Message from William Faloon
Co-founder of the Life Extension Foundation
A Not-for-Profit Organization
December 14, 2005
RE: Your phone calls to us about the avian flu virus
Dear Concerned Member,
With daily news reports warning of a lethal flu pandemic, members have besieged us with questions about what they should do to protect themselves against the H5N1 (avian flu) virus.
The good news is that Life Extension members obtain a considerable amount of immune support via the supplements they already take to maintain good health.
An important question, however, is what one should do if they develop symptoms of a viral infection? As the days grow colder, the risks of contracting common flu and cold viruses increase. Each year, flu virus infections kill around 36,000 Americans (and cause miseries for millions).1,2 If an outbreak of the avian flu were to occur, scientists have predicted tens of millions could perish throughout the world.
While certain supplements (and drugs) purport to shorten the duration of a viral infection, most of them fail to provide significant relief. Over the past 25 years, Life Extension personnel have experimented with various nutrients, hormones, and drugs in order to minimize the impact of the common cold and typical flu viruses. In this letter, I will reveal what has worked for me personally to ward off common cold/flu viruses and what has been validated in the scientific literature to be effective.
At the end of this letter, I will elaborate on some aggressive prescription drug strategies to consider in the event the avian flu pandemic becomes a reality. I also want to stress that many of these recommendations are drugs and should only be taken under physician supervision.
Don't Wait for Full-Blown Illness to Manifest
People often wait until they are very sick before seeking treatment. This delay can preclude rapid eradication of the infectious agent. In some cases, treatment delay can be lethal.
I have found enormous personal benefit by taking aggressive actions upon the onset of the very first cold-flu symptom. I respond to a mild symptom the way some people do after they have suffered days of agonizing flu virus miseries. My strategy is to not let the virus gain a foothold in my cells. Up until now, my approach has apparently succeeded in as much as I have not suffered more than a day of significant cold-flu illness since January 1983 .
I am going to reveal my personal program in the following paragraphs, but the key point I want to emphasize is to immediately address the very first symptom of a cold-flu viral infection like it is the most lethal agent you have ever encountered. I analogize this approach to dropping a nuclear bomb when conventional weapons might be adequate. While some people wait until full-blown viral symptoms manifest, I don't have a choice. Life Extension is a 24-hour/day operation with no room for down time. I don't have the luxury of calling in sick just because a virus has invaded my body.
If you were to contract avian flu (H5N1), it is especially critical that you immediately initiate the anti-viral drug therapies I will discuss later in this letter. Contrary to what the media is reporting, anti-viral drugs can be effective, but only when they are initiated within 48 hours of the manifestation of symptoms. Avian flu is causing excruciating deaths in primitive cultures that often lack immediate access to anti-viral medications, leading to a premature assumption that avian flu is untreatable.
Unleashing the Nuclear Bomb
I typically work an intense schedule with frequent exposure to sick people, yet I have gone 22 years without suffering a serious cold-flu viral infection.
While it would be convenient to credit the supplements I take every day, the fact is that I follow an aggressive protocol as soon as I feel that a viral infection may be taking hold. Scientific studies substantiate the individual components of what I do, but there have been no clinical trials to support the use of this entire protocol. I'll discuss some of the research that supports my rationale later, but here are the drugs, nutrients, and hormones I take as soon as the first symptom of common cold or flu manifests:
- Cimetidine (Tagamet®) in the dose of 800 mg (and higher) each day. This drug is sold over-the-counter in pharmacies to combat heartburn, but its beneficial side effect is to boost immune function by reducing T-suppressor cells, thereby keeping the immune system in a hyperactive state. While sold over-the-counter, it would still be wise to read the package insert in case this drug is contraindicated for you. For most people, cimetidine provides a powerful immune system stimulation that is particularly effective against certain viruses.
- Pure Gar™ brand garlic in the dose of 9000 mg once or twice a day. This potent form of garlic will cause painful stomach-esophageal burning if you don't eat food right afterward. The intake of 9000 mg of this kind of garlic will cause you to reek of a strong sulfur odor, but saturating the body with this pungent garlic is the objective. Garlic has shown direct viral-killing effects in a number of published studies.
