Preparing for a Pandemic

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Filed Under: Colds and Flu, Immune Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Preparing for a Pandemic

Keep these basic supplies on hand to maintain and restore your health

I firmly believe that everyone needs to take certain precautions and have at least some basic supplies on hand at all times. This is one of my bedrock philosophies concerning living well, staying healthy, and being self-reliant, because if you’re not going to look after yourself and your family, who will?

Regardless of whether the crisis is related to disease, the economy, the weather, or a national emergency, keeping certain health- and food-related items on hand is more than just prudent. Being able to maintain and/or restore your health and that of your loved ones is one of the most essential things you can do.

Given the recent pandemic scares over the last few years—such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the bird flu in 2003, and the swine flu threat in 2009—here are some recommendations that are absolutely essential should you find yourself in the middle of an outbreak. Make sure to pass these tips along to the ones you love.

Of course, the best way to protect yourself from illness is to maintain the strongest immune system you can by keeping yourself as healthy as possible. But despite your best efforts, there will probably be some pathogens that can get past those defenses. It even happens to me sometimes, even though I practice what I preach: I eat properly, get plenty of exercise, and take the best nutritional supplements available. However, I also put myself under a great deal of stress by traveling constantly, forgoing needed sleep, changing my diet, and exposing myself to probably every bug and pathogen on the planet. Every now and then, my immune system gets overloaded, and if I don’t make some quick changes, I get sick.

Much like everyone, I suspect, I can tell when I’m starting to get run down. I feel the fatigue, the flu-like aches associated with being overly toxic, and characteristic pain and stiffness in my upper back and shoulders. If I ignore these symptoms, I know I’m in for trouble.

My First Line of Defense

The first thing I have to do is relieve the pain and stiffness between my shoulders. Several methods will work. Depending on where I am and what’s available, the problem can be fixed through a chiropractic adjustment, stretching, or lying with my back on a hard surface while “hugging” my knees tightly and rocking back and forth.

Next, I rely religiously on four products to nip illness in the bud.

  • The first is a xylitol nasal wash called Xlear. I immediately cleanse my nose with it, and if I catch the problem quickly enough, this may be all I need. I use Xlear three to four times a day, spraying each nostril twice. This xylitol-based nasal wash (pronounced “clear”) helps keep nasal passages clean and moist. 
  • I always follow this with a product that contains elderberry extract. I take several sips of it throughout the day, one right before bed, and another if I happen to wake up during the night. An elderberry extract product, Sambucol, has been shown to be effective in shortening the duration of colds and flu, and in some cases heading them off altogether. Sambucol is available from most health food stores, or it can be ordered from Sullivan Creek Distributing. Another product I recommend is Nature’s Way Sambucus
  • I put four to eight drops of eucalyptus oil on a tissue, inhale from that, and sleep with it next to my nose on the pillow. I recommend a form of Australian eucalyptus oil called V-Vax, the only type known to effectively ward off all kinds of germs. It’s available in health food stores, or it can be obtained directly from V-Vax Products by calling 800-342-2044.
  • If the problem has resulted in a sore or swollen throat, I suck on a throat lozenge from time to time throughout the day as needed. Zinc-gluconate lozenges can cut the duration of a cold in half, as demonstrated in small studies. The most well-known brand of these lozenges is Cold-EEZE, sold in most drugstores.

This simple practice of stretching and natural defense boosters has been a lifesaver for me and my family. On dozens of occasions, these steps have turned severe respiratory problems around in a matter of hours, and either stopped or lessened their impact. I always pack as lightly as possible when traveling, but you can bet money that these four items are with me at all times.

Beyond the Occasional Flu

You’ve probably noticed that respiratory problems are becoming more common. Urban over-crowding, increasingly confined security areas, and poor ventilation in airplanes, airports, and bus and train stations are all contributing to the spread of contagious respiratory infections. Additionally, the chance of spreading any new infection or disease is exacerbated by the increased number of travelers who can go anywhere on the globe within hours.

Years ago, I began warning about the dangers of epidemics that would start in one isolated part of the world and spread quickly to our doorstep. At the time, I received a considerable amount of flak for making such a prediction. Traveling the world as I do, however, I knew it would only be a matter of time. Unfortunately, pandemics (global epidemics) are a reality.

As I mentioned before, even in the last decade we’ve had several pandemic scares, including SARS and avian flu (also known as the H5N1virus) in 2003, and most recently, the emergence of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as the swine flu in 2009. Since the latest virus is still relatively recent, only time will tell if this is the “big one” or not. In the pandemic of 1918 there was a four-month gap between the time the first mild cases began to surface and the big wave of serious infections started. I hope the current flu can be contained, or will naturally fade away on its own, but, unfortunately, even if this does happen, there will be other widespread infections of some sort, at some time, to follow. If you haven’t made at least the basic preparations to protect and provide for yourself and your family, I urge you to start doing so now.

