Flu Threat: Lessons from Past Pandemics (Part I)

Flu and the Immune System

Influenza ("flu") strikes every year and afflicts millions. Under normal circumstances, flu is not considered a general public health risk. Of course, any disease must be taken seriously for two reasons.

First of all, any disease, including flu, can become dangerous through complications.

But, let's also understand the far more important issue with regard to flu (and not just avian flu) … but disease in general. Every flu is a problem primarily because our immune system gets compromised through life's stresses. Put bluntly, flu is "caught" by people because their immune system is not functioning well.

Immune system dysfunction and weakening events from constant stress, constant threat of danger, constant deprivation of nutritional needs, and constant exposure to vicissitudes of life. Flu … even deadlier strains such as avian flu, can be the result.

Specifically, flu impacts us due to an under active immune system. This is true of many diseases such as cancer, Hepatitis B and C, TB, strep, shingles as well as flu. Other disease conditions are the result of an over active immune system.

What makes this an issue of late is the fact that only recently has science begun to understand the immune system, its complications, its sheer power to fend off disease conditions and its power to aid in the healing process.

Remember that as we introduce the potential of avian flu.

Avian Flu and Pandemics of the Past

To understand the avian flu threat, we need to understand flu pandemics of the past. Flu epidemics have been explosive and unusually deadly. In past centuries, flu probably spread so fast due to humans and animals living in close proximacy.

As you probably know, avian flu is a complex disease mutated from flu that kills birds. But, avian flu has mutated successfully to strike human life. Close proximate of animal and human life allows for such mutations to develop and spread.

Flu can spread like wildfire. The pandemic flu of 1580 began in Asia, spreading over all continents in less than a year. The flu engulfed all of Europe in less than six months.

That's the problem with flu breakouts. Flu pandemics hit like the proverbial flash flood. A highly contagious flu virus can hit populations that have little or no specific antibody immunizations to the disease, infect a quarter of the population, outstrip societal response capability, disrupting societal health and economy.

The fear today is that avian flu will strike suddenly and will spread globally in a matter of mere months.

There were three flu pandemics of the 20th century. They are well documented as to origin, spread, and impact. Those flu pandemics occurred in 1918-19, 1957-58, and 1968-69.

The flu pandemic of 1918-19 killed upwards of 40 million people. No doubt, society did not have the tools nor understanding to stop the plague. However, if ever there was an argument for immune debilitation, it's war weariness.

Almost every author who writes about this flu pandemic notes the fact the world was at war. But, that was not a mere footnote. It was a major contributor to society's incapacity to restrain, much less stop the flu plague.

War brings unique circumstances, to say the least. War brings a strain to everything including the immunity capacity of the survivors. If flu occurs in compromised immune systems, war guarantees the stress and deprivation which is often the prelude to plague:

"soldiers live in horrid conditions and return to a disrupted life but the effect on their immune system follows them into peace time … and plague,

"loss of loved ones brings its stresses to the emotions which affects the immune system,

"constant anxiety for soldiers and loved ones even though they return safely, brings its emotional traumas and immune system depletion,

"loss of hygienic conditions weakens resistance and breeds viral and bacterial conditions,

"depression economy partnerships poverty and its consequences to human quality of life,

"uncertainty of safe living conditions (bombing, terrorism, battle, mob actions)

during war takes its own toll on the body

"disrupted economies, making recovery long, difficult and uncertain,

"work hours longer and work conditions harsher, pay less,

"crime, destruction, barbarism frightening or actual,

"whole economics perish, trade and commerce uncertain,

"political uncertainties,

"peace often brings more severe dislocation and hardship (this was especially the case after World War I)

"all populations suffer nutritional deprivation, with few exceptions

When flu strikes after such conditions, scientists often misjudge the fact that the victims, deemed "healthy", really were compromised through the war and peace time consequences. The generation, which was victimized by the "Spanish flu" of 1918-1919, was in the age range of 15 – 35 … the very age which includes:

"Soldiers,

"single parents,

"factory workers,

"teens called upon to assume unusual responsibilities on the home front

"workers in their prime, needed on all fronts …

"medical and other service personnel exposed to a constant need for their services,

Their "after the war" physical let down is almost reminiscent of what happens to people after particularly long periods of stress … They fall prey to flu, colds, and infection.

Why the flu? To answer that question, consider the physical impact upon athletes from their workouts.

It is now known that after a heavy workout, whatever other benefits accrue to the body, there is one clear draw back. The oxidized radicals that formed take the body several days to get over … leaving the body open to radical damage and some internal harm. (See my article: "Antioxidants, Free Radicals, and Sports Nutrition"

New research suggests glyconutritional supplement taken before, during, and especially after workouts helps the body get over the radical burden in a matter of hours, not days.

Now, if recent research shows that athletic stress takes days to get over, often leaving damage to organs and tissues in its wake (especially if it is a habitual practice), why are we surprised at the massive flu fall after the First World War – a war which was worldwide in its scope, as was the flu pandemic which followed it?

Perhaps, before we consider avian flu in the second article, we should realize there is a strong scientific test that recognizes glyconutrition is a way to prepare and deal with the sunset of deadly flu … and potentially other pandemic possibilities.

Read the following testimony before Congress when doing further research on flu, avian or otherwise.

"In instances of abnormal, epidemic, or virulent infectious agent exposure, glyconutrient supplementation has been found effective for enhancing general immune functions and defense. much higher level that is effective against infectious agents. "

-Dr. H. Reginald McDaniel, "Comprehensive Medical Care for Bioterrorism Exposure"
Congressional Hearing, November 14, 2001
(emphasis ours)