- DHEA in the dose of 200-400 mg early in the day. This is much higher than normal, but DHEA has shown some unique benefits in boosting one's ability to mount a stronger immune response and also protecting against dangerous inflammatory cytokine responses that sometimes occur in response to viral infections.
- Lactoferrin in the dose of 1200 mg a day. This natural constituent of mothers' milk boosts natural killer cell activity and can kill certain viruses
- Zinc lozenges in the dose of two 24 mg lozenges every two waking hours. Please be aware that this is a very high dose of zinc and is considered toxic if taken over the long term. You should only do this for a few days. Zinc has shown a direct effect of inhibiting the ability of cold viruses from latching on to your cells. Importantly, if you are taking any other zinc-containing supplements (such as a multivitamin), modify this as necessary to avoid zinc toxicity.
- Melatonin at bedtime in the high dose of 10-50 mg. Melatonin induces a powerful immune response and this high dose can facilitate the deep sleep one often needs to fend off an infection. This dose of melatonin will make you extremely sleepy, so please only take this before bedtime and do not operate any machinery or vehicles after ingestion.
- Aged garlic extract (Kyolic® brand) in the dose of 3600 mg a day. There are unique immune-boosting compounds in Kyolic ® garlic that work differently than those found in the Pure Gar™ brand.
It is important to note that I take the above doses in addition to the supplements I use every day. My personal program closely resembles the Top Ten most important nutrients, hormones, and drugs Life Extension recommends to its members.3
Garlic's Unsung Benefits
With all the high-tech advances occurring in medicine, garlic would appear to be a relic of the past. Yet the scientific literature documents that garlic has powerful effects against certain viruses.
For instance, one recent study tested one capsule daily of an allicin-containing garlic supplement (like Pure-Gar™) from November through February on a group of 146 volunteers.4 Half the group received the garlic while the unfortunate other half got a placebo. The placebo group suffered 63% more common cold infections compared to the garlic group. Even more significant, those in the garlic group who did catch a cold suffered symptoms for an average of only 1.52 days compared to 5.01 days for the placebo group. This placebo-controlled study corroborates the benefits I have personally derived by taking much higher doses of Pure-Gar ™ as soon as cold symptoms present.
The conclusion of the doctors who conducted this garlic study was, “An allicin-containing supplement can prevent attack by the common cold virus.” Considering the number of people afflicted with a common cold each year, you would think this would have been the lead news story of the day. Up until now, the study has remained buried in a scientific journal, while the medical establishment still states ”there is no cure for the common cold .”
Ribavirin is a prescription drug that has potent anti-viral effects.5-18 Yet a Chinese study showed that at least in the test tube, garlic is more effective than ribavirin in inhibiting viruses that attack the intestinal track.19 Life Extension has recommended ribavirin to treat various viral infections since year 1983, but in this particular study, garlic was shown to be superior.
A number of published studies indicate that both high-allicin garlic (e.g. Pure Gar™) and aged-garlic (e.g. Kyolic®) support healthy immune function while exerting anti-viral effects.20-26 Low-cost garlic may be nature's most powerful weapon against certain viruses.
Tagamet's Life-Saving Side Effect
Tagamet® is the brand name of what used to be the most popular drug to treat heartburn. Now that it is off patent, we refer to Tagamet® by its generic name “ cimetidine.” A little-known side effect of cimetidine is that it inhibits the production of T-suppressor cells.27 In doing so, it boosts immune function by preventing the immune system from turning itself down.