Take Heed and Make Preparations Now

For the majority of us, previous outbreaks of potentially scary respiratory viruses such as SARS and bird flu should serve as “blessings in disguise”—textbook examples that illustrate the type of serious problems we need to be prepared for. Like the threat of increased terrorism, potential epidemics also need to be addressed.

History has shown time and time again that isolation is one of the best tools to help stop the spread of infectious diseases. In the event of a widespread outbreak of any type of illness, one of the best precautions you can take would be to eliminate or minimize your exposure to the general public. This would require that you have at least a limited supply of necessities such as food, water, toiletries, medications, supplements, etc., on hand. I certainly don’t want to sound like a pessimist, but it’s clear that our world is rapidly changing. If you haven’t done so already, it’s definitely time to prepare for what these changes might bring.

In the small farming communities where I was raised, everyone seemed to have a stocked pantry full of homemade canned goods and cases of food from sales at the Piggly Wiggly. It amazes me nowadays that when some 24- or 48-hour crisis occurs, everyone empties the local grocery stores.

You should have at least enough nonperishable and canned items to be able to survive a couple of weeks without having to leave home. If you have necessary medications or take supplements, it’s not unreasonable to keep a three-month supply on hand. Just make sure to rotate the items as you continue to purchase new supplies each month. And you’ll definitely want an assortment of the natural remedies I’ve mentioned over the years. These items could very well turn out to be some of your most important tools. I’m talking about things like chlorine bleach, PAV (tree pitch), Citricidal, QR Powder, bee propolis, honey (for wounds), in addition to the “First Line of Defense” recommendations I mentioned earlier in this piece. Here’s the run-down on these handy items you should keep stocked just in case the unimaginable happens:

  • Chlorine bleach For sanitizing surfaces and purifying water, nothing is cheaper or more readily available than chlorine bleach.
  • PAV Pitch, the fragrant resin from trees, is effective in treating practically any type of skin infection, whether bacterial, viral, or fungal in origin. I’ve used it successfully in cases of ringworm, scabies, nail fungus, and infectious wounds. I particularly like a petroleum jelly-type ointment with pitch called PAV. It comes in a small half-ounce container that easily fits in the pocket. It’s available from NATR Health.
  • Citricidal This grapefruit seed-extract product has multiple uses, including treating diaper rash and knocking out infections. Citricidal is available from Nutribiotic.
  • QR ("Quick Relief") Powder, which is available at many mass-market retailers, is a fine, dry powder that when applied with light pressure on a surgical or traumatic wound, stops the bleeding almost instantly. Look for it in your local stores or contact the manufacturer, Biolife.
  • Propolis Propolis is an antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral compound that bees make from tree resin. You can find different forms of it at most health food stores. I order mine from a company called CC Pollen.
  • Raw honey Raw honey has a number of therapeutic uses, including the treatment of burns. It has been shown to be effective against many of the pathogenic organisms found in burn wounds. Raw honey is available from Reallyrawhoney.

For various respiratory threats I would suggest keeping a small supply of fiber surgical masks around. Dousing them with several drops of eucalyptus oil goes a long way in both preventing and treating respiratory infections. Type N95 masks run anywhere from $1 to $2 each and offer improved filtering power against bacteria and other pathogens. It would be a good idea to have a few on hand for everyone in the family. You can find these items at any medical supply house or on the Internet. While you’re shopping, be sure and include a box of surgical gloves as well.

When assembling your emergency kit, as long as you stock up on items you normally use, you can’t go wrong. Just remember to keep buying these items after the initial stock-up and rotate your stock, using the oldest items first. Don’t wait for a true crisis the way 99 percent of the general population does. It will be a small investment that will help you lower stress levels, sidestep panic, and provide a true safety buffer.

Are We Doomed to Repeat History?

Many people, me included, feel that it’s only a matter of time before we see the next pandemic. The most recent episode of swine flu illustrates that these types of viruses are ever-changing and can crop up without a moment’s notice. I don’t believe it’s a matter of whether an outbreak will occur, it’s just a matter of when and what disease. My intent in sharing this information is not to frighten or create a feeling of hopelessness, but I do think it’s a threat that you and your family need to be aware of and prepare for.

Very few people will have a clue until the outbreak gets under way, and too many people still live under the false assumption that a flu shot will take care of the problem. It won’t. The different influenza viruses constantly mutate. Even if the virus in a pandemic could be rapidly identified, the quickest a vaccine could be produced, tested, and distributed is six months. That’s too long. The Spanish flu infected 500 million and killed 20 million–40 million within 10 months. It’s a good policy to expect the best but prepare for the worst. And, as my dad has always said, it’s cheap insurance. Whether you’re fighting off the first symptoms of a cold or flu virus, or you find yourself in the midst of a spreading pandemic, being forewarned, aware, and ready will make a big difference for your (and your family’s) chances of good health and survival.

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