viruses.
  •  After many years of medical research, costing billions of dollars, scientists have yet to produce viable vaccines for the viruses that cause AIDS, Ebola and Hemorrhagic Dengue Fever. For this reason, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU BE PREPARED WITH A BACK UP PLAN!
  •  Due to the potential for viruses to mutate into deadly virulent strains, the increasing number of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, the increasing probability that bio-weapons will fall into terrorist hands, and the almost instantaneous worldwide transport of humans and animals via modern air travel, the risk of worldwide plagues may be as bad now as it ever was!
  •  The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a global influenza preparedness plan. In this plan, they outline six phases in the transformation of an emerging virus, starting with the identification of a potentially dangerous animal virus that exhibits no human transmission factors (Phase 1), and ending with a pandemic virus at Phase 6, which is easily transmitted amongst humans, and has migrated into the general population. Currently, it appears that the Bird Flu is moving from Phase 3 to Phase 4 (limited human-to-human infection), and there is justifiable concern that conditions are ripe for this virus to mutate into a form that is easily transmitted among humans (Phases 5 & 6).
  •  Bubonic Plague (China and Europe, 6th, 14th, and 17th centuries): An outbreak in China was spread to Italy in 1347. Over the next 5 years, it spread throughout Europe, killing about 25 million people, roughly one third of Europe’s population at the time. The cities became death traps and were deserted until the plague subsided (Bubonic Plague is easily treated with modern antibiotics).
  •  A significant, and growing biological threat is cultivated right here, in America, on our modern factory farms where farm animals are fed sub-clinical doses of antibiotics to promote faster growth. Since bacteria reproduce at 500,000 times the rate of humans, natural genetic selection has made antibiotic fed farm animals into a perfect breeding ground for growing super-microbes that are resistant to modern medicines.

How to Prepare Yourself against Bird Flu and Other Pandemics

  •  Don’t place all your faith in flue shots. Since it is extremely hard to second guess which virus will emerge this winter, and viruses can mutate, the distributed vaccine (flu shot) could be totally ineffective against the virus that actually surfaces.
  •  When it comes to antibiotic resistant bacteria and deadly viruses, so-called “alternative medicine”, including homeopathic remedies, herbals, ultra-violet blood irradiation, H2O2, Ozone, and a variety of other treatments, could be your most effective form of treatment and prevention.  See my web site article: Alternative Medicines and Herbs for a list of remedies that may be effective when traditional antibiotics and vaccines fail to heal or protect. See my web site links on the “Bio Threat” for links to more information on alternatives to mainstream medicine.
  •  Create an Emergency Plan for your family, and have at least one emergency Grab and Run 72-Hour Kit on hand in case you need to evacuate. Remember the huge ordeal that the people of Houston and New Orleans went through trying to evacuate millions of people from Hurricane Katrina and Rita’s path. Cities could become death traps if a pandemic is unleashed on America. (NOTE: Grab and Run kits will soon to be available through this web site’s store)
  •  Boost your immune system. If a serious flu is “going around”, you should try to stack the cards in your favor, since you can’t count on the availability of an effective anti-viral medicine or vaccine. (NOTE: See below for specific recommendations)
  •  My book, When Technology Fails, has an entire chapter devoted to Low-Tech Medicine and Healing that could save your life if high tech medicines and vaccines are failing to heal, or are simply unavailable.
  •  Bio-electric healing mechanisms and machines (blood electrification, UV blood irradiation, colloidal silver, Ozone drip IV, etc.),  as explored in the research of Dr. Robert Becker (MD), the physicist Bob Beck (PhD), and others, could provide valuable tools to heal people suffering from antibiotic resistant bacteria and new strains of viruses. See my web site links on the “Bio Threat” for links to more information.

Immune System Boosters

(NOTE: I am not a doctor. If confronted with a serious illness, I urge you to seek qualified professional help when ever possible.)

In every epidemic, there are always some people who stay healthy while others succumb to whatever is “going around”. There are many factors that contribute to the health of one’s immune system. I suggest that you should do whatever you can to boost your immune system, to “stack the deck in your favor” so that your body is predisposed to successfully fight off bacterial or viral infections. For more information than I can provide in this article, and a guide to other resources, I suggest you refer to chapter 9,Low-Tech Medicine & Healing, in my book, When Technology Fails.