Cimetidine has shown other immune modulating effects such as increasing natural killer cell activity and boosting levels of natural immune stimulants interleukin-2 and gamma interferon.28-30 Human studies demonstrate cimetidine's efficacy against herpes and viral warts.27,31-34
Since cimetidine is safe for most people, taking 800-1000 mg at night (or 200 mg three times a day and then 400 mg at night) seems like an effective therapy to temporarily turn up the immune system. Cimetidine in 200 mg tablets can be purchased over-the-counter at pharmacies. The directions in the over-the-counter package insert say that up to 800 mg a day is safe, but some published studies where cimetidine is used as an anti-viral agent have used up to 1000 mg a day.35
It is well known that infants obtain protection against certain infections from components contained in mothers' milk. One such component is lactoferrin, which has well documented immune potentiating effects.36-38
Lactoferrin may stimulate macrophages, which in turn may help to induce cell-mediated immunity.39 Although many of the studies are on animals, lactoferrin is naturally present in many mucous membrane secretions in the human, suggesting an innate human anti-microbial function.40,41
A study published this year showed that lactoferrin inhibits viral infection by interfering with the ability of certain viruses to bind to cell receptor sites.37
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its metabolites have demonstrated powerful immune enhancing and anti-viral effects.42-49 The administration of 50 mg a day of DHEA to elderly men resulted in the following immune enhancements compared to placebo:50
- Increase of 35% in the number of monocyte immune cells
- Increase of 29% in the number of B immune cells
- Increase of 62% in B-cell activity
- Increase of 40% in T-cell activity
- Increase of 50% in interleukin-2
- Increase of 22 to 37% in natural killer cell number an d an increase of 45% in natural killer cell activity
One reason that influenza can be so lethal to aging people is that their immune systems are weakened. A deficiency in DHEA appears to be partially responsible for the age-related decline in immune function.51,52 One study showed that a metabolite of DHEA augmented activation of T-helper cells and protected mice from a lethal influenza virus infection.49
Melatonin has broad-spectrum immune-enhancing effects and has been specifically shown to decrease viral load and prevent death in mice infected with certain viruses. The conclusion of one melatonin study was:
“The immunomodulatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective effects of melatonin suggest that this indole must be considered as an additional therapeutic alternative to fight viral diseases.”53
Another study examined the immune function benefits of melatonin and found that melatonin activated interleukin-2 and gamma interferon, the body's natural hormone-like agents that facilitate T-helper cell production.54
Taking higher-dose DHEA in the morning (200-400 mg) and higher-dose melatonin (10-50 mg) before bedtime would appear to be logical approaches to follow when battling a viral infection.
Preventing Cold Viruses from Lodging in Your Body
A number of published studies show that if zinc lozenges are taken within 24 hours of the onset of common cold symptoms, the severity and duration of cold miseries are significantly diminished.55-58
Rhinoviruses are the medical term to define viruses that cause the common cold. Rhinoviruses attach to cell receptor sites in sinus and throat tissues, become lodged in nose-throat cells, and then replicate out of control.59 By binding to the same cell receptor sites as do cold viruses, zinc inhibits the ability of rhinoviruses to take hold in the body.
A meta-analysis of all the published literature on zinc lozenges was conducted last year and the conclusion of the report was:
“Clinical trial data support the value of zinc in reducing the duration and severity of symptoms of the common cold when administered within 24 hours of the onset of common cold symptoms. Additional clinical and laboratory evaluations are warranted to further define the role of ionic zinc for the prevention and treatment of the common cold and to elucidate the biochemical mechanisms through which zinc exerts its symptom-relieving effects.”55
The key here is to suck on two 24 mg zinc lozenges at the very first symptom of a cold and continue doing this every two waking hours. Once rhinoviruses bind to their receptor sites in the nasal tissues and begin replicating, zinc lozenges lose their efficacy. Considering how inexpensive zinc lozenges are, it makes sense to keep them in the medicine cabinet so that they are immediately available if cold symptoms manifest.
One caveat to remember is that chronic use of zinc in doses over 100 mg a day may suppress immune function.60 If one were to suck on two zinc lozenges every two hours over the course of a day, the amount of total zinc intake can easily exceed 300 mg/day. This does not appear to be a problem in the short-term, but if you start taking zinc lozenges and your cold miseries do not subside, you would be better off ceasing it after a few days. Remember that less than 100 mg a day of zinc can improve immune function whereas long-term use above 100 mg/day concerns some doctors.
Dealing With Lethal Influenza Infections
Be it the lethal avian flu or a typical influenza virus, one should not take any flu virus infection lightly.
