Printed in the Spring 2004 Natural Healer
Every spring and summer, public concern peaks over the threat of the West Nile virus. Is West Nile virus the next plague? The answer is “no”; but its affects can be lethal and disabling. Health Canada’s website states that there is no specific treatment, medication, nor cure for West Nile virus. From a naturopathic perspective however I will share with you what has been proven effective in killing viral infections like West Nile.
First is it important to put some perspective on the magnitude of this problem: should you be concerned? Yes. Should you be overwhelmed? No. Should you be prepared and educated? Yes.
Let’s look at some historical statistics to give us perspective on what constitutes an epidemic:
- 542 AD:
In the Mediterranean, the Bubonic plague killed twenty-five to fifty percent of the population of the Roman Empire
The plague devastated Europe and killed seventy-five percent of the population
An estimated thirty-three to fifty percent of the population of London died from the Bubonic Plague
The Great Plague of London killed twenty percent of the population
A second cholera pandemic broke out and approximately 33,000 deaths were recorded in a twenty-four hour period in Cairo and Alexander alone
The Russian flu pandemic killed 250,000 people in Europe and 750,000 people worldwide
The world’s worst flu, the Spanish flu pandemic, killed twenty to forty million people worldwide
The Asian flu pandemic affected ten to thirty-five percent of the world’s population with an estimated 100,000 to 1,000,000 deaths worldwide
The Hong Kong flu killed 700,000 people and it continues to be a threat today
- 1980s and ongoing:
It is estimated that twenty-eight million people in Africa alone are infected with HIV or AIDS. There have been approximately five million new cases and 3.1 million deaths caused by HIV and AIDS in 2002 alone
In Sydney the flu epidemic killed 64,684 people
More recently there have been 8,098cases of SARS and 774 deaths
Health Canada reported that as of January 12th, 2004, Canada has had 1,220 confirmed positive human cases and ten deaths due to West Nile virus. The West Nile virus was first isolated in 1937 in the West Nile region of Uganda. Outbreaks at that time occurred in Israel, South Africa, Egypt, various parts of Europe and Asia. The first outbreak in North America was in New York City in 1999. In Ontario, the first human case was confirmed in September 2002.
Mosquitoes spread the virus and the vast majority of people who become infected have no symptoms at all. In the October 2002 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, “For every five people infected with West Nile, one has mild illness usually lasting three to six days.” These individuals may develop a mild form of infection with symptoms such as vomiting, swollen lymph nodes, headache, muscle aches, malaise, rash, and loss of appetite. More severe cases involving “meningitis or encephalitis developed in about 1 in 50 people infected with West Nile–more commonly in those over age 50”. These more severely infected individuals may develop neurological symptoms consisting of high fever, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, lack of coordination, confusion, seizures, a polio-like syndrome and possibly death.
Health Canada promotes killing mosquitoes and not getting bitten as ways to combat the problem. (See Health Canada’s website http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/english/westnile). According to Health Canada, people who are highly susceptible to the West Nile virus include people who are over the age of fifty and those individuals that are immunocompromised. Therefore, the best defense against the West Nile virus is to strengthen your immune system.
Naturopathic medicine offers many things to build up your immune system. Among these include botanicals, ozone, hydrogen peroxide, ultraviolet blood irradiation and high dose intravenous vitamin C as described below.
Some botanical medicines have scientifically documented antiviral activity. Among them are:
Astragalus, which kills the Coxsackie B-2 virus and the influenza virus. Astragalus also stimulates interferon, white blood cell production and increases the immune system functioning
St. Johns Wort is not only one of the most potent antidepressants, but also has incredible antiviral activity. It has been documented to have beneficial effects against HIV, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus and herpes
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has antiviral activity against HIV, herpes, shingles, and hepatitis A and B.
Other botanicals that have direct antiviral activity and build up the immune system include cat’s claw, echinacea, garlic, aloe vera, and tumeric.
Ozone is proven to kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses, while stimulating the human circulatory system. Because of these effective killing properties, ozone has been used around the world as a means of purifying drinking water since the mid 1800s. Both the FDA and EPA certify that ozone destroys 99.9992% of all pathogenic germs while destroying 99.9992% of all pollutants in the water at the same time.
