Health Column: Should we be concerned about Ebola virus?
Free Press Health Columnist
The hemorrhagic Ebola virus recently arrived in America, as multiple international health care workers were brought to special Emory University facilities near the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga. Although the spread of Ebola from the CDC is extremely unlikely, it is a rare but unusually infective virus that can lead to death in 50-90 percent of those infected. This is a good time to review the germ theory versus the hygiene theory of disease and how to best support your immune system against disease.
Conventional theory states that pathogens are bacterium, viruses, or other microorganisms that can cause disease. From this perspective, infective organisms have either a stronger or weaker capacity to do so — their pathogenicity. Ebola is strongly pathogenic as the common cold is mildly pathogenic. Conventional medicine seeks to eliminate these pathogens with medications, but often at the expense of one’s health. Antibiotics disrupt normal intestinal bacterial balance, Interferon medication for Hepatitis C damages the liver, etc.
Naturopathic theory states that pathogens will cause disease in a susceptible individual when the environment is ripe for disease. In other words, when the pathogenicity overwhelms a poor state of health, a disease state takes hold. Fitness is based on the Greek idea of hygiene, literally art of health, which is a set of conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through cleanliness. Hydrotherapy (water), heliotherapy (sunlight), phytotherapy (plant nutrients) etc. are all also a part of this practice. The hygienic theory can even be understood in the example of cancer, as all humans have cancer cells present in their bodies. In healthy people, the immune system will naturally destroy these cells before they can cause any damage, but with an individual with compromised health a cancerous process can take hold.
There is some agreement between these theories. For example, all health professionals recognize the importance of hand washing to prevent the spread of colds or flus. However, in a 2012 study out of Northwestern University, Thom McDade, Ph.D. et al., found that children who were exposed to more animal feces and had more cases of diarrhea before age 2 had less incidence of inflammation in the body as they grew into adulthood. This is also true for chicken pox, where having a “chicken pox party” as a child can establish a lower risk for the much more serious adult onset of shingles.
From my perspective, the single best thing we can do to prevent all causes of disease is to focus on the highest nutritional value of foods that we feed our children and ourselves. We know that vitamins A, B6, B12, C and E have crucial roles in white blood cell function. We know that zinc actually helps the thymus gland create killer-T cells and is essential along with other minerals like chromium, copper, iron, manganese and selenium. In general, we need more backyard organic gardens, chickens, cows and goats, and less chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.
Sometimes the simplest and most effective treatment is to drink more fresh clean water. A good rule of thumb is one-third of your body weight in ounces of water daily (from stainless steel or glass containers), plus eight ounces for every sugary, caffeinated or alcoholic beverage.
Finally, there are also fantastic phytonutrients from medicinal plants to power up the immune system. Examples include Echinacea, astragalus, shiitake and maitake mushrooms, and Oregon grape. Plus, elderberry is famous for its anti-viral properties and can even help break a fever. One of the most powerful medicinals, Osha, is right here in western Colorado. The key is to set up the best hygiene for yourself and your family to fight off any pathogen that comes your way. Then you just might see the wise words of Benjamin Franklin come true when he said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Christopher Lepisto, a GJ Free Press health columnist, graduated as a naturopathic doctor (N.D.) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. For more information, visit http://www.grandjunctionnaturopath.com or call 970-250-4104.
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