Several years ago, Life Extension advised its members to take the prescription anti-viral drug Tamiflu® if flu symptoms developed. A complete description of Tamiflu can be found in the Influenza Chapter of the Disease Prevention and Treatment (2003) book.61
While it is not known exactly how effective Tamiflu will be in treating the avian virus, government health agencies around the world are rushing to stock up on it. Another anti-viral drug called Relenza® is also being considered. If one is stricken with the avian flu or a severe case of influenza, conventional doctors will likely prescribe one of these drugs.
Ribavirin is a broad-spectrum anti-viral drug. Life Extension discovered its unique benefits in 1983 by giving it to cats that contracted feline leukemia, a viral-induced disease. Ribavirin proved highly effective in curing feline leukemia in our limited use of it, yet no studies have been published to validate our serendipitous finding. Since 1983, Life Extension scientists have personally taken ribavirin when flu symptoms occur, and it has proven highly effective on an anecdotal basis.
The Life Extension Foundation waged a multi-decade war against the FDA to get ribavirin approved in the United States. The FDA finally capitulated in the late 1990s and approved ribavirin as an adjuvant treatment for hepatitis C.
A concern with using ribavirin is that it has been shown to cause anemia is some people.62 This always puzzled us at Life Extension, since we were not hearing of our members encountering an anemia problem in response to ribavirin. A brand new study this year may have solved the mystery as to why our members did not suffer ribavirin-induced anemia. It turns out that ribavirin induces anemia at least partially by causing excess free radical damage to red blood cells. Since Life Extension members take loads of antioxidants, they were unwittingly protecting themselves against ribavirin/free radical-induced anemia.
Whether ribavirin has efficacy against the avian flu is unknown at this time, though ribavirin's mechanism of action against common influenza viruses would indicate it might produce additive benefits to either Tamiflu or Relenza. If you are severely stricken with influenza that is not responsive to any other treatment, ask your doctor to consider prescribing 400 mg of ribavirin to be taken three times a day until viral symptoms subside. (Please note that ribavirin is sold in the United States in 200 mg capsules)
Why the Avian Flu is Different than Typical Influenza
There is a peculiarity to the avian flu virus (H5N1) that might result in one not wanting to follow all of the aggressive approaches I have used to combat common cold and typical influenza viral infections.
Unlike certain other viruses, avian influenza is characterized by a hyper-response of the immune system. People afflicted with avian flu die from pulmonary edema and multi-organ system failure in response to acute inflammation caused by what some doctors describe as a pro-inflammatory “cytokine storm.”
As a result of this data, if one were to contract the avian flu, cimetidine, DHEA and melatonin might not be advisable, due to their potent immune enhancing effects. On the flip side, there are nutrients and drugs that might suppress the most dangerous pro-inflammatory cytokines associated with the avian flu. Some of the cytokine-suppressing agents include fish oil,63-79 green tea80-97, borage oil8-101, curcumin102-114 and flavonoids115-124 (such as nobiletin).
A novel cytokine-suppressing strategy might be to take a statin drug (such as 40 mg of Zocor®) as soon as flu symptoms manifest. A very limited amount of data indicates that statin drugs can block excess production of influenza-induced pro-inflammatory cytokines. Please note that no one yet knows whether nutritional or drug anti-cytokine therapy is beneficial in treating avian flu.
How to Know If You Have Avian Flu
Avian flu is a very severe disease, progressing much more rapidly than typical flu. Pneumonia appears to develop quite rapidly in avian flu in contrast to the common influenza. Diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain also appear to be much more common in avian flu than in cases of common influenza.125-127
Symptoms seen with common influenza typically do not usually start out as pneumonia and/or diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain. Initial classic symptoms of common flu include:
- Fever (often high; 100-106 degrees F)
- Body aches (often muscle pain in the arms, legs, and back)
- Fatigue and malaise (often profound)
After the initial symptoms, sore throat and a dry, hacking cough often develops in typical (common) influenza.