Ozone was used medically in 1915, during World War I, when it was found to be an effective disinfectant of wounds and skin diseases. Ozone works by activating the immune system as well as by damaging the virus coating and disrupting the ability for the virus to reproduce.
Since the early 1960s, an estimated ten million patients in Europe have used medical ozone and hydrogen peroxide to treat a wide spectrum of diseases. Despite decades of clinical success, ozone and hydrogen peroxide are still considered “experimental” and are not FDA-approved.
Ozone has already been proven effective around the world in treating influenza, herpes simplex and herpes zoster, candida, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, Epstein-Barr virus, HIV, hepatitis, and parasitic, bacteria and viral infections.
C) Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the immune system’s first line of defense and is produced in the body to help destroy invading hostile organisms. For example, Dr. Oliver first reported the use of intravenous H2O2 in patients with influenzal pneumonia. In 1919, a fatal epidemic in Busrah had a death rate of eighty percent. However, Dr Oliver treated twenty-five critically ill patients with H2O2 and thirteen patients fully recovered reducing the mortality rate to forty-eight percent.
Hydrogen peroxide increases the oxygen content of the blood by stimulating oxidative enzymes. Hydrogen peroxide is also useful for increasing the energy producing ability of the cells, increasing the elimination of toxins, detoxifying chemicals, destroying bacteria, fungi, and viruses, and stimulating the production of gamma interferon which is part of the immune system.
Many microorganisms have mutated and are now resistant to antibiotics. The human body uses hydrogen peroxide as its natural antibiotic and as a defense mechanism to microbial invaders.
As an intravenous therapy, hydrogen peroxide has the ability to reverse plaque formation in arteriosclerosis, releases oxygen into the bloodstream and will destroy many types of bacteria as well as viruses. Studies have also proven that hydrogen peroxide is useful in treating inflammatory problems such as arthritis, myalgia, rheumatism, asthma, emphysema, and chronic lung disease
D) Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation Therapy
Ultraviolet blood Irradiation may sound like an unusual therapy, however, anyone who owns a pool or hot tub has probably heard of using ozone, hydrogen peroxide and UV light to treat the microorganisms. The same principle is true when applied to the body. However, like anything natural, it cannot be patented.
UV blood irradiation (UVBI) enhances phagocytosis which engulfs and eats foreign matter, debris, microbes and tumor cells by activated macrophage cells. Weak and damaged cells are therefore cleansed, fungi, viruses, and bacteria are killed, and circulation is enhanced.
In the 1930s UVBI was used to inactivate the poliovirus and to treat skin infections as well as the mumps. UVBI stimulation of the immune system increases tolerance of the body towards radiation or chemotherapy and reduces side effects. For acute infections such as a cold or beginning of the flu, generally one treatment is adequate for a reduction of symptoms. Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia usually show an improvement with approximately ten treatments.
E) Vitamin C
Frederick R. Klenner, M.D., successfully used mega-doses of vitamin C during the polio epidemic of the 1940s. Studies have shown vitamin C to be beneficial in treating colds, cancer, influenza, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, hepatitis, HIV, genital herpes, shingles, fever blisters and other persistent viral infections. High doses of IV-administered vitamin C are needed to be effective with a severe infection.
With all of the advertising created to inform the public about the perils of West Nile virus, why have you, the consumer, not heard of these therapies-with the possible exception of vitamin C? Unfortunately, this omission of information to the public is not unusual. A good example of this is an article in the prestigious medical journal called The Lancet (2003; 361: 2045-46): Glycyrrhizin, an active ingredient in liquorice roots, was compared with four patented pharmaceutical drugs, including ribavirin, for their effect against SARS. Not only did glycyrrhizin inhibit viral replication, it also inhibited absorption and penetration of the virus. High concentrations of glycyrrhizin completely blocked replication of the SARS virus. None of the four patented pharmaceutical drugs came close to working as effectively on SARS. So, why weren’t these results publicized? Herbs cannot be patented and exploited to generate money for pharmaceutical companies. Since natural therapies cannot be patented, they are therefore viewed as direct competition and a threat to pharmaceuticals.
So the next time you hear a mosquito buzzing, don’t become overwhelmed with the idea that it may be carrying West Nile virus. Instead, enjoy your summer and remember, there are alternatives with naturopathic medicine.