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2 August 2012
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Health and Wellbeing
Rachel Blackburn works at both the
pharmacies on Waiheke. She completed
her four year Bachelor of Pharmacy at
the University of Auckland in 2010 and
spent a year as a pharmacy intern on the
island before qualifying as a pharmacist
last last year.
again. . .
It's that time of year again with many of us tucked up at home sick,
and as the fu season descends, it might be time to think a little more
Flu or infuenza is caused by a virus that infects your nose, throat
and lungs. This virus comes in different strains which prevail until
the population builds up an immunity. Its more than just a 'bad
cold', although it shares some symptoms they are usually much
more severe. The symptoms can have a very sudden onset and its
symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, runny nose, cough
and stomach onset. You may have heard of the fu strain currently
causing problems in Canterbury leaving a few people fghting for
their lives. This is the H3N2 strain and its hallmark is hallucina-
tions, crippling fever and nausea. Warnings are that this strain is
heading north with worries that the epidemic will affect the whole
country. Already hospitals and doctors surgeries are struggling to
cope with increased pressure from this fu season.
Infuenza can affect anyone including the ft and well but some
Waiheke Unichem Pharmacy
Oneroa Village, 372 8312
OPEN 7 DAYS
Mon-Fri 9-5.30 • Sat 9-5 • Sun 10.15-3.30
is part of building immunity
and feeling and looking good.
Nature's OwnTM complete
sleep capsules. 30s. $2499
Always read the label and use as directed.
If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional.
people are more at risk of developing complications to the fu. For
example pregnant women and women who have just given birth,
the very young especially infants, those over 65 and those people
with an ongoing health conditions.
The Ministry of Health recommends immunisation as your best
defence against infuenza. The good news is that for those that are
eligible for a free vaccine it has been extended to 31 August to help
cope with recent outbreaks. But even if it is not funded for you, it
can be a good idea.
Just to bust a couple of myths about infuenza vaccination, the
vaccine cannot cause the fu because it contains no live viruses.
What it does is trigger a natural immune response that will protect
you against certain strains of the virus, this takes around two weeks
to fully develop. It won’t protect you against fu completely only
certain strains. This year the vaccine protects against three strains
H3N2, H1N1 (swine fu) and infuenza B virus. Like all medicines
there are side effects and reasons why certain people cannot have
the vaccine but for the most part the vaccine is generally well toler-
ated and mild side effects last for 1-2 days. But its a good idea
to talk to your GP if you have any concerns regarding infuenza
If you are struck down with the fu, don’t spread it around. The
fu is spread through touch and the air so if you are unwell stay at
Helen Elscot ND is a qualifed medical
herbalist, naturopath and nutritionist
and a member of the New Zealand
Association of Medical Herbalists.
She runs Herbal Health Waiheke in
Oneroa and is the health columnist for
the Gulf News.
Good gut health
For a century, doctors have waged war
against bacteria, using antibiotics as their
weapons. But that relationship is changing as scientists become
more familiar with the 100 trillion microbes that call us home ---
collectively known as the microbiome.
When we are born, we inherit healthy gut bacteria, or probiotics,
from our mother as we pass through the birth canal. Breastfeeding
provides us with more immune enhancing bacteria which help our
gut lining to mature properly and establish a suitable anchor for
Within the digestive tract, different areas are home to different
bacteria. The stomach and small intestine are home to Lactobacillus
acidophilus, which is able to survive in the acid and bile found
there, and it is also found throughout the vagina.
The large intestine and bowel contains Bifdobacterium lactis,
which is inherited from the mother during breastfeeding.
Probiotics compete for space on the wall of the digestive tract,
protecting the delicate membrane and eliminating space for bad bacte-
ria. They help regulate the acidity of the gut and control the growth of
the fungus Candida albicans, preventing yeast infections.
Although stress, illness, and poor diet all contribute to wiping
out friendly gut bacteria, antibiotics kill all bacteria in the body,
good and bad. This allows the opportunistic overgrowth of bad
bacteria, toxins and other pathogens.
And, unfortunately, even a good helping of natural yoghurt,
although benefcial in supporting overall health, does not contain
suffcient amounts of good bacteria to replace those lost.
Probiotics are essential for good health and wellbeing. When
choosing a probiotic, be sure that it is refrigerated as the live strains
can survive only in temperatures below 8˚Celsius.
Ideally, you should consume at least 20 billion probiotic organ-
isms (don’t worry, that’s still less than a teaspoon) for a suitable
dose -- and that dose should contain a mix of different strains of
probiotics to fully colonise the digestive tract.
Reports that New Zealand hospitals are struggling with anti-
biotic-resistant superbugs capable of infecting immune-affected
patients are worrying. It's important to keep antibiotics in our
medical repertoire but with the knowledge that they can interfere
with the natural immune system in our digestive tract.
Creating optimum levels of balance in the complex community
of microbes inside us allows our bodies to digest -- and hence live
-- more healthily.
home. If you are in a high risk group or you are not feeling better
after a few days, then its a good idea to keep in touch with your
GP. Infuenza is a serious illness so don’t ignore it. If it’s in the frst
two days then Tamifu, which is an antiviral, can help to reduce
the duration of the fu otherwise its about taking care of yourself.
Medicines can be helpful to reduce symptoms and vitamins and
supplements can help you to recover faster. To stop the spread to
others in your household keep good hand hygiene principles in
mind and cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
with a tissue and dispose of it in a lined bin. Even if staying at home
is the best option, don't forget you can always call your pharmacy
or GP for advice if you need it.
Be prepared for infuenza, have a plan for yourself and the family.
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