As stated in the beginning of this section, avian flu patients often present with severe pneumonia (lower respiratory tract infection) that rapidly worsens, along with diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
What to Do If You Develop Avian Flu
It is important to remind members that an avian flu epidemic has not yet broken out. In fact, the problem with validating an effective treatment protocol is that only 135 confirmed cases of avian flu (H5N1 variant) with 69 fatalities have been documented since 2003.128
We have called doctors, virologists, and immunologists from around the world to find out if there are effective therapies that had not been reported in the scientific literature. Due to the lack of carefully-documented human clinical data, expert virologists and infectious disease experts reported to us that they simply did not know, ultimately, how effective Tamiflu® or drugs with immune-modulating properties (such as corticosteroids) would be against avian flu.
A major problem with judging the clinical effectiveness of Tamiflu, for example, is that for this drug to be optimally effective, it must be given within the first 48 hours or so of the onset of influenza. Most experts report that many victims of avian flu did not actually receive this potentially life-saving drug until six to eight days into the avian flu illness.
Since the world's experts are not confident on how best to treat avian flu, Life Extension scientists have researched the published literature in order to design a practical approach that would enable doctors to optimally treat avian flu.
Quadruple Anti-Viral Drug Therapy
If one develops common influenza, it would make sense to immediately initiate Tamiflu® anti-viral drug therapy in the normal dose of 75 mg twice a day (for five continuous days). In treating avian flu, the new recommendation is to double the normal dose of Tamiflu, which would be 150 mg twice a day and to do this for seven continuous days.
Life Extension members were informed about Tamiflu back in June 2003.61 Now that the media has made avian flu and Tamiflu headline news stories, Tamiflu has become a household word. The problem is that there is now a shortage of Tamiflu. An anti-viral drug called Relenza® is readily available and may a have certain advantage over Tamiflu.
Relenza functions by the same anti-viral mechanism as Tamiflu. The advantage of Relenza is that it is administered as an inhalant and delivered directly into the lungs. Since the H5N1 (avian) virus inflicts its lethal effects primarily in the lungs, Relenza might be more effective than Tamiflu in combating avian-induced pneumonia. There is currently no shortage of Relenza, as there is with Tamiflu.
The problem with using only Relenza is that avian flu rapidly progresses to a systemic illness. While Relenza might eradicate avian flu viral replication in the lungs, one would still want the systemic anti-viral benefits of Tamiflu.
Relenza and Tamiflu interferers with viral infections by blocking the active site of the influenza viral enzyme called neuraminidase. Drugs that inhibit neuramidase cause the influenza virus to aggregate at the body's cell surface and reduce the number of viruses released from infected cells. Since Relenza and Tamiflu are both neuramidase inhibitors, doctors initially believed that a person should only take one of these drugs (i.e. Relenza or Tamiflu) when treating avian or other influenza viral infections.
Now that double doses of Tamiflu are being recommended to treat avian flu, it may be wise to consider taking 75 mg twice a day of oral Tamiflu (if you can get it), along with the normal inhaled dose of 5 mg of Relenza twice a day. If Tamiflu stocks are in short supply, it might be wise to consider double dose Relenza (10 mg inhaled twice a day), as Relenza and Tamiflu have both been used at higher doses without apparent toxicity.
As with all currently available anti-viral drugs, treatment with Relenza and/or Tamiflu must start in the first 48 hours after the onset of symptoms. (Refer to the attached addendum before initiating Relenza therapy)
The drug ribavirin inhibits viruses via mechanisms that are different than Tamiflu and Relenza. One of these mechanisms is to disrupt viral RNA synthesis, causing viruses to self-destruct. Ribavirin is available as a 200-milligram oral capsule and in inhalant form. If one contracted avian flu, it would appear logical to ingest 800-1200 mg a day of ribavirin in oral capsule form, in addition to Tamiflu and/or Relenza.
If you are in a hospital setting, it might be appropriate to find a lung specialist (pulmonologist) who will consider prescribing and then administering ribavirin in an aerosolized liquid spray via a nebulizer. By inhaling ribavirin, it may be possible to adequately inhibit viral replication in the lungs. You may need to find a cooperative pediatrician to arrange this because aerosolized ribavirin is only approved to treat infants and small children with severe forms of pneumonia. Your doctor will have to calculate a higher dose of aerosolized ribavirin based on your weight and clinical condition.