  •  Do you smoke cigarettes, have a drug or alcohol problem? If so, you are seriously compromising your immune system. I suggest you seek qualified assistance to overcome your addiction as a fist step in helping your body to strengthen its immune system.
  •  Astragalus. One of the most highly regarded herbs used in Chinese medicine, astragalus is an effective immune system booster.
  •  Cleansing herbs. A number of herbal concoctions, such as Jason Winter’s tea, the Hoxsey formula, or Caisse’s tea (also known as Essiac), have been used successfully to battle cancer, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases. In addition to boosting the body’s natural immune system, these synergistic herbal combinations appear to help the body to cleanse and detoxify. For more details, and specific recipes / instructions, see Chapter 9 of When Technology Fails.
  •  Cleanse your body of toxins. I suggest you cleanse your body of toxins through a fast or herbal cleansing regimen. My friend, Dr. Garten, used to fast regularly and was the picture of health, working full time well into his nineties, with an energy level far beyond most people half his age. While in his mid thirties, and suffering from severe heart disease (the mainstream medical prognosis was that his illness was terminal, and he had no recourse but to resign himself to an early death), Dr Garten was introduced to the healing properties of fasting. In addition to restoring his own body to health, he used fasting, and other natural forms of healing, to help thousands of people restore balance and health where mainstream medicine had failed to heal.  Chapter 9 of my book When Technology Fails, offers specific guidelines for cleansing fasts and liver detoxification.
  •  Homeopathic Medicine: Homeopathy appears to stimulate the body’s own immune system in ways that western science still doesn’t fully understand. Numerous scientific studies indicate that Homeopathy works, but since they can’t understand why it works, many doctors and scientists will not accept Homeopathy as a viable alternative. Homeopathy can work wonders when other medicines and remedies fail, like the time it helped my dog rebound from the edge of death when she was suffering from a serious antibiotic resistant infection. Prior to the introduction of modern antibiotics, death rates during epidemics of serious infectious diseases, including scarlet fever, cholera, yellow fever, and diphtheria were reported to be significantly lower in homeopathic hospitals than in their orthodox counterparts.
  •  Reishi Mushrooms. Medicinal mushrooms, such as maitake, shiitake, and reishi have many overlapping properties and have been shown to boost heart health; lower the risk of cancer, promote immune function; ward off viruses, bacteria, and fungi; reduce inflammation; combat allergies; help balance blood sugar levels; and support the body’s detoxification mechanisms.
  •  St. John’s wort. Sometimes called “nature’s Prozac,” St. John’s wort (an herb) is mostly known for its antidepressant and mood-enhancing properties. It is also an immune system booster with strong antiviral properties.
  •  Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, immune system booster, natural detoxifier, and necessary body nutrient for tissue health and wound healing. Powdered vitamin C is handy for sprinkling in foods and liquids to detoxify mold aflatoxins and many other toxic substances that may be present in foods. Sprinkle powdered vitamin C into purified water to remove the taste of iodine or other water treatment chemicals. Ever since it received glowing recommendations from Nobel Prize winning medical researcher Linus Pauling, vitamin C has been commonly used in the fight against viruses,.