I use the term “consider” when asking a doctor to prescribe aerosolized ribavirin since there are no studies in which inhaled Relenza and aerosolized inhaled ribavirin have been used together. There is always a possibility of adverse interactions between these two inhaled drugs. On the flip side, because avian flu has a high mortality rate, and even those who survive appear to be afflicted with disabilities, doctors should be more willing to consider unproven therapies that have a logical basis of efficacy.
Amantadine is a drug approved by the FDA to treat Influenza A. This drug functions by inhibiting the activity of the M2 protein in a way that precludes the influenza virus from replicating once it is inside a cell. As with other anti-viral drugs, treatment should be initiated within 48 hours. When amantadine is administered later in the course of a viral infection, it is virtually useless as the body is already overwhelmed with viral particles.
Amantadine was extensively given to chickens over the past decades to treat avian flu. Chickens have since developed a resistance to this drug. That does not mean, however, that amantadine might not be effective in a human who contracted a mutant form of avian flu. Since amantadine works via mechanisms that are different than Tamiflu/Relenza and ribavirin, it might be logical to add 100 mg twice a day of amantadine in addition to ribavirin and Relenza and Tamiflu. (If you are over age 65, the recommended dose of amantadine is 100 mg a day or less.)
One concern with amantadine is that influenza viruses often develop rapid resistance to amantadine. If an avian influenza pandemic were to occur, amantadine might rapidly become ineffective. That does not mean, however, that those who contracted the first human transmitted cases of avian flu might not benefit from amantadine.
Battling the “Cytokine-Storm”
The lungs of avian flu victims are racked by infections, clogged with pus and surrounded by fluid. The severity of the symptoms often predicts whether the patients will survive.
In a recent study, chest X-rays were performed on 14 Vietnamese avian flu patients, nine of whom died. Researchers at the University of Oxford in England discovered abnormalities in the lungs that were predictors of whether the disease would be fatal.
The researchers found that avian flu infection caused multiple lung infections, presenting clinically as pus and infection in patients with fever and a cough. The severity of these lung pathologies turned out to be an accurate predictor of patient mortality.129
Much of the pathology caused by the avian flu virus appears to be caused by the over-production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 , tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-8, interleukin 1 beta, etc. This immune system dysregulation seems to also be associated with the multi-organ system failure seen with avian flu. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that avian flu victims with the highest levels of inflammatory cytokines are the most likely to die.127
As I discussed earlier in this letter, a novel cytokine-suppressing strategy might be to take a statin drug (such as 40 mg of Zocor®) as soon as flu symptoms manifest. A very limited amount of data indicates that statin drugs can block excess production of influenza-induced pro-inflammatory cytokines. Another cytokine-suppressing drug to consider is pentoxifylline in the dose of 400 mg three to four times a day.130-141
Obtaining Physician Cooperation
My fear is that if avian flu manifests as a pandemic, millions of people will needlessly die because of physician ignorance. I know that persuading your physician to prescribe quadruple anti-viral drug therapy, along with cytokine inhibitors will be a challenge. Most doctors don't even know about pro-inflammatory cytokines, and virtually none of them understand that there are proven ways to suppress them.
Amantadine is considered worthless by most doctors because they have seen it fail most of the time. As I stated earlier, anti-viral drug therapy has to be initiated within 48 hours of the symptoms manifesting. Doctors are used to seeing patients only after they have suffered with flu symptoms for many days after the onset of symptoms. When doctors prescribed amantadine to these advanced influenza patients, it would usually fail, just like Tamiflu will fail if it is not immediately prescribed. Few doctors have any experience with either oral or inhaled ribavirin and will therefore be reluctant to prescribe it.
My objective is to not allow any member of The Life Extension Foundation to succumb to avian flu because of physician inflexibility. If you are a Life Extension member and contract avian flu, please call us so that one of our doctors can attempt to persuade your physician to implement the aggressive treatments described in this letter. However, if you intend to follow this regimen, you should only do so under physician supervision.
Keeping You Informed
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention indicate that anywhere from 5% to 20% of the U.S. population get influenza each year, an average of about 36,000 people per year in the United States die from influenza, and more than 200,000 will be admitted to the hospital as a result of influenza.142
I have written this letter based on numerous inquiries made by Foundation members. There are additional strategies that may be considered to combat common cold-flu infections, but I wanted to convey what I do personally when confronted with a virus.
The fact that these recommendations have worked for me does not mean they will work for you. There is a scientific rationale, however, to using cimetidine, garlic, and other readily available and inexpensive agents when confronted with a typical viral illness. The FDA, of course, does not approve any of these approaches.
If one contracts avian flu, the immediate initiation of aggressive anti-viral (and anti-cytokine) drug therapies is paramount. Life Extension is keeping in close contact with doctors on the front lines of the avian flu battle. More importantly, we are analyzing treatment options that are far outside the narrow box of options the government currently limits us to.
Whether or not you actually contract avian flu, it makes sense to initiate aggressive actions if you contract flu-like symptoms. Early treatment of common cold or typical flu viruses can result in rapid eradication of the virus from your body. Immediate treatment of the avian flu may save your life!
If we are lucky, avian flu may never become a pandemic. As a Life Extension member, please be assured that we are committed to providing you and your doctor with scientifically-backed information to most logically combat avian and other influenza viruses.
This letter is only being sent to members of The Life Extension Foundation. We have resources in place to help save our members' lives, but in the event of a global pandemic, we regrettably do not have the capacity to provide these personalized services to the public.
Due to the urgency of this matter, we are sending this letter out as an email to all Life Extension members for whom we have email addresses. You will also receive a paper copy of this by regular mail.
For longer life,
PS: Please remember that these recommendations have worked for me, but may not be appropriate for everyone. If you are taking any medications or have serious health problems, you must first consult with your own healthcare professional before following this strategy. Those with hormone sensitive cancers, for example, may not want to take DHEA. I also want to stress that this is for informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other healthcare professional. There are side effects to all of the drugs discussed in this letter, making it crucial that you have a knowledgeable healthcare professional overseeing your treatment.
ANTI-VIRAL DRUG ADDENDUM
The FDA approved Relenza (zanamivir),143 an anti-viral drug, for persons aged 7 years and older for the treatment of uncomplicated influenza virus. This product is approved to treat type A and B influenza, the two types most responsible for flu epidemics. Clinical studies showed that for the drug to be effective, patients needed to start treatment within two days of the onset of symptoms. The drug seemed to be less effective in patients whose symptoms weren't severe or didn't include a fever.
Relenza is a powder (5 mg) that is inhaled twice a day for five days from a breath-activated plastic device called a Diskhaler. Patients should get instruction from a healthcare practitioner in the proper use of the Diskhaler, including a demonstration when possible. Relenza has not been shown to be effective, and may carry risk, in patients with severe asthma or a lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Some patients with mild or moderate asthma experienced bronchospasm (marked by shortness of breath) after using Relenza. When treating avian flu, a seven-day course of Relenza may be considered.
Some patients have had bronchospasm (wheezing) or serious breathing problems when they used Relenza. Many, but not all, of these patients had previous asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Relenza has not been shown to shorten the duration of influenza in people with these diseases. Because of the risk of side effects and because it has not been shown to help them, Relenza is not generally recommended for people with chronic respiratory disease. Anyone who develops bronchospasm worsening respiratory symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath should stop taking the drug and call their healthcare practitioner. Patients with underlying respiratory disease should have a fast-acting inhaled bronchodilator available when taking Relenza.
There still may be a risk of contracting hemolytic anemia from ribavirin. This is usually dose-related, so it's best everybody start at 200 mg 4 times a day until they can get their blood checked—even if they are on antioxidants. Obviously, a 100 lb woman will need to do this, while a 200 lb lean man may not (1200 mg would probably be okay). All these doses are lean body weight sensitive.
Also note that ribavirin is “probably a teratogen,” so women who can even possibly become pregnant should be very careful in using it. Ribavirin stays in the body up to 6 months after a course (it builds up in red cells and doesn't leave the body till all have been replaced), so reproduction dangers for women last that long.
There are warnings about all the drugs mentioned in this letter that should be reviewed before any individual considers using them.