Other Virus Fighting Tools

  •  Colloidal silver. The medicines that hospitals use to fight skin infections on severe burn patients are all based upon the active component of silver.  Colloidal silver is a broadband antibiotic solution that has been used against a myriad of harmful protozoa, bacteria, and viruses, though users indicate that it may require significant quantities to successfully treat serious illnesses. It is available in health food stores (can be expensive for the quantities required to fight serious illnesses!) or can be made in quantity for just pennies a day with a simple commercial or homemade colloidal silver generator. The bioelectric healing properties of colloidal silver were first researched by Robert Becker MD, as related in his groundbreaking book, The Body Electric. There have been no reports of bacteria growing resistance to colloidal silver, so it may be one of the best available tools in the fight against antibiotic resistant bacteria and a wide variety of viruses.
  •  Blood Electrification. In the Fall of 1990, two medical researchers, Drs.William Lyman and Steven Kaali, working at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City made an important discovery. They found that they could inactivate the HIV virus by applying a low voltage direct current electrical potential with an extremely small current flow to AIDS infected blood in a test tube. A physicist, Dr Robert Beck, who was suffering from severe medical problems that were not responding to western medical treatments, took these discoveries a giant step further when he developed a simple small machine that kills viruses and other blood born pathogens through blood electrification. Blood electrification devices based on his principles typically employ wrist strap electrodes to electrify the blood as it circulates through the patient’s wrist. Dr Robert Beck took these discoveries further by combing them with colloidal silver treatments, ozone super oxidation therapies, and electromagnetic pulse therapy into a combination now commonly referred to as The Beck Protocol. There is a large, growing number of people who claim health to have healed serious diseases and gained huge health benefits by applying Dr Bob Beck’s  Beck Protocol 
  •  Echinacea. A traditional Native American medicinal herb, Echinacea has become a part of mainstream self-help medicine. Since its antiviral and antibacterial properties have been scientifically documented, Echinacea is now available at most drugstores.
  •  Garlic. A true “wonder herb,” garlic has powerful antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal properties as well as tremendous nutritional antioxidant value. The number of active ingredients in penicillin is one. At least thirty-five active ingredients have been identified in garlic, making it much more difficult for bacteria to grow resistant to garlic than penicillin. CAUTION: cooking destroys most of garlic’s potency, so your friends may not stick around after a serious raw garlic treatment.
  •  Grapefruit seed extract (GSE). Like garlic, GSE is another true “wonder herb,” exhibiting powerful antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral properties. It has been used successfully to battle numerous diseases and ailments, including Lyme disease, Candida,Giardia, amoebic dysentery, many kinds of parasites, athlete’s foot, ringworm, gum disease, herpes, colds, flu, and some forms of arthritis.
  •  Hyssop. Though little used in the West, hyssop is another powerful herb, exhibiting strong antiviral and antibacterial properties. One of the few herbs that has been proven effective against active tuberculosis (there is a current pandemic threat from antibiotic resistant tuberculosis), Hyssop is often prescribed by Chinese herbalists for lung ailments.
  •  Ozone /Bio-Oxidative Therapies. As an unstable oxygen molecule, containing three atoms of oxygen instead of the usual two, ozone exhibits bactericidal, virucidal, and fungicidal properties. AIDS, herpes, hepatitis, Epstein Barr, cytomegalovirus and other lipid envelope virus are readily destroyed by hyper-oxygenating the patient’s blood with ozone. I suggest that if oxidative therapies can kill these viruses, they could probably do the same for Bird Flu.
  •  Prayer and “Energy” Healing. The practice of “laying on of hands” and other forms of therapeutic energy healing are as old as recorded history. The Christian Bible, Hindu Bhagavad Gita, and other holy writings from around the world contain many references to this kind of healing. Numerous scientific studies now confirm that prayer does, indeed, have a positive effect on healing (Dossey 1995, 233-271). Similar to the case of homeopathic medicine, scientific analysis of data gathered in carefully controlled, double-blind studies indicates that there are positive healing effects from prayer, but science can offer no clear explanation. You may wish to see a certified Reiki healer, Christian Science Practitioner, take a 15th Step training, or study any one of a number of other prayer or energy based healing traditions. I have personally witnessed “miraculous” results from a number of healing traditions, that my engineering mind had a hard time accepting, but I could not argue with the results, which were far better than any mainstream medical procedure could have produced.
  •  Ultra Violet Blood Irradiation. This alternative medical treatment, where a portion of a patients blood is exposed to ultraviolet light to kill pathogenic viruses and other organisms, has been shown to be very effective against many diseases, such as AIDS, Hepatitis C, etc., which are resistant to mainstream medical treatments.

Just because viruses have the ability to swap genes, doesn’t mean the current bird flu will ever make the jump from an avian epidemic to a human epidemic. In 1976 there was widespread speculation that an epidemic of swine flu would translate into a human pandemic, but it never materialized. I don’t suggest that you live your life in fear of the next killer virus, but I do suggest that you educate yourself and look into some of the alternatives. Remember, when it comes to viruses, mainstream medicine has no magic bullet (there is still no cure for the common cold)!

Knowledge is power! 

Don’t wait until it is too late to educate yourself and look into your alternatives!